June 5, 1935 – August 17, 2017
A Renaissance man, a dearly loved husband, father, brother and friend, Anthony Lazorko Jr., age 82, passed away on Thursday, August 17, 2017, in Las Cruces, NM. We now picture Tony having conversations in heaven with Benjamin Franklin, sharing a Jack Daniels with Thomas Jefferson, and exploring the great beyond with wanderlust partner and love of his life, wife Marge.
An artist known for his woodcut prints of the American West, Tony was also a painter, graphic designer and photographer https://www.flickr.com/photos/lazorko. He was a great storyteller with an amazing mind and memory for detail. A magnet for friends, he welcomed diversity of ideas and lifestyle. He was a conscientious objector during the Korean War, and a lifelong progressive with deep concern for the poor and disenfranchised.
A gadget-lover, Tony embraced all new technologies and was known to Snapchat with his grandsons. He adored Stickley furniture, Thomas Wolfe, Airstream trailers, the Number 5, heavy cream, Russian composers (especially Rachmaninov), Italian cinema and inventions. If you ate out with Tony, he always grabbed the check before you. He was passionate about “breaking bread,” and insisted on making time for food, family and friends.
Tony was born on June 5, 1935, in the historic Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia, blocks away from the Delaware River. He spent his earnings from working at a grocery store to ride every trolley line in the city for the nickel fare — just to see what was out there. As a young boy, he realized that he was walking the same streets as did William Penn and Benjamin Franklin. History came alive for him. He became a scholar of American history. He collected rare books and artifacts, including the comprehensive collection of the Franklin Papers and lithographs of the Philadelphia Centennial Celebration.
Early employment tapped his well of invention and ingenuity as a window decorator at downtown shops near Arch Street. At the time, 1956-1960, he was also pursuing a fine arts education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. There, he met Marge, a fellow student. They took their easels together into the city, painting bridges, buildings and urban scenes.
Tony studied drawing, oil painting and printmaking under the tutelage of such prestigious artists as Morris Blackburn, Walter Stumpfig and Franklin Watkins. To help pay his tuition, he became a print monitor for three years at the behest of Mr. Blackburn.
While attending the Academy, he worked as a staff commercial artist at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, drawing countless TV sets, refrigerators, cars and furniture. These were the days before clip art was widespread. These images appear again in his later works.
Tony and Marge married in 1959, eventually moving to Powelton Village and a house that was built in the 1860s. Tony performed extensive renovations while holding down two jobs — at the newspaper and an advertising agency. As they raised their family, he and Marge were active in their neighborhood, founding the Powelton Village Arts Festival and leading many other civic improvements. In summers, they traveled with their three children across the country, pulling a trailer and camping at many national parks. Their extensive travels included every state in the continental United States, all the provinces of Canada, and northern Mexico.
Tony’s career in graphic design spanned many decades. After the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin closed in 1982, he moved to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he led the art department’s transition to digital computer graphics. Tony mastered complex infographics and nested location maps. It was entirely fitting that he chose a house in the city’s historic Soulard district to call home. After his retirement in 2000 as art director, he moved to Mesilla, NM, into a small house with an adjoining studio, where he and Marge resumed their art pursuits.
His magnum opus “The Organ Mountains,” and more of his unique, multi-colored prints, are at www.lazorko.com. As his health suffered, a key contributor to his productivity was his gifted studio assistant Ivan Rincon, who he considered family.
Tony described his work: “The focus of my work has always been to depict something about the American experience, no matter how ordinary, and to say it in an aesthetic manner with tactile surfaces, color and composition.”
A life with so many accolades does not overshadow his most lasting legacy – that of Father. He had a practice of waving goodbye for as long as he could see you — or you him, always making you feel centrally special.
He was preceded in death by his wife Marguerite Biddle, his parents Anthony Lazorko Sr. and Rose (nee Rudnick) Lazorko. He was brother of Lisa Lazorko Abercauph; and father of Jonathan Lazorko (Esther), Paul Lazorko, and Catherine Lazorko (David Brower); and his little prince Tommy the cat. He was grandfather of Maria, Elizabeth, Naveed, Shaan, Nicholas, Benjamin, Kyle, Jared, Kara and Hannah; great-grandfather of Michael; and uncle of Jules, Stephen, Marianne, Jacqueline, Brad and Lee. His gifts to children were legendary — handmade cards showcasing the birthday girl or boy on the cover of TIME Magazine, and bubble gum in novel dispensers or hard candy in colorful tins.
Memorial Gatherings to Celebrate the Life of Tony Lazorko:
- 10 a.m. Sunday, November 26, 2017, at the Community Education Center and Meeting House Theatre, 3500 Lancaster Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19104.
- 2 p.m. Sunday, December 10, 2017, at the Mesilla Community Center, 2251 Calle De Santiago, Mesilla, NM 88046
- 7 a.m. Monday, December 11, 2017, Our Lady of Guadalupe Pilgrimage, hosted by Village of Tortugas. Meet at the Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 3600 Paroquia St., Las Cruces, NM 88001. This is a four-and-a-half mile walk up the steep terrain to the summit of Tortugas Mountain. Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on the mountain. http://www.pbase.com/annmurdy/lady_guadalupe_2013&page=all
- 3 p.m. Sunday, December 17, 2017, at McGurk’s Irish Pub, 1200 Russell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63104