Richard Dempsey was an illustrator and painter who often drew inspiration from his frequent trips to Jamaica and Haiti. Born in Ogden, Utah, he spent much of his youth in Oakland, California, where he developed an interest in art. In 1941, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he first worked as an engineering draftsman with the Federal Power Commission and later transferred to the General Services Administration, where he worked as an illustrator for nearly thirty years. In 1946, he was awarded a fellowship from the Julius Rosenwald Fund to create one hundred portraits of prominent African American individuals, including Duke Ellington, Thurgood Marshall, and Adam Clayton Powell.
Source: Petrucci Family Foundation, Archives of American Art