Joe O’Leary, (right man in left photo, and right photo) was perhaps dad’s longest lasting friend outside of the folks from his Leamington era who stayed in touch with him. Their story started in Honolulu when they both accepted civil service appointments to work in the reconstruction of Pearl Harbor after the bombing. This is going to be a long page so I fear that some of you will not make it to the bottom. In that case I am going to give you a photo gallery of some of Joe’s own art work to show you just how excellent he was. He was a model that dad admired. Dad made a note somewhere that I saw recently in which he discussed Joe and he admitted, with some regret I could tell, that Joe was a better painter of Indians than dad was. Here’s the proof, a set of rough sketches that Joe did at Dad’s request. It was in the 1970’s when dad was on a tear to paint a hundred Indiana photos and earn fame and fortune. He knew that Joe understood Indian designs, materials, patterns, and everything else. Joe had an extaordinary collection of Indian things. So dad sent Joe a set of black and white photos of Indians, asking him to tell him what colors to use, what kind of fur was used and so on. The “rough” drafts that Joe returned, along with actual samples of the proper fur, of Cavalary such and such shirts from 1867 or whatever, were works of art that are worthy of mounting. Here they are. The photos don’t really reflect their excellence:
Through the magic of interests and personalities, they matched each other remarkably well and became life-long friends, staying touch by mail more than phone, over the years and across the distances. My first contact with him was on thelittle farm outside of Vernal when he spent perhaps a week with us. In this photo to the left he and dad are somewhere in Utah. Dad took him all over the state to show him things he’d talked about while in the Islands.
When Arnie needed to hire another preparator, dad recommended Joe who took the job and moved to Cambridge. So I met Joe again and this time got to go
to his home for dinner at least one time. They are standing at the steps to the entrance of the Museum of Comparative Zoology that opened on the quadrangle in the enter of the Peabody Museum complex. One of Joe’s assignments was to repair and prepare some stuffed birds for an exhibit on the third floor, something that he was qualified to do since he was also a taxidermist like dad.