We’re big into birthdays and (of course) into books, and when we heard about the yearbook photo book celebrating the life and work of the soon-to-be-centenarian Walter Chapman, we nearly threw a party of our own.
Chapman, an artist and illustrator born in 1912, served as a solder in WWII and, along with a photographer, was assigned the job of capturing the experiences of the 84th Infantry Division. Fortunately for Chapman, his photographer sidekick was Maurice Miller, father of Mark Miller, an accomplished photographer himself and the author behind the book that celebrates Chapman’s work.
Mark Miller came upon Chapman’s illustrations while researching a Blurb book he made about his father’s WWII photography. When he heard about Chapman’s upcoming birthday, he seized the opportunity to make a book. The book is wonderful, a visual time trip and a great tribute – and well worth flipping through.
Take a look: Chapman’s illustrations and front line sketches from WWII were featured in The Railsplitter, Stars and Stripes, and published in The 84th Infantry Division in the Battle of Germany, by Theodore Draper.
One of his Railsplitter features was “Combat Spotlight” which highlighted individual soldiers with a portrait, illustrations and a bit of narrative about their experiences.
He also illustrated a political cartoon called “Peep Sight.”
Chapman was awarded a Bronze star for combat art during World War II, and he went on to win further achievements and honors for his artistic works throughout his life.
Sylvania, Ohio, Chapman’s hometown, will be holding a centennial gala in honor of his birthday. Ohio is a long way from Blurb’s San Francisco headquarters, but we’ll be wishing Walter Chapman a very happy birthday from afar.
In the meantime, we’d like to send our thanks to Mark Miller for helping to preserve this element of our history. The stories, experiences, and photos kept by those in our lives are precious. And it goes without saying, that capturing that history and those experiences in a book is a gift that’s precious to anyone, of any age. In the Blurb forum, Mark Miller wrote that after a copy of “The WWII Art of Walter H. Chapman” arrived at the Chapman home, they called him, and were so happy and emotional. “Mrs. Chapman said her legs were shaking and she was in tears!” What a great gift. Thanks again, Mark, for sharing your story and the story of Walter Chapman.