David puts his pen down

David Howells (1918-2012) drawing in the garden, 1992.

It is with great sadness that I write of the passing of a great calligrapher and teacher, David Howells, on 4 September 2012.

David’s wife, Nancy Ouchida-Howells, wrote in an email: “Last week, David and I were at Knuston Hall enjoying the companionship of the calligraphy participants. He wrote many signs for their Open Day and a number of entries in a Memorial Book. At the party, he got up to join in a dance and we sang, “What shall we do with the drunken sailor?” He was lively and in good spirits, but not eating custard and treacle pud.”

David had been ill for several months and was taken to the hospital and he passed away peacefully at 4.50 pm on Tuesday 4 September with Nancy holding him. The Funeral Service cele-brating David’s life was held on Thursday 27 September 2012 at St. Julian’s Church in Shoreham-by-Sea where he was baptised, sang in the choir and hand-pumped the organ.  Over 100 people attended and there was standing room only. Gareth Floyd, a colleague from Leicester College spoke and David’s wife, Nancy, gave a thoughtful and warm tribute to his life. David loved the flight of aeroplanes and birds. In lieu of flowers, donations in David’s memory are invited for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, RPSB through HD Tribe, 40 Brunswick Road, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex BN43 5WB, or http://www.hdtribe.co.uk/ and follow the link to donations.

Tom Perkins, calligrapher and stonecutter, has described David Howells’ rich career calling him“the finest calligrapher.” Read this entry at: http://www.baps-orch.co.uk/29th_Entry/David_Howells.html. There will be a full obituary in the Spring 2013 Scribe. Read more at: http://www.calligraphyonline.org/.

Left: David Howells, FSSI. The Listener. 2009. An example of how David illustrated his texts with lettering.

David Howells’ calligraphic work was steeped in the Johnstonian tradition and simultaneously modern. He had fine drawing skills which, when combined with his painterly letter-ing made his compositions fresh and lively.

He was a kind and influential teacher to many.  I first studied with him during the summer of 1983 and this is what I wrote in my diary about the experience: “He is a calm and gentle man, and often seems deep in thought. He has a habit of placing his feet together, rising up on his toes then bouncing back down on his heels. His kind yet direct way of teaching encourages all to ask questions. He displayed the best work of everyone.”

Every year a hand-painted Christmas card with a new ‘bird’ design arrived.  

Thank you for reading this post, Nancy

website www.nancyleavitt.com   bookdealer www.juvelisbooks.com

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2 Responses to David puts his pen down

  1. Sharon says:

    Nan, I loved reading about David and seeing some examples of his work and am glad you made the trip to England to say a last goodbye, despite all misadventure, which, in the end, made for a good story, as misadventure will do. After the fact, of course.
    Love, Sharon

  2. What a nice tribute, Nancy. I was sad to hear of his passing.

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