It’s ancient history to many Westporters, but in 1970 our town engaged in an ugly battle over a plan to bus a few Bridgeport students to Westport.
The proposal — Project Concern — was passed by the Board of Education. Enraged citizens initiated a recall petition against the board chairman, Joan Schine.
An enormous crowd packed a hearing in the Staples auditorium. When Westport Education Association president Dick Leonard announced that his executive board had voted to endorse Project Concern, and oppose the recall effort, a man standing in the front leaped to his feet.
That started a standing ovation — in part of the room. The other part booed.
The man was Jerry Davidoff. He died Saturday at 83. A 40-year resident of Westport, he served for nearly a decade on the Board of Ed — 2 as chairman — and 4 more on the RTM.
“Jerry was willing to stick his neck out, and stand up for what was right,” Leonard recalled this morning. “He was a liberal thinker, and a very constructive influence on Westport life for many years.”
Jerry Davidoff accomplished much in his life of service to Westport. In addition to politics, he earned renown as a champion of civil liberties, and a national lay leader in the Unitarian Universalist church.
But Dick Leonard will always remember Jerry Davidoff for the moment he rose to his feet, in a moment of passion and power, and led a standing ovation for a cause he believed was right.