Malcolm Grear Passes Away


James Malcolm Grear, a former faculty member died on January 24, 2016. Malcolm was born in Wayne County, Kentucky on June 12, 1931. After serving four years in the U.S. Navy he attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati graduating in 1958.

Malcolm joined RISD in September 1960, he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1962 and Full Professor in 1980. He served as the Head of the Department of Graphic Design from 1965 to 1969 and won the John Frazier Award for Teaching Excellence in 1986. In 1991, he was the recipient of the Helen M. Danforth Chaired Professorship in recognition of his celebrated and renowned body of work. Malcolm continued to work at RISD until his retirement from teaching in 1998.

In his professional practice at Malcolm Grear Designers Inc. he won distinction through numerous honors and awards, most notably the commission to design the graphic identity of the Atlanta Olympic Games. Malcolm rendered distinguished service to RISD over a very long period as a teacher and professional designer. He remained a committed and involved member of the community through his service on college committees and mentorship to many students and colleagues. His gentle but direct critique helped shape generations of designers.

Malcolm was a great story teller with a seemingly inexhaustible repertoire of jokes for all occasions and audiences. His enthusiasm for the Kentucky arts of barbecue and bluegrass music never diminished despite his long residence in Rehoboth, MA. Malcolm made New England a warmer place. He is survived by his wife, Clarice Simpson Grear and their four children Joel, Amie, Jason, and Leah Grear.

There will be a service celebrating Malcolm’s life at the Community Church of Providence (372 Wayland Avenue, Providence) at 1 pm on February 13th, 2016. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made in his memory to RISD’s Malcolm Grear Endowed Scholarship. Contributions may also be sent to RISD c/o Amanda Wright, Institutional Engagement, Two College Street, Providence, RI 02903.


Photo Credit: Linda Megathlin, 1988.

Graphic Design, Malcolm Grear, obituary

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