June 27, 2016

Mostly sunny

Frank Munz felt a need for speed

LAKEWOOD — Frank Munz was a “Renaissance man,” his friends said Saturday. He listened to the classic composers. He built harpsichords. And he kept meticulous records of Medina County history.

But it was Munz’s love of automobiles that bound him to a group of old friends for a half a century.

That group gathered Saturday to remember Munz, who was killed in his Chatham Township home June 3.

He was 73 years old.

David and Susan Pichon hosted the get-together at their Lakewood home where David grew up. In the 1950s, David Pichon, Munz and several other young men would regularly be outside the home, working on cars in what they called the “shade tree garage”.

David’s “dad used to say (the cars) were apart more than they were together. There were always guys, they were hanging out together there by the cars,” Susan Pichon said.

Soon after the years of the “shade tree garage”, Munz picked up motorcycle racing. Art Zimmerman, a friend of Munz who now lives in Bay Village, said Munz stopped racing in his middle-age years. But that all changed when they were a little older.

“I would encourage him, ‘Come on Frank, we might be in our 60s, but let’s do it. Let’s not play golf. Let’s not sit in an old people’s home. Let’s race,’ ” Zimmerman said. “By God, that was it. We all kind of got back into racing again.”

Zimmerman said it was not unlike Munz to do something unconventional. “He was not one to procrastinate. He would get this urge to do something and say, ‘I’m going to do it,’ ” Zimmerman said.

Those gathered Saturday said they were shocked when they heard the news of Munz’s death earlier this month. “The whole thing is freaky,” said Richard Pichon, who graduated with Munz from Lakewood High School in 1954.

“I think to understand it, you have to look in the mind of someone who did it, which is probably confusing as a bowl of spaghetti,” Richard Pichon said. Nobody has been charged in Munz’s death. However, Sheriff deputies arrested Stephen Cepec, 41, of Chatham Township, for a parole violation. They had found Cepec on the day of Munz’s death in the woods behind the Munz property on Richman Road after he allegedly fled the scene.

Cepec has been named a person of interest in Munz’s homicide. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction records show Cepec is currently at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, which is near Columbus.

The friends and family of Munz that gathered Saturday said life is going to be different without him. Zimmerman said he’s stopped racing.

”I’ve hung up my leathers for a bit because Frank was my race buddy,” Zimmerman said. “When you do racing, you want to focus on racing. You’re doing 130 mph or something like that. … If you’ve got this in the back of your mind it does not do well for your safety.”

He said he has also stopped playing the violin. “Frank was part of my life. He encouraged me to do these things. He was my mentor,” he said.

Jim Munz, Frank Munz’s twin brother, said he shared a special relationship with his brother. “You’re always the same age. You’re going to have the same friends. It’s an unusual relationship,” said Jim, who lives in Danbury, Conn.

He said that he and his brother had planned for months to go motorcycle racing on Saturday. Instead, Jim attended the remembrance party and tended to other business in Ohio.

When asked how life would be different without his brother, Jim replied, “I guess we’ll find out.”

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.