Chauncey Addison Day (aka Chon Day) was a nationally renowned American cartoonist whose work appeared in many of the leading magazines of the twentieth century. His work was featured in the Saturday Evening Post from 1934 until his death in 2000, but his sketches have appeared in Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, and other notable publications.
Born in Chatham, New Jersey to Lawrence and Nellie (nee Orden) Day, hon, upon the urging of his father attended Lehigh University in 1926, where he studied engineering for a year. He also drew for the college’s humor magazine, The Burr. He left Lehigh in 1927, and by 1929 he enrolled in New York City’s Art Students League, studying under mentors Boardman Robinson, George Bridgman, and John Sloan. They were taskmasters who were critical of Day’s work, although Sloan recognized the talent of his young charge and urged him to pursue his dream. That same year Day’s cartoons were first published in national magazines. Day later recalled that during the Depression, he barely squeaked by, selling his sketches for rent money. He persevered, however, and eventually earned national acclaim with his irreverent, silent monk, Brother Sebastian, which first appeared in Look Magazine in 1954. Believing that everyone should laugh at least once a day, he later quipped, “What this country needs is humor.”
From 1938 until his death in 2000, he resided in Westerly, a good distance from the chaotic hustle of New York City and its New Jersey suburbs.
Recognized as the “Cartoonist’s Cartoonist,” Day became a nationally recognized artist. In addition to his induction into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1972, Day was also honored by the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame and the National Cartoonists Society, which awarded him “Best Gag Cartoonist” in 1956, 1962, and 1970. The society also honored him with a Special Features Award for “Brother Sebastian” in 1969.
Upon his death on January 1, 2000, Chon Day was mourned by many but his imprint lives on in his work. He left his wife, the former Irene Townley, and three sons: Clinton T. Day of Westerly, Robert C. Day of North Haven, Conn., and Stephen V.O. Day of Hopkinton; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He was also the brother of the late Dudley, John, and Alan Day.