Lili Wronker, Calligrapher and Illustrator, Is Dead at 94 | Modern Society of USA

Lili Wronker, Calligrapher and Illustrator, Is Dead at 94

Lili Wronker, Calligrapher and Illustrator, Is Dead at 94

In the early days of World War II, Lili Wronker was a teenager living in England — an aspiring artist attending a school for German refugees like her.

In an ink-and-watercolor diary that showed youthful sophistication, Mrs. Wronker described her travels, a Hollywood musical she had seen (“The Under-Pup,” starring another teenager, Gloria Jean), blackouts in London and her fears about the widening conflict.

On one page, she drew herself wearing a gas mask. “We got smart new gas mask holders,” she wrote. “I think people look like funny animals when they wear gas masks. I only wished they will never need them.”

For Mrs. Wronker, the diary was the start of a career as a widely admired book illustrator and calligrapher, with a distinctive hand in writing Hebrew.

In a diary entry before she left England, Lili painted two girls walking from what appears to be a small village to a skyscraper in the United States. “We are leaving you, the holidays and a country in war,” she wrote, “for a stormy sea and the country of thousand possibilities. We only wish that no mine will undermine our hopes.”

After settling in Queens, Lili received an arts education at Washington Irving High School in Manhattan. She took an unfulfilling job in the promotions department of Time magazine, then spent the rest of her career as a freelance artist.

One of her first projects was illustrating “The Rainbow Mother Goose,” which was named one of the top 50 books of the year by the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1947.

Mrs. Wronker would go on to illustrate dozens of other children’s books.

In 1952 she married Erich Wronker, a printer at the United Nations. They built a small side business in their apartment in Jamaica, Queens, where they printed greeting cards and other products.

“We had a 900-square-foot apartment, two printing presses and 10,000 books,” her daughter, Rona Wronker, said.

In addition to her son and daughter, Mrs. Wronker is survived by a grandson. Her husband died in 1996.

Her passion for calligraphy led her to leave a note to her children about 20 years ago that outlined the lettering she wanted for her gravestone.

“This is nothing to cry about,” she told them. “I just hate ugly lettering.”

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