Hugh Gumpel, artist, 85, passed away May 2, 2011, at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport.

Born Feb. 3, 1926, in New York City, he was the son of Morris and Helen Stapleton Gumpel. He grew up in Mamaroneck, N.Y, where he learned to draw and paint, especially the boats and shipyards that were so near at hand.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943 at the age of 17. He served in the Pacific as a signalman on the USS Eldorado, the flagship for the operations in Iwo Jima and Okinawa during World War II. He was on watch the morning of Feb. 23, 1945, when he spotted the raising of the first flag on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. He called out to the other signalmen and the word quickly spread to the entire Pacific fleet, with all the ships blowing their horns at once.

After the completion of his service in 1947, he attended Columbia University. In 1951 he went to Europe, where he attended the Grande Chaumière art school in Paris, painted and traveled.

Returning home, he married Dorothy Werner and they raised their family in Mamaroneck.

He exhibited nationally and internationally, taking many prizes and awards. His work is found in public and private collections in the U.S. and abroad. His major commissions include a mural for the Public Works Administration building in Albany, N.Y. He was a longtime member of both the National Academy of Design and the American Watercolor Society.

He taught painting and drawing for many years at the National Academy School and the State University of New York at Purchase, N.Y., among other places. As a teacher he was inspiring as well as humorous and kind.

Throughout his life Hugh experimented with mediums and techniques. His work was bold and innovative, graceful and subtle. His skill as a watercolorist was formidable. His subject matter ranged from landscape and cityscape to still life and the figure. In the last decade of his life, his work became more cerebral, more surreal, and musical in its structure and sense of movement — a kind of world between worlds.

“How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them! Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands. To finish, I would need eternity.” (Psalm 139)

He was predeceased by his brothers, Julius and Morris Jr.; and his sister, Helene Brauninger.

He is survived by his wife, Virginia Peckham; his brother, Dr. Roy C. Gumpel and his wife, Jane, of Pawcatuck, Conn.; his daughter, Carolyn Gumpel of Mamaroneck, N.Y.; his son, David Gumpel of Los Angeles, Calif.; and three grandsons, David Gumpel Jr., Zachary Gumpel and Breandan Carroll.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, May 22 at noon at the John J. Fox Funeral Home, Larchmont, N.Y.

Arrangements are with Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock St. in Rockland. To share a memory or condolence with Mr. Gumpel’s family, visit his online guest book at obituaries at