Bea Milwe — who died Saturday at 97 — was a Westport icon.
A civil rights, women’s rights and international peace activist who became a documentary filmmaker after graduating from Sarah Lawrence at the age of 57, she also made her mark on her longtime hometown.
Trained as a social worker, she later became a non-governmental representative to the UN through the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom — and headed the Westport chapter.
One of the 1st women to visit China after relations thawed in 1974, she made a ground-breaking film about the country: “The China Tape.” Later, she produced the first document film about the Women’s Conference in Beijing.
Other films — focusing on issues like women’s poverty in Connecticut, and the Sioux tribe in South Dakota — were shown on PBS and ABC, and distributed internationally.
Bea and her husband, Sidney, were union activists in the 1940s. They continued to support liberal political and non-political civic causes, often hosting fundraisers at their Saugatuck Shores homes. He died in 1992, at 80.
Bea is survived by her companion, Buddy Kushner; 3 children (Jeff of Westport; RTM member Liz of Westport, and Marjorie Lieberman of Fairfield); 7 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.
Contributions in Bea Milwe’s memory may be sent to Green Village Initiative, c/o Main Street Resources, 120 Post Road West, Westport CT 06880, or Charter Oak Challenge Foundation, 575 Riverside Ave., Suite 202A, Westport, CT 06880.
A memorial service honoring her long and wonderful life will be held in June.