Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Elmer Messner

Elmer Reed Messner was born in Rochester, New York, on May 30, 1900, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census (place) and his World War I draft card (date). In the 1910 and 1920 censuses, and draft card, his surname was spelled “Moessner”.

In 1900, Messner was the second of two sons born to Charles, an upholster, and Susan. His father was born in Germany and mother in New York. They lived in Rochester at 43 Martin.

The 1910 and 1920 censuses recorded the Messners in Rochester at 98 Myrtle Street. Messner signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He was a student at the Mechanics Institute. His description was medium height and build, with brown eyes and hair.

The Courier-Journal, February 17, 1956, said Messner “attended city public schools…and studied at the Art School of Rochester Athenaeum, Mechanics Institute and the Art Students League, New York City….[He] was sports cartoonist for the now defunct Rochester Herald and the Rochester Times-Union from 1923 to 1932….”

According to the Rochester Institute of Technology Library, Messner “graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1918 and…In 1925 he returned to RIT to teach drawing. He taught there for over twenty years….”

The Daily Record (Rochester, New York), July 26, 1923, reported a marriage license issued to: “Elmer Reed Messner, 98 Myrte st, artist, and Grace I Eysvogel, 8 Delmar st.”

In 1926, Messner created the panel, That’s Not the Half of It, for Editors Feature Service.

According to the 1930 census, newspaper artist Messner, his wife and two sons resided in Rochester at 90 Roxborough Road.

The Courier-Journal said Messner was editorial cartoonist for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle from 1932 to 1934. He joined the Times-Union staff as editorial cartoonist and editor and illustrator of an outdoors column.

The 1940 recorded Messner at the same address plus a third child. He was a newspaper cartoonist.

Messner retired from the Times-Union in 1964.

Messner passed away May 23, 1979, in Pittsford, New York. His death was reported in several New York state newspapers including the Herald News (Avon, New York), May 30, 1979:

On May 23, 1979, Elmer R. Messner of Pittsford. He is survived by his wife, Grace; one son, Paul; daughter and son-in-law, Carolyn and Edward Bean of Ithaca; daughter-in-law, Gwendolyn Messner of Lakeville, NY; ten grand-children; five great-grand-children; Friends wishing may contribute to the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford Memorial Fund in his memory or the Elmer Messner Scholarship of Fine Arts, c/o Rochester Institute of Technology.

He was buried at Temple Hill Cemetery in Geneseo, New York.

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