The men and women who grew up in the 1920s and ’30s — and who served their country in so many ways — have been called the Greatest Generation.
The nickname fits in Westport too. Arriving here in postwar droves, those young parents served their new hometown with the same vigor. They imparted important values to their kids (and their kids’ friends). They volunteered wherever and however they could. The roots they planted then still help bear fruit today.
Westport lost another member of that Greatest Generation last week. Howard Dickstein died at home, a month shy of his 90th birthday.
You may not have known his name. But he was one of those men and women who made Westport the kind of town it is.
An honors graduate of New York’s DeWitt Clinton High School (at age 16), he supported himself through NYU’s journalism school by working at an ad agency, and as a stringer for the Herald Tribune.
After serving in the Navy during World War II, he completed his NYU degree on the GI Bill.
Dickstein spent most of his career in advertising, eventually running his own agency. He returned to journalism after retirement, as a proofreader and columnist (“Hawkeye”)/sportswriter for the Minuteman. He particularly enjoyed covering the Staples High School soccer team, long after his sons Peter and Steve starred for the Wreckers.
Dickstein’s passions ranged far and wide. During the civil rights era he co-sponsored The Forum, which brought speakers like Floyd McKissick and Norman Thomas to Westport.
He promoted dialogue between Westport and Bridgeport, and designed pamphlets for fair housing.
He was a 2-term president of the Southern Connecticut Ethical Society, a volunteer in the Norwalk Hospital emergency room, a meal server at the Senior Center, and a longtime Little League umpire.
Fascinated by the OJ Simpson trial, he enrolled at Norwalk Community College to study criminal justice. As part of his studies, he accompanied local police on ride-alongs.
He and Kate — his wife of 64 years — were original members of The Turkeys. For 30 years, the group met in members’ homes, read plays and shared food and laughs.
He was a talented and tireless handyman. He spent years constructing a massive stone wall at his Park Lane home.
Dickstein adored the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, and was chronically disappointed by the New York Mets.
Of all his accomplishments though, he was most proud of his family. He is survived by his wife Kate; sons Peter (Lisa) of San Francisco and Stephen (Natalie) of Delray Beach, Florida, and daughter Jane (Gordon) of Mill Valley California; 5 grandchildren; his sister Geraldine, and nieces, nephews and cousins.
Special gratitude goes to his dedicated caregivers, Stacy Meikle and Jennifer Wilson.
At his request, a memorial service will be private. Contributions in Howard Dickstein’s name made be made to Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, PO Box 489, Wilton, CT 06897.