Robert "Bob" Gustafson, 81, Press cartoonist for over 40 years
Robert D. Bob Gustafson of Old Greenwich, who had been a cartoonist for The Ridgefield Press for more than 40 years, died Wednesday, Nov. 28, at Stamford Hospital. He was 81 years old.
Since his first work appeared in a 1959 issue of The Press, Mr. Gustafson had created thousands of cartoons for this paper and its sister publications. Sometimes they teased town officials or were just a good gag, but frequently they promoted a good cause in a good-natured way.
You have to come up with something you like and let everybody judge it, he said in a 1991 interview about his work. Sometimes it flops. Its not like being a plumber when you go in and fix a pipe and turn the faucet on and the water comes out, you know its OK.
A native of Brookline, Mass., Mr. Gustafson was born on Aug. 8, 1920. He grew up in Brookline and was a paperboy as a youngster. After graduation from Brookline High School, he served in the U.S. Army as a pilot, but his military career ended after he was injured in a plane crash during a snowstorm.
He pitched semi-pro baseball in the Boston area, played drums in a band, and eventually studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School. Before he was 21, he was sending cartoon gag ideas to The New Yorker, and several were purchased and used.
After working for a Boston magazine and a newspaper, he got a job with King Features, ghosting several comic strips and eventually taking over Tilly the Toiler, a strip created by Russ Westover. He drew Tilly the Toiler daily and Sunday for eight years.
Mr. Gustafson later did cartoons for magazines like Good Housekeeping and Saturday Evening Post and worked for Mort Walker on both Beetle Bailey and Hi & Lois. Mr. Walker, who lives in Stamford, became a close friend.
Mr. Gustafson had won many awards for his work, including commendations from professional cartoonist organizations and from the New England Press Association.
He lived in Ridgefield from 1954 to 1960, first on Wilton Road West and later on Cedar Lane. Though he moved to Old Greenwich, he continued to follow Ridgefield affairs at his Greenwich home through the pages of The Press, which he read thoroughly each week for ideas.
Cartoonists never stop learning, he once told an interviewer. They're always observing.
He was an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, though in the last few years he had come to enjoy watching their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees; he especially admired Derek Jeter.
He enjoyed golf and tennis, performing and listening to jazz, and was an active supporter of animal welfare causes. He took great pleasure in spending time with his chihuahua, Peewee.
He was also active in the Fairfield County chapter of the Cartoonists Society of America.
His survivors include two daughters, Robin Carroll of Greenwich, and Carol Lyman and her husband, Frank, of Cincinnati, Ohio; and two grandchildren. His wife, Virginia, died in 1965.
A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
Contributions in his memory may be made to an animal welfare organization of ones choice.