Ray Tollefson, an artist whose work ranged from newspaper sketches of court trials 70 years ago to television-commercial cartoons, died Tuesday at the age of 91.
Among the cartoon characters he created were Albert and Stanley in Grain Belt beer commercials, and the Minnegasco flame girl.
Born in Minneapolis, he started drawing as a child. He took lessons at the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis at 15, before graduating from South High School. His first job was for the Minneapolis Star, and one of his assignments was sketching the principals in the trial of Wilbur Foshay. The businessman's Foshay Tower opened just before the stock market crash of 1929, and Foshay's fortunes crashed not long after. He was convicted of mail fraud and spent three years in a federal prison.
Tollefson moved on to Fawcett Publications, a Minneapolis magazine publisher, and then to his own business, Artists Inc. It became one of the largest commercial art studios in the city, with more than 35 employees. He later started Famous American Studios, a mail-order business. He concluded his career as an artist and art director of the Colle McVoy advertising agency, retiring at 80.
He and his wife, Helen, lived most of their lives on Lake Minnetonka. He skied until he was 81, and was also a water skier and golfer.
Survivors include his wife; a son, Alan Tollefson of Minneapolis; seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held Friday.
-- Staff report