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March 13, 2012

Essex cartoonist, artist Sid Couchey dies

North Country icon remembered for great art and soul

PLATTSBURGH — Sid Couchey got the sign a little more than two weeks ago.

The lifelong Cleveland Indians fan, the iconic North Country artist, was going home — to his final home.

Sid, 92, died Sunday in Inman, S.C., where he and his wife, Ruth, have wintered the past decade.

Their snowbird digs were the basement level of the home of their son, Brian, daughter-in-law, Suze, and their five children, Andrew, Benjamin, Abbi, Jimmy and Peter.

"He went very peacefully," Suze said by phone Monday.

A TRUE ORIGINAL

Sid was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma on Leap Day, Feb. 29.

"It's an exceptionally rare cancer," Suze said. "Leave it to Dad to get something extraordinarily unique."

Sid was a true original.

The much loved Essex man was a cartoonist who drew such characters as Richie Rich, Little Dot and Little Lotta for Harvey Comics for many years.

Those familiar faces appeared in many of Couchey's own works over the decades. He also painted "Champy by the Masters," a series of images of the Lake Champlain monster in the styles of such artists as Picasso and Monet.

That collection found a home in a book that Sid collaborated on with his daughter, Laura Abate, to introduce schoolchildren to art.

Sid created a mascot for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

He dreamed up the sister-cityhood of Essex with Harveyville, the virtual home of the cartoon greats he breathed life into for so many years.

Rascal Raccoon, who helped Vermont fight drugs and alcohol, came to life under Sid's hand.

He and another North Country icon, the late Arto Monaco of Land of Make Believe fame in Upper Jay, teamed up for the first and final time in 2003, to illustrate a comic book reviving the fame of Witherbee-born movie star Tom Tyler.

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