In Memoriam: Dr. John Cody

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of one of the GNSI’s shining stars, Dr. John Cody. Dr. John passed away July 11, at the age of 91.

It was on a tree-lined street in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, where John Cody first encountered a large and colorful moth from the saturniid family.He was five years old. He still recalls in detail that magical moment, which would launch a lifelong interest and ultimately become what he calls his true vocation: painting moths.

Dr. Cody began sketching scenes from nature when he was eight years old and later began a professional art career as a medical illustrator. He went on to medical school and became a renowned psychiatrist, practicing for more than twenty-five years, something he says he did, in part, so that he could afford to paint. A fellow psychiatrist called Dr. Cody "a rare avis, one of the most truly creative and original human beings I've ever met."

Ultimately, his fascination with moths and remarkable artistic talent came together to produce his celebrated paintings of moths. Indeed, John was a renaissance man, and he is now revered as "The Audubon of Moths."

Dr. Cody's numerous exhibitions have included one-man shows at such sites as the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. He holds top honors from a myriad of organizations and publications, from Audubon Magazine to the Association of Medical Illustrators. John received the Governor's Arts Award in 1997 for Individual Artist Lifetime Achievement Award in the State of Kansas.

An authority on the poet Emily Dickinson, he has written biographies of her and of Richard Wagner. He has also co-authored a biography of the famous medical artist Max Brodel, as well as published books on art anatomy. He has written dozens of articles and papers on subjects ranging from painting, medical illustration, psychiatry, and entomology. John Cody is survived by his wife, Dorothy and their three children: Loren, Andrea, and Graham.

Dr, John had been a member of the Guild since 1995. GNSI members fortunate enough to have known Dr. John, and even more fortunate to have taken his watercolor workshops at many conferences came to know him as a sweet, kind, and very funny man, ever generous with his time and talents. He received the GNSI Special Service Award in 2012 [the Special Service Award is occasionally given for long-term dedication to the Guild through efforts of volunteerism, service, teaching, mentoring, or other ongoing and substantial support of our organization].

He will be sorely missed.

Google “Dr. John Cody, Hays, KS” and you will find a number of fascinating articles about this complex and multifaceted man. 

We'd love to hear your stories and memories with John. Please share your stories, photos, (un)finished artwork from John's workshops, and any messages to Dot and his family using the link below. We will compile them and share with John's family and friends and the GNSI membership. If you run into any questions or troubles with the link, please contact Ikumi [log in to unmask]"

Remembering John Cody (

View more Cody art here:

You can read the full obituary and see photos of Dr. John and some of his beautiful art at; scroll toward the bottom of the page.

Website Photos:
Jerry Hodge, Elaine Hodges, and John Cody at the Richland WA Conference, 1995
John Cody and his painting at the Savannah Conference Member's Exhibit, 2012
Several examples of Dr. John's work.

Gail Guth
Guth Illustration & Design
139 Lathrop Avenue
Battle Creek, MI  49014-5076
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