Press Release: May 28, 2015

The Autry Announces the Death of Trustee and Special Advisor John J. Geraghty

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Los Angeles, CA (May 28, 2015)—John J. Geraghty, a longtime trustee of the Autry National Center of the American West and special advisor to the Autry’s Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale, died May 27, 2015, following a battle with cancer. Geraghty, 85, is survived by three children and nine grandchildren.

“The sadness I feel in the loss of my longtime friend John Geraghty is without measure,” said Jackie Autry, Founding Chair of the Autry’s Board of Trustees. “In addition to his role as a major trustee of the Autry, John co­founded the Masters exhibition with Joanne Hale. He was a mentor to Western artists, and many felt he was like a second father. John inspired all of us to not only learn about quality Western art, but also to appreciate the story it was telling along with its beauty.”

Masters began in 1998 and with Geraghty's continued involvement as a special advisor, it soon became one of the Autry’s most successful annual fundraisers and one of the nation’s premier Western art shows. In a 2011 interview with Southwest Art magazine, Geraghty was asked to describe his greatest source of pride related to the Masters exhibition. “The commitment and dedication of the artists and their willingness to continue to challenge themselves,” he said.

“Our Autry staff and trustees are profoundly saddened by this loss,” said W. Richard West, Jr., the Autry’s President and CEO. “Beyond his leadership role at the Autry, John was a tireless champion for Western art and artists. We quickly and unanimously decided that our 2016 Masters exhibition will be dedicated to his incomparable legacy—one that has impacted hundreds of artists and thousands of museum visitors who attended the exhibition during the past 18 years.”

Beyond Masters, Geraghty served as an Autry trustee since 1998, and was a co­founder and past board member of the Cowboy Artists of America Museum, now the Museum of Western Art, in Kerrville, Texas. He was also a co­founder of the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, a board member of the California Art Club, and a board member of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma, where he co­founded the Prix de West exhibition and sale. But within the Western art community, he is recognized for much more than his extensive board service and 40 years as a collector: among artists, he was a trusted mentor, advocate, and friend.

"I loved John as a brother and had tremendous respect for him. Beyond the studio and art shows, our families spent a great deal of time together," said Howard Terpning, a leading Western painter.

"My feelings toward John echo those of artists across the country. He always looked at things from an artists' point of view, bending over backwards to make artists feel welcomed, appreciated, and supported every step of the way.”

A native of California, Geraghty was married for 60 years to his wife Saralynn, who passed in 2013. Geraghty retired in 1997 after heading Geraghty Automotive Inc., Geraghty A+M Products Inc., and Geraghty MPG Products, specializing in national automotive businesses with headquarters in Los Angeles, for 44 years.

The funeral will be held on Thursday, June 4, at 11:30 a.m. at Old North Church, Forest Lawn­Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068.

About the Autry National Center of the American West

The Autry is a museum dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West, connecting the past to the present to inspire our shared future. The museum presents a wide range of exhibitions and public programs—including lectures, film, theatre, festivals, family events, and music—and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach. The Autry’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant of Native American materials in the United States.


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The Autry Museum of American West acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). We recognize that the Autry Museum and its campuses are located on the traditional lands of Gabrielino/Tongva peoples and we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.

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