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 James Gordon Merbs  (1902 - 1972)

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Lived/Active: California/Wisconsin      Known for: painting, newspaper editor and advertising art

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is an obituary of the artist from the Monterey Peninsula Herald, CA June 20, 1972, courtesy of Bill Lockwood.

James G. Merbs, retired Newspaperman, Succumbs

James Gordon Merbs, 69, of Pebble Beach, a retired newspaperman who had served as a reporter, city editor and business manager for The Herald, died yesterday in a local convalescent hospital after a long illness.

He was the rare newspaperman who succeeded in both the business and the news departments of a newspaper. Mr. Merbs retired in 1961 from The Herald after 31 years. For the last eight years of this time, he served as business manager. Previously, he had been city editor of newspapers in Oakland, Salinas and Sacramento before coming to The Herald.

He entered advertising while at The Herald. In the mid-and late 1920s, he was editor of the Review Printing Co., a Pacific Grove newspaper, …. The distinction of being the youngest editor west of the Rockies.

Mr. Merbs painted in oils and water colors as a hobby, but his work was of professional caliber. His interest in form and color was put to use in his business when he became a leading member of The Herald team, which pioneered in the development of the process for printing color in newspapers.

It was Merbs who arranged for the original portraits of Bing Crosby, which appeared through the years in special Herald supplements for the Crosby Pro-Amateur golf tournaments.

Mr. Merbs was born in Phillips, Wis., and moved to the Peninsula with his family when he was 16. He started his newspaper career in Pacific Grove, left to work in other Northern California cities before returning to the Peninsula to become city editor of The Herald in 1930, and its advertising manager in 1940.

He was a member of the Society of Western Artists and the American Artists Professional League, for which he was director of public relations for the California chapter. He was cited for “distinguished service in behalf of American Art Week” and placed on the Honor Roll of American Artists Professional League. This award was accepted for him in New York by the late Jimmy Hatio.

He was also instrumental in urging the sponsorship of American Art Week by Peninsula merchants and production of The Herald’s Art edition, which brought national recognition to The Herald.

Mr. Merbs is survived by his wife, Margaret of Pebble Beach; two sons, Blair of Mendocino and Alan of San Jose; a sister, Mrs. Howard (Marion) Shinn of Santa Maria; and many nieces and nephews.

These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born in Wisconsin on Aug. 31, 1902.  Merbs was a long-time resident of the Monterey Peninsula.  He died there on June 19, 1972.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Death Records
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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