Remembering Corey Hausman

Corey Hausman graduated from Staples in June. This month, he died in a tragic accident in Colorado.

Corey and his older brothers, Lucas and Casey, grew up in Westport, and were excellent athletes. Corey ran cross country and outdoor track for 4 years at Staples High School. He was a 2-year varsity skier too.

His parents, Joel and Nanette, and his brothers have written this tribute to Corey:

Corey Hausman was a 2018 graduate of Staples High School who had just started his 3rd week at University of Colorado-Boulder when suddenly he was physically taken from this Earth. A simple yet fatal accident occurred September 12 while he was riding his skateboard across campus to a friend’s house after class on a Tuesday afternoon. It is still too shocking and soon to comprehend this loss or answer the begging question: Why Corey?  Those closest to him are focusing on the spontaneous joy that he brought to the world and that, as a freshman just beginning his most exciting journey, he had hit a personal high note.

If Corey considered you a buddy, you were in for a treat. As the stories from brothers, friends, neighbors, teachers and Staples teammates bubble up, it is clear that Corey had a gift: making people laugh. His range of material was broad including hysterical impersonations, physical gyrations, facial expressions and classic sarcastic quips.

His audiences included all ages and personalities.  Whether it was a shy 3-year-old boy who struggled to make eye contact or the senior citizen having trouble opening a car door at Stop & Shop, Corey would find a way to cheer them up, and to get under people’s skin and produce a smile or laugh. Simple, yet so powerful; it was Corey’s way of giving a little joy to the world.

Corey Hausman (center) with Lucas (left) and Casey (right): “The Brothers.”

Like many Staples students, Corey had excellent grades, scores and credentials enabling him to attend several formidable colleges. But once he heard from CU, all other admission letters remained unopened. He had found his home for the next 4 years; end of conversation.

Far far away from the comforts of home, Corey was outside absorbing all that Boulder has to offer, jamming on his guitar with his roommate ‘til all hours of the morning, making new friends and impressing his professors with his proactive approach to his studies. All of this with the back drop of the Rocky Mountains still covered with snow at the tippy-tops.

Corey was overjoyed with his new day-to-day routine and the anticipation of ski season when he could freestyle with an old teammate from Mt. Snow-Vermont. Corey beamed during the Facetime calls home to just “check in.” Without a doubt, he was the happiest person in the world.

It is unbelievable to think that Corey’s story on Earth ended so abruptly. All of the lingering questions will never be answered. Especially, for his family and many close friends, when will the sadness and longing pain stop?

Experts insist that it is critical to mourn for a loved one that passes. Beyond honoring the deceased, acceptance and mourning is needed for survivors to eventually move forward with life. What would Corey want?  “Sure,” you can hear him say, “a little mourning would be OK – but, please, not too much.”

Why? Because he was able to hit the high note at 18 years old. He was the happiest person on Earth, and he was able to bring his joy to others. Corey would want us to honor him by following in his footsteps — find personal happiness every day, and bring joy to the world by simply making others smile and laugh.

(Services will be held at the Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road, Westport, on Saturday, September 29, at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to any environmental charity in Corey’s name. For a website tribute to Corey, click here.)

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Levitt Pavilion at low tide (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Friday Flashback #108

The other day, alert “06880” reader Cheryl Wiener saw a PBS “Great Performances” documentary about the Metropolitan Opera House.

Memories flooded back of spring 1966. Coleytown Junior High School had just opened. Music teacher John Hanulik took Cheryl’s 9th grade class on a field trip to the Met.

They saw Puccini’s “The Girl of the Golden West,” at the new Lincoln Center location. It was so new, it was the very first performance at the new Metropolitan Opera House, before its official opening the following September.

That first test of the opera house with a live audience included a rifle shot — unexpected and scary, Wiener says.

The PBS documentary included a shot of Westport students walking across wooden platforms, into the new house:

Wiener went on to Staples High School. Hanulik did too — and a storied career there as orchestra director.

Wiener became a music educator too. Last June, she retired after many years with Connecticut Regional District 13.

“Needless to say,” she notes, “Westport music teachers had a great influence on me.”

Art From Big Pink

Arlene Skutch was an important part of Westport’s arts community.

A classically trained professional singer, she performed in Broadway musicals like “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Of Thee I Sing.”

She married, had 2 children, and bought an 1876 saltbox Colonial at 244 Wilton Road. On her honeymoon in Cuba she’d loved the bright, colorful houses. So she painted her new house pink.

Arlene Skutch’s former house, 244 Wilton Road.

The property had an artist’s studio in the back, designed by celebrated architect Eliot Noyes. When her children started school, Arlene took painting classes at Silvermine.

In 1972 she opened her Wilton Road studio to students. A 4-decade career as a professional artist, art teacher and mentor followed.

She developed a devoted following of students. They called themselves “The Pink House Painters.”

Arlene died in 2012. Her life lives on though, in Martin West’s documentary “Years in the Making: A Journey Into Late Life Creativity.” (Notice she’s wearing pink!)

Her pink house lives on too.

At least, it has until now.

Word on the street — Wilton Road — is that the pink house is being painted.

Will the well-known, historic color survive? Or will it suffer the same fates as Westport’s other famed pink structure, Remarkable Book Shop?

Stay tuned.

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Longshore Sailing School (Photo/Carolyn McPhee)

Westport’s Newest Study: “Main To Train”

I’ve never gotten a press release from the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.

Actually, I’ve never even heard of them.

But they’ve got a website. A logo.

And this news:

The Town of Westport is hosting a public information session on Monday, October 1 (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) to introduce the Westport “Main to Train” Study.

The study will “identify improvements to vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian safety and circulation on Post Road East and Riverside Avenue. This will create better connections between the commercial center of town and the Saugatuck train station, and promote non-motorized transportation choices.”

Post Road and Riverside Avenue. The “Main to Train” includes the often-gridlocked intersection.

The meeting — one of 5 scheduled for the course of the study — will “provide participants with an opportunity to learn about the study’s purpose, schedule, and scope, and to share their observations, concerns and ideas with the project team.”

For more information, click here for the Westport Main to Train website. Or contact WestCOG associate planner Nicole Sullivan: nsullivan@westcog.org.

Party At Mitchells!

At 33,000 square feet, it’s pretty big.

And with its new renovation, it’s more modern than ever.

But at its heart, Mitchells of Westport is still a community center — a home away from home.

That’s never more true than on Saturday mornings. The coffee is on. The bagels are fresh. And there, in a comfy corner, you’re apt to find members of the extended Mitchell family. They greet old friends, meet new (soon-to-be-old) friends, and somehow manage to turn a high-end men’s and women’s specialty retailer into the 2018 version of a country store.

The Mitchell family

This year, Mitchells celebrates its 60th anniversary.

And this Saturday (September 22), in honor of its new look, the store is hosting a townwide party. They invite everyone to stop by, enjoy the new look, have coffee and bagels and more.

And if you remember their original location*, they’d love to hear your stories.

*It was a tiny shop, located at the corner of Post Road East and North Compo Road — where People’s United Bank is now.

Raising Alarms On Saugatuck Shores

The new bridge to Saugatuck Island has gotten lots of press (and praise).

But area residents are less pleased about another project on Saugatuck Shores.

Gene Borio reports on a culvert replacement project that has closed off Canal Road since earlier this month.

“Somehow,” he says, “the construction company missed out on the idea that if they completely close off ingress and egress of seawater to the pond for 2 months of estimated work, the pond might stagnate and start dying.”

(Photo/Gene Borio)

When 3 eels floated to the surface, neighbors called the town. An emergency culvert was quickly installed.

But, Gene says, “the eels were so bad, even a gull wouldn’t eat them.”

This gull tried — and rejected — this eel, photographer Gene Borio says.

He adds, “It’s definitely affecting life around here. Even on weekends, people think they can’t cross to get to the beach.”

They can, he says — if they don’t mind mud and obstructions.

Still, drivers constantly see a sign saying the bridge is closed, and turn around.

Saugatuck Shores resident Jeff Manchester is also concerned. Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of cars, oil trucks, boats and trailers and school buses have backed down Canal Road, he says.

One of the many trucks that now backs down Canal Road. (Photo/Jeff Manchester)

They’re following confusing signs that should instead divert Canal Road traffic over the bridge on Harbor Road.

(Photo/Jeff Manchester)

He recommends a simple solution: replace the “Bridge Closed” sign with the one used when the bridge was being renovated.

Otherwise, he warns, “we’ll see a vehicle in the canal.”

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Church Lane, after yesterday’s rain (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

George Weigle Memorial Service Set For Saturday

A memorial service for George Weigle — the longtime and beloved Staples High School choral director who died last month at 90 — is set for this Saturday (September 22, 2 p.m.) at the United Methodist Church on Weston Road. In addition to his Staples tenure, he served as choral director there for 43 years.

Dr. Weigle’s many friends — and countless former singers — are warmly encouraged to attend. A reception follows the service in the Fellowship Hall.

George Weigle (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)