Remembering John Izzo

Westport lost one of its real good guys yesterday.

John Izzo — former 3rd selectman, RTM member, Staples Class of 1961 graduate and longtime voice for what he believed was best for his longtime home town — died at Norwalk Hospital. He was 71.

John Izzo

John Izzo

Izzo ran for 1st selectman as a Republican in 2001, but lost to Democrat Diane Farrell. Four years later he beat Gavin Anderson in a primary, but was defeated in the general election by Gordon Joseloff.

In typical Izzo fashion, he showed up that night at Democratic headquarters — with a bottle of Champagne for the victor.

In 2009 he ran again for 1st selectman, this time as an independent. Joseloff retained office.

Izzo served as co-grand marshal of the 2008 Festival Italiano parade. Sharing the honors: his brothers AJ, Butch and Jimmy. (He had 9 other siblings.)

1st Selectman Jim Marpe cited Izzo’s “love for and commitment to Westport.” He added:

John was personable, outgoing, and gregarious. He was a passionate golfer who loved playing at Longshore or relaxing at Compo Beach. But mostly, he loved his wife and his family. He will certainly be missed.

I last saw John Izzo a few months ago. He was at the beach, enjoying the food, the weather, the scene — and the town he loved and served, so long and well.

(Visitation hours are Tuesday, March 17, 4-8 pm at the Harding Funeral Home, 210 Post Road East. A service will be held Wednesday, March 18, 10:30 am at Assumption Church, 98 Riverside Avenue. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, FL 32256. To leave online condolences, click here.)

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14 responses to “Remembering John Izzo

  1. Wanda Tedesco

    John was a long time friend of my late husband and myself. I would like to think he completes the foursome up there.

  2. Dominick Romano

    Wanda, my thoughts exactly about the foursome.

  3. Diane h silfen

    A wonderful man. I will miss him.

  4. A good man, a real gentleman, with a warm heart and a sincere love for his home town Westport.

  5. Bobbie Herman

    John was a good friend of the Democratic Women of Westport. He came to many of our events and charmed us all with his good humor. We will all miss him. Bobbie Herman — President, Democratic Women of Westport

  6. Johnny appeared in my life as one of “The Royal Knights,” a little bit older bunch of kids with a tough guy “gang” image. While we always knew Johnny had a heart of gold, wouldn’t do anything bad to us younger kids, we still went along with the game, running away from the “Knights” as they chased us through town when we were all very very young.
    Over the years (I moved to Wesport in 1949 and lived in town off and on through 2007), I’d see John in town or on the Longshore links. We always had a laugh about the old days. Not many people remember “The Royal Knights,” or John Izzo in his tough kid personna. He got a kick out of the reminder, and so did I.
    All through the hard times in his life, Johnnie always had his “cool.” He spoke plainly, never pulling his punches. He was a constant presence in town life for almost all of my own life. I respected John and liked him very much. When he announced his sky-high PSA count, it surely heralded a strong indication of present or future cancer, but he never let that slow him down, at least not to my knowledge. He enjoyed this life, and I surely hope – and expect – he’ll be enjoying the next.
    My deepest condolences to Butchie, AJ and all the Izzo tribe who’ve lost one of their own.

    And thanks to you, Dan, for posting this tribute to one of Westport’s truly colorful and iconic figures.

    Best,
    Gerry Manning
    Bridgeport

  7. Johnny and I are six months apart in age and both members of the Staples Class of ’61. He was the toughest kid in the first grade and scared everyone to death with his strength and willingness to engage. It started early for him. The Izzos and the Palmers ruled the roost at both Bedfords and on into Staples.

    Then I left for college and he started the first of his businesses. We didn’t meet again until after I returned from the Navy in 1968 with my wife Kathy. Since then we’ve enjoyed high school reunions, the occasional drink at Mario’s and countless honks and waves on walks around town. We’ve always been on opposite sides of the political aisle, but could always discuss issues that were important to our town, keeping the town’s best interests as out goal. He was an important native thread in Westport’s historic fabric and was the embodiment of a man who lived the imperative of family first.

    I’ll miss him.

  8. Pam Barkentin

    I will really miss Johnny’s cheerful waves as he drives past my house on Richmondville in one of his beloved classic cars. It was alway so great to see his uplifted spirit, smile, and love of life. He never hesitated to stop for lemonade when my kids had a stand either, and would wow them by overpaying generously. He was a Westporter in the best sense of the word…the way we like to remember the way Westporters were “back in the day.”
    We have certainly lost a very special man. May he rest in peace.

  9. Helen Garten

    John was a gracious sparring partner and loyal friend. I’ll miss our kitchen table chats about his family and all things Westport.

  10. A good man who will be fondly remember and respected for his firm and unwavering positions. My condolences to the entire Izzo clan!

  11. Louis Gagliano

    It is hard for me to believe that John has passed. My association with John was originally through the Republican party and our roles together on the Town Committee. But John was bigger in his thinking than just Republican politics. He showed this in his caring for the community and his service over the many years that he participated making this town a better place for all our members.

  12. When I was Democratic Town Chair John was one of the people I went to to take the “temperature” of events in Westport. We may not have always agreed on things politically but we always agreed that we cared about our town. John was a thoughtful man with a great sense of humor, pulled no punches and let me know how he felt about things without reservation. He would call, email and offer me his opinions and advice on numerous things. We commiserated about things from both sides of the aisle. When we hadn’t been in contact for a while he would check in to make sure everything was ok. He was a true gentleman and I will sincerely miss him. He loved his family and loved his town.

  13. Johnny was one of the first people I met when we moved to Westport from a small town in Western Kentucky….a Royal Knight who befriended me..Me a skinny 14 year old boy with peroxide blonde hair, blue jeans with no belt, white socks and a white t shirt on my first day at the new Staples…..Johnny and Carlo had my back…that was mighty big back then….as the years went by we saw each other now and again at Staples reunions..Joan and John never changed…always brave, direct and open smiles. John’s character never wavered. In the way he loved Westport he will rank up there with Paul Newman for his unbridled enthusasiam for out town….I saw John step into a fist fight one day at Staples and demolish a kid who was mopping up one of his friends….always on the side of right…..the fastest hands in Westport…and maybe the Biggest Heart!

  14. don l bergmann

    John was a warm and caring man. He probably loved only one thing more than Westport, his family. We became fairly close on local issues over the years, he even asked me to run with him as a Second Selectman candidate when he was considering a write in candidacy, highlighting how national and local governance issues so differ. I will miss John, his big car, his once big golf back swing and his big heart.
    Don Bergmann