Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Losing a True Friend

He called himself a cowboy artist.  We call him a true friend.  Larry Zabel recently passed away. 

Larry and his wife moved to Montana in 1988 so he could paint the life he wanted to live—a life among bear, deer, elk and Indians.  His artwork speaks for itself—rugged backcountry landscapes, breathtaking vistas and, of course, majestic wildlife.  He did what he loved right up to the end.  He finished one of his final works at home, for the Naval Air Weapons Museum at China Lake, California.  He finished the other, for the Madison County Ranchlands Group Weed Board fundraiser, in his hospital room.

For us at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, his passing is like a dark cloud but his influence remains a silver lining that beams ever so brightly.   


"RMEF had no better or loyal friend than Larry Zabel,” said RMEF President and CEO David Allen.  “His loyalty and generosity to us leaves a great legacy of wildlife compassion. We will all remember him fondly and we will miss him greatly.”


“I could talk about him for an hour, but I’d start crying and you don’t want to see that,” said RMEF Donations Manager Kristy Bosworth, who worked extensively with Larry over the years.  “I thought he had a Charlie Russell-ish style to his life. He was a cowboy.  He always had a big smile, sweet demeanor, and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.”
Larry was an RMEF Life Member.  His association with RMEF spanned more than 20 years.  He exhibited at Elk Camp the last 19 years where he auctioned 34 paintings.  (He auctioned another 16 at the Ennis chapter banquet in Montana.)  One of his paintings at the 2000 Elk Camp in Denver sold for $120,000.  Overall, Larry’s paintings generated more than $300,000 for conservation.  Larry made his Elk Camp outings a family affair as daughter, Becca, and son, Steve, often helped him with his booth.  He was an RMEF featured artist at least four times and his works included many RMEF characters, including the four founders (see below), CEOs and board members.
As the old saying goes “a picture speaks a thousand words,” but for us at RMEF, Larry Zabel’s paintings speak of a life, a love, an association, and an appreciation we will always cherish.

Go here to visit a Facebook page set up by his family.

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