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George MANDUS Obituary

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MANDUS, George GEORGE MANDUS Artist, Architect, Musician, Teacher 1924-2012 Mr. George Mandus, renowned, respected and well-loved artist, whose portraits of national and state leaders are displayed prominently at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta and the University of Georgia in Athens, as well as in other locations in the nation, died December 5, 2012 at his home in Atlanta after a brief illness. He was 88. Born in 1924 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, he was one of seven children of Mr. and Mrs. Steve Mandus. He attended the University of Pennsylvania before enlisting in the U.S. Naval Reserve, where he flew PBY airplanes doing submarine search and rescue surveillance on both coasts between 1942 and 1946. He graduated from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, studied with leading portrait artists and was represented by Portraits, Inc. of New York City. During that time, he completed portraits that went on display in New York, Chicago, Cape Cod, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania. More recently, his portraits have been shown in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Canada as well as in Georgia. Mr. Mandus spent most of his life in Georgia, where he was commissioned to paint portraits to commemorate the legacies of governors, judges, college presidents and other public figures. Some 50 of his works remain on display at the Georgia State Capitol and other state buildings. These works include portraits of George T. Smith, former Georgia Supreme Court Justice, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Tom Murphy, Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1977 to 2002. In 1974 Governor Jimmy Carter commissioned Mr. Mandus to paint a portrait of Civil Rights leader and Nobel Prize winner the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. of Atlanta, which has been viewed by thousands of Georgia schoolchildren and adults. The likeness of Dr. King was the first portrait of a black American personage to go on display in the Georgia State Capitol. Mr. Mandus painted two other notable black Georgians whose portraits are seen in the State Capitol. They are Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, the first Southern bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, whose influence helped reshape Georgia's attitudes during Reconstruction, and Lucy Craft Laney, a pioneer in the field of education in Georgia. On the national level, he painted a portrait of U.S. President Harry S. Truman that hangs in the Truman Library in Independence, MO. He was slated to paint U.S. President John F. Kennedy before his untimely death in 1963. Golfing legend Bobby Jones of Atlanta, the most successful amateur in his sport, was another of Mr. Mandus' subjects. Movie stars Robert Cummings and Jeanne Crain commissioned Mr. Mandus to create their likenesses. Mr. Mandus conducted art classes at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta and taught students at his own studio in Atlanta for many years. He was also an architect who specialized in drawings of bridges. Music was his second love and talent. He played several musical instruments, including the bagpipes, which he played with the John Mohr Mackintosh Pipes and Drums of Atlanta. His performances on the bagpipes included the open- ing ceremony of the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta in 1988, the Highland Games at Stone Mountain for many years and the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. He and his immediate family had a second home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he continued to paint portraits of government figures and others who were fortunate enough to "sit" for him. Mr. Mandus is survived by his wife of 57 years, the former Ann Fortson, daughter of longtime Georgia Secretary of State Ben W. Fortson Jr. Other survivors include one daughter, Mary Cade Mandus of Atlanta; one son, Benjamin F. Mandus (Cheryl) of Gresham, Oregon; one grandson, Alexander G. Mandus (Aubrey) of Portland, OR; two sisters, Mary Springer of McMurray, PA, and Ann Smoke of Canonsburg, PA; and a nephew, James Howard Springer of Atlanta. He was a longtime member of Oglethorpe Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. Following cremation, family and close friends will pay tribute to Mr. Mandus at a memorial service to be held at a later date.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Dec. 6, 2012
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