(will be published in IFFN No. 23 – December 2000,p. 111)
Rudolph A. Wendelin, 90, a former USDA Forest Service artist credited for creating the look of Smokey Bear, died August 31 in Falls Church, Virginia. A graduate of the University of Kansas, Wendelin joined the USDA Forest Service in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1933 and transferred to Washington, DC, in 1937. Following World War II, he resumed his USDA Forest Service career as the man in charge of Smokey Bear. The USDA Forest Service had invented Smokey in 1944 to be its “spokesperson” on the prevention of forest fires. Under Wendelin, Smokey changed from a baby bear to a full grown animal with fangs and claws, and then again to his more familiar, human-like form. By the 1950s, Smokey was outfitted with a ranger’s hat, belted blue jeans, and a shovel he carried to protect America’s forests from fire. Wendelin supervised Smokey’s activities until he retired from the USDA Forest Service in 1973. During his retirement, however, Wendelin continued to draw Smokey for calendars and books featuring the bear. For his efforts on behalf of the Smokey campaign, Wendelin received numerous awards from the government and a host of patriotic organizations.
From: The Forestry Source, Society of American Foresters.