Category Archives: Education

Roundup: Board Of Ed; U-Stand For The Beach; More


With 7 weeks left before the start of the new school year, the Board of Education is edging toward a decision on how that year will look.

Tonight at 7 p.m., the School Reopening Committee provides information to the board.

The Zoom session will be livestreamed on www.westportps.org and shown on Optimum channel 78 and Frontier channel 6021.


Thomas Edison had hundreds of “aha!” moments.

Cole Merlino had only one — but beachgoers everywhere are grateful.

The University of South Carolina student got tired of digging his beach umbrella into the sand, then watching the wind carry it away.

Staples High School 2018 graduate Will Birch noticed the same thing. So when his college buddy Cole created a new product to solve the problem, Will signed on as sales manager and social media advisor.

“U-Stand” is a a patent pending, lightweight but durable bucket. You take it empty to the beach, fill it with sand, and set your umbrella into the tube on top.

Piling in all that sand sound like too much work? You can use nearby water, or bring ice in it from home — with your favorite drinks. Cup holders on top make it the ultimate beach accessory (in your choice of 5 colors!).

Will has started selling to local stores. But you can buy a U-Stand online — at a 15% discount. Just click here, and use the promo code “BIRCH.”

Click here for U-Stand’s Instagram account. For more information, email cole@theustand.com or call 203-810-9195. Stores are welcome to inquire about sales too!


And finally … this classic. And classic muttonchops too:

4 Months In: Pandemic Reflections

It’s mid-July. We’re now 4 months  — 1/3 of a year — into a world we never imagined in those innocent days of late winter.

When Westport schools suddenly closed on March 11, we were told “2 weeks.” That stretched into mid-April. Finally, the inevitable announcement: School was done for the rest of the year.

We’d already endured a lot. A “super-spreader” party landed Westport in the national spotlight. On the first nice weekend, hundreds headed to Compo. Within hours, town officials closed the beaches.

We foraged for toilet paper, figured out how to find curbside food, watched our hair grow.

Jeera Thai, downtown across from Design Within Reach, was an early adopter of curbside dining.

Those early days seem like a thousand years ago. The time before the pandemic — say, March 10 — belongs to another universe.

But this is the town, the country and the planet we inhabit now. Four months in to our new (ab)normal, here are a few thoughts.

My nephew and his wife had a child last week. What is it like to be born at a time when everyone a baby meets wears a mask? How can he make sense of the world without seeing smiling faces admiring his every move? And it’s not just newborns I worry about. The longer we all must wear masks, the harder it is for any of us to make the human connections so vital to all our lives.

Momentous world events shape the young generations that live through them. The Depression, for example, scarred people forever. For decades, men and women who now had plenty of money ate everything on their plate, because they still worried where their next meal would come from. They turned off lights in empty rooms, to “save electricity.” It’s too early to know how the pandemic will etch itself into the brains of young people, but I can’t imagine they’ll have a positive, adventurous view of the world.

On the other hand, it’s been fun watching so many families embrace the outdoors. They walk together, all over. Teenagers who seldom exercised took up running. Bikes were hauled up from the basement. The town is reopening now, but I still see more outdoor activity than ever.

. (Photo/Anna Kretsch)

I was impressed too by the number of teenagers who used their time away from school productively. I suggested to the players in our Staples High School soccer program that they try new activities. I expected eye-rolling. What I got was a number who learned how to cook, play guitar or write code.

We held weekly Zoom calls with our returning players. A couple of weeks ago, I asked what they have learned about themselves. The results were insightful — and inspiring. “I learned I need structure in my life. I wasn’t happy just sleeping until noon,” one said. “I had a great time with my siblings,” another noted. “I learned not to be afraid of spending time alone,” said a third. “I realized I really like myself!”

No one knows yet what the fall sports season will look like (or if there will be one). But when I return to the soccer field (whenever that is), I know I will be a different coach than before. I already feel things shifting. Little things that used to drive me up a wall — a referee’s call, or canceling a training session at the threat of rain that does not come — will no longer seem worrisome. Our players, and the joy they get from the sport, will become more important than ever.

With so many new rules and regulations, meanwhile, will many old ones seem insignificant? Does it really matter if, in the winter, dogs are unleashed on one part of the beach and not another? Or if, during the summer, we have bottles and cans at Compo?

As for the beach: One unintended consequence of the pandemic is that Westporters discovered Sherwood Island. The 232-acre gem — with walking trails, wildlife, a Nature Center and the state’s 9/11 memorial — has sat right there, virtually unnoticed by most of us, for decades. The secret is out now. And did I mention that for anyone with a Connecticut license plate, it’s free?!

Sherwood Island (Photo/Roseann Spengler)

Until the Y reopened for swimming, I spent an hour or two every day biking. It was great exercise, and with little traffic on the roads, I no longer feared for my life. My goal — which I did not meet — was to ride up and down every side street in town. There are lots of them! (Nearly every one ends in a cul-de-sac.) And boy, are our roads in terrible condition. Soundview Drive is smooth and newly paved. Everywhere else — well, I had a new reason to fear for my life.

From the start, we knew some restaurants would not survive. It’s so sad to think of those we’ve lost, like Da Pietro’s, Tavern on Main and Le Penguin. And Chez 180: The patisserie across from Jeera Thai opened just a few days before the coronavirus hit. Everyone raved about it. The doors are shut now; new furnishings and gleaming cases sit forlorn and empty. The timing could not have been worse.

Closings like those have made us realize the importance of so many (mostly non-Westporters) to our lives. Restaurant cooks; the folks who stock shelves and work registers at CVS, Walgreens, Stop & Shop and Trader Joe’s; mail carriers, and FedEx and UPS deliver persons. There are literally thousands of others. Some lost work; others worked harder than others. Until March, we pretty much saw through and past them. Now we understand that they’re the men and women who make Westport go.

Volunteers also make Westport go. Many organizations lost fundraisers this year: A Better Chance. The Westport Woman’s Club. Sunrise Rotary. They do so much good for our town. They have not complained at all — but I’m surprised so little attention has been paid to their collateral damage.

A few days ago, I went inside Staples High School. Even in summer, it usually bustles with activity. The emptiness this time was overwhelming. A school without people is not really a school.

That same day, I saw a Dattco bus. I have no idea why it was on the road, or where it was going. But it made me wish — almost — that once again I could be stuck behind it, creeping along as it stops every 5 yards to serve one eager, backpacked (and unmasked) child at a time.

Minutes after the second plane struck the 9/11 tower — when it was clear the US was under attack — I had one overpowering thought: Our world has just changed forever. I did not know how — who could have imagined the effects on our airports, immigration system and political process? — but there is a clear, defining line. There was life before 9/11, and life after.

I had the same thought in the early days of the pandemic. Since then, that realization has become a reality. Once again, I am not sure what life post-pandemic will look like. But everything — from daily school bus rides and summers at Compo, to the way my 2-week-old great-nephew relates to his parents, peers and the entire planet — will be different.

Those are my admittedly random, very personal thoughts. What have you learned — about yourself, our town, the world — since March 11? Click “Comments” below.

 

COVID Creeps Back Into Town

A reader writes:

I woke up this morning to an email from Longshore Sailing School. They said they will be closed today, because one of their employees tested positive for the coronavirus. All staff will get tested today.

I am freaking out, because my son was there Monday and Tuesday. I’m not sure if he was exposed or not.

More importantly, this is how the spread happens again. This was the first week we sent my son out to an organized activity since March (we quarantined until last weekend). I will be so upset if he turns out to be positive from this.

I am very worried because my elderly parents live with us.

Many people were partying and not being safe over the July 4th weekend. Now the virus may spike again in our town.

Of course our family will get tested this morning to be safe.

The reader followed up an hour later with this:

I talked to my son’s doctor this morning. She said the problem is if someone got exposed, it may not show up as positive for a week. So if he tests today he could get a false negative.

She said this will be a problem with kids going back to school in the fall. Norwalk summer school opened this week. Then a teacher tested positive, and they have now shut down for the remainder of the week.

If this happens when school opens, what will they do? Will they shut down every time?

This should be a really good discussion. I don’t think anyone has a clear decision at this point about what to do.

Remembering Garry Meyers

Longtime Westport educator Garry Meyers died peacefully at his Stratford home on June 11, surrounded by family. He was 89 years old.

The Bridgeport native was a teacher, a storyteller, and a marriage and family therapist. After graduating from Warren Harding High School in 1948, Garry headed to Dartmouth College. He earned a Phi Beta Kappa key, and graduated magna cum laude in 1952.

After serving in the Korean War, Garry earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Bridgeport on the GI Bill. He taught English at Staples High School for many years, and was a principal of the firm Tape Book, before creating the first public high school special education program for emotionally disturbed adolescents in the state of Connecticut.

Garry Meyers

The gratification Garry experienced as he developed this safe place for “the kids” spurred him to devote his professional life to helping more children and families. He pursued a master’s in marriage and family therapy from Southern Connecticut State University, becoming a licensed MFT in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Whether in line at the hardware store or traveling to Russia, Garry often made new friends. He had an agile, insatiable mind; an irreverent, irresistible sense of humor, and a genuine interest in everyone he met. His life was a celebration of the people he loved, the places he and Donna visited, and the stories that grew from these experiences.

During their years together, Garry and Donna called many places home, including Westport, Redding Sandy Hook and Stratford; Astoria, New York, and Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts.

In their home on Martha’s Vineyard, Garry and Donna created a haven for family and friends. It was especially cherished by Garry’s 17 grandchildren.

Garry is survived by his wife of 51 years, Donna Rae Hitt Meyers for 51 years; his children Liese Meyers Niedermayer, Jennifer Meyers (Mark), Adam Meyers (Ingrid), Melissa Fable Dempsey, Kimberly Fable, and Chaz Fable (Valeria). Garry was predeceased by his youngest daughter, Rebekah Meyers Aronson. He is also survived by his grandchildren Bryan, Erich, Stephanie, Randi, Jessica, Daniel, Jacqueline, Kristen, Alexandra, Matthew, Teddy, Olivia, David, Kiona, Julie Rae, Julian, and Julia.

A celebration of Garry’s life will be held later.

Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to The Trevor Project or the Center for Spectrum Services. 

Roundup: A Camp, A Course, 2 Concerts; More


Many sports camps are closed this summer. So are science camps, space camps — most camps, period.

But the Westport Library’s new Camp Explore is open. And open to all children, everywhere.

It’s a weekly, virtual (and free) program. Kids can experience it any time. They can watch it alone, or share with friends. There’s something for everyone.

The program kicks off on July 9 with Jennie Lynn Finch. The softball pitcher led the US to a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics, and a silver 4 years later.

Also in July, deep sea explorer Dr. Robert Ballard returns to the library. The discoverer of wrecks like Titanic and the Bismarck, he’ll show campers what life is like on his ship the Nautilus.

Shark lovers will enjoy Emmy-winning writer and cinematographer Kevin Bachar. He spent 10 years as a National Geographic producer, and wrote specials for “Shark Week.”

Kids will also appreciate Emily Calandrelli. The MIT engineer-turned-TV host was a featured correspondent on “Bill Nye Saves the World,” host of “Xploration Outer Space,” and wrote the children’s book series “Ada Lace Adventures.”

New York Knicks star Charles Smith will share his story, from his career as an athlete to his accomplishments as a corporate executive.

Camp Explore also features Jerry Craft, author of the novel “New Kid” and comic strip “Mama’s Boyz.”

The program ends with R.L. Stine. The “Goosebumps” author will do a (virtual) reading around a campfire.

The Library will provide a “Keep Exploring Kit” to accompany each presentation, with suggested books to read, films to view, and fun activities. Separate kits are geared for children entering grades 4-5, and 6-8.

Click here for more details, and registration information.


Everyone’s talking about the skills young people need to navigate today’s world. We’re all concerned about civic virtues. Of course, everyone wants to develop creative thinkers.

Westport Continuing Education is sponsoring an online course — “The Art of Innovation: Cultivating Qualities for the Emerging Future” — for students entering grade 10 through college.

Set for July 13 to 17 (10 a.m. to noon), it will focus on skills like critical thinking, collaboration and global perspectives.

Click here to register. For more information, including scholarships, email conted@westportps.org, or call 203-341-1209.


There may not be fireworks. But Pauli’s Deli will celebrate July 4.

The Norwalk-based bagels-and-breakfast place replaces Bagel Maven that day.

Last night, Chris Fanning snapped a shot of the preparations:


One more reopening sign: MoCA Westport has announced a concert with the renowned American String Quartet.

It’s July 31. And it’s a real one. Not virtual, Zoom, Facebook Live or anywhere else in cyberspace.

The performance is outdoors at the museum, with groups spread 6 feet apart and masked. Concert-goers should bring their own chairs and snacks, though drinks and food are available for purchase before the concert.

MoCA Westport concert series curator (and Staples High School graduate) Alexander Platt will provide commentary. He knows the American String Quartet through his work over the last 18 years in Woodstock.

“Back then they were the gold standard in American string quartets — and they still are now,” Platt says.

“I can’t wait to hear their beautiful music again — now, more than ever. Their program — sublime Mozart, bracing Shostakovich and appropriately, Dvorak’s ‘American’ string quartet — will be the perfect musical tonic, after all we’ve been through.”

Click here for tickets, or call 203-222-7070. The maximum number of tickets will be limited by state guidelines.


Two organizations at opposite ends of the age spectrum — Toquet Hall and the Westport Senior Center — are partnering to present a free livestream concert tomorrow (Friday, June 26, 12 p.m.).

It features the funk band Mojo, with noted local musicians Drew Angus, Eric Lindahl and Spencer Inch. Click here to watch via Zoom (and note the password: 3qgZ4L).


The new planters on Main Street are drawing plenty of attention.

But there are colorful flowers beyond Elm Street. For example, Rye Ridge Deli is doing all it can to make the outdoor experience special too.

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)


And finally … as Westport, Connecticut prepares for jUNe Day this weekend (virtually, of course), let’s celebrate Westport, Ireland with Stuart Moyles.

PS: When the Levitt Pavilion opens next summer, we really need this lad as a headliner!

Unsung Hero #151

The other day, Maureen Belford retired.

An educator for over 43 years in the Catholic school system, she had a remarkable impact on students and families. She helped countless elementary and middle schoolers grow and learn.

Madeline Bayliss met Maureen when both were kindergartners at Assumption School in Westport. Years later, Maureen returned to teach there.

After 13 years at Assumption, she moved to St. Cecilia (now Catholic Academy of Stamford) in 1991. She taught 5th grade math, science and religion, and became assistant to the principal there. In that role she ran the after-school program, working with children while ensuring their safety and comfort.

Dr. Joann Borchetta, her principal for 24 years, calls Maureen “the best teacher I ever worked with….a mentor and a quiet leader.”

Among her many honors, Maureen received the Tim Russert Award. The Diocese of Bridgeport hosted a large banquet for her.

Maureen Belford (left), at a Washington ceremony honoring the Catholic Academy of Stamford as a Blue Ribbon School. Her principal, Dr. Joann Borchetta, is on the right. The award was presented by a Department of Education official.

Her principal added that Maureen could have been on the Weather Channel if she wanted. She brought meteorologists to visit class, and often took students outside for weather experiments.

In teaching religion, Borchetta said, Maureen embodied the school’s mission statement. She was a strong advocate of the school’s yearly Cultural Enrichment program.

Every year, Madeline says, she called Maureen a few days after school began. The educator had already assessed each child, figured out their personalities and how they learned, and knew how she would work with everyone individually and the class as a whole. She was passionate about inspiring lifelong learning.

She was also not afraid to try new technology. When the school installed SmartBoards, Maureen embraced them. She asked her students to help her learn. Her principal says “they loved her honesty and transparency.”

Middle school students often returned to visit Maureen. She boosted their confidence. Many of those relationships — and those with fellow teachers and parents — continue today.

Maureen Belford (left) acknowledges applause from 8th graders, at this year’s graduation ceremony.

“She is a treasure,” her principal says. “Parents say she was one of the best teachers their children ever had. She is firm but loving. Her students always felt secure and important in her classroom. She is one of those incredible people who are truly authentic, and cherish their faith, family and friends.

“Everyone should have a Maureen in their lives. Some of us did, and are blessed.”

A lifelong Westporter, Maureen remains an active Assumption parishioner. She chaired the Parish Council, and still serves as a Eucharist minister.

Because of COVID-19, Maureen’s retirement took place without public fanfare. But “06880” will not let it pass without this well-deserved, Unsung Hero shoutout!

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Roundup: Reopening; Juneteenth; Renters’ Rebates; More


Phase 2 of Connecticut’s reopening plan began yesterday with indoor restaurant dining, fitness facilities, all personal services and many other business sectors allowed to welcome customers again.

2nd Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker says that business owners are “empowered to make the decision to open their doors. If they do, the ReOpen Westport team is working diligently to support them through this complicated process.  We are taking this seriously. It is our goal to build confidence throughout the entire community during this reopen period.”

For a complete list of Connecticut’s Phase 1 and Phase 2 business sectors and rules, click here. For ReOpen Westport Advisory Team information and FAQs, click here. To contact the ReOpen Westport Advisory Team, email reopenteam@westportct.gov.

While local COVID-19 transmission rates continue to be low, Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper says, “following safety protocols like wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and good hygiene practices are all critical. I urge residents to use common sense and to take advantage of testing, especially if experiencing symptoms.”

St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health Center on Long Lots Road is a local testing site option with open time slots. Call 860-972-8100 for an appointment.

2nd selectman Jennifer Tooker


The Westport Museum for History & Culture and TEAM Westport are partnering for a special Juneteenth Zoom program.

Tomorrow (Friday, June 19, 5 p.m.), theater professor and playwright Kyle Bass discusses his play Possessing Harriet. It’s the story of enslaved woman traveling with her captors from the South to upstate New York, who finds refuge in the home of an abolitionist where he meets his young cousin Elizabeth Cady (later Stanton).

Bass will also discuss his play in progress about his ancestors Tim & Lill Bennett. They were slaves in Westport, in a home on Compo Road South.

The event is free, but registration is required. Click here to join.

Kyle Bass (Photo/Brenna Merritt)


Elderly and disabled Westport residents can apply for the Connecticut Renters’ Rebate Program. Qualifications for the program include:

  • Age 65 as of December 31, 2019, or totally disabled and collecting Social Security disability income.
  • The maximum gross income for the program is $37,000 for a single person, $45,100 for a married couple.
  • One year of residency in Connecticut is required. People renting an apartment, room or mobile home, or living in cooperative housing, may be eligible for this program.

The application deadline for the Renters’ Rebate Program is September 28.

Qualifying Westport residents should call the Human Services Department for an appointment: 203-341-1050.


Carol Alexander took this photo at Old Mill. She writes:

As more people come to enjoy this beautiful neighborhood beach, we need to treat it with respect. Please clean up before you leave!


Playwright/director Tazewell Thompson is familiar to area residents. In 2006 and ’07, he was artistic director at the Westport Country Playhouse.

When his opera “Blue” premiered last summer at the Glimmerglass Festival, New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini called it “one of the most elegant librettos I’ve heard in a long time.”

Thompson wrote about a black family — the father of a police officer — that is torn apart when the son is killed at a protest by another officer.

“Blue” has now been named Best New Opera by the Music Critics Association of North America. The Times calls the honor “sadly timely as the nation is roiled by unrest over police brutality and race relations.” (Click here for Thompson’s story on how he wrote the opera. Hat tip: Nina Sankovitch.)


As an Ivy Film Festival screenplay staff member, Brown University senior Elena Levin reads scripts from undergrad and grad students across the country. Each spring, the staff holds a screenwriting workshop for high schoolers.

Now the Westport resident is bringing the experience to her home town.

Elena offers an “Intro to Screenwriting Workshop” for rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors (no experience required). It meets outdoors at 4 p.m. every Wednesday in July for 2 hours. By the end of the 5th session, everyone will have written — and workshopped — a script.

Click here for more information. Questions? Email elena_l_levin@brown.edu.

Elana Levin


And finally … Patti Smith has power. She knows that people have it too.

Class Of 2020 REALLY Graduates! Here’s Video Proof.

Last Friday’s drive-through graduation was a red-blue-letter day in Staples history.

The high school’s Class of 2020 was honored with decorated cars, signs, balloons, music, and an almost 1-on-1 ceremonial turning of the tassel. It was joyful, personal, meaningful and fun.

Of course, a few elements of a traditional graduation were missing: “Pomp and Circumstance,” speeches, and the chance for everyone to see all the graduates at once.

No problem!

Yesterday — the day of the originally scheduled commencement — a complete video was released. It’s as close to a familiar graduation — say, 2019 — as possible. And it will live forever.

Former media instructor Jim Honeycutt once again worked his magic. He took each element, reimagined it, taped it, and made it — just like the Class of 2020 — both timeless and timely.

John Videler’s drone video sets the scene.

Drone footage from John Videler sets the “Pomp and Circumstance” scene. Staples Players president Sam Laskin serves as emcee. Principal Stafford Thomas delivers a special welcome.

Luke Rosenberg proves he’s not only a masterful choral director, but also a technological wizard. He weaves together remote performances from 40 singers, into a stunningly beautiful “Star-Spangled Banner.”

You wouldn’t know these 40 voices were all recorded separately.

Valedictorian Ben Spector and salutatorian Benji Schussheim speak about their — and their class’s — journey.

Valedictorian Ben Spector and salutatorian Benji Schussheim.

Then comes a slide show. All 437 graduates get 10 seconds each — with congratulatory messages from their families. Orchestra and band musical highlights from throughout the year play in the background, underscoring the many talented students in the school.

No graduation is complete without official certification (from Board of Education chair and “proud parent of a graduating senior Candice Savin), and tassel-turning (by Carly Dwyer and Ben Howard).

After closing remarks from principal Thomas, the video ends with the recessional, over Ryan Felner’s drone footage from last Friday’s parade.

Principal Stafford Thomas.

A list of senior awards is shown. The final shot is 2020 class photo.

“Class” is right. This year’s seniors have shown uncommon maturity, grace and poise, in the face of unexpected adversity. The graduation video is a fitting reminder of a great group.

But don’t take my word for it. Click here, and see for yourself!

Emcee Sam Laskin.

Remembering Dr. Al Beasley

Dr. Albert Beasley — a longtime and much-loved pediatrician, educator, civic volunteer, and pioneering black physician — died yesterday at Norwalk Hospital, 2 weeks after being admitted following a fall at home. He was 98 years old.

Almost exactly 2 years ago — on June 20, 2018 — “06880” honored Dr. Beasley as an Unsung Hero. I wrote:

Last week, Staples Tuition Grants handed out over $300,000 in scholarships to more than 100 graduating seniors, and high school alums already in college.

It was a warm, wonderful evening — a celebration of very hard work by the recipients, as well as all who make the grants possible.

But the highlight may have been the keynote speech, by Dr. Albert Beasley.

Speaking without notes — and without missing a beat — the 96-year-old retired pediatrician talked about the importance of STG, and what it means to him personally. One of the oldest named awards — initiated 45 years ago — honors his late wife and fellow pediatrician, Dr. Jean Beasley.

After the Staples Tuition Grants ceremony, pediatrician Dr. Albert Beasley and his wife Janet (3rd and 4th from left) posed with 4 former patients (from left): Nicole Greenberg Donovan, Dan Woog, Dan Donovan and Lynn Untermeyer Miller. (Photo/Paddy Donovan)

In his 65 years in Westport, Al Beasley has watched the town grow from a small artists’ colony, through the baby boom, into a suburb filled with businessmen and Wall Street executives.

But he has seen it all through a unique perspective, and with a background different from most people who live here. He shared some of that last week too, in his low-key but inspiring way.

Al’s grandfather, a Harvard-educated Boston attorney, helped found the NAACP.  Al’s father also went to Harvard – and became a doctor.  His mother graduated from Radcliffe. Those were proud accomplishments, in an era when educational opportunities for black men and women were limited.

Al’s parents wanted him to have a well-rounded education. He got one, at the Walden School and Columbia  College. He married a high school friend, Jean.  Both earned medical degrees – Al from New York University. Both became pediatricians.

As a captain in the Air Force during the Korean War – based in Houston — Al first experienced overt prejudice. But he persevered, and in 1953 the Beasleys moved to Westport. He wanted his children to experience the same freedom he’d found at the Walden School. The Beasleys rented a home on 11 acres, for $90 a month. They were one of only 5 or so black families in town.

They bought land from a fellow physician, Mal Beinfield. The Beasleys had trouble getting a mortgage – the banks’ excuse was “they did not like contemporary dwellings.” But Westport Bank & Trust Company president Einar Anderson said to the Beasleys’ request for $20,000: “There’s no problem.  Let us know when you want it.”

At the 2014 Staples Tuition Grants ceremony, Dr. Al Beasley posed with Megumi Asada, a graduating senior who received the Dr. Jean Beasley Memorial Award. Megumi was considering a career in medicine.

In addition to his professional accomplishments – private practice as a pediatrician; co-founder of Willows Pediatrics; associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, and an emeritus staff member at Norwalk Hospital – Al immersed himself in community work.

He was a pediatrician for the Intercommunity Camp; a member of the Selectman’s Committee for Youth and Human Services; a board of directors member for the United Way; member of the scholar selection committee of A Better Chance of Westport; trustee of Earthplace, where he organized the Green Earth series on  health and the environment.

Al’s wife Jean died in 1973.  Six years later he married Janet, a native of Berlin and a survivor of a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

Al says:  “When Jean and I moved to Westport in 1953, it was a magical town. It opened its arms to us, welcomed us, and made us feel special.”

Al adds:  “My birth certificate said ‘colored.’  Then the preferred term changed to ‘Negro.’  Later it was ‘black,’ then ‘African American.’  I am a man of color, but I like to be accepted for what I have to offer.  The town has done exactly that.”

Looking back on his career, Al says,“I’m an activist.  I tried to give my utmost to the community, and I think the community appreciates that.  This is a wonderful town.  I thank everyone who entrusted their most precious commodities – their infants, their children and their young people – to me.”

And we thank Dr. Al Beasley, this week’s Unsung — but Very Deserving — Longtime Hero.

Dr. Beasley is survived by his son Scott, and daughter Jean. He was predeceased by his first wife, Dr. Jean Beasley, and his second wife, Janet Beasley.

Roundup: Parks & Rec Rules; Drive-In Movies; Assumption Food Drive; More


New Parks and Recreation rules!

As of today (June 13), doubles play will be allowed at the tennis courts at Longshore, Staples High School, Town Farm and Doubleday (behind Saugatuck Elementary School).

Also as of today, dogs will no longer be required to be on leash in the off-leash area of Winslow Park or other town property where dogs are allowed.

As of Wednesday (June 17), one pickleball court at Compo Beach will be open for singles play with restrictions.  It’s first come, first serve.

Also as of Wednesday, both platform tennis courts at Longshore will be open for singles play with restrictions.  Advanced reservations are required, and can be booked online 5 days in advance, or by calling the Longshore tennis office at 203-341-1180 2 days in advance. No walk-ups allowed!

Registration for Parks and Rec and Wakeman Town Farm summer programs begins Wednesday. To see programs and register, click here,


And in more Parks & Rec news: The Compo Beach bathrooms are open. They bear these signs:

(Photo/Andrea Cross)


Coming attraction: Movies in the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

A “drive-in theater” will be set up there this summer. The Remarkable Theater — the initiative employing men and women with disabilities — is behind the project, which got a unanimous go-ahead from the Board of Selectmen.

Four films will be shown on a 40-foot-wide screen over 2 weeks at the end of June, said Remarkable creative director Doug Tirola. Up to 80 cars can be accommodated in the lot, which during the day is both a commuter parking lot and the site of Thursday Farmers’ Markets.

Film titles and more details will be announced soon.

 


A pair of Norwalk food pantries — St. Philip’s and St. Vincent de Paul — feed 350 families a week. Both the families and the pantries are in desperate need of help.

Tomorrow (Sunday, June 14, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), the Knights of Columbus will conduct a “drive-through food drive.” The site is the Assumption Church parking lot (98 Riverside Avenue).

You don’t have to leave your vehicle. K of C members will pick up your donation from your trunk or back seat.

Food that is needed:

  • Small bags of rice
  • Small packets of pasta/macaroni
  • Pasta sauce
  • Bags of dried black beans
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Vienna sausage – regular or chicken
  • Cereal – oatmeal or cornflakes
  • Powered milk
  • Coffee

Checks are great too. Make them payable to Church of the Assumption; in the memo line, write “Food Drive.”

Assumption Church (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)


Staples High School and University of Southern California journalism student Becca Rawiszer recently interviewed Board of Education chair Candice Savin about where Westport schools go from here. Click here to download the Persona Interviews app to watch the full interview — and ask Savin a follow up question.

Screenshot from the Candice Savin interview.


And finally … like Tacocat, we can dream, right?