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Obituary: Les Kouba, dean of Minnesota wildlife artists

  • September 13, 1998 - 11:00 PM

Leslie C. Kouba, a Minnesota wildlife artist noted for his colorful paintings of pheasants and waterfowl, died in his sleep Sunday at Mount Olivet Home in Minneapolis. He was 81. He had undergone triple-bypass heart surgery about two years ago.

In 1996, the Minnesota Waterfowl Association presented him with its first lifetime achievement award in honor of his "contribution to waterfowl and wildlife habitat."

He also was selected as the artist for Minnesota's first waterfowl stamp in 1978, and he twice designed federal duck stamps. He also was a supporter of many wildlife organizations, including the Waterfowl Association and Ducks Unlimited.

"Les was the dean of Minnesota's wildlife artists. He definitely was a colorful character as well as being an extremely gifted artist," said friend and outdoor writer Ron Schara. "His artwork will live on, of course."

Schara described Kouba's paintings of bluebill ducks flying through snowy skies as the kind of scenes duck hunters would see on a cold October morning.

Kouba still was painting up until his death, according to a spokeswoman for the nursing home where he lived.

Kouba, formerly of Hutchinson, Minn., was a nationally renowned wildlife artist, and the owner of American Wildlife Galleries. He also invented an artistic device called the Art-O-Graph.

He was known for creating many original commercial art designs, including the Old Dutch windmill and packaging, the Red Owl, the Greyhound bus dog logo and Schmidt beer cans.

Kouba is survived by daughters Bonnie Gavin, of Bloomington, and Pamela Kausel, of Burnsville; a brother, Ernest Kouba; seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, 5025 Knox Av. S., Minneapolis. Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Washburn-McReavy Edina Funeral Chapel, W. 50th St. and Hwy. 100.

-- Steve Alexander and the Associated Press

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