Oregon loses an original with passing of artist Hugh Hayes

EUGENE, Ore. - If you are of a certain age and grew up in Oregon, odds are good you ate breakfast off one of his art but never knew who drew that mesmerizing take on your home state.

Colleagues recall Hugh Hayes as someone who ducked the spotlight.

But the artist, who died last week at age 98, left a body of work that still resonates today.

A native Oregonian, Hayes fought fires with the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression and later served his country in the Army.

After the war, the Oregon Forestry Department discovered his talents with pen and paper. Hayes was put to work drawing posters that sent a powerful but less-than-preachy fire safety message across the state.

"Hugh Hayes always had a sense of humor in his drawings," Doug Decker, now Oregon's State Forester, told KATU News in 2007. "Hayes did a fantastic job of celebrating those things that make Oregon special."

Hayes drew thousands of posters with recurring characters like "Sheriff Rimfire" and "Rusty Scrapiron" who reminded people to "Keep Oregon Green."

Decker told KATU in 2007 that it wasn't just Haye's posters that got folk's attention.

"There are an awful lot of kids that went out with their family to eat their breakfast or lunch off of Hugh Hayes' art," he said.

The Keep Oregon Green Association distributed more than 7 million placemats showing the state, as drawn by Hayes

"They are a character map of Oregon," Decker said. "He was also working to raise people's awareness about local history and really celebrating what makes Oregon - Oregon."

And with his passing, Oregon has lost one of the Oregonians who made Oregon, Oregon.

This is a developing story. This story may be updated as more artwork and information can be obtained