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RIP, "Buffalo George" Toomer


by Jerome Weeks 20 Jul 2009

Bon vivant, oddball advertising guru, a droll social critic and all-round Dallas character, Toomer, 66, died in his sleep at his home. The News’ obituary is here. I know, I’m catching up from last week. But the local arts community should be aware of what we’ve lost. A genial man but disrespectful of most authority, […]

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georgeralphtoomer-customBon vivant, oddball advertising guru, a droll social critic and all-round Dallas character, Toomer, 66, died in his sleep at his home. The News’ obituary is here. I know, I’m catching up from last week. But the local arts community should be aware of what we’ve lost.

A genial man but disrespectful of most authority, he wrote and co-wrote several books (the News says three, but Amazon lists five, and that doesn’t even include his Dixie Chicks coloring book). He drew illustrations for the Wall Street Journal and Time, among other publications. Legend had it that George created the Frito Bandito character; he certainly drew the deliberately cartoony advertising campaigns for Dick’s Last Resort, Razoos and Bone Daddy’s. I once found a hand-painted postcard of some old-time cowgirls, showed it to George, and he claimed it was his artwork. Of course, I wouldn’t put it past him to pull my leg.

It seemed perfectly fitting that he excelled at restaurant image-making. I never saw George without a cigar or a glass in his hand, looking like a rumpled Orson Welles.  He once delivered a typical Toomer observation when I told him I was off that evening to see a stage show. He lifted his glass in toast and said: “The manufacture of  white wine will not die as long as theaters and galleries hold openings.” He downed his glass, made a face and added, “Make that the manufacture of weak white wine.”

I think George never played Falstaff on stage because it would have been too much like work and not enough fun. He also did it everyday, anyway.

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  • There was a time that I couldn’t go into a restaurant for lunch in what is now called Uptown without running into George and his sidekicks. My theory was that George had lunch a couple of times each day.

    He will be missed.

  • P.S. Is there going to be a memorial service?

    • The News story said only that friends were trying to arrange something but have no definite date yet.

    • Mike McRae

      Wake at Dick’s Last Resort, Houston and Lamar, Tues, July 21ST, 5 till you’re too drunk.

  • George had one credo: “I never lie to a friend. I never tell the truth in business”.

  • Randy Cook Perea

    I’ve been in love with George since 1968 but, as the days and blogs go on, I’m having an increasingly difficult time parting with him. Reading what others have to say reinforces what I’ve always known, so my heart is bursting. One day, George and I were sitting on his sofa in “The Little House on the Prairie.” (I was still 6 ft. tall and skinny.) My husband said, “You two look like the Hindenburg and its mooring mast!” As always, I’ll see you in the spring, Buffalo.

  • I was probably introduced to George twenty times over a period of fifteen years by mutual friends in the ad world who frequented the restaurants in the Oak Lawn area but he never remembered me from one time to the next, even the next day. Then, early one morning in Good Eats (now Luckys) it happened. He remembered my name and invited me to join his table. That was late 80’s and until late-90’s, i got to sit next to this man (who could go from wonderful to awful and back in less than 60 seconds), each morning for breakfast. We argued a lot but i always adored him for reasons known only to those of us who have a soft spot for “bad boys”. A new sweetheart came into his life and the breakfast group lost their soul and stopped meeting. Over the years since, we would call each other near our birthdays and promise to get together. I will miss that call in April and his all-knowing voice saying, “hey Squirt… how’s the birthday girl”. And maybe when i call him this December he will pick up and tell me he has found a great party and lots of famous people are celebrating with him. One of my greatest treasures is a photograph he gave me of himself standing on a sidewalk, holding a sign that reads, “WILL EXPLAIN QUANTUM THEORY FOR FOOD”. One of the most memorable characters of our generation has left the planet… but maybe he’s hovering.

  • Aaron Barker

    George was one of my best friends. I still go to pick up the phone to call him. I spent many days shooting the shit with him and making runs to 7-11. He had a huge impact on my life. I will never forget him. He listened and influenced me like no other in my life. I will always love that man and carry the torch. All will not be forgotten George.
    Sincerely,
    Aaron Barker

  • Julie

    My uncle was the best, cant believe he is gone

  • julie

    he was a great man i cant believe he died at only 66.

  • JERRY JOHNSON

    GEORGE TOOMER WAS QUITE A CHARACTER AT WOODROW WILSON HIGH SCHOOL WHERE HE WOULD SIT IN STUDY HALL AND DRAW CRAZY HOT RODDERS ON INSIDE OUT PAPER TEXTBOOK COVERS FOR ME AND A FEW OTHER GUYS..HE DID THESE THINGS FOR FUN AND WAS JUST A REALLY COOL GUY…I NEVER SAW GEORGE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL BUT I HEARD ABOUT ALOT OF HIS ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE JOURNAL AND DALLAS NEWS…ANYWAY,,,,THERE IS AN AFTERLIFE AND GEORGE IS THERE……….