By Marlee Ginter

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Gregory Kondos, the iconic Sacramento artist whose paintings of the Delta and region gained him worldwide recognition, died at 97 after battling an illness, his wife confirmed on Saturday.

Kondos’ death, which was first reported by the Sacramento Bee, came less than a week shy of what would have been his 82nd birthday on April 2.

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“I didn’t realize how much I could miss him until this morning when he wasn’t here,” said his wife Moni Van Kamp Kondos. “And that’s the hardest thing.”

The pair were married 25 years and were inseparable. Moni described their years of traveling as her being the driver while Gregory was sketching.

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He spent nearly his entire life in Sacramento, having moved to the area with his family in the 1920s. Kondos attended and taught at Sacramento City College, where the art gallery bears his name.

“We are heartbroken to hear that beloved artist, teacher, long-time SCC supporter, and namesake of our college art gallery, Gregory Kondos has passed away,” the college said on Saturday. “Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and the many whose lives he touched.”

Kondos’ mural, “River’s Edge, adorns Sacramento International Airport and can be viewed in Terminal A. The Kondos house could be an art museum, not just his work hanging on the walls but his awards and even books of his landscapes.

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“It’s just a privilege to have been married and experiencing life with Greg,” Moni said.