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Westport Mourns Artist Howard Munce, 100

Westport artist Howard Munce died Saturday, March 5.
Westport artist Howard Munce died Saturday, March 5. Photo Credit: Westport Historical Society

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Westport artist Howard Munce died this past weekend at the age of 100. 

First Selectman Jim Marpe issued the following statement Tuesday on learning of Munce's death:

It was with profound sadness that I learned of Howard Munce’s death this past weekend. I am very grateful that we had the opportunity last year to celebrate Howard’s 100th birthday and honor his legacy in a most appropriate manner. I am also reminded how through the years Westport had the opportunity to praise his talent, perseverance and philanthropic nature, including celebrating his patriotism when he was the Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal in 2008.Howard continually demonstrated generosity and community spirit as a benefactor of the Library, the Westport School’s Permanent Art Collection, the Westport Historical Society and a myriad of Town organizations. The Town has lost a true patriot, artist and civic leader. Howard will be sorely missed, but his presence in our community will live on for generations.On behalf of the Town of Westport, and as its First Selectman, I extend my deepest condolences Howard’s children, family and friends.

Munce was born in 1915 in Jersey City, N.J. and moved to Westport in 1935. He lived with relatives while commuting to the Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn. 

His artistic career was placed on hold when he served in the Marine Corps during World War II. During his time in the Marines, Munce sent illustrated letters from Guam and Bougainville to friend and artist Stevan Dohanos, who donated the letters to the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Munce worked as an art director for New York City advertising agencies for 16 years beginning in the late 1940s to freelance as a graphic designer, illustrator, writer, teacher and sculptor from a studio in Westport. 

He also served as art director for a corporate magazine, drew cartoons for newspaper columns, penned books on art and design and taught at Fairfield University and the Paier College of Art. 

Munce also donated dozens of works to the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection and was the unpaid graphic designer for Westport Library's pamphlets and publications.

Regarded as the "Dean of Westport Artists," Munce was a professor emeritus at Paier College, honorary president of the Society of Illustrators in New York City and an honorary board member of the Westport Arts Center.

Munce was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for an essay on the folly of war. 

The Westport Historical Society honored Munce in 2015 with a “Centennial Celebration.”

The Sheffer Gallery showcased Munce's paintings, drawings, illustrations and sculptures during the celebration, while the Mollie Donovan Gallery spotlighted his Westport connection and military service.

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