Sunday Senior Spotlight: Sherm Howe, of Woodstock

  • Ted Fondulas, left, a longtime friend of Sherm Howe, gives a toast to Sher Howe far right, at Howe's 94th birthday party at Woodstock Terrace in Woodstok. At center is, Bob Benz, former curator at Billings Farm & Museum and also longtime friend of Howe's. (Grettie Howe photograph)

Valley News Calendar Editor
Published: 4/13/2019 9:00:18 PM

WOODSTOCK — Sherm Howe, of Woodstock, became a photographer accidentally.

He was working at a now-shuttered machine tool company in Springfield, Vt., and “got thrown into it” after the company asked him to photograph the machines using a box camera. “The machine tool industry was dying at the time,” he said.

That started a 54-year career where he said he was just “trying to make a living.”

Howe, who turned 94 on March 17, photographed spreads for catalogs, including Norwich International, and portraits of area student-athletes. When he started out, he also photographed weddings.

During a recent interview at Woodstock Terrace, where Howe is a resident, his daughter, Grettie Howe, recalled her father’s feelings about photographing such affairs: “You didn’t like that,” she said to him, “because weddings were always on Saturdays.”

She also recalled a particular photo shoot where her father captured stuffed animals on the alpine slide at Pico Mountain Resort.

Howe was born in Floral Park, Long Island, N.Y. His father worked on Wall Street and the family moved up to Ludlow, Vt., where the family had a summer residence after the Great Depression hit. He served in World War II as a Navy Seabee, and he met his late wife, Petie Howe, while singing in the choir at James Episcopal Church in Woodstock.

When it came to photography, he was mostly self-taught — save for a few courses at Kodak in Rochester, N.Y.

For a time, he had a studio in Springfield before moving it into the family’s Woodstock home, where Petie Howe assisted him. He used the basement as a darkroom.

“People would come to him and mother made lunches,” Grettie Howe recalled. “We used to call it Petie’s diner.”

Sherm Howe also used his skill set to assist what was then called the Woodstock Preservation Society (and is now the Woodstock History Center) archive its photo collection in the 1980s.

“No one was doing it,” he recalled. Many of the photographs were on glass plates. “I took photographs of things so they could build a file of what they had.”

Photography was also one of Howe’s hobbies. While traveling in Europe with his wife, he took photographs of the landscapes and street scenes. But it’s photographing people, he said, that he enjoys the most.

He also formerly photographed the work of up-and-coming artists throughout the region.

“He loved helping young artists get going,” Grettie Howe said.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727- 3221.

The Senior Spotlight is an occasional feature that is part of the Sunday Seniors column in the Sunday Valley News. If you or someone you know would be interested in being featured to share your memories of life in the Upper Valley, contact Liz Sauchelli at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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