During his 40-year tenure at Chicago advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding, now Draftfcb, he collaborated with Avery — the producer of the TV spots — and legendary voice actor Mel Blanc. The famed Raid bug campaign began in 1963.
For the first 10 years of his career, he was a magazine illustrator and worked at an animation studio. Moving to Park Ridge in 1962, he joined Foote, Cone & Belding and was put in charge of the Raid account.
Pegler “codified the look, feel and animation” of the weird insects that run in fear of Raid, said Steve Schildwachter, executive vice-president at Draftfcb.
“He is the father of a campaign that is known and loved in more than 90 countries around the world,” said Schildwachter, who worked with Pegler during the last few years of his career. “Don was a kind and humble person and very important, commercially. He contributed to pop culture.”
“When I started on the Raid account, I really liked it, but I never thought it would still be going 50 years later,” Pegler said in a 2010 interview with fellow artist Chicago Dave Wittekind. “And I got to go out to Hollywood and work with famous people like Mel Blanc and Tex Avery.
“At the time, I didn’t realize how famous they were… just a guy making funny voices — and driving a Rolls-Royce. Years later at an animation show, some people wanted to touch some of the notes Tex Avery had sent me as if they were touching the Holy Grail,” he added.
Born and raised in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood, Pegler was the son of a Chicago police officer. He nearly became a policeman, but found work as an artist a month before being called for duty.
After the Second World War, he served overseas with the United States Army in Japan before returning home to study at the University of Illinois and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on the GI bill.
He was taught animation by a former Disney man at Cartoonists, Inc., a Chicago studio.
“In a dog-eat-dog business where everyone was scrambling to get noticed, he was everybody’s friend,” said former co-worker Rick Steinman. “He made everybody laugh.”
Pegler was predeceased by his wife, Bridie Cullen. He is survived by sisters-in-law Grace Gutman and Pat Campbell; children Nancy, Mike, Kathie, Laurie, Kevin, John and Bob; and grandchildren Amy, Jen, Katie, Colleen and Rick Blonn; Kelly and Kevin Zurek; and Stephanie, Jack, Elizabeth, Catherine and Ryan Pegler.
A funeral was held last Friday at Nelson Funeral Home in Park Ridge. Interment was at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Misericordia, American Cancer Society or Rainbow Hospice. Information is available at (847) 823-5122.