The creator of the pink plastic lawn flamingo, the ultimate symbol of American lawn kitsch, has died. Donald Featherstone was 79. Featherstone's wife, Nancy, today told the AP that her husband died yesterday at an elder care facility in Fitchburg, Mass., after a long battle with Lewy body dementia. Featherstone, a trained sculptor with a classical art background (he studied at the Worcester Art Museum), created the flamingo in 1957 for plastics company Union Products, modeling it after a bird he saw in National Geographic. Millions of the birds have been sold.
The Telegram & Gazette recalls that Featherstone clinched the Ig Nobel Prize in art in 1996. Featherstone worked for Union for 43 years, inventing hundreds of plastic products in that time (750 by the Telegram & Gazette's count) and rising to the position of president before his retirement in 1999. In addition to his wife of 40 years, Featherstone is survived by two children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. (Read more obituary stories.)