Wakeman Town Farm Honors Peter Wormser

Peter Wormser’s death on Tuesday stunned and saddened many Westporters. The architect, gardener, cook and avid outdoorsman was involved in many facets of Westport life. But Wakeman Town Farm had a special place in his heart.

And the town’s sustainability center loved Peter back. This tribute is from Christy Colasurdo, co-chair emeritus and events director.

Wakeman Town Farm lost its biggest champion Tuesday night. More than a decade ago Peter Wormser was among the first in town to step up to renovate the aging farmhouse at 134 Cross Highway, and make it habitable for its early caretakers, Mike and Carrie Aitkenhead. Today it is a thriving institution, thanks in large part to the efforts of Peter and his wife, Liz Milwe, to create a truly special gathering space for the entire community.

Peter Wormser and his wife, Liz Milwe, at Wakeman Town Farm.

Peter had an enormous impact on the Wakeman Town Farm team. We don’t remember him as the world-renowned architect who designed the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or the flagship Restoration Hardware store in downtown Manhattan.

Instead we recall Peter clad in faded jeans and his trademark blue T-shirt (matching his cerulean eyes), scooping ice cream, dishing up chili and flipping burgers at Family Fun Day, or bartending at our annual Harvest Fest dinners.

Peter Wormser (right), Pete Romano, and plenty of pumpkins.

Peter truly loved the Farm, and what it meant to Westport residents. He quietly made his mark by attending countless meetings, doing detailed architectural renderings (without compensation), and eventually moving from his NYC office to one in Saugatuck, so he could GC construction of the Farm’s multipurpose facility (again, gratis).

When the building was ready for its unveiling, Peter’s son Tim died unexpectedly. The WTF committee unanimously voted to name the venue Tim’s Kitchen, honoring Peter and Liz, the Farm’s co-chair, for their contributions over the years.

Since the early days, Peter made a slew of improvements to the Farm grounds, including designing our unique Pizza Piazza, stone patios and walkways. He was in the process of working up drawings for the barn’s revitalization.

Peter Wormser (center, blue shirt) and friends celebrate Wakeman Town Farm’s pizza oven.

More than this, Peter and Liz were frequent attendees at Farm events, cooking classes and chef’s dinners. Peter rolled up his sleeves and assisted in the kitchen, working alongside Artisan’s Frederic Kieffer, Possa’s Chef Massimo and Peter Romano of Saugatuck Sweets.

It took us all by surprise when Peter, an avid cook, gardener and swimmer, was grounded by a mysterious illness 2 years ago. He underwent an array of treatments and grueling medical procedures. Eventually, he was diagnosed with leukemia.

Peter died July 13, the same day as his beloved son Tim, only 5 years later.

Wakeman Town Farm co-chair Bill Constantino fondly remembers Peter for his sensitivity to the Farm’s historic roots. He says, “Peter always had the best interest of keeping the integrity of my grandparents’ homestead and farm in mind, while being able to create an amazing space for the residents of Westport. He will truly be missed.”

Our hearts go out to the Wormser family, including sons Jon and James, and longtime partner Liz Milwe. We share heartfelt gratitude to one of the most giving, talented and unpretentious humans we have had the pleasure to know.

Peter Wormser, at his beloved Wakeman Town Farm.

10 responses to “Wakeman Town Farm Honors Peter Wormser

  1. A Beautiful Man who left a legacy and inspiration for all.

  2. Terry Brannigan

    One of the good guys. Thoughts go out to Liz and all those who share the loss

  3. Nancy Axthelm

    A remarkable legacy.
    A wonderful man.
    What a perfect tribute.

  4. India van Voorhees

    A beautiful tribute to a kind and generous man.
    Sincere condolences to Liz and her family.

  5. I’ve always thought of Peter as a modern day Renaissance man. Not only was he a supremely talented architect and creative, with a great curiosity and intellect, but he was a humanist at heart. Peter genuinely loved people and nowhere was that more evident than at Wakeman Town Farm. He got such a kick out of people’s enjoyment of the farm, the animals and our events. He loved seeing the farm come to life and actively participating in its happenings. He also loved to have fun. I adored his sense of humor and wit, his great kindness and humanity and his incredible generosity. Westport has lost one of its finest, and we have lost a dear, beloved friend. Peter is already greatly missed.

  6. Frannie Southworth

    Our deepest condolences to you Liz, James and family. We were so saddened to hear of Peter’s passing. May his memory be a blessing and an inspiration.

  7. Thank you for this gorgeous and moving tribute, Christy.

  8. Catherine Talmadge

    It has been an honor and pleasure to know and work with Peter over the years. As expressed by so many he was giving, talented, smart, unpretentious and possessed an incredible aesthetic which touched every part of his life. I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Liz and Peter in the late 90’s. Eventually I had the wonderful experience of working with Peter on the initial farmhouse renovation at Wakeman Town Farm. It was a joy and inspiration to work with him and to experience his unstoppable energy and dedication.

    In addition to his dedicated and on-going vision for the Wakeman Town Farm many people do not realize that he and Liz were instrumental in building the Nature Center at Sherwood Island State Park. He designed that beautiful structure and he and Liz along with B3 were instrumental in raising funds and marshalling volunteers to build it.

    One story from the past….I was touched as I got to know the Wormser family and their incredible dedication to the Town and their causes. It was clear that the family is wrapped in love. I remember an early conversation where we were reminiscing about how we first met our spouses. Peter lovingly described his first sighting of Liz at Pitzer crossing the street. He said her cheekbones took his breath away and he was smitten.

    Yes indeed knowing Peter has been an inspiration and a joy. He has made a huge impact on our lives in so many ways. He will be sorely missed.

  9. Donald Bergmann

    It was especially nice to read the words of Amy Ancel and Cathy Talmadge about Peter. Those words, their accuracy and sincerity serve also as statements that befit the person of whom they spoke, Peter Wormser.
    Don Bergmann

  10. Eliot Essagof

    A great tribute to a darling of a man. I miss you Peter !!

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