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LeRoy Winbush

Renaissance man LeRoy Winbush was born on December 7, 1915, in Memphis, Tennessee. His many accomplishments include founding his own graphic design business and creating a name for himself as a scuba diver as well as a bowler and skier.

At age five, Winbush moved with his father to Detroit, Michigan, after his parents separated. He moved to Chicago at age fourteen and attended Englewood High School. He performed with a singing trio called the Melody Mixers, which gained attention through engagements at clubs and hotels as well as on CBS and NBC radio stations. After graduating from high school in 1936, Winbush worked at a sign shop as an apprentice. The Regal Theatre hired him in 1938 to design and paint the theater front. Then, he designed signs and displays as the only African American employee at Goldblatt's Department Store and eventually became their art director. In the 1940s, Winbush revolutionized the window displays of banks and earned a reputation as one of the country's top airbrush artists. He also worked as art director at Johnson Publishing Company for a decade, where he helped to create the first issue of Ebony. He then founded Winbush Designs in 1946.

After a solid career as a pioneering graphic designer, Winbush tackled a new challenge at age forty-eight: he learned how to swim at Chicago's Lawson YMCA. He enjoyed it so much that he studied scuba diving, qualifying for Lawson's 20 Fathom Club in 1966. He served as the club's president from 1968 to 1983. Winbush has led underwater expeditions all over the world, including the Red Sea, Dutch West Indies and Jamaica. He combines his love for diving and designing as an underwater photographer and has created oceanic exhibits in Florida's Epcot Center as well as Hong Kong's Ocean Park Museum. Winbush began ice diving in 1973.

Winbush has held many prestigious posts. He was the director of design for the Illinois Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1967 and served as vice president of Our World Underwater, an annual seminar in Chicago, for seventeen years. He has been a design consultant for the DuSable Museum since 1992. Without having attended college or any art schools, Winbush became an assistant professor in visual communications at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently writing his autobiography.

Accession Number

A2002.095

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/29/2002

Last Name

Winbush

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Wingert Pre-Vocational School

Edmund Burke Elementary School

William W. Carter Elementary School

Englewood High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

LeRoy

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

WIN01

Favorite Season

None

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

12/7/1915

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Greens (Mustard)

Death Date

5/28/2007

Short Description

Graphic designer LeRoy Winbush (1915 - 2007 ) founded his own graphic design business and created a name for himself as a scuba diver. Winbush revolutionized the window displays of banks, and earned a reputation as one of the country's top airbrush artists. He also worked as art director at Johnson Publishing Company for a decade, where he helped create the first issue of Ebony magazine.

Employment

Mentrell Parker

Goldblatt's

Johnson Publishing Company

Winbush Associates

Art Institute of Chicago

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of LeRoy Winbush interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - LeRoy Winbush's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - LeRoy Winbush talks about his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - LeRoy Winbush talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - LeRoy Winbush recalls memories from his youth in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - LeRoy Winbush discusses growing up in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - LeRoy recounts his early education in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - LeRoy Winbush discusses his early experiences in art

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - LeRoy Winbush talks about the demographics of his high school and environs

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - LeRoy Winbush remembers his position as an apprentice with a sign shop

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - LeRoy Winbush recalls his relationship with Charles White

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - LeRoy Winbush gives an overview of his career as a sign painter

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - LeRoy Winbush explains the application of gold leaf

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - LeRoy Winbush talks about his transition into the role of art director

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - LeRoy Winbush talks about his career path to Goldblatt's

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - LeRoy Winbush remembers nearly being drafted into the U.S. Navy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - LeRoy Winbush names various jobs he held

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - LeRoy Winbush explains his career with the Johnson Publishing company

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - LeRoy Winbush describes his duties with Johnson Publishing Company

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - LeRoy Winbush names coworkers at Johnson Publishing Company

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - LeRoy Winbush talks about bringing his advertising ability to the banking industry

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - LeRoy Winbush comments on how he built his client base

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - LeRoy Winbush discusses his connections to Chicago's art community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - LeRoy Winbush talks about his experiences with music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - LeRoy Winbush remembers his marriages

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - LeRoy Winbush looks back on his past and discusses future plans

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - LeRoy Winbush recalls experiences with the Art Directors Club of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - LeRoy Winbush explains the various directions in which his career has taken him

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - LeRoy Winbush details his introduction to and successes in scuba diving

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - LeRoy Winbush discusses his involvement with Our World Underwater

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - LeRoy Winbush talks about encountering a shark

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - LeRoy Winbush comments on his movie cameo

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - LeRoy Winbush explains New Year's Day dives

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - LeRoy Winbush talks about some of his hobbies

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - LeRoy Winbush considers his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - LeRoy Winbush discusses the relationship between black design organizations and white agencies

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - LeRoy Winbush ponders how he'd like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - LeRoy Winbush comments on his family's views of his success

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - LeRoy Winbush shares his thoughts on The HistoryMakers project