Remembering Elliott Netherton

Elliott Netherton was a tireless Westport Historical Society volunteer.

But the Connecticut plates on his sleek, dark green classic Jaguar always read “KY COL.”

The University of Kentucky graduate and former Kentucky National Guard officer spent 34 years with GE as a financial management executive.

Yet it was his life after retirement that made his death last Thursday at 83 so impactful on Westport.

Elliott Netherton

Elliott Netherton

As CFO of the Historical Society — during the Great Recession — Elliott moved assets into no-load index funds.

Other non-profits staggered, as sponsorships and donations plummeted. But the WHS — which was still paying off a mortgage — thrived.

“Elliott was dealing with very serious heart issues at the time,” then-president Dorothy Curran recalls. “He put his health — perhaps even his life — on the line for us.

“He was not always easy to work with. He knew his parliamentary procedure cold, had no use for wandering conversation, and insisted that board meetings end promptly at 5:30 p.m.”

His chair says it all.

His chair says it all.

But, Curran says, “he was a quiet, principled, tireless force of nature. There never was any question that his moral compass, financial integrity and heart for service, above and beyond, were in the right place.”

The WHS was hardly Elliott’s only volunteer activity.

He was a longtime Boy Scout leader (during and after GE, at the local, district and national levels). He was an avid Y’s Men participant (recruiting excellent retired executives from that group for the WHS financial advisory committee).

He served Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church with his financial acumen. He also was an officer of Westport’s Republican  Town Committee (and spent many Election Days as a poll monitor).

Elliott and Joyce Netherton.

Elliott and Joyce Netherton.

In support of his wife Joyce — a distinguished executive and volunteer in her own right — he worked the “boiler room” of the Westport Woman’s Club during Yankee Doodle Fair crunch time, counting cash late into the night.

Longtime friend and fellow volunteer Pete Wolgast also salutes Elliott’s integrity.

“He could always be counted on to do the right thing,” the fellow church finance committee member says.

“He was highly intelligent. And he used native ability, along with his experience from many years as an internal auditor at GE, to be an extremely valuable member of many non-profits.”

Elliott Netherton, in his military days.

Elliott Netherton, in his military days.

Pete says Elliott “straightened out the church’s accounting and finances, and brought them up to general accounting standards.” When Pete became WHS president in 1995, he did the same for that organization.

Then he did it all over again, for the Y’s Men.

On Sunday, Pete stopped by Elliott’s house.

Seeing Elliott’s Jag with the “KY COL” plates in the driveway, Pete says, “I realized our community had lost an outstanding citizen.”

(A memorial service for Elliott Netherton is set for Tuesday, June 7, 1 p.m. at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Hat tip: Rick Towers and Bob Mitchell)

5 responses to “Remembering Elliott Netherton

  1. Elliott was a true gentleman. He will be missed.

  2. Wally Woods

    Elliott was more than a true gentleman. He was staunch, uprright, financially brilliant, and willing to give 100 percent of himself to the many causes and organizations he worked with. Elliott ran the fund raising operation that resulted in the greatly expanded Historial Society galleries and operating spaces that opened in 2003.
    He epitomized what makes Westport such a terrific place to live and be involved with, even after leaving the “business world”.
    I really admired that great man.
    Wally Woods

  3. Denise Torve

    I worked with Elliott for a few years at WHS and developed a real admiration and affection for him, not only for his dedication to the job at hand but also, for being a rock solid individual with deep principles. He could reduce me to tears at times but he was the first one to say “well done” or commiserate when something went wrong. When we bumped into each other around town there was always a hug, and his last words to me were “You know I voted for you”. That meant the world to me.
    Denise Torve

  4. Jimmy Keightley

    Thanks for the memories my old friend. I wish you fair winds and following seas

  5. Thank you, Elliot; your selfless dedication to Troop 100 for so many years impacted many young boys and their families in Westport. What a small band of boys we were; yet, through the dedication and leadership of Elliot our small Troop 100 produced copious Eagle Scouts that have grown up to become men with fond memories of our time together.