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Larry Zabel

 (1930 - 2012)
Larry V. Zabel was active/lived in Montana, California, Minnesota.  Larry Zabel is known for western genre, landscape and animal painting, illustrator, commercial art.

Larry Zabel

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Larry Zabel
Following is the obituary of Larry Zabel from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, September 16, 2012

Renowned artist Larry V. Zabel lost his valiant battle with C. M. Leukemia and has gone home to be with his Lord. Larry passed away Sept. 11, 2012 at his home up North Meadow Creek near McAllister, Mont. Larry was born on Jan. 19, 1930 at Deer Creek, Minn., to Esther (Peterson) and X. Y. Zabel. His early years were spent happily on a farm near Deer Creek where he and his sister Beverly attended a one room country school. Larry & Bev's Mother was an accomplished artist and encouraged the obviously gifted Larry to draw and paint from the age of 3 years.

In 1938, the family moved to California where Larry attended schools, graduating from Anaheim Union High School in 1947. (He was inducted into that high school's Hall of Fame for distinguished graduates in 2010.) Larry joined the United States Navy and served for over three years. He then furthered his education at U.C. Santa Barbara, the University of the Americas in Mexico City and graduated from Long Beach State.

Larry went to work for Douglas Aircraft Corp in Oklahoma and California as an illustrator and writer, and later for the Genge Corp., eventually moving to a Civil Service position at the China Lake Naval Weapons Test Facility as Director of Technical Information. During those years he continued to paint. He was sent to Vietnam several times to film the use of Naval weapons and to gain reference material to produce a series of combat art paintings for the Navy, which can be seen at the Naval Archives Center in Washington D.C. After completing his 20 years of government service, he decided to retire and pursue another career as a western "cowboy" artist.

Larry and his wife, Sharon moved to Montana where they purchased property on North Meadow Creek about 25 years ago. Eventually some of their family and a number of friends followed them here, including his life-long friends, Bob and Dixie Gates.

Before long, Larry was making a name for himself producing paintings of Montana scenery, its ranchers, their ranches, the native peoples, and the wildlife. His paintings now hang in many public and private collections all the way from government offices in Washington, to the West Coast. Larry was extremely generous with his acknowledged God-given talent and contributed to countless worthy causes and fund-raising efforts including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Madison Valley Ranchlands Group, The Madison River Foundation and The Madison Valley Medical Center.

Larry was preceded in death by his ex-wife, Marie Nichols Zabel Hanning; his dear wife, Sharon J. Zabel and his beloved daughter, Christi Rivers Fisher. He leaves daughter, Becca Zabel of Bozeman and her four sons - Neal Preston (Amiee) children Bradlee, Kaeden, and Quincie; Cody Preston (Jenna) children Ethan and Quinton; all of Lake Isabella, Calif., Lane Graham of M.S.U. Bozeman and Logan Graham (Alex) of Alpine Calif., son, Steve Zabel (Maria) and their son Jack of Bozeman; son, Jon Zabel of Las Vegas and son-in-law, Todd Fisher, children Vanessa, James, and Brandon Rivers of Creston, Calif. He is also survived by his sister, Beverly Z. Claassen, her daughters Karen Claassen and Kathy Carpenter of Ennis and Kathy's sons Ken and Josh of Norman, Okla., and his companion, Maureen van Emmerik of Georgetown, Washington D.C. as well as scores of very dear friends.

In recent years Larry and Maureen have enjoyed a life split between Montana, Wash. D.C. and Morro Bay, Calif. They enjoyed a couple of marvelous trips to Kenya, Tanzania, and recently South Africa.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the Madison Valley Medical Center Foundation. The family is very grateful for the support and care provided by the staffs of Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman, The Madison Valley Medical Center, Hospice lovingly provided by Mary Carlson, and especially the amazing personal care by Dr. Robert Marks.

As Larry would proclaim to everyone: It has been a Truly Great Ride!!

Online Source:

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Larry Zabel
Cowboy artist Larry Zabel was born in Deer Creek, Minnesota, and settled about 70 miles from Yellowstone National Park near McAllister, Montana.

Carving and drawing were primary boyhood interests of Zabels. He received an art degree from Long Beach State in California, and spent an additional year at the University of the Americas (formerly Mexico City College). This background led him into a career in technical and commercial illustration, including a decade at the Naval Weapons Center in the California desert, involved in various audio-visual activities.

Zabel labeled himself a cowboy artist, as he and his wife moved to Montana in 1988, allowing him to live out a fantasy of Indians, cowboys, and bears. There he was able to paint the life he wanted to live. The subjects of his works include a wide variety of wildlife native to Montana, but his earlier paintings focused on cowboys and Indians.

Zabel strove for accurate portrayals, and was most satisfied when the viewer recognized his canyons, ranches, and animals. His acknowledgements and awards include Artist of the Year at the Southern Maryland Wildlife Festival and Best Painting at the Charlie Russell Auction Show.

Larry Zabel died on September 11, 2012 at his McAllister, Montana home.

Vicki Stavig, "The Studio", Art of the West, April, 1997, p.15
Carol Flaherty (death date)

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About  Larry Zabel

Born:  1930 - Deercreek, Minnesota
Died:   2012 - McAllister, Montana
Known for:  western genre, landscape and animal painting, illustrator, commercial art