Earle Oakes was so superb on many levels. I rank him among the top three illustrators of all time, not only in his skill, style, innovations, and absolute and steadfast pursuit of excellence, but for his amazing prolificacy. We collaborated on several books and he did over 950 illustrations for my column in MAGIC. When his quantitative contribution to our magic literature is tallied, his legacy will be celebrated to the degree it deserves. Beyond that, Earle was a true gentleman. I never heard him utter an unkind word and he inevitably found what was good and decent in every person and thing.
He was with us 88 years. During that time he gave us much to use, praise, and remember. I wrote an appreciation of Earle in Magic (November - 1999, titled "Butterflies Are Freed." Chuck Romano wrote another in The Linking Ring (March - 1996). Check them out. I often said that Earle reminded me of a Renaissance word--"illumination," where "light is thrown on subjects to see them better." Earle wanted to represent, as Wittgenstein suggested, the sense of sentences in his drawings. His art quickened lackluster exposition. He made the "dead butterflies" of methodology come alive and flutter off the page. They then flew into human consciousness--if not to stay, at least stir.
You will definitely be missed.