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Theodore Wilbur Jonsson


1933 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Theodore Wilbur Jonsson Obituary
Theodore Wilbur Jonsson

Theodore W. Jonsson was born October 2, 1933 in Berkeley CA to parents Wilbur (Red) and Laurel Johnson, and raised in Walnut Creek with his three brothers Grant, Lance and Scott Johnson.

Ted played first string football for eight years, through high school and college at UC Davis, until he became interested in philosophy and art.

He finished his BFA in Painting at UC Davis in 1956. He was recruited by the Baltimore Colts, but decided against a pro football career in favor of becoming a pilot and artist. He was an officer and pilot in the US Army and flew a mail carrier route between Fort Lewis and the Yakima Firing Range. In 1967, he flew a Cessna 140 with his sculptures hanging off the wings for the NW Annual Sculpture Exhibition, arriving in leather flying jacket, helmet and silk scarf. Ted finished his MFA in sculpture at the UW in 1966.

Ted and his brother Lance shared summers sailing in British Columbia and flying, as well as hunting trips. Ted spent his winters as a ski instructor and skied his favorite black diamond runs at Snoqualmie and Alpental until May of 2014.

His first major public commission was for SeaTac airport in 1972. His sculpture at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, 1976, built from Alaskan pipeline pipe in 16 days, was the largest on the west coast for many years. His sculptures can be found locally, nationally and internationally. He received many awards for his artwork completed 18 major public sculpture commissions. He was fond of quoting "Life is short; art is long".

He worked for years on the Washington State Arts Council, Artists' Equity and fought for the 1% for "Art In Public Places Act," which passed in 1974. "Ted was President of the Washington Chapter of Artists Equity and TAG. We fought toward a reinstatement of the Seattle Art Museum Annual Exhibition, created an international exchange art exhibit over four countries and created a space for artist's voices to be heard. Ted was usually the leader in all actions." - Phil Levine

He passed June 19th 2015 with his family at his daughter's home in La Conner Washington. He is survived by daughter Theodora (Jeff Lacy) and granddaughter Gabriella, brothers Grant (Coyo) and Lance, niece Tera (Andy King), grandniece Hanna, and many other relatives and friends.

A potluck memorial party will be held at the Golden Gardens Bathhouse tomorrow, Monday, August 3rd from 6-9 PM. Please bring your stories for our documentary team and future Life of Ted gatherings!
Published in The Seattle Times on Aug. 2, 2015
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