Remembering Kuti Zeevi

Fred Cantor was a long-time friend of Kuti Zeevi, the Westport jeweler killed during a robbery last night. For many years Fred and Kuti played soccer with the Late Knights, a group of local men who enjoyed both the game, and socializing together afterward. 

Fred remembers the Israeli-born business owner, soccer player and Westporter:

Many years ago someone told me you can learn a lot about a person by how willing he is to pass the ball and share it with teammates.

Kuti was always looking to pass to an open teammate, and it was indeed just one indication of his great generosity — both on and off the field.

Kuti Zeevi (Photo courtesy of

Kuti was part of the mini-UN weekend soccer group that has been a fixture in Westport for decades. His passion for soccer was second to none, and it was exceeded only by his passion for his family. He was a loving husband, father and son who epitomized “family values” before that term ever became part of our landscape.

Several years ago Kuti and his loving wife, Nava, suffered the loss of their daughter Tali to leukemia.  While nothing could possibly make up for that tragic loss, Kuti’s soccer teammates tried to offer some level of comfort by staging a soccer tournament to raise money for leukemia research in Tali’s memory.

Kuti, in his selfless fashion, expressed how grateful he was to all of us for organizing the event.

Even though he had some major injuries in his later years, they never dampened his enthusiasm for playing soccer and for competing.  Even when he could no longer run much, he loved to play goalie and wouldn’t hesitate to throw his body on the ground, outstretched, in an attempt to make a save.

There was still a boyish spirit that remained inside him — one that I thought would never succumb to old age — and that was only snuffed out by a murderer’s bullet.

We will all miss Kuti’s smile, and his laugh, and his joy for the game.

And our hearts and thoughts are with Nava.

(A funeral service will be held this Sunday, Dec. 11, 1:30 p.m. at Temple Israel.)

Kuti Zeevi, on a trip to England with the Late Knights soccer team in 1999. He's in the middle of the back row.

14 responses to “Remembering Kuti Zeevi

  1. i second fred’s comment. i’m in shock. i didn’t know kuti as well as fred, because i only played with this hilarious cast of characters for a couple of years, but kuti made an immediate and indelible impression on me. he was huge, gruff and utterly lovable. what a loss. tg

  2. Patricia McMahon.

    I met Kuti and Nava close to 10 yrs ago, thru the friendship of our Dogs at winslow park. He will be truly missed. My deep condolences to Navi and the family.

  3. My Dad and Kuti played soccer together for many years, and I was lucky to get to know him. He was like this wonderful Uncle (a very tall one in our family!) that I always enjoyed seeing.

    When my boyfriend started hinting at an engagement, I was adamant that Kuti design the ring. Kuti meant so much to our family, and I wanted him to be part of my special day. Kuti was tearful as he helped me select the stone and ring this past summer. He reminded me at my fitting that it was Tali’s 4 year anniversary…and our engagement reminded him of their happy times. He was so excited for me, and wanted to know the minute my parents knew of our engagment so that he could celebrate on the field with my Dad. Kuti wrapped his hands around mine (he had the biggest hands!) and kissed my cheek. He told me how proud he was of his son, and we shared med-school/start-up frustrations. I am so very blessed to have shared such a happy moment in my life with Kuti.

    I will miss his accent, the way he said “darling” and his giant-bear hugs. I send my love and prayers to Nava & Neer.

  4. Kuti was unmatched in his passion for the game of soccer. His love for his family and his soccer mates was undying and we all returned the love. I will miss him dearly.

  5. I have known Kuti about 14 years. I would see him a lot besides soccer, though not always intentionally. I would sit and eat with him at Calises where he have his heart healthy egg white omelette with peppers and onions, where he often picked up whatever I was having and asked nothing in return.

    He frequently would slow down on his way to work via Roseville Road where I live and yell Scotty Soccer 4:00 o’clock are you going to be there? Though he had nothing to do with the over 40 soccer team I manage, he would always ask me who are you playing this week and probably had seen more than a dozen games which is a lot considering we rarely have spectators.

    He would ask about my wife and child with an utmost sincerity. He would talk about how you have to help your kids. I saw his utter optimism that Talie would get better and made sure no stone was unturned in her treatment.

    On the pitch, he was both revered and feared. One day while playing indoors at Staples, I was speeding for a ball to shoot at an angle. I overran the ball slightly and was heading toward Kuti with less than complete control after striking the ball I made a decision, it was better to hit the brick wall than run into Kuti. I wound up going to the emergency room the next day, but wouldn’t have lasted that long had I hit Kuti.

    I hadn’t seen Kuti in a few weeks. His name came up last Saturday when we had a game at Wakeman park of people who had gone on trips outside the country. It’s the holiday season, so we assumed he was working, as he did a great deal of his business this time of the year. It came up yesterday that his knee replacement was giving him grief as I had lunch with a friend.

    Unfortunately it came up today as I unknowingly sauntered into Calises for my morning coffee, Do you know about Kuti? He is dead.

    When I heard he was there at 10:00pm it didn’t surprise, because he tended to work past normal business hours.during the holidays. When I heard his body was reported to be lying outside, I had a vision of Kuti chasing this vermin up until his last breath.

    I will miss Kuti, he made a real effort to get to know me and I’m sure many of you as well

  6. Westport has lost a kind, trustworthy and one-of-a-kind man who showed a genuine interest in everyone he met. RIP Kuti; you will be missed by many. My deepest condolences to the family.

  7. Kuti Kuti Kuti… how I will miss you! Always a big hug and a big kiss on the cheek. Then that deep voice: “Gerrit, how are you and how is the family?” Your knees hurting to the point where you almost couldn’t walk yet “I’m ok. I’ll just be in the goal”. And, as Fred wrote, at 59 you were still diving to the hard ground trying to prevent that stupid piece of leather you loved so much, to hit the net. You always gave everything it all. When we talked life you always mentioned the beautiful moments at your home with the family playing music. If there was ever a proud father, it was you, and as torn apart when you talked about “my little girl”. Heart on your sleeve, always tough, straight forward and truthful. Always a kind word of advice when he knew you had problems, followed by another kiss on the cheek. They don’t seem to come like that anymore Kuti; they broke the mold after you. How I will miss you. One last hug, one last kiss on the cheek. I love you. Nadi: first Tali, now Kuti. No words for the pain you feel. My heart weeps.

  8. Thank you for writing a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. He has left a huge hole in all of our hearts.
    We will miss his smile, hugs, laugh and love. Just like we do with Tali.
    Life is so unfair sometimes!

  9. Kuti was a wonderful man with an incredible spirit – His death is a great loss. I have fond memories of Mr. Zeevi as he was my Hebrew school teacher at Temple Israel. Each class was filled with stories about his life and childhood in Israel. He will be missed by anyone that knew him.

  10. Great Husband, Father and friend. May you R.I.P my good friend BABALE KUTI.

  11. Kuti my second father we dont understand how g-d took u u were a great person we cant sleep ur always in our head in our heart we dont belive u wont call any more 20 times a day we wont hear u scream just today we sat and heard all ur messeges ur gone and u will always be in our heart we love u and already miss u now u can look on us from above and care for us like u always did

  12. I’ve known Kuti and Nava for several years. Nava taught piano to my daughters and it wasn’t long before a friendship blossomed between our families. The Zeevi’s are the kindest, warmest people you’d ever want to meet. Kuti was a gentle sweet man who always wanted to know what was going on in your life. I and my girls were always the recipients of that wonderful bear hug that Neeri spoke about in his poignant eulogy. Being with him or thinking about him always brought a smile to my face. He was larger than life and always will be. He was an extraordinary man.

  13. this is one of the saddest losses of life I have ever heard about. for a life so full of purpose and joy to be taken in a way and for reasons that are just totally senseless. i hope this family finds peace and solace in the abundance of love their friends and neighbors have for them.