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Charles Voorheis John

T/5 in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : HQ & Service Co

Military occupational specialty: 144 (painter, general)


Born 1905 in MI, Died 1962


County of residence at enlistment: New York County, NY
Other residence(s): Manistee, MI; Lower Merion, PA; Radnor, PA; Manhattan, NY; Bronx, NY
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: commercial artists
College education before the war: Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Arts; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Notes: Middle name also spelled "Voorhies" and "Voorhees" in several documents—"Voorheis" is the spelling on his draft card
Source: 603rd roster from Seymour Nussenbaum's scrapbook, July 1943; Photograph 91-14 GALP archive ; Bahnhof flag signature; Unit Shipment 10143-B, 23d HQ, from le Havre 23 June 1945;; photo of self-portrait of Charles V. John courtesy

Charles John was born on October 24, 1905 in Manistee, MI, the younger of two sons. His father, who had been born in England, was a photographer who eventually went to work in advertising and his mother became a teacher when her children were older.

By 1920 the family had relocated to Lower Merion, PA. Charles started his art studies at the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Arts (later The University of the Arts) and graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts. He then went to work as a commercial artist. Some time prior to 1940 he developed a specialty as a book illustrator and jacket designer and moved to New York City. His work was especially sought after for children's books.

On August 25, 1940 he married Margaret Radford, just a couple of months before he registered for the draft on October 16.

Charles enlisted on March 22, 1943 and, like other NYC artists, was assigned to the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion. He saw service in Europe with the unit, and was discharged with the rank of T/5.

He returned to the Bronx, where he and Margaret lived, and resumed his art and design career. Immediately after the war (between 1946 and 1950) he designed many book jackets in the "Childhood of Famous Americans" series, published by Bobbs-Merrill, including those on Washington Irving, Pocahontas, Henry Clay, "Aleck" Bell (Alexander Graham!), Eli Whitney, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Davy Crockett, and Booker T. Washington. These illustrations were characterized by silhouetted figures against a multicolor background. (See the image slider elsewhere on this page.)

He also did jackets and interior illustrations for other children's books, including "Three Ships Came Sailing In" about Jamestown, and "Two for the Show" about a boy in Shakespeare's England.

He did some work in the adult market as well, producing book jackets for novels by Helen MacInnes and Herbert Brean, among others. His clients included several different book publishers in the US and Canada. (One early illustration he did was for the 1939 cover of the Canadian edition of Anne of Ingleside, a later book in the Anne of Green Gables series. (See the image slider.))

Sadly his wife died before her 50th birthday, on August 29, 1959, and Charles died three years later, on October 2, 1962; he was a patient at a VA hospital in East Orange, NJ at the time. The couple had no children.

Charles is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, along with his wife and his wife's parents. (Margaret's father was a Brigadier General in the Marine Corps.)

NOTE: The various versions of his obituary that were published in newspapers all over the country have an incorrect age; he was 56 at the time of his death, not 66.


1910 census

1920 census

1930 census

1940 wedding announcement in The Morning Post (Camden NJ)

1940 draft card

1943 enlistment record

1946 review in the Hartford Courant (CT) of a book he illustrated

1949 review in the Chicago Tribune (IL) of a book he illustrated

1950 census

1959 wife's death notice in the Asbury Park Press (NJ)

1959 New York city directory

1962 US Veterans' Gravesites

1962 Find a Grave record*5fyriy*_gcl_au*OTEyMDIyOTA3LjE3MDYzMjAwNzY.*_ga*NTQ1MzUyODE5LjE3MDYzMjAwNzY.*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*ZDUyNzllNGQtZWExNi00MzljLWFjZjctNTQyN2VkOWViMDAxLjEuMS4xNzA2MzIwNjI3LjUzLjAuMA..*_ga_LMK6K2LSJH*ZDUyNzllNGQtZWExNi00MzljLWFjZjctNTQyN2VkOWViMDAxLjEuMS4xNzA2MzIwNjI3LjAuMC4w

1962 death notice in The Jersey Journal

Self-portrait (for sale for $1,885)

Books for sale on Amazon

List of many of the books he illustrated

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