Remembering Gordon Joseloff

If they’re very lucky, people have a career they are good at, and love.

Gordon Joseloff had 3.

For more than 20 years, the Westport native was an award-winning journalist who reported from London, Moscow, Tokyo and other spots around the world, for United Press International and CBS News.

Gordon Joseloff

He served 2 terms as Westport’s first selectman (2005-2013). That was the culmination of his involvement in town affairs. Before that, he spent 14 years (7 terms) on the Representative Town Meeting. He became deputy moderator in his 2nd term, and was elected moderator the next term. His 10 years as RTM leader are matched by only one other person in history.

Joseloff was an integral part of many other organizations, including the Westport Historical Society and Westport Rotary. He was also a volunteer firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician.

Joseloff was also active in other community affairs, including serving as an honorary member of the advisory board of the Westport Historical Society, and a member of the Westport Rotary Club and the League of Women Voters of Westport.

Joseloff’s 3rd career — which both preceded and followed his service as 1st selectman — was as founder, editor and publisher of WestportNow. At its start in 2003, the platform was one of the nation’s first community news sites. It has won numerous journalism awards, and continues to inform and entertain thousands of readers.

Gordon Joseloff died this morning, 3 years after being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer. He was 75 years old.

For a full obituary, it is fitting to click here: WestportNow.

Gordon Joseloff (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


In May of 2018, “06880” cited Gordon Joseloff as Unsung Hero of the Week. I wrote:

Earlier this year, WestportNow celebrated its 15th anniversary.

Since 2003 the site has provided readers with political news, police reports, coverage of community events like library talks and fundraisers, obituaries, photos of sunrises and sunsets, and the immensely popular “Teardown of the Day.”

The founder, editor and publisher is Gordon Joseloff. He gave up his editor’s post between 2005 and 2013 — that’s when he served 2 terms as the town’s 1st selectman — but he’s been back at the helm ever since.

Joseloff’s journalistic chops are real. He worked for UPI. Then, during 16 years at CBS News, he rose from a writer for Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather to correspondent, senior producer and bureau chief in New York, Moscow and Tokyo.

Joseloff covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the downing of Korean Air Lines flight 007, the assassination of India Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (for which he won an Emmy Award in 1984), the Bhopal gas leak, and the overthrow of Philippines President Fernando Marcos.

And he’s a Westport native. His family’s roots run deep: They owned downtown property including the Fine Arts Theater, a very popular spot for over 8 decades. (Today it’s Restoration Hardware.)

Joseloff was a teenage reporter for the Westport Town Crier, and helped create the predecessor of Staples’ WWPT radio station, broadcasting at Compo Beach.

Prior to running for first selectman, Joseloff served 14 years on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) — 10 of them as moderator.

A member of Westport Rotary and an honorary member of the Westport Historical Society advisory council, Joseloff is also a volunteer firefighter, and a former Emergency Medical Technician.

Congratulations on 15 years to WestportNow — and thanks to Gordon Joseloff, its founder, guiding light, and this week’s Unsung Hero.

Then-First Selectman Gordon Joseloff (right) praised Tommy Ghianuly, owner of Compo Center Barber Shop, at their 50th anniversary celebration.

 

39 responses to “Remembering Gordon Joseloff

  1. I am so sorry to hear this devastating news. I knew Gordon well while serving as chairman of the Board of Finance under his leadership as First Selectman. He always put the needs of every person in Westport ahead of politics. His focus on public safety and infrastructure make Westport a better place today, and for generations to come. Westport has lost a great leader. May his memory be a blessing.

  2. Very sorry to hear this news. .He was a good guy and helped Aspetuck Land Trust to make the Newman Poses Preserve a reality.

  3. Martin and Julie O'Grady

    Oh! I am also devastated. I first met Gordon as a volunteer firefighter in the 80s and have always admired his integrity, honesty, curiosity and never-ending energy. I am so so sorry to hear of his death. I was unaware he had been ill. My most very heart-felt condolences to his family.

  4. As of 12:15PM, WestportNow.com is down, probably crashed due to a flood of log-in attempts. I imagine this is temporary.

  5. His bio/obit is an amazing look at a career, or careers few have achieved.
    Well worth a look when it is available.

  6. Elizabeth Thibault

    Deepest condolences to the Joseloff family and Gordon’s friends. He made a strong impression on us when we first moved to Westport and he demonstrated how to be informed on how the local government worked and the importance of staying informed. He contributed greatly to the quality of life we all enjoy. This is a loss for us all.

  7. Sad face emoji

  8. A great guy. RIP Gordon

  9. So sorry to hear this news. Gordon was a Westport Asset! His loss will be felt for a long time.

  10. What a remarkable life.

  11. Gordon inspired us all with his commitment to our town and he will be remembered fondly by so many of us. Please know, Anna-Liisa and Ben, that we are holding you close.

  12. Stephen M Axthelm

    We were lucky to have him. He was a fine and accomplished man. Rest in Peace Gordon

  13. Susan Gold Falkenstein

    I was honored to know Gordon and his kind and gentle manner will never be forgotten. His profound love of Westport gave me a deeper understanding and gratitude for the beautiful town we both lived in. No matter where I ran into Gordon, he was always an attentive listener and an all-around kind of guy, humble and awesome. Many blessings to the Joseloff family.

  14. My personal takeaway from having had the pleasure of knowing & working with Gordon these past years is that he really inspired me to love & appreciate this town in a very new way … His leaving is a massive loss to the community … And while his formidable career(s) remains awe-inspiring, it’s important to note how distinctly he adored his family, very often referencing his children & grandchildren during our work phone calls … Cheers Gordon!!

  15. A staggering resume, a man who led to such great improvements to the town, perhaps its greatest leader ever. And a nice man!

  16. Sandy and Larry Lefkowitz

    Gordon was an amazing man with a wry sense of humor. He was a town living Westport legend and we are saddened by his loss.

  17. The home page is down, however, the phenominal bio/obit is available at that link:
    https://westportnow.com/index.php?/v3/comments/gordon_f._joseloff_75/#more

  18. Brilliant RTM Moderator who often knew more about the subject than the submitter but he was modest enough to seldom let it show 👍🏼
    RIP Gordon ⛪️🙏🇺🇸

  19. Larry Untermeyer

    Gordon Joseloff,. What a sad loss to Westport and all who knew him and were associated with him from around the globe as a world class Journalist. He was a wonderful friend and a joy to work with. He had a great sense and feel for covering/writing in depth news and photos stories. To say he will be sorely missed is an understatement.

  20. Terry Brannigan

    Wow, I did not see this coming, I also did not realize how much I liked the man until I learned he was gone, The town will feel the loss.

  21. I have known Gordon since the 80s when we both worked for CBS News. Gordon was part of a group on the news side that were capable of doing great things, and they always rose to the occasion.It sounds so long ago, but the memories are still fresh. For years we still laughed about how I always complained to him about the Tokyo cab fares on his expense report. He loved Westport, and he loved his friends and family. It must have pleased him to no end that his son Ben’s family came back to live here with the grandchildren.

    Westport has lost two great people in the last few weeks who coincidentally were good friends. Martha Aasen and Gordon. It’s been a privilege for our family to know both of them. Westport’s loss is Heaven’s gain.

  22. Patricia McMahon

    Such a loss of a lovely man and human .
    Rest in Power!

  23. Sal Liccione RTM District 9

    As a rtm member he served our town great it is very sad to loss he was good on rtm and first selectman he will be missed on our it a loss for the town of westport

  24. I did not know Gordon Joseloff even enough to say that we were acquainted. But my late father, Jerry Davidoff, an attorney in Westport and chair of the Board of Education, knew Gordon well and spoke of him often with great admiration. What a loss for the town. Thank you for your devotion.

  25. Sending condolences to the Joseloff family. Doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you are on this town. The goal is always to make our community better. Gordon Joseloff did that. From Moderator of the RTM to First Selectman, his service to our community will never be forgotten. As Journalist WOW. What an amazing career. RIP Gordon.

  26. WE are so sad to read this. I had emailed with him a few weeks ago. We have known Gordon since 1980’s. He was teriffic in all he did for so many.
    Will be missed.

  27. Patricia Blaufuss

    A quick-witted, quintessential journalist and gentleman.

  28. Gordon was a friend. Got to know him when we moved to Westport in 1995. We had UPI and journalism careers in common. He was a font of knowledge, huge admirer of Walter Cronkite, as was I. He often talked about how much Cronkite regretted retiring at 65.

    Gordon’s community service was selfless, and he never complained about those who personally assailed him over mundane local issues like property taxes or senior housing. He was kind of an anachronism politically.

    I last saw him just before we moved to Denver in 2018. He was lunching at Westport’s iconic Gold’s deli. Had no idea he was already battling a fatal illness, but he was the kind of guy who wouldn’t say. He will be missed. RIP Gordon Joseloff

  29. Kathie Bennewitz

    It is with a very heavy heart that we at WestPAC must pay our respects today to Gordon Joseloff, former First Selectman, WestportNow founder and editor, and respected journalist. His love of Westport, its history and culture was unmatched. Our deepest of condolences are directed to his loving family, and Ann-Lisse who serves with us, and his devoted friends and colleagues.

    Just yesterday Ann Sheffer spoke publicly , and warmly, about working with Gordon at an Arts Advisory and Westport Library ribbon cutting for a new public work of art. We had no idea Westport would lose him today.

    Gordon also knew so much about Westport and his family touched so many a generation of residents who made an impact here over time just as he did too. He was so incredibly generous with his knowledge and his amazing collections out of his his sincere love of Westport.

    A true loss.

  30. Roseann Spengler

    An incredibly gifted man. What a loss for Westport. Very sad.
    Condolences to his family.

  31. Condolences to the Joseloff family. I first crossed paths with Gordon as student manager of WWPT in the early 90’s. He was always, warm and friendly, and made point of saying “Hello,” when we found ourselves in the same place at the same time. The last time I saw Gordon was at the 2019 Memorial Day parade– Camera around his neck, reporting, as always.

  32. Dick Lowenstein

    I will miss him much and I owe him a lot. When I was first elected to the RTM in 1997, he appointed me chair of the RTM Transit Committee. Me, I said, I’m a freshman! You’ll me fine, he said. And I was. I really liked him. I spoke to him the day Martha Aasen died. It was our last conversation.

  33. Tom Seligson and Susan Farewell

    Gordon and I were “members” of an unofficial club of Westporters who proved that you can go home again. We grew up together in Westport and returned as adults.

    Over the last 20+ years, Susan and I had the great pleasure of sharing many good times with him and his family. We’ve always been impressed at how Gordon embraced Westport—personally and professionally.

    Westport was very lucky to have his high-level of professionalism when he served as First Selectman and as the founder and owner of Westportnow.com. As a friend, he was always there for us, whether it was handing out candy to the throngs of trick-or-treaters at our house at Compo Beach or showing up on the heels of Hurricane Sandy ready to help.

    We’ll miss Gordon very much.

    Tom Seligson and Susan Farewell

  34. I had the privilege to serve as Gordon’s Town Attorney. Toward the end of his eight years as First Selectman, he would often remark that he looked forward to having more time to read a book, go to a movie, and see his children and grandchildren. And he did. A good life and a good man who loved his community and family.

  35. Andrew Colabella

    Shocked to open my phone at work and read the headline. I was totally unaware of his illness, you would’ve never known looking at him. He was all over town, driving his blue Acura with his volunteer fire plates making his way from incident to incident documenting and capturing our town and its finest to help those in their worst moments.

    Gordon and I first met at the beach while I was lifeguarding in July of 2005 he was on scene for a save I made.

    From there we would share photos and even then I would contribute my finest work for the rest of the town to see. He referred to photos as the eyes for others to see. I got into photographing lightning in 2008 and ever since then I would capture them to share with Gordon who shared it with the world

    He definitely played a big part in my growth. Weird to see how things became full circle, constantly bumping into each other from work to volunteer leadership roles.

    I’ll miss seeing him around town and our brief multiple conversations as if barely any time had passed since our last rendezvous. I’m lucky to have Gordon’s son, Ben and their family as my neighbor.

  36. I served with Gordon on the RTM for 12 years. He was indeed the ideal Moderator. Pointing out the strengths & weakness of your proposal but never preventing you from pursuing them. Gordon’s passion was public service…he cared deeply about the Fire Department and EMS.
    Westport lost a true friend and one of it’s greatest volunteers.
    My respect & condolences to his family & friends.

  37. Wendy Goldwyn Batteau

    This is such sad news. Gordon was a sterling human being – smart, kind, principled, clear-headed, devoted to working for others, and with a wry sense of humor. Westport is the poorer for his loss. RIP. My condolences to his family.

  38. Cary Brick, Sugar Land Texas (frelance writer, retired Chief Staff in the US Congress and municipal court judge.

    Gordon and I began our friendship as college students 50 years ago at Syracuse University. I had no better friend than Gordon. One of our professors sid we were “joined at the hip.” Long before his remarkable career as a journalist on the world stage, Gordon was a student journalist. He was the guy wearing a jacket and tie carrying the NY Times and a handful of other newspapers into every class! He was most happy being in the news of the day. He and I had an adaptor for our pocket transistor radios to monitor police and fire calls! We’d chase the flashing lights at all hours of the night with Gordon reading live reports directly to the campus radio station, WAER. His first “international” break was during a rowdy anti-war rally on campus—not as a protestor, but as a reporter. He had his camera in hand for a once-in-a-lifetime shot of the University Chancellor (President) raising an umbrella cane to strike one of the protestors. We ran back to the journalism school darkroom where he printed the photo while I wrote the caption. Within minutes the photo was on the UPI wire where it went international. We weren’t sure what the university’s formal reaction might be but later we found out the photo inspired a slurry of contributions to the university alumni office from graduates critical of the protestors and supportive of the Chancellor’s “stance.” On another instance, we spent a New Year’s eve in Times Square interviewing—not the revelers — but those who were on the square working as uniformed and plainclothes NYPD and Fire Department personnel, and even pickpockets and working girls. We wrote stories showing the voices of those who were there to watch the crowds and even make some money from them. We turned our stories in to one of our journalism professors (a retired magazine editor and investigative reporter) who praised the initiative and gave extra credit for it !. RIP, my friend, you were an exemplary gentleman and a friend like no other. On top of that, Gordon, you were one helluva journalist

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