Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Don Wootton

Donald Bedell Wootton was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio on January 15, 1896, according to the Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1800-1962, at Ancestry.com. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of two children born to Harry and Ada. They lived in Mt. Vernon, Ohio at 800 West Chestnut Street. His father was a hotel clerk.

In 1910 the Woottons remained in Mt. Vernon but at a different address, 404 West Walnut. His father was an insurance agent. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, on April 20, 1962, said

...In 1911—he was then 15—the family moved to Detroit.

There Wootton first saw his boyhood idol, Ty Cobb, after whom Mr. Wootton patterned his baseball style when the family returned to Mt. Vernon and he began playing semi-pro ball.

With the semi-pro team he toured Ohio towns, meeting with such success that a major league team expressed an interest in him. But on the day he was to try out with the team he was drafted into the Army.

At Ancestry.com, Ohio Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918 recorded Wootton's National Army enlistment date as April 27, 1918. He was assigned to Company C, 330 Infantry, 158 Depot Brigade. With the rank of private, he was honorably discharged on December 19, 1918. The date of his move to Cleveland, Ohio is not known. Ohio Art and Artists (1932) said Wootton studied at the Landon School, in Cleveland, and the Cleveland Art School. The Plain Dealer said, "Mr. Wootton was a member of the editorial art department of The Plain Dealer for seven years after his discharge from the Army following World War I." He also created a Sunday strip By the Way which ran from June 29, 1919 to May 27, 1923.

The 1920 census recorded Wootton, a lodger, in Cleveland at 1898 East 82 Street. His occupation was newspaper cartoonist. At the same address was illustrator Rico Tomaso. He married Ruth Ellison in Cleveland in 1924, according to the Plain Dealer. The book Our Brokaw-Bragaw Heritage (1967) said she was an English portrait painter. The Plain Dealer said, "Leaving The Plain Dealer, Mr. Wootton became art director of the [Cleveland] Press. He later was with the Newspaper Enterprise Association for a time."

In 1930 the couple lived in Cleveland at 4209 Euclid Avenue. He was an artist for commercial journals. Ohio Art and Artists included Wootton's explanation of how he made caricatures.

The best place to pick up sketches of prominent men is at their favorite restaurants during the lunch hour. I have often made rough sketches of some well-known man while seated a few tables away from my victim. When unconscious that he is being sketched, his expression is entirely natural and at such moments the best likeness can be secured. I depend a good deal upon memory to get the form of features of each individual. I depend a good deal upon memory to get the form of features of each individual. Sometimes I do not make a sketch at all, but draw my impression of the face when I return to the office. At first I worked for caricature of the face only. Now I include every peculiarity of his person and even his most characteristic postures. I believe that these things are as truly characteristic of him as his features, and are as easily recognized.

The Plain Dealer said, "He then worked for the D'Arcy Advertising Co., leaving there last year [1961] to open his own studio." Wootton passed away on April 18, 1962, in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. His tragic death was reported in the Plain Dealer two days later.

Donald Bedell Wootton, an editorial artist whose caricatures of the well known enlivened Cleveland newspapers for two decades, died yesterday in University Hospital in Columbus. He was 66.

Mr. Wootton's death was the result of a gunshot wound, self-inflicted in a park near his Mt. Vernon, O., home on Sunday.

Usually happy but sensitive, he had been worried of late about the success of an art studio he had opened last year at 4300 Euclid Avenue, his wife, Mrs. Ruth Wootton, said….

He was buried at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Gambier, Ohio.


Hi Allan,

I was wondering if you could tell me if Jim Ivey accepts money orders?

I would like to get one of his books and I don't know if he has an email or not. I hate to send a letter to him with just that one question on it.
You can order Jim's books online at lulu.com.
Sad. My dad's cousin, still remembered for his art and humor.
Don was my grandpa’s brother. I never got to meet him but I have several of his drawings including one of Gandhi as well as several hand drawn Christmas cards he sent to family members . I knew his wife Ruth, she was an excellent portrait painter. We have a large family portrait of my grandmother and her children hanging in my family room.
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