Willis Guthrie (Charles Willis Guthrie)
Feb. 13, 1918 — March 30, 2016
Willis Guthrie (Charles Willis Guthrie), of Waukesha, died on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, at Waukesha Memorial Hospital at age 98.
Willis, known as “Wis” since early childhood, was born in Pacific Junction, Iowa, on February 13, 1918. His parents were Taylor and Irma Guthrie (nee Tabor). At the time, Taylor was the minister at the Burr Oak Friends (Quaker) Meeting. The family moved many times to different communities in Iowa. While the family was in West Branch, he attended the University of Iowa, where he completed a Master of Fine Arts degree under the instruction and encouragement of Grant Wood, whose painting “American Gothic” has become an icon recognized around the world. On September 5, 1942, he married his beloved wife, Ina Maurine Jensen. As a conscientious objector during World War II, he worked at various jobs at camps in Ohio and Oregon finishing that service in Ames, Iowa, in 1945. Wis was accepted at Carroll College as a professor of art in 1946 and initially taught all of the art classes. Eventually, other instructors were hired. He taught there until his retirement in 1983.
His accomplishments were many and varied from building the family home on Milky Way Road to designing and building opera sets for five of the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra’s productions. Wis began as a painter in the Regionalist style, but being a curious man, he branched out into sculptural assemblages and collage work. He was a self-motivated, ingenious artist and still worked on pasting images onto the pages of art and travel books until the very end of his life. He leaves us with memories of his wit, wisdom and humor and we are left without further insights into his unique understanding of art and life. He was an inspiration to us all.
He will be sadly missed by his sons, James (Joanne Peterson) Guthrie of Mequon, Lee Guthrie of Hudson and Gerald (Patricia) Guthrie of Philo, Ill.; his two grandchildren, Heather (Brett) Swider and Ryan Guthrie; and his great-grandchildren, Callum and Ina Swider, Amber Anick and Ethan Guthrie. He is further survived by his brother David Guthrie; his sister Doris Hinkhouse; along with many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
In addition to his wife, Ina, who preceded him in death on August 25, 2011, he was preceded by his brothers and sister Victor, Harold, Steve, Ruth, Wayne “Buck” and Dean.
A memorial service to honor Willis’ life will be held on Sunday, May 1, at 2:00 in the Carroll University Student Center ballroom.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are appreciated to the Willis Guthrie Art Scholarship at Carroll University. Please make checks payable to Carroll University, Attn: Janine Kujawa, 100 N. East Ave., Waukesha, WI 53186. Please designate the donation should be applied toward the Willis Guthrie Art Scholarship.
Randle-Dable-Brisk Funeral Home, Crematory and Preplanning Services are honored to serve the family. For further information, please call the funeral home at 262-547-4035 or visit our website at www.randledable.com to leave the family an online tribute message.