permission from the Waukesha
Appeared on front page of the Jan
6, 2007 edition
Gil Reid, 1918 - 2007
Railroads Picasso captured
history of trains
Local artists work known worldwide
BROOKFIELD Whether riding the rails or even the elevator
at Amtraks corporate offices, passengers and train buffs
alike likely came across the work of Gilmore Wiley Gil
Reid, said Amtrak official Cliff Black.
Reids work was shown on everything from
Amtrak calendars to magazine illustrations to book covers and
prints. Reid, of Elm Grove, passed away Tuesday at age 88.
Reids artwork was perhaps seen by the largest
audience in his illustrations for the annual Amtrak year-at-a-glance
calendar. His artwork was reproduced on the calendars for 19
years, from the 1970s to early 1990s.
Much of the original art is hanging in
Amtrak headquarters in Washingtons (D.C.) Union Station,
said Black, acting chief of corporate communications at Amtrak.
If you ride an elevator in the corporate offices, chances
are good no matter what floor you get off at, youll be
treated to framed art by Gil Reid.
Black said his former colleague Bruce Heard traveled
with Gil each year to scout for new locations for the next years
painting. Reids artistic talent, his eye for detail and
historical accuracy made him sought after as an illustrator,
The first thing that comes to mind about
Gil is his gentlemanly demeanor. He impressed most people, certainly
me, with his kindness and old-fashioned courtliness. He was
a true gentleman, said Black, very selfeffacing
but a stickler for accuracy in his work.
A lot of railroad enthusiasts have his
framed prints, said Rob McGonigal, editor of Classic Trains
magazine, a Kalmbach publication.
Reid worked for Kalmbach Publishing from 1956
to 1978 as an illustrator for Trains and Model Railroader magazines.
He left in 1978, McGonigal said, to paint full time and still
worked for the companys publications on special projects.
One of his best known paintings was on
a dust-jacket cover of The Hiawatha Story,
McGonigal said. Thats a pretty famous image. He
was one of the top people in the field. Railroad artwork is
a niche in the painting world. And he was a terrifically nice
man, a wonderful human being with a lot of great stories, too.
Rodney Kreunen, state railroad commissioner for
Wisconsin, said he knew Reid for many years.
He was probably the best ambassador the
railroads ever had relating their history to the public,
Kreunen said. He was the railroad industrys very
own Picasso. His ability to replicate detail in watercolor and
how to place the locomotive, the time and the scene was a touch
few people had.
Lorrayne Woodford-Reid said her husband experimented
with many types of paintings before specializing in railroads
and locomotives. And at the memorial service Tuesday, the family
plans to display Gil Reids first and last train paintings.
Reid was born in St. Louis, Mo. and raised in
Richmond, Ind. before attending Miami (Ohio) University and
the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He served with the 10th Engineering
Battalion in World War II and received a Purple Heart after
being wounded in Italy.
Reids most recent painting was completed
for the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay. The museum commissioned
a painting annually which was then reproduced in prints for
Gil knew trains and loved them, said
Bob Lettenberger, operations manager at the National Railroad
Museum. He captured railroad history. You can read his
bits of description, or if you were lucky enough to sit there
with him and let him tell you his story about (the painting),
you would be transported trackside to a completely different
time and world.
is survived by his wife, Lorrayne, of Elm Grove; daughter, Sara
Kaploe, of Olatha, Kan.; two grandsons and an extended stepfamily.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Ann; son, Gilmore
Jr. and stepdaughter, Linda Woodford.
A memorial service is planned at Brookfield Presbyterian
Church, 1485 N. Brookfield Road at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Visitation
is scheduled from noon until the time of the service.
Submitted photo Gil Reid is seen with a recently
completed print ["400" at Elm Grove] in this recent
photo. Reid, renowned for his paintings of trains, was commissioned
by Amtrak for artworks at the railroads headquarters and
also worked for a local magazine company illustrating train
scenes. He died Jan. 2.