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Article - Gift from remarkable man to help art students achieve their dreams

Gift from “remarkable man” to help art students achieve their dreams

Gift from “remarkable man” to help art students achieve their dreams

A distant relative of famed author Willa Cather, Bud Cather studied art and played on the Husker football team while a student in the 1930s.

Posted: Wed, Jan 10, 2018

An endowment newly established in memory of the late Myers B. “Bud” Cather, a distinguished commercial artist, advertising executive and Air Force bomber pilot, will create valuable new opportunities for students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School of Art, Art History & Design. 

University officials announced the establishment of the Myers B. Cather Art Fund Jan. 10. By providing annual support for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and assistantships, and grants for student travel, conference attendance and related activities, the fund will help Nebraska students gain experiences and exposure needed to launch successful careers in art and design fields. 

A distant relative of famed author Willa Cather, Bud Cather studied art and played on the Cornhusker football team while a student at Nebraska in the 1930s. He was a decorated pilot and squadron commander in the Army Air Corps and the U.S. Air Force during World War II and the Korean War. He later became an advertising executive for the Detroit automobile industry and served as vice president of Bristol-Myers Product Division in New York City. 

Some of Cather’s artwork and information about his life will be displayed Jan. 15-26 at the Eisentrager-Howard Gallery in Richards Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City Campus. The Cather display will run concurrently with the “Friends and Colleagues” exhibition that celebrates the work of emeriti faculty, staff and adjunct faculty from the School of Art, Art History & Design.

Members of Cather’s family are to attend a presentation about the Myers B. Cather Art Fund Gift during a special closing reception from 5-7 p.m. Jan. 26 in the gallery. The reception is free and open to the public. 

Francisco Souto, director of the School of Art, Art History & Design, said the display will give students, faculty and the community an opportunity to learn about “this remarkable man and his remarkable gift.” 

“This new fund will help so many of our students pursue their dreams to become artists and designers and enhance their own communities with their artistic pursuits in the future,” Souto said. “What a wonderful legacy for this family.”

The Myers B. Cather Art Fund was created with a $2 million gift through Cather’s estate. Cather died Dec. 24, 2013, at age 96. Cather’s second wife, Martha ”Mickey,” died in 2017. He has three daughters from a previous marriage:  Jane Cather Bouton, Paula Langan and Cindy Cather.

Cather’s nephew, John Cox, said the family is thrilled that Cather’s memory will live on at the university. 

“The whole Cather family is so connected to Nebraska, especially because of Willa Cather,” he said. “My grandparents and uncles were all big, big fans of the University of Nebraska football team. They went to every game for years.” 

“The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts is extremely grateful to the Cather family for its support of art and design students,” said Chuck O’Connor, the college’s dean. 

“Bud was an art student here and never forgot his Midwestern roots,” O’Connor said. “We are proud to carry on his legacy. We are also eager to showcase his artwork to the Lincoln community.”

Born in Buffalo, Wyoming, in 1917, Cather served as a B-24 pilot and a squadron commander of the 704th, 446th Group, 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force, during World War II.  He flew 28 missions bombing enemy-occupied Europe. He was second in command of all the squadrons on D-Day and flew three missions that day.

In 1950, he was based in Okinawa and was squadron commander of bombing missions over Korea during that war. In both conflicts, he earned the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters. In 1951, Col. Cather was in command of Lincoln Air Base, a Strategic Air Command base. 

He later operated advertising agencies in Lincoln and Beverly Hills, California, before becoming manager of Grant Advertising of Detroit. He joined Bristol-Myers in 1960. 

Cox said his uncle was always very generous with both his time and interest.

“He helped everybody,” he said. “I took my first art class with him when I was four years old for the price of five cents per class. He was an entrepreneur with everything. He taught me some of the basics. He was very close to me, and I to him. I followed him throughout his advertising career, both in Detroit and especially Bristol Myers in New York.”

Cox followed in his uncle’s footsteps, pursuing an advertising career of his own.

“I went into advertising on the Toyota account; he did Dodge,” Cox said. “Bud became my mentor on how to be a good ‘ad man.’ He was very special to me, and he was that way to everybody. Everyone was always very fond of Bud.”

Richards Hall is located at Stadium Drive and T streets in Lincoln. Eisentrager-Howard Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 12:30-4:30 p.m.  The gallery is open to the public at no charge. 

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