Remembering Lois Schine

Lois Schine — one of the last members of a remarkable group of women who moved to Westport in the postwar years, and helped make our community what it is today — died at home July 7, surrounded by her family. She was 95 years old.

Lois was born in 1927 in Brooklyn, to Daniel and Florence Grimm Gildersleeve.  The Gildersleeve family came to Massachusetts from England in 1635, and eventually settled in Connecticut.

Lois was a pioneer. She graduated second in her class from Pratt Institute in 1947, with a degree in mechanical engineering. She was the only woman in that program.

She was elected to the Tau Beta Pi honorary engineering society with special designation as an “Honorary Member,” because it was a male-only fraternity. (In the 1960’s Lois was retroactively named a full member.)  At Pratt she was a founding member of the Society of Women Engineers. It has since grown into a large international organization.

After college Lois worked for General Electric, in advanced engineering and research. GE was one of the few companies to hire female engineers in the 1940s and ’50s.  She also taught engineering courses at Bridgeport University.

Lois met Leonard Schine, an attorney, when he hired her as a consulting engineer. In 1951, they married and had 5 children.

They made their home in Westport, where Lois remained for the next 70 years.  While raising children, Lois earned a master’s degree in administrative engineering from New York University.

When her children were of school age, Lois returned to work as an engineering consultant. She then shifted careers, and became director of volunteer services at Bridgeport Hospital, overseeing 700 volunteers. She was president of both the Connecticut Association of Directors of Volunteer Services, and the New England Association of Volunteer Directors.

In 1988 she was named executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, a post she held for 16 years.

In addition to her professional career, Lois contributed much to Westport and the surrounding area. Among her many civic activities, she was a Sacred Heart University trustee for 37 years, a Near & Far Aid Association board member, and a member of the Westport Rotary Club and the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

She served on the Westport RTM for 20 years. She was particularly proud of her work helping create Winslow Park, and having the Planning & Zoning Commission designate it as Westport’s first “Open Space Zone.”

An intrepid traveler, Lois visited far corners of the world.  She was an avid skier, and reluctantly gave up the sport at 85 years old.  She also played tennis and pursued ice dancing.

Her parenting philosophy was “survival of the fittest.” She took her children whitewater rafting, helicopter skiing, sailing and on safaris, exposing them to a wide range of people, places and experiences.

(All photos of Lois Schine, courtesy of the Schine family)

Lois is survived by her children Leslie Schine (Nils Nilsen), Daniel Schine (Patty Sullivan), Lindsay Schine (Michael Klingher), Lauren Schine and Edward Schine (Brigitta); grandchildren Caleb, Christian and Thomas Schine; Cody Nilsen; Ben, Nathan and Natalie Klingher; Tyler and Kyle Schine and Shannon May, and her beloved dog Kirby.  Lois was predeceased by her husband Leonard, grandson Jonathan Schine and sister Joyce Feigenbaum.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Leonard and Lois Schine Scholarship Fund at Sacred Heart University or the Aspetuck Land Trust.

A memorial service will be held in the fall.

36 responses to “Remembering Lois Schine

  1. Mark Bachmann

    What a life!

  2. Kristan Hamlin

    I served with Lois on the RTM until she was about 90. She remained as sharp as a whip. She had a great spirit. She was very proud of the work she did on Baron’s North, and in creating Winslow Park, which Westport dogs very much appreciate!
    I do hope the town will erect a plaque there, in her honor. She deserves it! Rest In Peace, Lois. You will be missed.

  3. Susan Gold Falkenstein

    Lois was a beacon of light, courage and confidence! It was an honor to know her, work with her and now to applaud her for being a remarkable, kind, generous and passionate person. Radiant blessings to one of my heroes!

  4. Fred Cantor

    Truly an extraordinary life.

  5. Peter MIhalick

    What a accomplished woman. Her family was blessed to have her

  6. Pete Powell

    It was always an honor to work with her. Her commitment to the community, Rotary and all of us was without parallel. The Chamber of Commerce was a force for good in Westport when she headed it..

    • Molly Alger

      Lois was also an active member of the Board of the Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities where she contributed for many years.

  7. Class and grace!

  8. John Kantor

    A sad loss. Lois was one of the great ones.

  9. Andrew Colabella

    Serving with her on the RTM was an honor. Soft and well spoken, but most importantly was passionate about her home. I think it’s fair to say we all learned a lot from her. She leaves behind many gifts to the town.

  10. John Kelley

    I believe her daughter Leslie won a lock of Ringo’s hair in a contest on WMCA.

  11. Rich Gleason

    Ed, sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family.

  12. Roseann Spengler

    WOW! What an impressive woman/person. My loss that I never met her.

  13. Deb Howland-Murray

    I grew up across the street from Lois, Leonard and the kids (my peers). My parents were good friends with Lois and Leonard. As Lois did, my mom lived in her home until she died – the only “originals” left on the block. When my mom passed away, I moved into her home and rekindled a friendship with Lois. She was as feisty as they come, and used her energy to promote the causes in which she believed. She is sorely missed.

  14. John Kelley

    I believe at one point the Schine’s lived on High Point Rd. in a house originally owned by the writer RodcSerling, who encamped to Hollywood with the success of his TV show “The Twilight Zone,” for which he also had an on-camera role introducing each show.

    • No, John. A different Schine family lived near the beginning of High Point, in a house that looked architecturally out of place (since torn down). The Serlings’ house (#14) had several other owners, none of whom were the Schines.

  15. Arline P Gertzoff

    A most remarkable woman A pleasure to know Her appointment always followed mine at the hair salon for many years

  16. Cristina Negrin

    I loved Lois and she was a good friend to me when she was the the Director of the Chamber. She friended me, hired me, promoted me and was a great confidant/story sharer. I loved spending time with her and her family. Particularly Lindsay 😘 Miss you guys!

  17. Melanie Smith

    I have been privileged to know Lois for over 50 years, beginning when Leonard was alive…what a fabulous wonderful couple they were!!
    Sooooo intelligent, interesting and caring persons who exuded energy & love…and a sense of humor, about life!! PLEASE notify us of the memorial service. God bless her soul.

  18. Thinking so fondly of Lois and sending love and heartfelt sympathy to her family, especially my old friend – one of my oldest for sure – Leslie. Big hugs to you.

  19. Michael A Rea

    I served with Lois for years on the RTM and always admired her intellect and courage. RIP Lois. Condolences to family & friends.

  20. The Elliotts

    Lois was a family friend who welcomed us to Wesport when we moved here in 2007. She was a remarkable woman and a force of nature. She is sorely missed and our condolences go out to her family.

  21. Lisa Molden (Sydney, AU)

    Sending my condolences to Lindsay and the whole Schine Family. Lois had a pioneering nature and zest for community, sport and lived her life to the fullest!

  22. Wendy Goldwyn Batteau

    Westport is much the better for Lois’s life here. Her many and diverse experiences and accomplishments included her standing up for the preservation of open space well before many others even understood how important it is. She was an encyclopedia of information about how and why Westport came to be as it is – and much more. I will miss her advice, sense of humor, and occasional outrage. Sincere condolences to the family.

  23. Lois was a rockstar…a class act…so sorry to learn of her passing, but truly a life well lived🙏🏻

  24. Bonnie Behar Brooks

    I had the honor of knowing this amazing, warm and intelligent Woman. Lois was a Class Act in every way.

  25. David Floyd

    Served with Lois on the RTM. Beautiful woman. Intelligent and always a pleasure to work with. She will be missed.

  26. Thomas Carey

    I had the pleasure of getting to know Lois through Westport Rotary. She was engaging, remarkable, trailblazing, honorable, entertaining, intelligent and calmly powerful.

  27. Kerry Molden

    Sending Our Condolences To Lindsey and Family. Had the pleaure of meeting Lois on a visit, such a lovley Lady Lois. Such a strong lady and so many amazing achievements in her lifetime. Lived it to the Fullest.

  28. Donald Bergmann

    Lois was a beautiful person. She did so much for Westport and loved our Town. I extend my warmest, good wishes and sadness to all those many who loved Lois.
    Don Bergmann

  29. Matthew Mandell

    Wonderful woman. She and I worked together on the RTM, as the former head of the Chamber she counseled me on the organization and we both worked to save open space with her spearheading Winslow Park. Westport will miss this lady.

  30. Lois Schine was a remarkable woman. To be in her presence was a privilege. She was in a league of her own – first at many things. Westport was blessed to have her.

  31. Jennifer Rankine

    An amazing woman who lived an amazing life. My condolences to the Schine family.

  32. Maggie Moffitt Rahe

    I am extending sympathy and love to Lois’ family on behalf of Butzi Moffitt.
    She knew her well and enjoyed a special relationship with her over the years.
    Mom remembers Leonard fondly too.
    Thank you for the nice story and photos of Lois. Her smile will always be always be thought of, and her kindness as well.