During more than 60 years as a commercial illustrator, Edward Valigursky earned awards and honors for his vivid paintings.
He was invited to NASA and military events, and his talent landed contracts to illustrate numerous magazine covers. But he remained an unpretentious man, said his daughter-in-law, Michelle Valigursky of Atlanta.
"In spite of the experiences that he had and the places he was invited to and the people he got to meet, he was always very, very humble and modest," she said. "And that made it very endearing because he was so gifted, but he never bragged about it."
Mr. Valigursky died of heart failure Sept. 7 at his home in Cape Coral, Fla. He was 82.
He was born in New Kensington into a large family, and as a young boy created drawings to amuse his brothers and sisters, Mrs. Valigursky said.
A Navy veteran of World War II, Mr. Valigursky used the GI Bill to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. But he missed his hometown, so he transferred to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. His work, characterized by action scenes and attention to detail, started selling while he still was in art school.
After graduation, he moved to New York City and sold many paintings, but he left the city to settle in Wyckoff, N.J. In the 1950s and '60s, he worked as an art director and cover artist for science fiction and fantasy magazines, including Amazing Stories, IF and Fantastic Adventures.
He also illustrated covers for novels by such authors as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, and became known for including robots and machines of his own design in his paintings.
But he'd always been an aviation buff, Mrs. Valigursky said, and soon his work began focusing on military and historical illustration. He became a cover artist for Bantam Books, Ballantine Books, Time-Life and other major publishers.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Popular Mechanics magazine hired him to produce several dozen covers. His detailed and dramatic cover art illustrations broke multiple industry sales records and earned many awards, Mrs. Valigursky said.
He never really retired, instead doing commissioned work, usually for private collectors. Many of his illustrations have been featured in exhibits in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Royal Air Force Museum in London.
Other works are on permanent display at the Pentagon.
Mr. Valigursky is survived by his wife, Rita; his daughter, Lisa, of Atlanta; his son, Edward, of Atlanta; two sisters, Margaret Fiorina and Annie Martin, both of Lower Burrell; and two grandsons.
Services will be private.
Kaitlynn Riely can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1707.