Thank You, Allen Raymond

Allen Raymond has lived on Compo Cove since 1922.

The unique, beautiful spit of land drew his parents to Westport nearly a century ago, and kept Allen here ever since. (He added a house on King’s Highway, which is perfectly fitting. It’s the most historic part of town, and no one knows Westport’s history better than Allen Raymond.)

Allen is 91 years old now, and his heart is failing. This afternoon — the 1st sparkling day of spring — he visited his beloved Old Mill home. It’s rented out, but he sat on the porch, gazed at the rippling high tide and spectacular views of Compo Hill, and reminisced.

Allen Raymond this afternoon, in the Compo Cove home he has loved for 91 years. (Photo/Scott Smith)

Allen Raymond this afternoon, in the Compo Cove home he has loved for 91 years. (Photo/Scott Smith)

Allen spoke about his childhood days on the water, his summers growing up, and the life he’s lived here — and loved — ever since.

What a remarkable 9 decades Allen has spent in town.

He’s served on more boards, brokered more good and smart deals, and contributed more to every facet of life — educational, recreational, spiritual — than anyone since the Bedfords. (And there were a lot more of them than him.)

The Westport Y has named the entrance road to their new facility at Camp Mahackeno after their longtime friend.

The Westport Y has named the entrance road to their new facility at Camp Mahackeno after their longtime friend.

Allen has contributed unfathomable amounts of time, energy (and money) to the Green’s Farms Congregational Church, and the Y. He led the Westport Historical Society into (paradoxically) the modern era, and Earthplace to sustainability.

He has advised nearly every elected official in town, at one time or other. He’s saved many of them from political disasters, and us from the financial fallout.

It is safe to say Westport would not be the town it is — nor would we be the people we are — without the love (sometimes gentle, sometimes tough) that Allen Raymond has lavished on us for longer than nearly any of us have been alive.

Perhaps his greatest gift to the town, though, is the 169 acres on South Compo Road known as Longshore.

Allen Raymond, circa 1963.

Allen Raymond, circa 1963.

Few Westporters realize that our town jewel camethisclose to being something else entirely. In early 1960, the privately owned Longshore Beach and Country Club — with a golf course, tennis courts, pools, marina, inn/restaurant and play areas — came up for sale.

The typical Westport response — build houses! — was strongly considered.  But First Selectman Herb  Baldwin and his kitchen cabinet decided to make a bid, on behalf of the town. Baldwin put his best adviser in charge of the project: Allen Raymond.

The group had to act quickly. In just 18 days they put together a $1.9 million package — then earned approval from the Board of Finance and RTM.  The latter vote was 38-0. (The RTM doesn’t even name bridges or approve jUNe Day unanimously.)

A month and a half later — on May 28, 1960 — Longshore Club Park opened to the public. It’s been one of the town jewels ever since.

As has Allen Raymond.

He is a remarkable, inspiring, truly wonderful man.

Allen Raymond, last month. (Photo/Scott Smith)

Allen Raymond, this winter. (Photo/Scott Smith)

22 responses to “Thank You, Allen Raymond

  1. I remember Mr. Raymond very well, and I remember when he and his family got the summer house (at the time) on Compo Cove. He is a wonderful man as you say, and the Cove is a truly magical place.

  2. Thank you, Al! You have contributed so much! – Chris Woods

  3. Kathie Bennewitz

    Dan, What a wonderful tribute. He and his late wife Barbara gave so much of themselves to this town.

  4. Barbara Sherburne '67

    I knew Allen and Barbara Raymond when I lived on Long Lots Road, which was in the 1950s. I became very good friends with their daughter Debbie, and we are the same age. One vivid memory I have is delivering Girl Scout cookies using a little red wagon. Could have been a Radio Flyer, but I’m not sure about that. In any case, “Mr. Raymond” was always very friendly, as was his wife. I have the deepest respect for all Allen has done for Westport, and I am sorry to hear about his failing heart. It’s wonderful that he got to spend some time at Compo Cove today. Fantastic photo!

  5. Thank you Mr. Raymond.

  6. Armelle Daniels

    Thanks Dan for letting us know of this wonderful man and his contributions. Being relatively “new” to town, I didn’t know about Allen Raymond, but became emotional just reading your tribute to him, awed by Mr. Raymond’s dedication and generosity. When we considered moving to Westport, there were so many truly amazing things we fell in love with, and at the top of the list are Longshore and the Y! Thank you Allen Raymond!

  7. Steven Halstead

    Alan, simply the best!
    Thank you.

  8. I’ve come to know Allen Raymond just a little through the Westport HIstorical Society and jUNe Day. He is surely one of our town’s greatest treasures.

  9. Denny Davidoff

    Yay, Allen Raymond! I spent wonderful time with him keeping Joan Schine from being recalled, moving the Westport Library onto Jessup Green, jousting in local politics. He is the epitome of “active citizen” and deserves our admiration.

  10. Nancy Blaydes

    Thank you Allen Raymond! Like so many of us that grew up in Westport, I am forever grateful for the many summers I spent at Longshore. And to think it almost wasn’t. Thank you Dan for honoring his legacy.

  11. Joey Kaempfer

    I believe Mr. Raymond was my little league coach. If so he was a swell guy and I send my warmest regards.

  12. Michael Calise

    Great job Dan
    A fitting tribute to a man who has unselfishly given much to Westport!

  13. Alison Fisher

    Allen Raymond is a most amazing person. Giving, caring, loving, brilliant, creative, sweet, funny and a true gentleman. It is my great honor and privilege to call him friend. All of Westport is truly blessed. Thanks for the beautiful tribute to “Mr. Westport” by “Mr. 06880”. 👍

  14. Gary Singer

    Thanks, Dan, for writing this story. And thanks, Al, for for your dedication and devotion to Westport.

  15. Kerstin Warner Rao

    Thank you, Dan, for sharing this story. I have never met Mr. Raymond in person, but my life has been made considerably better in Westport because of him. I send my best wishes to him and his family.

  16. Loretta Santella Hallock

    A great gentleman. It was a pleasure to join Allan at the Saugatuck Tour. He is one of Westport’s treasures.

  17. David A. Waldman

    Alan is a wonderful man and Westport has been very lucky to have him involved in so many wonderful projects.

  18. Katie Chase

    Behind every great man (and Allen IS a great man) is a great woman. Allen’s late wife Barbara was that person. The two of them had/have such a passion for Westport history, and both worked/work tirelessly to “Keep Westport’s History Alive” via the Westport Historical Society. Thanks, Allen, and such good memories of working with Barbara in the WHS Archives.

  19. Thank you Allen Raymond. Your work and dedication has made Westport a better place and is one of the reasons I moved to Westport.

  20. Elizabeth Daines

    When my family was new to town, Allen led us on an amazing nature walk around Old Mill and Compo. It was the finest possible introduction to Westport and Westporters! Thank you, Allen Raymond, for being so generous with your time and knowledge.

    • Thank you Allen!!!! You truly are an amazing man!!!! Thank you for Kenny’s picture at the deli!!! You are loved by our whole family!!!

  21. Kate Fioravanti

    Thank you for such a beautiful article, and thanks to everyone else for their wonderful comments. My grandfather will hear these read to him tomorrow on your behalf. He’s very fortunate to have lived in such a warm community.