Unsung Hero #174

Bob Weingarten nominates Carol Leahy as this week’s Unsung Hero. He writes:

For 22 years Carol Leahy has served Westport. She started as a part-time employee in the selectman’s office, then in 1990 was named full-time Historic District Commission administrator and certified local government coordinator. She retired in 2018.

Prior to those posts, she was active in the League of Women Voters, including board service of for a number of years.

In her role as Historic District Administrator, she helped countless Westport homeowners understand preservation issues for their homes.

Carol Leahy

She obtained funding for preservation projects from the state. She also assisted the Historic District Commission by setting up agendas for monthly meetings, notifying homeowners, providing town reference material and documenting meetings for public review.

Leahy created the annual preservation award program, which recognizes owners of residential and commercial properties who demonstrate outstanding efforts to protect the historic character of exterior structures. She helped the HDC with the awards presentation, preparation of award narratives, and the annual display of house award photographs.

Among her many achievements, she helped restore the Minute Man Memorial.

Leahy is a lifetime Connecticut resident. She moved to Westport in 1972 and raised her 2 children, Wendy and Michael, here.

After she retired, HDC members decided to fund a Westport Museum for History & Culture plaque to honor her contribution to the town. The ceremony was held recently via Zoom.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says Leahy “played a critical role in organizing and structuring the work of the Historic District Commission. Her knowledge and understanding of the grant funding and historic designation opportunities made her the go-to person for Westport residents looking for support in designating historic properties. Her positive and professional demeanor created a calming presence in all her Town Hall interactions.”

Last year, Leahy received the Janet Jainschcigg Award from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. At the ceremony, State Senator Tony Hwang said Leahy “made history come alive, working with both developers and owners of historic properties.”

(Do you know an unsung hero? Email nominations: dwoog@optonline.net)

20 responses to “Unsung Hero #174

  1. Carol very much deserves to be recognized as a Westport Unsung Hero but there is another individual who should be recognized but will not be identified on 06880 – you will realize why when reading this nomination on Westport News.

    https://www.westport-news.com/news/article/Letter-to-the-Editor-Dan-Woog-is-a-Westport-15855791.php

    If you don’t want to attempt to use this link, then you can go to the Westport News website or get this week’s hardcopy of the news.

    • Bob, what a great letter to the editor. Neil Brickley, ‘71, wanted to have Dan named an Unsung Hero on “06880” quite a while back but I told Neil I didn’t think Dan would go along with it. But you have come up with a wonderful alternative. And, while I don’t know Carol, she seems like a great choice too.

    • Yes!

    • I just saw this, but I absolutely agree with Bob’s nomination of Dan. As I’ve said several times, Dan is the glue that binds us all together — present and former residents.

      Maybe a special award could be given by Jim Marpe in Dan’s honor.\

      I never knew Carol, but I wish I had.

  2. Susan Gold Falkenstein

    In my years working at the Westport Historical Society, any issue that needed the expertise from the Westport Historic District Commission was handled with professionalism, ease and knowledge. Carol was always there to handle any issue with a smile and support. She is a great asset to the town in helping to preserve its historic integrity. Kudos to Carol and her passion for what she does!

  3. Carol, was dedicated and passionate about the Historic District Commission (HDC). She was the one who knew how to figure out the puzzle between the Planning and Zoning Commission and the HDC and give the solution to a resident who was trying to get something done via the HDC.
    She really knew her stuff and was an enabler.
    Tom Bloch

  4. Carol has guided me through the purchase of many real estate deals as a realtor, as well as the purchase of my own personal residence which was a dilapidated mess left for ruin by the long-distance landlord and previous owner. I am so pleased to see her humble service receive well-deserved recognition. She is exceptional in her knowledge and work ethic.

    • Martha N. Eidman

      All of the properties mentioned are of historic significance, and many including my own property is in the National Registry.

  5. Even when she started as a part timer, Carol had a passion for all things relating to preservation. Thank you, Bob, for this long deserved nomination.

  6. Luisa Francoeur

    Bob, thank you for the link to the letter proposing Dan Woog as an Unsung Hero. Dan absolutely deserves to be recognized in this way for his dedication to all-things-Westport and his unswerving devotion to our town and all its residents.

  7. Can a former Westport resident vote? If so I vote to unsung her! Great job Carol.
    Joyce Mueller

  8. It was an honor to work with Carol when I was a member of the Westport Historical District Commission . She is so knowledgeable on historical preservation, very patient and always professional. I sincerely enjoyed working with her. Thank you Bob for nominating Carol because she truly is an unsung hero.

  9. So happy to hear you nominated Carol! She’s was terrific to work with, patient, kind and so helpful in any questions I had for my real estate clients. What an hero for sure!

  10. Francis Henkels

    As a current member of the Westport Historic District Commission and past chairman, I have spent many years working with Carol as the HDC staff administrator. She has been an invaluable resource on matters of the preservation of historic resources to the members of the HDC, to the town government and to the residents of the Town of Westport! Carol brought the highest standards of professionalism, knowledge of the intricacies of historic preservation, commitment to the people of Westport and graciousness to her work that represented to me, the essence of what it means to be a public servant!

  11. KATHIE BENNEWITZ

    It’s wonderful to have an opportunity to say Kudos twice in one comment.

    First, to Carole– no one is more deserving and to be recognized locally and especially statewide for your former role is a testament to your professionalism and commitment to historic preservation, which I personally witnessed with a residence project and closely with the town restoration of the Minuteman.

    And then Bob’s secret reveal of his own Unsung Tribute to Dan, a man who would never self nominate. Indeed it is noteworthy for the service–and many, many many hours– that you, Dan, give to you blog to support a town you adore to keep the community, near and far, connected.

  12. Thanks, all! But as honored as I am by Bob’s wonderful nomination, please don’t turn this into comments about me — keep the focus on Carol!

  13. As a longtime former member of the HDC and current chair of Preservation Connecticut’s Stewardship Committee, I wholeheartedly agree with the
    Kudos for Carol. I would like to point out one error in that the Janet Jainscheigg Award was given by Preservation Connecticut which is the new name for the Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation. We provide the same services with an easier name! Please contact us at our longtime phone number 203-562-6312

    Ed Gerber

  14. Andrew Colabella

    We need more people like her in Westport. Preserving the town and its history, teaching us to appreciate but also take on the challenges of restoration but the sweet enjoyment.

    Thank you for everything you’ve done to preserve Westport.

  15. Numerous issues impacting the Greens Farms area that entailed HDC consideration were handled with incredible attention and professionalism by Carol. She was a great supporter and contact for my work as President of the Greens Farms Association. It is great to see her recognized by the community in this manner.
    Art Schoeller
    President
    Greens Farms Association

  16. Great and well-deserved letter praising you, Dan, in today’s Westport News! Everyone take a look as I know you will agree with it’s praises for Dan Woog. Priscilla Hawk

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