Steve And Toni Rubin Say Goodbye (Y’All)

35 years ago, Steve Rubin’s medical and surgical supply company was considering a move from Long Island to Norwalk.

Steve and his wife Toni lived in Douglaston, Queens. They began talking about moving to “the country.” Their friends thought they were crazy. They sort of did, too.

“We both grew up in New York City,” Steve says. “For us, Westport was the edge of the earth, before it cracks off.”

But fresh air, and a produce stand on North Avenue, lured them in. The Rubins rented the big white Rippe house, next to 7 acres of corn farmed by a guy named Buster.

“We truly felt like we lived on a farm,” Steve recalls. “We fell in love with this place.”

Toni and Steve Rubin.

Toni and Steve Rubin.

The 1st folks they met were Betsy Wacker — from Welcome Wagon — and her husband Watts. George Underhill, from the town tax office, soon became a good friend too. All 3 introduced the Rubins to many aspects of their new home town.

Steve’s company never moved to Norwalk. He spent 5 years commuting to New York.

Then, 23 years ago — at age 47 — he suffered a heart attack.

The Rubins’ Westport friends responded immediately. Meals poured in. People drove him to the doctor. They did whatever they could for the couple.

Steve Rubin

Steve Rubin

The heart attack led Steve to retire from his stressful work. He got a job with Westport’s Parks & Rec Department, manning the Compo gate.

He organized workers for the Compo Beach playground construction project. He joined the Y’s Men. Toni created the Respect program, for children with special needs.

“It snowballed,” Steve says. “It was like we’d lived here 100 years. This town has a magic effect. It makes people feel like natives.”

The Rubins’ activities grew. Steve spent many years as the voice of Festival Italiano. He did not stop until the last raffle ticket was sold. “I made a whole bunch of new friends there too,” he says.

Perhaps his most important contribution began the day he complained to Gordon Joseloff about “some safety issue.” Joseloff — at the time the moderator of the Representative Town Meeting — urged him to run for the legislative body.

Earlier this month — almost 20 years later — Rubin resigned from the RTM. In an emotional farewell, he announced that he and Toni are moving to Charleston, South Carolina.

Steve and Toni Rubin's t-shirts say it all. He adds, "I could not have done any of this without my wife and best friend."

Steve and Toni Rubin’s t-shirts say it all. He adds, “I could not have done any of this without my wife and best friend.”

The impending move is “bittersweet,” Steve admits. After a couple of years of consideration, the lure of warmer winters and a lower cost of living was too good to pass up.

“We don’t want to wait until, god forbid, we’re too old to do it,” Steve says.

The Rubins don’t know a soul in Charleston. But, he notes, “We didn’t know anyone when we moved here. We did it before, and we’ll do it again.”

Steve adds, “we’ll love this town forever. There are so many great people here. It seems like Westport is filled with mensches.”

Steve Rubin in the Memorial Day parade.

Steve Rubin in the Memorial Day parade.

The Rubins leave knowing they’ve made a major mark on their adopted home town. Their name appears on the quilt at Town Hall, the library River of Names and brickwalk, the Wall of Honor at the Staples football field and the Longshore pool wall mosaic.

They’ll miss the many activities they’ve participated in, and enriched: the Memorial Day parade. First Night. PAL fireworks. Downtown trick-or-treating.

They’ll miss Compo, Longshore and Saugatuck. “We’ll even miss the Post Road and Main Street,” Steve laughs.

They’ll miss Westport a lot. But not as much as we will miss Steve and Toni Rubin.

16 responses to “Steve And Toni Rubin Say Goodbye (Y’All)

  1. Matthew Mandell

    Let me be the first person to say these two folks will be missed!!!! Great people. Glad I got to know them and through the internet I know we will remain in contact.

    One thing you didn’t mention in the article Dan, Steve joined the RTM 18 years ago and NEVER missed a meeting. He’s the Carl Ripkin of town govt.

  2. Best of luck ! 🙂

  3. They have truly been part of the fabric of the town. People like that make a difference much larger than the many (many) individual tasks they preformed; they create true “community”. – Chris Woods

  4. Cheryl McKenna

    When Steve and Toni lived on cross highway they were our dear neighbors.
    As your article states we will miss them. These are exactly the people Barons South development project are hoping to keep in Westport.
    Shame on P and Z if they do not approve the text amendment !!!!
    Watch and read what happens and remember to vote for the people you agree with.
    While I am up and at it today why are we not filing a law suit against Elliot Landon for not going to BOF for approvals or even an open bid for the work to remove mold?
    While I understand it might have been expiedent and the numbers probably favor him keeping the school open. This is not correct and how dare anyone by pass our laws -procedures and act as lone rangers and bullies …. Just saying Westport wake up and think about who we are letting leave and who we promote? These two men are so different ….

  5. Wishing the Rubins much happiness in the next chapter of their lives. Steve and Toni – you’re going to LOVE Charleston! As a Westporter who calls the South Carolina Lowcountry “home,” enjoy the most beautiful place on earth! And if you haven’t read any books by Pat Conroy or Dorothea Benton Franks, now’s the time to do so and enjoy some Southern literary hospitality! Best of luck – Westport will miss you!

  6. If I could offer encouragement and big congratulations– Charleston is fabulous. That’s where we’re headed soon after searching around the past 5 years. Fun, hip southern city that’s growing, the beach life is great, arts and music are happening, restaurants are really good, and you don’t have to worry about historic preservation there. It’s already happened and then some. Maybe we’ll see you down there! But it’s not Westport –no place is like Westport — you’ll love it, I’m sure.

  7. ‘Wishing the Rubins all the best in their new home and community. Westport’s loss is truly Charleston’s gain!

  8. Steve Rubin and Bill Meyer held the longest time served on the RTM, 18 1/2 years. Most impressive is Steve’s perfect attendance which was well over 200 meetings. Also impressive was Steve’s seconding every motion because he firmly believed every motion had a right to be heard and debated. It truly reflects what representative government is all about. Thanks Steve and Toni for all you have given to Westport. Lou Mall

  9. Beautiful tribute! Thank you. Cindy

  10. Betty Lou Cummings

    Toni and Steve…you surely will be missed! Through out your many years in Westport,we have worked together on many events, projects. .Apple Festival, Clasp…. on and on. Charlestown will be blessed with you two in their community. Many hugs and wishes for a new beginning with much love Betty Lou.. Great write up on Steve & Toni, Dan- thank YOU!…….

  11. Charleston is beautiful and will certainly welcome Steve and Toni. New beginnings keep us young! Good Luck.
    Sandy Lefkowitz

  12. The Westport Young Woman’s League will miss Toni and Steve at our annual Minute Man race. Every year since I can remember (at least back to 1997) Steve and Toni have gotten up early, to come to the beach, to help at the finish line. Toni and Steve, you will be missed by many. All the best to you in the adventures that await you in Charleston.

  13. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    Sweet memories: I remember that “field of corn” on North Avenue, and the produce stand! As a high school student participating on the summer music/theater workshops years ago, I remember singing “Without a Song,” and passing that cornfield – that would never have been, or been remembered, without Toni and Steve’s “song!” Thank you!

  14. Steve and Toni have also given tirelessly of their time to Al’s Angels and to CLASP. They have always been there for CLASP, even when the timing wasn’t ideal for them, but when we needed them. We are all so lucky to have had them in our lives! We wish them many more happy years in their new town.
    Robin Hammond

  15. Westport’s loss, but Charleston’s gain many times over. Best wishes and good luck to you both. Steve, if you’re still looking at these comments, tell us the RTM story… how you looked when you started, and your grandson’s apt observation!
    —Jo Shields Dickison

  16. Thank you both for your many contributions to the area, and a special thanks to Toni for being a very beloved and enthusiastic pre-school teacher to two of my three boys! You will be missed.