Burton Knopp died recently, at 93. Though he spent the last 30 years in Vermont — mostly in a log house in Shoreham he built with his family — he’s still remembered fondly here. He lived in Westport from 1955 through 1979, and — typical of that time — made an impact in many ways.
Burt and his wife, Honey, helped launch the World Affairs Center — a downtown educational center and home-away-from-home for students, housewives, and anyone else thirsting to learn of a life beyond Westport.
Burt and Honey were active in the civil rights movement. They also were actively involved in the Coleytown Capers, an annual Broadway-quality revue that raised tons of money for Coleytown Elementary School.
To honor their civic contributions, the Town of Westport gave the Knopps a Brotherhood Award in 1964.
Burt taught hundreds of Westporters to play the folk guitar, holding group classes in his home.
But he was perhaps best known as the founder and owner of Country Gal, a women’s clothing store that had just the right styles, at just the right time. Country Gal was not the only such shop on Main Street — but for generations of Westporters, it defined downtown.
In 1979 Burt sold the business, and he and Honey moved north. (Their son Alex stayed — and was later elected mayor of Norwalk.)
Burt was as active in Vermont as he had been here. He volunteered more than 1,500 hours as a hospital X-ray developer; he worked with the Vermont Natural Food Coop; he was an avid member of the Shoreham Historical Society, and attended weekly Quaker meetings.
He was also an amateur beekeeper, a fixture at farmers markets who had an active mail order honey business. He often visited school classrooms to talk about his hobby.
The name of his prize-winning honey? Country Gal.