Wife Berta Hoerner Hader
Académie Julian, Passage des Panoramas, 75002 Paris
55 River Rd, Grand View-On-Hudson, NY 10960
Elmer Stanley Hader (September 7, 1889 – September 7, 1973) and Berta Hoerner Hader (August 1, 1890 – February 6, 1976) were an American couple who jointly illustrated more than 70 children's books, about half of which they also wrote. They won the annual Caldecott Medal for The Big Snow (1948), recognizing the year's "most distinguished American picture book for children". They received the Caldecott Honor Book Award for Cock-a-doodle-doo in 1940 and The Mighty Hunter in 1944.
Elmer Hader was born in Pajaro, California, but spent much of his youth in San Francisco. At the age of 16, as a member of the National Guard, he helped restore order to San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. He worked briefly in a survey party up the American River (near Sacramento, California), then returned to San Francisco to work as a firefighter on the State Belt Railroad (a dock-side railroad that acted as a shuttle for goods and people), where his father worked as an engineer. Elmer used his earnings from this job to pay for his first term at California School of Design. He then obtained scholarships to finish at the school (1907–1910). Elmer was also involved in theatre, and was supported by two theatrical groups, including his time in Paris at the Académie Julian from 1912-1914. He was so successful at vaudeville routines in France and the U.S. (on the Pantages circuit), in which he would do a "Painting a Minute" act and, later, a living statue routine (in which individuals were made up to appear to be statues), that he considered dropping his long-term goal of becoming an artist. He did not. He returned to San Francisco, set up a studio in his parents attic, painted, taught art, and arranged exhibits. Elmer was the first artist showcased in a one-man one themed show at the Palace of Fine Arts. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and returned to France in 1918 as a member of the Camouflage Corps, just at the time that Berta was asked by Ms. Beatty to come to New York to work in fashion design illustration at McCalls.
When Elmer and Berta met in San Francisco, they had both been part of a broad network of artists and intellectuals in the area. They became good friends, and, rather than return to San Francisco, Elmer went directly to New York when he was demobilized in February 1919. Berta had also befriended Bessie "Mother" Beatty during her time in San Francisco. After Ms. Beatty's adventures covering the Russian Revolution (The Red Heart of Russia, 1918), she invited Berta to New York City to do fashion design illustration for McCall's, where Ms. Beatty had become an editor.
Elmer and Berta married in July 1919, then lived briefly in Greenwich Village. Seeking a more rustic setting, they left the city to rent the Lyall Cottage in Grand View-on-Hudson, a small town in rural Rockland County, New York on the west bank of the Hudson River. This would become the area where they would spend the rest of their lives. Their home, which took more than twenty years to construct, was largely built by the Haders and their friends, and the house became an art project in its own right. Elmer went so far as to extract the stones used to build the house from the earth himself. The Haders had a son in the early 1920s, Hamilton (named after the author Hamilton Williamson), who died from meningitis not long before he turned three. They retreated to a friend's home in Maine to grieve and heal. They returned to New York to continue work on their home and to continue their artistic careers contributing artwork to many magazines, creating broadsides, pamphlets, painting miniatures (Berta) and portraits (Elmer).
Hader became zoning administrator of Grand View in 1927 and held the post until his retirement in 1969.
He died on September 7, 1973, at Elmwood Manor Nursing Home in Nanuet. He died on his 84th birthday.
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