Earlier today, “06880” reported the death of longtime Westporter and wide-ranging volunteer Dick Berkowitz. His family has provided this obituary, honoring his full life.
Attorney, philanthropist, coach and mentor Richard (Dick) Berkowitz died on New Year’s Eve, after a hard-fought battle against a rare blood disease. He was 80 years old.
He was born on June 28, 1941, to humble beginnings in New Haven Dick’s parents, Elihu and Ruth Berkowitz, were hard working members of the community. He spent his days playing football and basketball, working as a short-order cook at Chuck’s Luncheonette on Whalley Avenue, and selling pennants and banners outside Yale Bowl.
Dick attended Hillhouse High School before heading off to his dream school, Dartmouth College After becoming the first in his family to graduate from college in 1963, he continued his education and graduated from the University of Connecticut Law School 4 years later.
Dick and Carole Chasnoff met as sophomores in high school. Two years later he mustered up the courage to ask her out. After graduating from college, Carole worked as a public health nurse to help pay for his law school.
Dick opened his own firm in Westport, where he practiced for 55 years. He represented high profile individuals, leading executives, and members of the media. Dick spent many years as managing partner of Berkowitz, Trager & Trager.
Over the years he was involved in many philanthropic endeavors, including: president of the Kiwanis Club of Westport, and member of the Representative Town Meeting and Planning & Zoning Commission.
He was also president of the Westport Bar Association and board member of the Westport National Bank.
In 1970 Dick was appointed by First Selectman John Kemish to chair a new commission on youth activities. It is still in existence as the Westport Youth Commission. He also served on the board of Staples Tuition Grants.
In addition, Dick was a mentor at Champions for Learning in Naples, Florida, and a founding and passionate supporter of New Heights Youth, a New York-based non-profit.
Dick was honored as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for over 25 years. He was a past president of Birchwood Country Club in Westport, and a class president and alumni council representative for Dartmouth College. Classrooms are named in his honor at the Roth Center for Jewish Life at Dartmouth, and Westport’s Temple Israel.
Dick was a longtime assistant basketball coach at Staples High School, and a regular at football, basketball, tennis, field hockey and softball games. He spent long hours instructing various game officials on the fine points of their respective sport. For many years he coached Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and softball, and recreational basketball in Westport.
While he was incredibly accomplished, his ultimate legacy is that he was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother, confidante, and friend to many. He had a light that shined bright, and touched so many throughout his life. He was a mentor to young people. Many clients also became his closest friends. But family was the most important thing in his life, and it is his family who will miss him most of all.
Dick is survived by his wife of 58 years Carole; sister Jane (Eddie Brandwein) of Chicago; children Jody (Joel) Beck of Westport, Emily (Ken) Sandberg of Woodbridge; Suzy (Michael Weksel) of Edgemont, New York and Adam Berkowitz of New York City; grandchildren Sam, Zack, Rachel, John, Jack, Mia, Henry, Carina and Ben; granddogs Buddy, Bella and Eric, and great-granddog Beau. He also leaves cousin/brother Judge Stanley Novack of Stamford, and countless family and friends.