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.
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.”
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).
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.”
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)