Westport Mourns Bea Milwe

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.

Bea Milwe

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.

3 responses to “Westport Mourns Bea Milwe

  1. Thanks, Dan. I teared up a little reading about Bea this morning. What a wonderful woman she was. Her daughter Liz, whom I’ve known since high school, is just as fabulous.

  2. Michele Smolen

    My husband and I knew Bea for many years, when we lived in Westport. She was an extraordinary WOMAN! She helped to change the world. She was an exciting person to have known. Michele Smolen

  3. Thanks for letting us know—my God, I never thought Bea was mortal! She’s just this magical, happy, bubbly woman who I’ve known since I was in 6th grade with Liz….she was/is an inspiration for so long to me, to my whole family who loved her as part of our own….that’s how many people felt about Bea and Sid….Bea we’ll miss you….for so many years, she was a significant part of my growing up with a social consciousness….thank you Bea for being the shining light that you are…