Category Archives: Obituaries

Remembering Dr. Horace Laffaye

Dr. Horace Laffaye died on May 31, in Durango, Colorado. A prominent Westport physician, he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 86.

Dr. Horace Laffaye

After a long association with a private practice at The Willows, Dr. Laffaye served as chief of surgery at Norwalk Hospital for 22 years. He organized annual symposia for his colleagues, where surgeons shared their professional expertise and socialized at places like Lake George and Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Golf and tennis competitions were often included. He retired in 2005.

He was president of the New England Surgical Society and the Surgeons’ Travel Club. For several years he mentored physicians’ assistants, as a Yale University professor.

Serendipitously, a patient sought treatment for a polo injury. That reignited a passion for a favorite endeavor back in his native Argentina. For 2 decades Dr. Laffaye played polo at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, and other venues throughout the Northeast.

After his playing days ended, Dr. Laffaye combined his love of history and passion for polo by reinventing himself as a scholar and author. He authored or edited 9 books and innumerable articles on polo in Spanish and English, adding significantly to the historical record of the sport.

In 2010 he served as a Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Museum and Library in Middleburg, Virginia. His research led to his  publication “Polo in the United States: A History.”

After retiring to Wellington, Florida Dr. Laffaye assisted the Polo Museum and Hall of Fame in many ways, including adding to the collections of books, art and memorabilia, and serving on the board of directors and chair of the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee.

Dr. Laffaye was comfortable conversing with CEOs, ambassadors, grooms and other staff. He bonded with many through their shared love of polo.

He also loved golf. In his youth he both played and refereed rugby, and met his future wife after a match.

Dr. Laffaye was honored with a lifetime membership in the Sports Car Club of America, after competing in rallies for decades. Late in life he told caregivers “You drive like Fangio,” a reference to an Argentine car-racing idol.

Dr. Laffaye was predeceased by his wife Martha, sister María Teresa and brother Roberto. He is survived by his daughter Gisele Laffaye Pansze (Trent) of Durango, Colorado and their children; son Patrick of Norwalk, and former daughter-in-law Ann Kovarik Laffaye of Phoenix, and their sons; his loving companion in his later years, Mary Boykin of Palm Beach, and numerous nieces and nephews and their families in Argentina.

When he gathered his family for an Alaskan cruise he said, “After I die, my grandkids won’t remember that I was a surgeon or an author. But they will remember that I took them to Alaska.” He was generous, thoughtful and gracious. Even toward the end, his sense of humor and his laughter would emerged at unexpected moments.

A celebration of his life will be held July 24 (noon, Greenwich Polo Club).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Dr. Laffaye’s honor for Alzheimer’s research and support programs to Memory Matters, PO Box 22330, Hilton Head Island, SC 29925.

Roundup: I-95 Bridge Work, “Different” Cook Book, Happy 90th! …

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Some big bridge projects are in the works.

The state Department of Transportation plans work on 2.5 miles of I-95, from the Yankee Doodle Bridge in Norwalk to the Saugatuck River bridge. It includes reconstruction of the center median and right shoulders, and resurfacing the ramps at Exits 16 and 17.

The bridge over Saugatuck Avenue will be totally replaced. The new superstructure will be constructed adjacent to the existing bridge, and slid into place.

The bridges over Franklin Street and the Saugatuck River will undergo concrete deck repairs, and replacement of expansion joints.

A virtual public information session is set for Thursday, June 3 (7 p.m.). To access the meeting, and for information about commenting or asking questions, click here.

The estimated cost is $90 million. Construction is planned to begin this fall. DOT did not provide an anticipated end date.

This work is substantially more complex than the Kings Highway replacement project currently underway near Canal Street. Fingers crossed …

Traffic will flow less smoothly on the I-95 bridge over Saugatuck Avenue when construction begins this fall. (Photo/Mark Mathias)

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Work is moving ahead on Bankside House, the 12 units of luxury housing rising on the west bank of the Saugatuck River.

A large canvas banner hides construction from drivers passing by (or stopped in traffic) on Wilton Road. So here are 2 bird’s-eye views:

(Drone photos/David Waldman)

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Brette Warshaw’s love of food, food culture and food writing began in Westport.

In 3rd grade, she was reviewing local restaurants for the Long Lots Elementary School paper. (Angelina’s got a rave.)

At Staples High School, the 2009 graduate loved Alison Milwe Grace’s culinary classes. Brette wrote her college essay about working at the Weston Field Club snack shop.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she worked at the Food52 website, moving up to managing editor. Brette the became CFO of Lucky Peach, David Chang’s quarterly food journal.

She works at Apple News now (no food jokes, please!). She writes the daily Newsletter. She also wrote “What’s the Difference” — answering questions we’ve all wondered about. (What’s the difference, for example, between a balcony and terrace? Latino and Hispanic? A dash and a hyphen?)

In Brette’s special area of expertise, what’s the difference between broth and stock? Jam and jelly (and preserves)? Barbecuing and grilling? Chef and cook? Sweet potato and yam? Maître d’ and host?

She’s turned those important questions (spoiler alert: I have no idea about any of the answers) into a new book. What’s the Difference? Recreational Culinary Reference for the Curious and Confused will be published June 8. (Click here for more information, and to order.)

It’s irreverent, informative — and when I get a copy, I’ll let you know the answers.

Brette Warshaw

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Longtime Westporter George Manchester turns 90 in June.

His son Jeff — now raising his own family, in his home town — has planned a special gift. He hopes at least 90 “06880” readers will send his father “Happy Birthday” cards.

George spends summers in Maine. This year, he’ll arrive June 5. Going to the post office is an important part of his day. Let’s inundate him (and the PO) with cards!

Send to: George Manchester, PO Box 202, South Bristol, ME 04568. And feel free to pass this on to others!

George Manchester in 2017, just before the old Saugatuck Island bridge was torn down after damage from Superstorm Sandy. Decades earlier he was involved in the construction of that bridge, as president of what was then called the Saugatuck Shores Island Association (now the Saugatuck Island Special Taxing District).

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The Westport Library’s Memorial Day Book Sale began at 9 this morning.

Forty minutes earlier, there was already a waiting line.

The sale is on today through 6 p.m. It continues tomorrow (Saturday, May 29) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday (May 30) from noon to 5.

Outside the Westport Library, 8:20 a.m. today … (Photo/Karen Como)

… and at 9:02 a.m. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

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For today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, Tina Green writes:

“Some time in the last several days, the American oystercatcher eggs hatched at Compo Beach. This year there are 2 very healthy chicks. The adult female is limping, but will hopefully recover soon.

“The federally protected piping plovers are nesting on the most northern edge of the roped off area. I had the good fortune to witness the first egg being laid while observing the female early yesterday morning.

“Westporters are lucky to have a variety of bird species nest within our borders. About 88 species breed in the wide variety of  habitats around town, including back yards, town parks, beaches and open spaces like Cockenoe Island and Aspetuck Land Trust properties.

“If the pandemic got you into birdwatching while at home, this is one of the best towns in the state to see and observe our feathered friends.”

American oystercatcher at Compo Beach (Photo/Tina Green)

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Longtime Westporter Ronald Joseph Melino died on May 22. He was 91.

The South Bronx native transplanted himself and his family from the city he loved to Westport in 1967.

Melino studied biology at City College, and was a proud employee of American Airlines. He worked his way up from the La Guardia Airport terminal to the company’s executive offices at the Chrysler Building.

Original to his core, naturally charismatic and never shy, he lived life on his own terms. He loved beach walks, tennis with pals at the Westport Tennis Club and Longshore, workouts and saunas at the Westport YMCA, reading, train travel to San Francisco, and above all else his grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Maureen. He is survived by his children Stephen Melino (Margie), Frances Zahler (Gary), Barbara Deecken (George), and James Melino (Ilana); grandchildren Alexsis Adams, Christina Deecken, Cody Zahler, Christian Zahler, Avery Chung-Melino, Rachel Melino, Emily Zahler, and Katey Melino, great grandson Isaiah, beloved nieces and nephews and their families, and his brother Eugene.

A private Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Assumption Cemetery, at a time to be determined.

Ronald Joseph Melino

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Westport’s newest police officer is Stephen Silva has joined its ranks. He was sworn in yesterday at a small ceremony, in front of his family and friends. Two brothers serve with the Trumbull Police Department.

Silva started his career in law enforcement in 2016 with the Bridgeport Police Department. He worked in the patrol division, served as an acting detective, and was a member of the department’s honor guard.

In addition to working full time as a police officer, Silva is pursuing a degree in emergency management at Post University.

Officer Stephen Silva (right) is congratulated by Police Chief Foti Koskinas.

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The Staples girls golf team — ranked #4 in the state — beat St. Joseph yesterday. The win solidified a spot in the FCIAC tournament, beginning next Thursday.

After the match, the Wreckers posed for a special Memorial Day photo.

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While Charles MacCormack traveled the world as CEO of Westport-based Save the Children, his wife Susan Ross devoted her life to public service of a more local scope. For 40 years she worked with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation; for 12 years, she was its CEO.

Susan died 4 years ago this month, after a 7-year battle with breast and pancreatic cancer. In her memory, her husband of 45 years has helped established the Susan M. Ross Fund for Great Leadership at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. It targets the organization’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence, which provides leadership develop opportunities.

For more information or to donate, click here.

Susan M. Ross

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And finally … happy 76th birthday to John Fogerty. I’ve played tribute to his band — Creedence Clearwater Revival — and I will again. So today I’ll honor his solo work. (PS: Thanks again for that great Levitt Pavilion concert in 2017. I’m still smiling.)

 

Remembering Joseph Banyard, William Cross, Christine Carusone

Joseph Banyard, Jr. of Westport passed away peacefully last Thursday. He was 94.

Joe was born in Norwalk. After graduating from Norwalk High School in 1944,, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp. He was being trained as an airplane and engine mechanic, and was in a program to become a flight engineer when the war ended. He completed his service in Italy in the Army of Occupation.

He graduated from the University of Bridgeport in 1951 with a degree in accounting. Joe worked in public accounting in the area for 12 years, until he was certified as a CPA.

Joseph Banyard

He took a job with Navy Audit which later reorganized as the Defense Contract Audit Agency. He spent 23 years as a federal cost analyst. A large portion of his career was at Sikorsky. He retired 1986.

Joe married Elenore DePalmer in 1953. They later divorced, but remained close friends. She still lives in the house they built together.

Joe is also survived by his sister Ann Marie Newbauer of Waterbury; nephew Thomas Newbauer of Danbury; nieces Janet Peatt of Ridgefield, Lee Berryhill, and Leslie and Joanne Aiken, and great-nephew Captain Woodrow J. Peatt, Jr. USAF, stationed in Georgia. He was predeceased by his sister Norma Aiken (and nephew Michael Aiken.

Joe will be remembered as a great listener, storyteller and poetry reciter. He was a member of St. Luke Parish for 30 years, and attended mass almost daily. He was an avid MG mechanic.  He also enjoyed gardening, cooking and reading about history.

A funeral will be held today (Thursday, May 27, 2 p.m. at St. Luke Parish. Click here to leave online condolences.

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William Emmett Cross died peacefully in his sleep at his Westport home earlier this month.  He was 76 years old.

Bill was born in Dennison, Ohio. He grew up in Sherrodsville, Ohio, where he helped run the family farm with his parents and brother Leonard.

He earned an accounting degree from Bowling Green State University, where he met Barbara. They were married immediately upon graduation in 1968. Two months later he enlisted in the Army as a finance officer.

In 1970 Bill began his accounting career at Lothrop Architects in White Plains.  He settled in Westport, where he and Barbara raised their family and began restoring their Colonial-era home on Green’s Farms Road.

Bill Cross

Bill continued his accounting career with Fairfield Venture Capital. In recent years Bill turned his skills and love of home repairs, maintenance and restorations into a full-time business, working on a wide variety of residential projects. He enjoyed using his ingenuity and perseverance to solve problems around the homes of his loyal clients.

He was devoted to his family and friends, and loved when they gathered at his home. He enjoyed long walks at the beach with Barbara, and struck up friendly conversations with people he encountered in daily life. He was also an avid fan of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball.

In addition to his wife, Bill is survived by sons Todd (Estee) of Pelham, New York; Brian (Kathryn) of Lombard, Illinois, and Kevin (Melanie) of Denver, and grandchildren Nicholas, Isabella, Emmett, Grace, Gabriel, Julia and George

A memorial service will be held at Green’s Farms Congregational Church on October 8 (11 a.m.). Click here to leave online condolences. Contributions in Bill’s memory may be made to Green’s Farms Church.

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Christine Marie Carusone of Westport died Monday. She was 74.

The Norwalk native was an ICU nurse at Norwalk Hospital. She received many letters of appreciation, and a commendation from the mayor of Milford for her efforts saving the lives of 2 police detectives. She retired in 2017.

Chris loved traveling, and spending quiet time at her house in Vermont. She cherished her family. Christine

She was predeceased by her brother Robert and Peter. She is survived by her sisters-in-law Donna Carusone and Suzanne Taylor; nieces Lindsay Carusone and Amy Tracy; nephews Brian Carusone, James Carusone, Robert Tracy and Robert Carusone; great-nephews Dominic Carusone and Liam Carlson, and great-niece Althea Carlson, along with countless friends.

Visitation will be held today (Thursday, May 27, 4 to 8 p.m. at the Harding Funeral Home, 210 Post Rd East). A service will be held tomorrow (Friday, May 28, 11 a.m.) at St Luke Church, followed by internment at Assumption Cemetery.

Click here to leave online condolences. In lieu of flowers, donations in Chris’ name can be made to Outward Bound and Malta House of Norwalk.

Remembering John Kemish

Former First Selectman John J. Kemish died April 25 in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 93.

Kemish served three 2-year terms as Westport’s chief executive, from 1967 to 1973. Prior to his election, beginning in 1958 he was the town’s first professional controller (now “finance director”). He improved Westport’s credit rating from A to AAA by establishing the town’s first Capital and Non-Recurring Expenditure fund. As controller he also played a pivotal role in the purchase of Longshore Country Club, under First Selectman Herb Baldwin.

John Kemish

Kemish earned a bachelor’s degree from Hillyer College (now called the University of Hartford), and a master’s degree in public administration and municipal finance from the University of Connecticut.

Woody Klein, in his book Westport Connecticut, The Story of a New England Town’s Rise to Prominence, called Kemish “a personable and highly competent public servant.”

At the time of his election, Westport “was about to face one of the most defining moments in the Town’s history.” United Illuminating Company, a statewide utility, had just announced its intent to build a 14-story nuclear power plant on Cockenoe Island, less than one mile offshore from Westport’s Compo Beach…. Kemish would soon become one of the key figures in the Cockenoe campaign.”

UI’s announcement galvanized the town, and sparked a “Save Cockenoe Now” campaign spearheaded by Jo Fox Brosious, editor of the Westport News.

The First Selectman’s Committee began a year-and-a-half environmental battle, with national coverage. The solution involved the purchase of the Island by the Town. MrKemish engineered the financing that made the purchase possible, and recouped 75% of the money from the federal government. Westport now owns Cockenoe Island in perpetuity.

Cockenoe Island. Thanks in part to John Kemish, it remains pristine.

MrKemish also spearheaded construction of the first solid waste transfer station (the current site of the Levitt Pavilion), effectively ending sanitary land filling of garbage in Westport. This was a landmark for Connecticut, and culminated in the formation of the State Resource Recovery Authority.

Among other important contributions to the quality of life in Westport, Kemish created Westport’s Beautification Committee. Chair Claire Ford and her organization gained the support of the Planning & Zoning Commission.  Significant changes included plantings and the restriction of signage along the Post Road.

Kemish was also responsible for the acquisition of the 38-acre Wakeman Farm, acquisition of the Nike Site on Bayberry lane, and a similar one on North Avenue (providing additional land adjacent to the Staples High School property, now the location of Bedford Middle School).

Bedford Middle School, on the site of a former Nike Missile Site.

During his years as first selectman, Kemish succeeded New York Mayor John Lindsay as president of the Metropolitan Regional Council, which was instrumental in improving services of the Metro-North railroad.

In addition, Kemish worked with Union Carbide and American Can Company on expansion of their municipal resource recovery and solid waste processing systems. In retirement he traveled extensively with his wife Gloria, and enjoyed family time in his homes in Connecticut and Florida.

He is survived by his wife Gloria Kemish, her family, and sons James and Steven.