As Westport turns the page on a new year, it’s fitting to honor 2 longtime residents who show us — every day — that age is only a number.
Ted Diamond turned 100 in July. An Army Air Corps combat navigator with the 15th Air Force, he flew 50 World War II missions over highly secured military installations across Europe, often leading a group of 28 B-17s.
Two years ago — on his 98th birthday — he received France’s highest medal: the insignia of Chevalier (knight) of the Legion of Honor.
The award — established by Napoleon in 1802 — acknowledged Diamond’s enduring contribution to the success of Operation Dragoon, a military campaign to free the nation from Nazi domination.
He has spent the last 62 years in Westport. In addition to 3 terms as 2nd selectman, he was an RTM member, and volunteered on numerous town committees, commissions and boards.
In 2007, Diamond served as grand marshal of Westport’s Memorial Day parade. He has attended nearly every one since moving here — and already looks forward to next May.
Irene Backalenick had a long career as a New York Times journalist. Then — after earning a Ph.D. in theater history — she became a noted theater reviewer.
In her 90s she turned to poetry. She’s published many times, and has fans in far-flung places.
She and a tight-knit group of 5 women — including longtime Westport writer Gloria Sugarman — meet regularly, in a writers’ workshop.
Irene posts some of her poems on Facebook. Others are on her personal blog.
Ted and Irene have added much to Westport, for so many years. Their countless friends wish them another year filled with good health, great happiness, love and joy.
(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email firstname.lastname@example.org)