Remembering Larry Michaels

Longtime Westport architect Larry Michaels died last month. His family sends this remembrance:

“I want to live to 100 so I can be on the Smucker’s jar!” was what he always said, but that wish was not to be fulfilled. Larry passed away November 24. Despite not reaching his goal, he lived a very happy, full life, with a most positive attitude till he was 90 1/2.

In May we had many wonderful celebrations to commemorate his big 90th birthday, Though he was a man of few words, Larry made a beautiful speech, saying something to each person.

Larry was born and raised in Norwalk. He found his passion when he visited a friend in the Architecture Department, and saw models of structures that students had built. He studied at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s 5-year program, graduating in 1953.

For 46 years he practiced architecture in Westport, and was published in national and international magazines. His work included residential, commercial buildings, shopping centers and malls, stores, condos, in and around Connecticut, New York, California, St. Martin and more.

Larry Michaels

As a young architect Larry was an active member of the board of Westport Community Theater, and designed sets for their shows. He was also member of the Westport Zoning Board of Appeals and Architectural Review Board.

One of his most exciting projects was designing Dave Brubeck’s home in Wilton. A formal Japanese garden enhanced the entrance to the “strongly Oriental- influenced estate.” This project was particularly meaningful, because Larry was a jazz enthusiast.

His work was toured several times, including the Westport Historical Society’s 2010 exhibit, “Westport Modern: When Cool Was Hot”.

Larry was a member of the Connecticut Society of Architects. He was licensed to practice by the State of Connecticut Architectural Examining Board and the National Council of Architectural Registration Board Examinations.

Retirement came in 2006, when Larry and Linda moved to Los Angeles. Along with the wonderful weather, he looked forward to taking classes at the Santa Monica Emeritus College. His favorite was “Exercising the Brain.” He looked forward to word puzzles each week where his humor and intellect were greatly appreciated. He also enjoyed the Survey of Art, and the music classes.

Every day, for decades, he did the puzzles in The New York Times or Los Angeles Times. Larry was always learning.

Larry had a passion for sports. For many years he coached the Little League Pontiacs team in Westport. He was an ardent Mets fan when living in the East, and a Dodgers fan on the West Coast.

Linda and Larry had many adventures, including travels to Canada, Europe, and the Middle and Far East. His most memorable was to China and Bali. For 22 years, they vacationed in St. Marten where Larry had designed The Ocean Club.

He leaves behind his wife, architectural designer Linda Zamelsky, of 36 years. They worked together for 22 years. He also leaves his East Coast family of daughter Jennifer (Scott) Soodek and grandchildren Jessica, Sara and Jake (and their spouses/partners); son Eric (Sharon) and grandchildren Jonathan and Jordan (and their spouses/partners). His previous marriage was to Toby Michaels of Westport.

On the West Coast, he leaves behind Dr. Janeen Locker (and partner) and grandchildren Anji and Rafa, and Dr. Brendan Armm (Winter) and grandchildren River and Leaf.

Larry died peacefully at home, surrounded by family singing to him “Amazing Grace” and his favorite, “It’s a Wonderful World.”:

The funeral was private. Donations in memory of Larry may be sent to the charity of your choice, or Santa Monica Emeritus College.

6 responses to “Remembering Larry Michaels

  1. Jennifer, I remember meeting your day back in the 80’s and then again when Eliot and I first moved to Westport in 1989 to discuss possibilities for our house. He was a very nice man and raised a lovely, beautiful inside and out daughter. May his memories be for a blessing. – Bobbi

  2. Jennifer Michaels Soodek

    Thanks so much Bobbi- I will always enjoy driving around Westport to see the many homes, restaurants, and shopping centers he did in town. And of course, there’s my old house on North Avenue which still looks very close to the original house- just missing the purple door!

    • If that was the glass house opposite Coleytown Jr High, as a very young architecture buff I thought that was such a cool looking home—and that must have been a great place to grow up in. I didn’t realize until many years later that your dad was modeling it, in part, after the Farnsworth House—which of course made sense.

      • Jennifer Soodek

        Yes, that’s the house! Was a great place to grow up, especially with the schools right across the street!

  3. Jamie Freitas

    Thank you for this remembrance. I’m sorry to learn of Larry’s passing. I live in one of his designed houses and am completely inthralled and in love with it. I grew up in West Los Angeles, and when I walked into this for sale house in Norwalk back in 2004, I felt instantly that I “was home”. It is an architectural gem and inspiration, and each and every day I am filled with gratitude and appreciation to be surrounded by Larry’s artistic and insightful vision.

    • Jamie Freitas

      P.S. – I’ve been searching to find and him since 2004. I would have appreciated connecting. My condolences to his family.