Jack Rankin Schroeder, 76, a nationally known wildlife artist who was a two-time winner of the Maryland duck stamp contest and who had two new species named for him by the Smithsonian Institution, died of cancer Aug. 6 at his home in Arlington.
Mr. Schroeder won the Maryland Migratory Waterfowl Hunting Stamp Design contest in 1977 with his watercolor painting "Bluebills at Sunset." In 1980, he again won the waterfowl stamp contest with his colored pencil drawing "The Ward Brothers: A Legacy to Maryland."
The Ward brothers, Lem and Steve Ward, were barbers from Crisfield, Md., who became famous waterfowl decoy makers and who were credited with transforming a folk tradition into a decorative art form. Mr. Schroeder became a leader in the effort to restore the workshop used by the brothers.
In 1980, after developing a close friendship with Lem Ward, Mr. Schroeder bought a second home in Crisfield to spend time working with Ward in his original workshop. During this period, Mr. Schroeder produced a series of six paintings and subsequent limited-edition prints titled "The Ward Brothers Series, Shooting Birds," which depicted Ward decoys in the workshop setting.
After Lem Ward's death in 1984, Mr. Schroeder became a founding member of the Ward brothers' Homeplace Inc., a nonprofit organization created to restore the brothers' workshop in Crisfield. The Homeplace is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mr. Schroeder was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. In 1954, after service in the Navy, he moved to Chestertown on Maryland's Eastern Shore to attend Washington College. There he began his career as an illustrator and painter of birds, animals and rural scenes. His work included paintings, drawings, prints, wall murals and maps.
He was the longtime chairman of the Chestertown Tea Party Festival, which includes a reenactment of the May 23, 1774, dumping of British tea in the Chester River.
From 1966 to 1969, Mr. Schroeder was a field illustrator in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico for the Army Research Office's investigation of the Holdridge life zone theory, a principle of how to classify living things in specific places.
That work led to Mr. Schroeder's 25-year career as a contract illustrator for the National Museum of Natural History. To honor his precise illustrative work, two newly classified species were named after him: a species of fish, Ecsenius schroederi, and a species of microscopic crustaceans, or Ostracoda, Rutiderma schroederi.
Mr. Schroeder painted a series of survival cards of flora and fauna in Southeast Asia that was used by U.S. forces in Vietnam. He also did illustration work for the British Museum of Natural History in London, and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. In 1974, Schroeder illustrated the innovative "Key to North American Waterfowl," a waterproof field guide printed on plastic.
In 1990, Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) appointed Mr. Schroeder to the Maryland State Arts Council. He was on the council for eight years, serving terms as vice president and chairman.
He received the "Founder's Award" in 1996 from the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators for his contributions as founding member and coauthor of the first guild constitution. Also in 1996, Glendening presented Mr. Schroeder with the "Governor's Art Award, Individual Artist" for outstanding commitment to the arts in Maryland.
His first wife, whom he married in 1948, Barbara "Dolly" Vosburgh, died in 1983.
Survivors include his wife of eight years, Carolyn Settles Schroeder of Arlington; two children from the first marriage, Kathryn Manning Schroeder of Newark, Md., and Creighton Paul Schroeder of Phoenix; two stepchildren, Sloane Sewell Settles and D. Chestlee Settles of Arlington; three sisters; and a grandson.