Saluting Dolores Bacharach

“In this season of giving,” an alert “06880” reader wrote, “you should highlight Dolores Bacharach.”

Dolores — known to her many friends and fans as “Do” — is indeed a perfect exemplar of a Westporter who gives. And gives. And gives some more.

And has done so ever since she moved to Westport, half a century ago.

So, in terms of a column on Do: done.

Now in her mid-80s, Do has not stopped serving the town.

“Her energy is awesome,” the reader who suggested a profile — Nick Thiemann — wrote. “It would be impressive in a 20-year-old. And she has a grand sense of humor.”

Dolores Bacharach (Photo/Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com)

As a member of the original Commission for the Elderly — now called the Commission for Senior Services — Do started the “We Do Walkways” program, through which middle and high school students provide raking and shoveling services to older citizens.

“She has a generous spirit,” praises human services director Barbara Butler. “There’s always a smile on her face. And she’s a lot of fun to work with.”

Rev. Tom Thorne has been Assumption Church‘s pastor for nearly 13 years. That’s a quarter of the time Do has spent in Westport, but he knows she and her family have been “genuine pillars of the parish.”

Through the Social Concerns Ministry she ministers to people in need — those who are poor, hungry, without transportation or clothing, cold, lonely or homebound. Through events, opportunities and awareness, she helps the entire parish participate in supporting, helping and loving the marginalized.

A daily communicant, she is present at the 7:30 a.m. mass every Monday through Saturday. She also serves as a eucharistic minister.

Do is the parish representative on the Westport-Weston Interfaith Council. “She has left a loving mark within the parish, and the Westport and wider community,” Father Tom says.

“She is truly a woman of faith who is open, inclusive, in possession of great dignity and authenticity.”

Nearing her 9th decade, Do cooks each week at the Gillespie Center. Homelessness has long been a concern of Do and her family. The Bacharach Community — 3 houses on Wassell Lane run by Homes With Hope that serve as emergency housing for women and children — is named for them.

I have known the Bacharachs ever since my own high school days. I served with her late husband Jim on the original Youth-Adult Council. I was there when the Bacharachs were driving forces behind the Intercommunity Camp — an innovative summer program drawing children from Westport, Weston, Norwalk and Bridgeport together for summers of fun and self-discovery.

I was privileged to join Jim, Do and their 5 children — all of whom carry on their parents’ legacy of service to others — in annual Christmas carol sings at their Stony Brook Road home. Each one was filled with the joy of being together with others who value community and action — along with plenty of laughter and love.

“Do makes Assumption and Westport holy,” Father Tom says of Dolores Bacharach.

And, I’d add, she is an unsung hero who makes Westport “Westport.”

9 responses to “Saluting Dolores Bacharach

  1. Thanks Dan for highlighting one of Westport’s true treasures. Do is a gem and everyone who meets her is better for knowing her!

  2. Here! Here! …and Dan, I love your unceasing ability to find ‘what’s good’ – not necessarily a difficult thing to do, really, but perhaps a less palatable subject for a lesser journalist who craves sensationalism over substance. Thank you for being an accurate lens for our community, reminding us all that Life is Good because of people just like Do Bacharach!

  3. Dan, Thank you so much. Mom couldn’t have a better Christmas present.

    • Laurie Matthews Coady

      Hi Ann,

      I am Laurie Matthews (now Coady) who grew up at 6 Stonybrook Rd, in Westport. I read the wonderful story about your 4 Stonybrook house.

      Do you by any chance know any of the history of 6 Stonybrook? I recall being told it was once a barn (maybe of your family home?) and also that we had a tile piece over the door way that said “Fortune’s light” with a 1700’s date– supposedly from a ship.

      My father sold the house in 1964 when I went to college. I am told it was torn down and is now a McMansion. Sad the fate of these lovely old houses. Your own house story on the blog is very moving and wonderful.

      Best regards,

      Laurie

  4. Linda Gramatky Smith

    I don’t know Do Bacharach (unfortunately) but you gave me a Christmas present, Dan, with this story about such an inspiring, caring person. Life is good because of people like her! I’m nudged to be a bit more like her.

  5. Thank you very much for highlighting all that DoDo does in Westport.I never would have known all that she is still doing if you hadn’t written this. Thank you so much for reminding me just how amazing my grandma truly is!
    -Jordan Bacharach (Jim’s daughter)

  6. I’ve known Do since 1985 and she and her husband were instrumental in founding the Community Kitchen which merged into IHA at the Vigilant Firehouse (Westport Emergency Shelter at that time). She is an amazing example of what it means, especially this time of year, to take the incarnation seriously.

  7. Bob Selverstone

    Do is a fine, wonderful lady. I echo Dan’s comments about her, about Jim, and about their wonderful children/family. And yes, the Bacharach family is a splendid example of what is best about Westport.

  8. In the pantheon of all-time great Westporters, Do and the Bacharach family are right up there. The sing-alongs were a special annual rite for the Leonard family too and you couldn’t help but leave their house full of holiday cheer. Thanks for bringing it all back, Dan.