Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

For 97 years, Mr. Munty kept moving

A "closed'' sign hangs on the front door of John Munty's appliance repair shop in the heart of New Port Richey. Press your nose against the glass and you can see machines he enjoyed giving new life, metal and plastic contraptions that seemed destined for the trash.

Repairing them helped repair Mr. Munty. He endured the loss of two wives and a third woman he loved and each time threw himself into his work, a mechanical talent that never waned even as he inched toward his 100th year. It sure seemed he would make it.

He opened the shop on Bank Street in 1983 and with rare exception showed up each weekday morning to work the magic he said kept him going. If Mr. Munty couldn't fix it, it couldn't be fixed. If manufacturers no longer made parts for the broken blender or lamp or mixer or radio, he could. In this 400-square-foot crowded shop/museum, he commissioned tools he had made with his own hands in the 1930s. He shaped metal with a lathe and a Delta grinder that dated back a century yet ran like a wristwatch.

Mr. Munty gave me a demonstration back in October 2010, a few days after some downtown merchants stopped by with a cake for his 94th birthday. They admired him as a true character and gentle soul, somebody who despite his age kept moving and his sense of humor. But he was much more.

He told me about growing up in Brooklyn, the son of Italian immigrants. John was 6 when his father, a chef, died of an illness. His mother opened an ice cream shop in Union City, N.J., and at age 10, he cooked burgers and made sundaes for factory workers.

After high school, he learned machinery at a local technology school. He opened a machine shop and made gears for submarines and planes during the early days of World War II. He volunteered for the Army and served with the 100th Infantry Division in Europe. He was awarded two Purple Hearts for bullet and shrapnel wounds to his back and right leg, injuries that made walking difficult for him for the rest of his life but yet hardly slowed him down.

Shortly after the war, he met a woman named Margaret when she stopped by his shop with a busted radio. They dated and married and 10 years later, she died with a brain tumor. John escaped in his work, and then some years later Marie came in for a TV repair. They got married, enjoyed successful careers and retired to New Port Richey. They were together for 43 years until she died in 2000 at age 86. They never had children.

John retreated to his shop. In October, a few months after Marie's death, he attended a hospice memorial at Sims Park, across the street. "We just started talking,'' said Anita Culler, who was there to honor a friend. "He just seemed like such a nice man, but alone.''

She invited him to join her family in Hudson for Thanksgiving dinner, which began a 14-year friendship. "He became like family,'' said Culler, 71.

Meanwhile, Jozfina Horak, who worked at a local senior center, brought her broken Kitchen-Aid mixer in for repair. She returned with a walnut crusher that John fixed for free. Next time, she brought him cookies. They became inseparable for six years until she died after an illness at 79.

John Munty put his head down and kept working.

On his 95th birthday, Culler hired an Italian accordion player. "He was so thrilled, they spoke Italian together.''

He never figured to get married again, or even have a girlfriend. But then Gay Stanislawski stopped by the shop with a lamp that needed rewiring. She, too, had been married 43 years when she lost her husband nine years earlier. At 74, she never expected another romance.

They got married in a private ceremony with a notary public last April. "He always looked forward,'' Gay said. "He kept moving.''

In January, they dined together at a favorite restaurant, Taso Italiano in New Port Richey. John suddenly grew faint, and somebody called paramedics. A carotid artery was blocked. Complications followed surgery. Then nursing home care.

At 6:30 Saturday morning, John Munty died in hospice care at 97. He didn't want a funeral but was buried alongside Marie at Meadowlawn Memorial Gardens. He left a wife, many friends and admirers, and a shop full of machines and memories.

Comments
The Daystarter: The Lightning win one on the road; Steve Persall rides off into retirement; meet the Tampa Bay Times’ new business columnist

The Daystarter: The Lightning win one on the road; Steve Persall rides off into retirement; meet the Tampa Bay Times’ new business columnist

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• It’s more of the same with sunny skies and warm temperatures today. It’ll be a bit cooler at the beaches around the mid-70s, but east of Interstate 75 it will be in the mid to upper 8...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teachers’ aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Trademark makes it official: Call it the St. Pete Pier

Trademark makes it official: Call it the St. Pete Pier

ST. PETERSBURG — Today the City Council is set to approve a $15 million construction contract and additional money for the next phase of the new Pier District expected to open in the fall of 2019.But even as council members get ready to commit hundre...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Lightning stands up to Devils, pushes its way to 3-1 series lead

Lightning stands up to Devils, pushes its way to 3-1 series lead

NEWARK, N.J. — Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Taking Care of Business shook the walls of the Lightning locker room not long after it dispatched the Devils in Wednesday's Game 4 of their first-round playoff series.The 3-1 win was sparked by Nikita K...
Updated: 6 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 18

Wednesday’s scoreboardSoftballAdmiral Farragut 2, Boca Ciega 1Springstead 10, Nature Coast 4
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning-Devils: How Tampa Bay worked its way to a 3-1 series lead

Lightning-Devils: How Tampa Bay worked its way to a 3-1 series lead

Times columnist Tom Jones gives his thoughts while watching the broadcast of Game 4 of the series between the Lightning and Devils:Hard work beats everythingWe watch the Lightning all season long and marvel at its skill. Nikita Kucherov, Steven ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Political skirmish erupts over plan to revamp Hillsborough commission

Political skirmish erupts over plan to revamp Hillsborough commission

TAMPA — A political fight over the makeup of Hillsborough County government could be heading to voters to decide.After a discussion divided along party lines, commissioners voted 5-2 Wednesday to move ahead with a plan to overhaul the structure of th...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Largo police release video as State Attorney clears officer in shooting

Largo police release video as State Attorney clears officer in shooting

LARGO — The Pasco-Pinellas state attorney cleared a Largo police officer who fatally shot a 30-year-old man last month.The letter from State Attorney Bernie McCabe said Officer Matthew Steiner was "in imminent fear for his life" during the March 23 e...
Updated: 8 hours ago
2 men spread affirmations in New Hampshire; bipartisan bill calls for VA to study pot; 3 men convicted in plot to bomb Somali refugees; more in U.S. news

2 men spread affirmations in New Hampshire; bipartisan bill calls for VA to study pot; 3 men convicted in plot to bomb Somali refugees; more in U.S. news

New HampshireWe need more of these signsTwo men are trying to spread some positivity with their feel-good signs. NH1 reported Greg Amaral and Wendell Walker have stood in downtown Nashua with signs carrying positive messages each weekend since Easter...
Updated: 8 hours ago