January 28, 1958 - - December 1, 2005
Paco Young, 47, of Bozeman, MT, died at home on December 1st, 2005, after an inspired and courageous yearlong battle with leukemia. A self-made man who became one of today`s most talented and successful wildlife artists, he finally met an obstacle even his unwavering determination and positive attitude couldn`t overcome.
Born in Biloxi, MS, on January 28, 1958, to Ray and Charlotte Young, Paco lived throughout the South, spending most of his memorable years in Nashville, TN. He attended the Memphis College of Art, where he met, and wisely soon after married, his best friend of the past 27 years, Toni Taylor Young.
After graduation in 1981, Paco and Toni took their artwork on the road, traveling to countless art shows across the United States for 10 months a year, 10 years running. In March, 1994, they moved from Atlanta, GA, to the Gallatin Valley, achieving Paco`s life-long dream of living out West. It was here their son, Graham Parker, 11, was born.
Paco was a prolific artist whose talents ran from the prints currently published by Hadley Publishing to the sporting and wildlife art used by National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, Ruffed Grouse Society, Quail Unlimited, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to raise millions of dollars for conservation; from the immense oils that grace such prestigious establishments as Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone Park and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Nebraska to the plein-air miniature landscapes he so loved to paint while on family camping trips in the Beartooths or near Georgetown Lake.
Paco`s love of nature and light is evident in every painting he produced, and he inspired hundreds of upcoming artists in the various workshops he and Toni conducted.
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Paco and Graham
Paco was a perfectionist, and he took pride in everything he did, from painting landscapes and western big game, to hunting and fishing, to the beautiful woodwork in his home and even the upkeep of his yard. Doing anything half-baked was inconceivable, and to do so was simply disrespectful to himself, his family, and even to strangers.
He also loved a challenge: His eyes would light up talking about casting to a pod of 20-plus-inch rainbows with a size 22 fly on a 7X tippet, and he relished debating politics with any liberal he met. A staunch conservative, he could fluster even the most poised opponent with his relentless enthusiasm and convictions.
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Graham and B.B. King
Like the blues he always listened to while painting in his studio—B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughn were his idols—Paco immersed himself in pursuits rich in tradition and sensation, which is why he loved fly fishing with bamboo rods, calling in ducks over decoys with his Lab, Mattie, at his side and his Model 12 in hand, and following a setter through the grouse and woodcock woods with his favorite side-by-side. They appealed to his artist`s eye and to his abiding belief that how you approach an objective is every bit as important as achieving it.
If you were to ask Paco what he was most proud of, it would be that he had absolutely no regrets: He was always his own man, never answering to anyone, and he remained true to himself while treating others fairly and honestly. And that he`d been able to live in Montana with his wife and son whom he adored, painting whatever he wanted for a living. Not long ago he said, "Everybody tells me that I`m going to a better place, but how`s that possible? How can I be any happier than where I am right now?"
What made Paco so special to his friends was his easy and outgoing nature, his generosity and loyalty, the trust he engendered because it was so apparent what an honorable man he was. Most of all, he had keen wit and a limitless capacity to laugh at himself and with others. An intelligent conversationalist and spirited teaser, he never took himself too seriously, and yet he was passionate about everything he did.
For years Paco has had this motto hanging from his easel: "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body; but rather to skid in broadside thoroughly used up, totally worn out and proclaiming-WOW! WHAT A RIDE!!" What a perfect description of this life we all cherished, this man we are so proud to have known. It`s been a heck of a ride, Paco. We`re going to miss you.
A "casual" service - a celebration of Paco's life will be held on Friday, December 9th, 2005 at the Gallatin Gateway Community Center from 4:00pm - 6:00pm. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Graham Parker Young College Fund, First Interstate Bank, P.O. Box 10910, Bozeman, Montana 59719.