Wildlife artist Donald Jean ‘‘Don’’ Whitlatch (November 11, 1931- April 22, 2017) was born in Parkersburg. Noted for his realistic portrayal of birds, animals, and plants, Whitlatch published limited edition prints of his paintings for more than 30 years.
After graduation from Parkersburg High School, Whitlatch served in the U.S. Air Force and attended West Virginia University and Ohio University. He worked for an advertising company and then started his own design studio. After suffering a heart attack at 38, he left advertising and concentrated on developing his artistic abilities. His earliest works were watercolors of birds.
In the early 1990s, he accepted a four-year commission to paint scenes of Colonial Williamsburg. This was followed by orders to paint holes of famous golf courses, including the fourth hole at Cascades Course at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, the sixth at the Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, and the 16th at Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament.
His honors included selection by the Audubon Society for the group’s first art auction, one of 21 international artists chosen. A Whitlatch painting of the American bald eagle was presented to the White House during the Nixon administration. He served 17 years as the state’s wildlife artist-in-residence.
Whitlatch established the first West Virginia chapters of Ducks Unlimited, National Ruffed Grouse Society, and Quail Unlimited, and donated his art to help these groups raise funds. Whitlatch died in Parkersburg.