Roy Scarfo, 88, of Downingtown, an artist whose illustrations of outer space captured the imagination of Americans from the 1960s on, died Monday, Dec. 8, of pancreatic cancer at the VA Medical Center in Coatesville.

Mr. Scarfo's first illustrations came to the attention of the public in 1957 when they were published by his employer, General Electric. He spent 16 years as creative art director for GE's Space Technology Center, which opened in 1961 in Valley Forge.

At the same time, he became a space art consultant and illustrator for Sun Co., NASA, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Senate, and others. Syndicated by Mondari Press Inc., of New York, his work was released for publication in the United States, France, Spain, Italy, England, Israel, Hong Kong, Canada, and South America.

Many of his drawings appeared in The Inquirer and New York Times in the early 1960s, giving the country its first taste of what interplanetary travel might look like and how future space colonists might live inside asteroids.

He drew everything from lunar landings to deep-space dwellings that scientists posited might someday hold traveling families over several generations.

Mr. Scarfo's first exhibit of 35 paintings, titled "Beyond Tomorrow," appeared in 1978 in the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, N.M., and was so compelling that it was held over for seven months.

His work appeared in 40 books and on TV specials narrated by Frank McGee, Walter Cronkite, and Orson Welles. He collaborated with futurists Isaac Asimov, Alvin Toffler, and Mr. Scarfo's colleague and close friend at GE, Dandridge M. Cole.

Mr. Scarfo provided the artwork for his and Cole's 1965 book, Beyond Tomorrow.

Numerous professional and art awards usually reserved for engineers and scientists came his way; Mr. Scarfo was honored with two Philadelphia Gold Medal Awards, the city's Silver Medal Award, and GE's Space Award.

His charts of the solar system and worlds beyond were in great demand as visual teaching aids and are still being used in museums and observatories, his online profile said.

He was a fellow and trustee of the International Association of Astronomical Artists.

Mr. Scarfo, born in 1926 in Carnegie, Pa., joined the Marine Corps at age 17, served in the South Pacific, and was wounded on Okinawa. He then served in the American Embassy in Peking, China, studying art and the Chinese language.

After his honorable discharge in 1946, Mr. Scarfo continued his studies at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, the Advertising Art Studio in Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Institute of Technology.

While most of his work was done before 1980, its visionary nature continues to be influential, his family said. As recently as 2002, his illustrations of space colonies were featured in International Design magazine and lauded for helping "stretch, challenge, and redefine our ideas about what a city can be."

His most famous painting, Inside-Out World, which shows what life might look like inside an asteroid, was published in the book Beyond Tomorrow.

Mr. Scarfo's first wife, Grace Scarfo, died in 1974.

Surviving are his wife of 39 years, Carol, and daughters Deborah Zant and Susan Brunner; son Gunny Scarfo; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and a niece and nephew.

A service was held Thursday, Dec. 11.

bcook@phillynews.com

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