Happy 100th, Howard Munce!

Mark your calendars, Westport. On Friday, Howard Munce turns 100.

Howard Munce at work.

Howard Munce at work.

In a town long known for its great artists, illustrators and painters, he’s a towering figure. Howard’s resume — advertising director, graphic designer, sculptor, cartoonist, book author, teacher — ranks him with the most prominent creative folks in our history.

He served his country in World War II, seeing action as a Marine platoon sergeant at Guadalcanal.

He’s served his town too. Howard has been an honorary board member of the Westport Arts Center. For over 25 years, he volunteered as graphics director for the Westport Library.

Whenever he was asked to help — donating dozens of paintings and illustrations to the Permanent Art Collection; curating exhibits for the Westport Historical Society; mentoring young artists — he always said “of course.”

Howard Munce epitomizes 2 of our community’s proudest traits: our arts heritage, and our spirit of giving back.

He’s been a proud Westporter since 1935. He came here to live with family friends, while commuting to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. One of his first jobs was modeling for famed artist Harold von Schmidt.

Westport has been an important part of Howard’s life ever since. And he’s been an even more important part of ours.

What do you give a man who has seen and done everything? How about a townwide ton of birthday wishes?

(Birthday card/Denise Woods. Photo on right/Lawrence Untermeyer)

(Birthday card/Denise Woods. Photo on right/Lawrence Untermeyer)

Just click “Comments” below. Howard does not get on the computer much, but his daughter and home health care aide look forward to reading them to him.

Here’s my contribution:

Howard, happy hundred! Thank you for all you have done, for all of us. You have made Westport a far better place, and my life is far richer for knowing you. May your momentous day be as bright as your ever-present smile!

What’s yours?



37 responses to “Happy 100th, Howard Munce!

  1. Happy birthday, Howard. Your contributions to the Westport art world are immeasurable. My father and mother (Jud and Claudia Hurd) admired you tremendously!

  2. Happy Birthday Mr. Munce! I will always remember you coming to Coleytown Elementary School to visit my son’s 5th grade art class. The kids were amazed to meet a real artist who had actually made the beautiful art that hung on the walls of their school. You were an inspiration then and are an inspiration now. My son is now a senior and an aspiring artist/designer/entrepreneur. He remembers your visit as a a turning point for him. Have a wonderful day!

  3. Happy birthday, Howard! Thanks for all you’ve done for so many people and organizations. You are a treasure!

  4. Jim Marpe, First Selectman

    Howard Munce is one of the great treasures of Westport and an example of what makes it such a special place. Howard’s influence over so many artists and his body of artistic work are extraordinary. When the Town honored him this summer with a special exhibition and reception at the Westport Historical Society, it was easy to see what an impact Howard had made on the artistic community, as well as on the whole Town, and that it extended far beyond Westport. On behalf of the Town of Westport, Happy 100th Birthday, Howard, and thank you for making Westport a better place by being such a special and creative member of our community.

  5. Happy birthday Howard Munce! Thank you for your contributions to the arts in Westport and to the Westport Historical Society. ~ Kristan Hamlin, RTM, district #4.

  6. Mr. Munce I have seen you around town in my youth to my adulthood. When I learned about your Westport history and your own it always brought a smile. Happy 100th may it be joyous and fruitful

  7. Dear Howard, I wish you a very happy birthday. I became aware of this momentous occasion and of your very full life through the Dan Woog blog.
    If I could do even half of what you’ve accomplished, I’d consider my self very fortunate.
    We have not met, but you can say I know you now through Dan.
    Enjoy this birthday, for it is a very big deal. Be happy and stay well.
    Sincerely, LuAnn Giunta

  8. Dearest Perfect One–A ton of birthday wishes (or maybe one hundred tons). I treasure knowing and working with you and Jerry over all these many years. Thank you for all your contributions to Westport–and to your ability to deliver a smile to all our faces with your art! Much love, Eve

  9. Happy Birthday Howard, Having grown up in this town, I know I’ve had the pleasure of admiring your artistry throughout the years, but feel further blessed to now have a beautiful face/name to put with them. Thank you for sharing your gift with so many. May this birthday give you life truest gift, good health, laughter and the joy of having loved ones with you. Thanks to Dan Woog, I feel that I know an important piece of Westports history. God Bless!

  10. Maxine Bleiweis

    Howard, how fortunate Westport has been to be the recipient of your talent, your sense of humor, your dedication. The Westport Library was especially lucky to have you ever present and influencing the selection of exhibitions and the collection of black and white works on paper of Westport artists in the McManus Room. Happy 100th!

  11. Betty Lou Cummings

    Happy, Happy 100th dear Howard….you are truly amazing in everyway….many hugs always, Betty Lou Cummings

  12. Dear Mr. Munce, Hello, how do you do?

    We want to wish you a very happy and blessed birthday this week; 100 is a glorious accomplishment! Congratulations!

    The Arts have always ranked very, very high in our lives; me with my with my little pencil, pen & ink (as well as with words) and my husband with his God-given gift of Music. He, however, like you, has been one of the lucky ones to have been able to actually share their gift, their Art, with the world and we, in turn, are the lucky ones to have been able to enjoy it. How wonderful for you both. Thank you for that.

    It’s such an honor to hope that these simple sentiments will, in fact, grace your Big Day. Do enjoy! God bless you.

    The Jose Feliciano Family
    Weston, CT

  13. We never met but when I was growing up you were a household word. My Dad, Mike de Santis, had the highest respect for you & spoke of you often. So in my Dad’s spirit I wish you a very Happy Birthday & thank-you for blessing us with your talent & presence for all these years. Happy 100 years.

  14. Jill Nash von Schmidt

    Dear Mr. Munce —

    A very Happy Birthday to you! I have never met you, but my mother-in-law, Annie von Schmidt spoke of you fondly. I know she would want the family to remember you on your special day!

    We pray that your day is blessed & that you are surrounded by many friends & family. I know it will be a day to remember!

    Thank you for all your contributions to the town. You are so kind & generous & caring. Our town is a better place because of your giving heart.

    May the Lord continue to bless you greatly. A very Happy Birthday to you from the von Schmidt & Nash families. 😊💜🎈🍰🎉

  15. My dad, Phil Palmieri, has been gone for over 20 years now, but he really enjoyed working for you. Knowing him, you probably tasted his homemade wine more than once along the way. Howard Munce was a name I grew up hearing very often, and when he spoke of you, it produced the twinkle in his eye that he had for only the people that he truly liked. Thank you for all you do. Happy 100, Sir.

  16. Howard, you have always been the best of friends and the best of artists. I have kept your precious comments written and sent by U.S. mail after you have seen one of my shows. One in Bridgeport that required your getting the guard to open the building! When a fellow artist takes the time to go and then to write such encouraging comments is very special. In my heart I have thanked you many times. You are loved by all of your fellow artists and that is a triumph!
    Alberta Cifolelli

  17. Warm wishes from frigid Minnesota.
    Dorothy Abrams

  18. Ellen Naftalin

    Dear Howard,
    Mark and I wish you a very Happy Birthday and thank you for the privilege of knowing and working with you during these last ten years.
    Ellen and Mark Naftalin

  19. Michele Smolen

    Howard,I send you my warmest Birthday wishes. But I mostly want to send you the many heartfelt wishes I know my husband, Donald Smolen, would
    want me to send to you. He had the most respect and admiration always, for
    Enjoy your Birthday cake!
    To a beautiful 100th DAY to you,
    Michele Smolen

  20. Happy Birthday, Howard! It has always been a delight to know you.

    One of our treasures is a copy of a piece published in the Town Crier on November 6, 1947. “It’s Easy: How to Make a Holiday” almost won you the Pulitzer Prize. But because you had no other writing to present then, they wouldn’t give you the prize.

    It is a powerful statement on the price of war. If you’ll let me, I’ll send it to Dan so it will be read again.

    Best wishes, Mary and Howard Maynard

    • Ellen Naftalin

      Dear Mary,
      Powerful indeed…
      I coordinated the Howard Munce Centennial Exhibit at WHS earlier this year. We displayed that essay on the wall. “The Folly of War”.
      I am so in awe of Howard’s work, his friendship, his service
      and that amazing essay.
      I would like to direct your attention to a YouTube video
      which Miggs was kind enough to put on his channel for me.
      It is a video I took with my 2008 brand new camera.
      I fumbled so I missed the first 3 or 4 words….”I am honored to be standing here…”
      Howard refers to that essay and quotes the last paragraph.
      The whole speech, but especially that last paragraph is gorgeous, heartbreaking and,as you say, powerful..
      To see and hear the speech you can google…
      Howard Munce Memorial Day speech, 2008..
      It will come up.
      It took place on Veteran’s Green during the year, 2008, when Howard was the Grand Marshall. His beloved wife Gerry was with him on stage.

      What a guy

  21. Happy Birthday Mr. Munce! May your birthday celebration be extra special this year. You are a true treasure. Know that you have earned the love, respect and gratitude of your entire hometown. What better accolade can there be then that? Thank you for all that you have done for so many and congratulaions on making it to 100!

    Best, John F. Suggs

  22. I am so pleased that the Westport Historical Society was able to mount an exhibit devoted entirely to you Howard earlier this year. It was very well received by your legions of fans. Thank you from all of us interested in the Arts in Westport.
    Ed Gerber
    President WHS

  23. I hope you had a wonderful happy birthday.Thankyou for being an important part of bringing the arts to Westport.

  24. Happy Birthday, Howard! To me, you will always be up on a ladder, hanging a show, with Mollie…and all the rest of us trying to keep us… I’m so glad that we were able to mount an exhibit celebrating you for a change! Much love, Ann Sheffer

  25. Marjorie Santella

    Happy Birthday Howard! Lou always enjoyed seeing you at the shop and I still have the drawing you did of him .
    We both enjoyed working on the Saugatuck School project which is now in the town library.
    Marge Santella

  26. Happy, happy day, Howard. Denise and I always enjoy being with you working on exhibits or just having a good time. As I have told you many times “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” But I never plan to grow up, even though I’m 82 today! Much love,
    Wally Woods

  27. Howard — Happy birthday from a mere youth of 72 who shares your birthday.

  28. Happy Birthday to a great ex-adman!…Harold

  29. Happy Birthday Howard and cheers to another 100!

    Celeste Yarnall
    Miss Rheingold 1964

  30. Howard All the Rheingold girls remember your talent and charm and how you helped us look our best sometimes over the difficult times with Phillip. Your judgement was an essential part of the Miss Rheingold success! CHEERS!

  31. Happy 100 Howard! And thank you for your friendship, mentorship, wit and wisdom over the years I have known you. You and my father were friends and I was honored when you called me “friend” too. All the best! Miggs B

  32. Happy 100th Birthday, Howard! You’re an inspiration—not only for managing to live a century (how did you do that?) and for all you’ve done for Westport and our arts community over the decades, but also for being the charming, full-of-life person you are. By the way, my family still has a wonderful, framed cartoon you drew of my father, John Plantinga, years ago. Every time I see it, I smile.

  33. Happy 100th Howard! Westport is a better place because of you!
    Carole Erger-Fass from WSPAC

  34. Dear Howard,
    Happy 100th Birthday from the Westport Woman’s Club!
    Your many years of support for Gerry’s membership here and your pro bono service to our organization in our quest to aid the community are not forgotten.
    You did things large and small, ranging from participating in our Art Show fundraisers to designing signage for our annual Canal Park luncheon. On the occasion of our centennial in 2007, you assisted with new branding and logo design along with graphic support for our history book.
    It is only fitting, since you were so kind to us on our 100th birthday, that we salute you on yours!
    Dorothy E. Curran, President
    Westport Woman’s Club
    44 Imperial Ave.
    Westport, CT 06880

  35. Ellen Naftalin

    Happy Birthday ,Howard, from Anthony Dohanos

  36. Dear Howard,

    Thank you for using your exceptional graphic and writing skills to share good thoughts, keen wit and wonderful cartoons with a very appreciative

    When you were Art Director at Medical Times Magazine you gently made several suggestions about the covar art I was preparing for the magazine. Your suggestions always made my work better. Being able to work with you and Len Fisher installing the art exhibits in the library for over 10 years was just plain fun!

    Judy and I feel that sharing our 47 years in Westport with Gerry and you has been a wonderful gift.

    Happy 100th dear friend!

    Judy & Neil Hardy