RTM member Lauren Karpf writes:
Over 55 years ago, Velma and Garson Heller moved with their children to Westport. They have been giving back to the town ever since.
Velma was elected to the Representative Town Meeting 20 years ago — as a write-in candidate. She has been an RTM member ever since. Her committee work included Education, Public Protection, Long Range Planning, Ordinance and Employee Compensation.
She chaired the Education Committee for 9 years, served as deputy moderator for 4 years, and been RTM moderator since 2017. Wrangling 36 members — and working with nearly ever other town board and official — is as difficult as it is thankless. Velma has done it with grace, tact and intelligence.
A gifted educator, Velma spent over 30 years in the Westport school system as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, vice principal, principal, irector of curriculum and staff development, and director of supervision and evaluation.
She then joined Sacred Heart University as a student teacher supervisor and adjunct professor. She worked for 15 years as a full-time faculty member in the Graduate Education Program, where she ran the program leading student teachers.
Velma has dedicated her career to teaching, advising, and helping others better themselves. She continues to do so. She has a natural gift for guiding new and longstanding members alike through their journey on the RTM. She is a sounding board to discuss difficult matters, and truly helps us achieve success. Velma has impacted so many of our youth, but also so many of us.
Garson graduated from Yale with a degree in chemical engineering. After graduation, joined Mobil as a chemical engineer. He moved to Data Dimensions, where he helped implement a computer system for United Press International. He moved to Securities Industry Automation Corporation for the rest of his engineering and computing career, before retiring in 2002 as the senior director of computer acquisitions.
Garson has an inspiring record of service to our town too. He served on the RTM for 14 years. He has been a member of the Board of Assessment Appeals since 1983 — 37 years! He is also involved in numerous organizations, including Y’s Men.
The Hellers passed their love of public service on to their children. Their son Grant spent 4 years on the RTM.
And the family is committed to public education. All 3 children went through the public schools. Three of their Velma and Garson’s grandchildren are in the Westport system right now.
Quietly, efficiently and lovingly, Velma and Garson Heller have helped Westport grow and thrive. They are true Unsung Heroes — and have been, for over half a century.
(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email firstname.lastname@example.org)