Malenda Trick wanted to do something to honor U.S. combat veterans of World War II, members of the "greatest generation," who are now in old age, if still living, and will soon be only a memory.
So she decided to do what she does best — paint.
For what is now called the Veterans Portrait Project, Trick painted 20 individual portraits of local combat veterans. They were unveiled before Veterans Day for a weeklong show on Marco Island, where Trick has her studio. Beginning Monday, they will be on display at the Pine Ridge Road IberiaBank office in Naples.
Trick is an artist with a wide-ranging output, from landscapes and still lifes to designs for licensed products such as handbags, puzzles and Lenox figurines. These works are oil paintings, many in black and white or sepia-toned, depicting the 19 men and one woman as they appeared in their service years. The men in the most of the paintings are young and in uniform, hearkening back to the days of Glenn Miller, "Loose Lips Sink Ships,"and a country united, not divided, by a war that everyone support. Others are from Vietnam veterans, in the era of Rolling Stones, a country divided and mired in a difficult political quagmire.
After the exhibit makes its rounds, Trick is presenting them to the subjects. Clark Shaw, her husband and business manager, estimated the value of each portrait at $2,000.
Monday, Nov. 19-Friday, Nov. 23: IberiaBank,1905 Pine Ridge Road, Naples; 239-403-5170; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in bank lobby
Nov. 26-27: Hodges Funeral Home at Naples Memorial Gardens, 525 111th Ave, Naples; 239-597-3101; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days
Nov. 29-Jan. 30: Naples Backyard History, 1170 Third St. S., Suite C-111, Naples; 239-774-2978; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Thursdays
Keith Dameron, vice president and branch manager of IberiaBank on Marco, helped Trick find the veterans. She specified they should be combat veterans, and Dameron suggested should be World War II vets: "I have a bias toward the World War II vets. We're losing hundreds of them each day," he said.
That loss was reinforced when one veteran, Thomas Howard, the first subject, died before the project was finished.
With help from Lee Rubenstein of the VFW, Dameron compiled a list of veterans to use as subjects, including some with harrowing service: Peter Thomas, who landed in Normandy on D-Day in the first wave; Bedford Biles, a paratrooper in the same invasion; Wayne Smith, another veteran of Operation Overlord, the June 6, 1944, invasion of Nazi-controlled France; and Thom Carr, who served as a helicopterpilot in Vietnam.
Local veterans whose faces are in portraits are:
World War II
■ Army: Nick Hale, Kip Hamblet, Peter Thomas, Earl Hodges, Dr. Fran Johnson, Irving "Tom" Smith, Robert Miksa, all of Naples; Bedford Biles, Owen Carr and Herb Savage, all of Marco Island
■ Army Air Corps: John Kett, Naples
■ Army nurse: Kate Nolan, Naples
■ Navy: Anthony "Bud" Lamendola, Naples; William D.C. Blair, Gerry Brynjulson, both of Marco Island
■ Army: Michael T. Johnson, Naples; Thomas Carr, William Duncan, Charles D. Hartman, all of Marco Island
■ Air Force: Wayne O. Smith, Naples