Valued portrait of World War II veteran Michael F. Curtin still missing
NORTHAMPTON — Six months after it was reported missing on Memorial Day, the whereabouts of a large oil painting of U.S. Air Force veteran Michael F. Curtin, the namesake of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8006 in Florence, remains unknown.
Curtin was a city native who went missing on a bombing mission over Germany during World War II nearly 70 years ago. A portrait of the soldier in uniform hung in the post’s dining room for as long as anyone can remember, but disappeared after it was put in storage during renovation work at the post earlier this year.
Post members on Veterans Day said they have given up on the search for the artwork.
Tom Pease, acting commander of the post, said post members searched “high and low” in the entire building for the portrait and offered a reward its return, even if done so anonymously.
“It has not turned up,” Pease said Monday. “That’s gone.”
Pease said the post has put up a smaller picture of Curtin, though its not nearly as grand as the missing oil painting, which post members valued at about $1,000. Information on the artist was not available.
The portrait had enormous sentimental value to city veterans, James Brazeau, a former post commander, told the Gazette when the painting was reported missing to police in May.
“It was meaningful to every one of us,” he said at the time.
The painting was last seen in April when it was taken down for temporary storage. Post members had planned to re-hang the portrait in the building’s foyer after an upgrade to that area was completed.
The post was organized and chartered in June 1946 and named after Curtin, who was an exceptional baseball player and good student, according to a Gazette story 40 years ago. He was known as Franny to most of his friends locally.
Dan Crowley can be reached at email@example.com.