Remembering Dick Berkowitz

Richard Berkowitz — an attorney whose involvement for more than 50 years in politics, sports, civic organizations, and much more helped shape Westport into what it is today — died peacefully on New Year’s Eve. He was 80 years old.

He practiced law here until his death, most recently “of counsel” at Berkowitz, Trager & Trager. He represented high-profile individuals, leading executives and members of the media. He was a president of the Connecticut Bar Association.

But his impact spread far beyond his profession.

Dick Berkowitz

In his 55 years in Westport, Dick was elected to the Planning & Zoning Commission and Representative Town Meeting (RTM).

He served as president of the Westport Kiwanis Club, Westport Bar Association and Birchwood Country Club, and was a board member of Staples Tuition Grants and the Westport National Bank.

He was a director of Project Renaissance, a drug treatment project; the Dartmouth Clubs of Westport-Weston and Fairfield County, and the Temple Israel Brotherhood.

In 1970 — 3 years after Berkowitz (then 29 years old), his wife Carole and children moved to Westport — 1st Selectman John Kemish appointed Dick to be chair of a new commission on youth and human relations activities. It was the forerunner of today’s Youth Commission.

He was a longtime assistant basketball coach at Staples High School, working with head coach Brian Kelley. For many years he coached Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and youth recreational basketball. He was also an avid member of the Compo Beach Irregulars, an “informal group of enthusiastic athletes.”

Rooms have been named in Dick Berkowitz’s honor at Temple Israel, and the Roth Center for Jewish Life at Dartmouth College.

He graduated from Dartmouth, and earned his law degree at the University of Connecticut.

He is survived by his wife Carole; children Jody, Emily, Suzy and Adam, and several grandchildren.

Information on services on memorial contributions will be announced soon.

4 responses to “Remembering Dick Berkowitz

  1. Ken Bernhard

    Dick was a formable attorney, a community friend, a great raconteur, and a wonderful family man. Our community has lost one of its best. Ken Bernhard

  2. This is very sad news. Dick was a leader in the local legal community and in town. When I came to town as a young lawyer in 1978, Dick had already built one of the most respected firms in the area. My condolences to his family.

    • Larry Weisman

      Dick was my law partner for several years. Not only was he a first rate attorney, a gentleman, and a passionate family man, but he was a fine athlete. He loved Westport and was generous with his time devoted to the community. He will be missed by many friends and colleagues.

  3. Richard Berkowitz was a great guy, a great friend and a great lawyer (to have on your side)! He didn’t tolerate BS. He could always see what was important in any situation and always knew how to to get things done. Our family was lucky to have known him in all three ways!

    Everyone knew he was an incredible family man to Carole, his kids and his grandkids- involved, caring, loving and supportive. And he extended that same caring to the athletes at Staples HS who he not only helped coach, but when needed acted as a mentor and assisted with advice and financial aid.

    Our son, Michael, played on basketball teams with Richard, against Richard and also refereed some of Richard’s games in the senior leagues many years ago- He said Richard was the toughest player but also the fairest player in the league! That’s what I would say about his lawyering as well!

    BY THE WAY- Richard was born on June 28, 1941 (same as me) – making him only 80 and a half- to be exact- as Richard would have wanted it.

    I will miss his smile and singing Happy Birthday with him on our mutual birthday!