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Happy Birthday, Winnie Balboni!

The other day, the New York Times reported on Winnie Balboni’s efforts to clean up Parker Harding Plaza, Grace Salmon Park — and all the rest of Westport.

It noted her work as director of volunteers for the Recreation Department and with the town’s Beautification Committee, adding that she hauled “50-gallon, biodegradeable paper garbage bags … scouring hedges and sidewalks, parking lots and the edge of the Saugatuck River, for litter.”

Okay, it wasn’t a recent story. It’s from 1988.

At that point Balboni was in her mid-60s, and had lived in Westport for 32 years. Now she’s been here for 65.

On Sunday, Winnie Balboni turns 100 years old.

Winnie Balboni, in an undated photo at Grace Salmon Park.

In addition to her yeowoman’s work cleaning up our trash, Winnie was a longtime, very active and quite proud member of the Westport Garden Club. She edited its newsletter for many years, and served as president in 1974.

Winnie also helped found Friends of Sherwood Island State Park.

And in 2008, before Westport’s Representative Town Meeting voted to ban the use of plastic bags — the first municipality east of the Mississippi River to do so — 85-year-old Winnie made a ringing speech urging it to do so.

Winnie Balboni, with a cloth bag.

In 2009, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment honored Winnie, at Yale University.

The next year, 1st Selectman Gordon Joseloff presented her with a “WeGreen Westport” award. It celebrated her decades of work — including helping turn an Imperial Avenue landfill into Grace Salmon Park.

She spent many years too as a volunteer with the League of Women Voters.

Oh, yeah: Winnie was an avid hiker, an Appalachian Mountain Club member for many years, and a very accomplished quilter and knitter, who taught many young women important sewing skills. sewing.

How can we celebrate Winnie’s century of life?

Let’s flood her with cards. Whether you know Winnie through her decades in town, or just moved here yesterday — let her know you appreciate her.

Her address is 62 Cross Highway, Westport, CT 06880. 

Do it today — Sunday is the big day!

Winnie Balboni (far left) with her 2006 Connecticut Federated Garden Clubs award. Also from left: Maggie Feczko, Louise Demakis, Jodi Mack, Jane Potkin. (Photos courtesy of “A History of the Westport Garden Club 1924-2014,” by Louise Demakis)

PS: The Times story quoted Winnie: “I think my days of bending over and picking up someone else’s trash are over.”

But, it added, “in the next breath, she pointed to pockets of litter along the road that most people ignore, but that she just cannot dismiss.”

She kept her crusade going for many more years.

Now it’s our turn to continue cleaning up our town.

Just as soon as we send that birthday card to Winnie Balboni.

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

(Every day, “06880” covers Westport — from its oldest residents, to the youngest. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

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