Category Archives: Obituaries

Roundup: Nile Rodgers, David Hidalgo, Bob Dole …

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Like many musicians, Nile Rodgers has an impressive collection of guitars.

Like very few, he is selling them at auction.

Like even fewer, he’s auctioning them not for personal gain, but for charity.

This month, Christie’s is offering more than 160 pieces from his personal collection. Besides guitars, there are amps, synthesizers and mixing boards — plus clothing and classic cars.

Many are housed right here in Westport. The Grammy-winning composer, producer, arranger, guitarist and Chic co-founder has lived here for years.

Rodgers will donate app proceeds to the We Are Family Foundation. He and life partner Nancy Hunt set up the organization after 9/11. It “promotes cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world.”

And it’s named, of course, for the smash song he wrote for Sister Sledge.

Click here for the full story. Click here for the Nile Rodgers collection, from the Christie’s catalogue. (Hat tip: Adam Stolpen)

Nile Rodgers, at his Westport home. (Photo courtesy of Sky Arts)

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College a cappella came to Westport last night.

Dartmouth College’s Brovertones brought their bowties and harmonies to the Christ & Holy Trinity courtyard last night. There was a bonfire, s’mores, hot cider — and a heartfelt speech by Brovertone Sam Laskin. The Staples High School grad spoke about how great it was to grow up in a town that fosters the arts.

Dinner was next for the group, hosted by Randy Herbertson in his Church Lane studio. Most of the food was donated by Rye Ridge Deli.

Today — after they all slept at the Laskins’ — it was off on the next stop of their holiday tour.

The Brovertones, at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. (Photo/David Goldstein)

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Like many downtown stores, Savvy + Grace has a gorgeous Christmas tree.

But this one is more than decorative.

Owner Annette Norton is working with the Ralphola Taylor Charity, a YMCA community center that serves low-income Bridgeport children. They earn points for good behavior during after-school activities — then redeem those points at the center’s Holiday Store by buying presents for their families.

In return for purchasing a gift for the Ralphola Taylor Charity, Annette will personalize a white dove ornament with the donor’s name, and hang it on the tree.

Gifts can be bought 3 ways:

  • At Savvy + Grace (next to the former Tavern on Main restaurant)
  • Online (at checkout, just choose free delivery to the charity)
  • Purchase something from any other local store, then drop it off at Savvy + Grace. What a great way to support all Westport merchants, and kids in Bridgeport.

Donations are accepted now through December 12. Let’s fill that tree — and the Ralphola Taylor Charity Holiday Shop shelves!

Annette Norton at Savvy + Grace last year. This season, the tree is inside her store.

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In 2020, I reported on David Hidalgo’s battle against leukemia.

The carpenter/handyman/home improvement contractor extraordinaire is beloved by Westporters. They adore his workmanship, care, willingness to tackle any project; his problem-solving, humility, politeness, and ear-to-ear smile.

He had no disability insurance. But many friends — and strangers — stepped up to help. On his 32nd birthday, David was pronounced cancer-free.

Devastatingly, it’s now returned.

He starts treatment tomorrow, and hopes for a bone marrow transplant.

Without health insurance, he, his wife and 2 young children need lots of help.

He has 2 young children and a lovely wife. They have no health insurance and will need a lot of help.

A GoFundMe drive can defray medical costs. A meal train can help too.

David’s many friends and very pleased clients hope that Westport can give generously to this special man, and his family. (Hat tip: Jennifer Zorek-Pressman)

David Hidalgo and family.

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Bob Dole — the World War II hero, Senate majority leader, presidential and vice presidential candidate, veterans’ advocate, and skillful politician in all the positive senses of the word — died yesterday, at 98.

His long and varied life no doubt brought him at least a few times to Westport, for fundraising and other events. I met him once, at the Apple Festival at Staples High School.

That’s been gone for a while, but it was an old-fashioned, community celebration every October. It must have been a presidential election year, though I can’t remember which one.

I was surprised that a man of his stature would be shaking hands at a small event like that. But I was impressed that he met voters with grace, a smile, and a couple of jokes.

I shook his hand — his left one, because his right hand was severely injured during his service with the 10th Mountain Division. I was not going to vote for whoever he was stumping for, but neither would I pass up the honor of meeting him.

It remains a fond memory. If only we had iPhones back then.

Senator Bob Dole

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Former Westporter — and longtime Planning & Zoning Commission member –Ed Van Gelder died last week, at Meadow Ridge in Redding. He was 98 years old.

In 2009, he and his wife Inge celebrated their 60th anniversary. Their son Jeff wrote a beautiful piece for “06880,” about what Westport meant to them both. Click here to read.

An obituary has not yet been published. Condolences may be sent to Jeff Van Gelder, c/o1326 Meadow Ridge, Redding, CT 06896. (Hat tip: Rose Jordan)

Inge and Ed Van Gelder

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“06880” readers are not the only people who love Werner Liepolt’s artwork.

The regular contributor to our Saturday online art gallery has just had his en plein air painting of Sherwood Island State Park juried into the Mart Twain Library‘s 49th annual art show. Submissions came from across the country.

The fundraiser for the Redding institution — which was founded by the legendary writer — runs through December 12.

The Mark Twain Library is a fitting spot for Liepolt’s work. He spent over 30 years in Westport as an English teacher.

Werner Liepolt’s Sherwood Island artwork was featured in the “06880” art gallery last March. It’s now in the juried Mark Twain Library show.

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Speaking of Sherwood Island: Mill Pond residents were surprised to wake up this morning to lights and action.

It was presumably Netflix, filming “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone.” The Stephen King thriller stars Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell, and will be released next year.

A temporary “trailer park” has been erected at the state park. To answer questions from readers: No, it’s not permanent.

Sherwood Island State Park, as seen from the Mill Pond early this morning. (Photo/James White)

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The deer keeping coming. Jill Grayson took today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo at her Berkeley Road home, off Easton Road.

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

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And finally … in honor of Nile Rodgers’ charitable gifts (above) — well, you knew this was coming:

Roundup: Holiday Stroll, Kids’ Vaccine, Larry Aasen …

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New merchants are signing up every day for “06880”s first-ever Holiday Stroll.

It’s next Saturday (December 11), 4 to 7 p.m., downtown.

Staples’ elite Orphenians will sing. Don Memo will provide hot apple cider, on their patio. There’s face painting for kids, and an ugly sweater contest for everyone.

Santa will hang out by Savvy + Grace. He’ll pose for photos with kids, who can also drop off self-addressed letters to him. They’ll be mailed back, with a personal note.

Among the special shopping offerings:

  • 20% off at Allison Daniel Designs (Sconset Square) and WEST.
  • Free topaz or pyrite crystal at Age of Reason.
  • Something special from Franny’s Farmacy.
  • Garlic knots at Joe’s Pizza.
  • Spend $150-$250, get 10% off. Spend $250-$500, get 15% off. Spend $500 or more, get 20% off at Kerri Rosenthal.
  • Sorelle Gallery offers festive beverages to sip while browsing artwork, plus a giveaway. Sign up for their email list and select a free print, while supplies last.
  • A free gift to children who stop by The Toy Post between 4 and 6 p.m. Saturday (they close at 6).
  • Buy one, get 1/2 off of Whip Salon brand products
  • 20% off all holiday items at Westport Book Shop.
  • Adult holiday beverages and 10% off a full-price purchase to anyone mentioning the “06880” blog at Nic + Zoe.
  • Hot chocolate at Le Rouge ChocolatesRye Ridge Deli and Winfield Street Coffee.
  • Hot chocolate and holiday treats at The Fred Shop.
  • 1 free health and wellness coaching session from Dark Horse Health and Wellness (Playhouse Square; stop by or call 203-349-5597).

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Meanwhile, earlier next Saturday — from 10:30 a.m. to noon — Westport Book Shop sponsors its own first-ever Winter Family Fest. It’s on Jesup Green, right across from our favorite used book store.

Kids will enjoy snowflake-themed crafts, games and story reading (indoors!). There’s hot chocolate and goodies for all too, courtesy of The Porch @ Christie’s.

The Family Fest takes place on Jesup Green, across from Westport Book Shop.

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Yesterday’s second COVID vaccine clinic for 5-to-11-year-olds was another hit.

Kids and their parents poured into the Staples High School fieldhouse, for their second dose. Westport Weston Health District, school district and Westport Community Emergency Response Team personnel handled the crowd efficiently. Youngsters were excited to receive another jab. (Their parents were too.)

One protester stood near the entrance. Whitney Krueger (photo below) held signs reflecting her belief that not enough information has been provided about the vaccine.

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Today is Larry Aasen’s 99th birthday.

He heads any list of great Westporters — and not just because his last name is first.

A World War II veteran and Westport resident since the 1950s, he’s had a long, distinguished career serving our town, in politics and many other ways. In 2018, Larry was the Memorial Day grand marshal.

He’s also the author of 4 books about his beloved home state, North Dakota.

Larry’s wife, his beloved Martha, died in October 2020. She was 90. They had been married for 66 years.

I know all of Westport joins me in wishing Larry Aasen a wonderful 99th birthday!

Larry Aasen, with his books. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)

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The inaugural Chris Frantz Emerging Artists concert — produced by the Westport Library and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — was a hit.

Last night, 200 music lovers enjoyed Lulu Lewis and The Problem with Kids. The next concert will be announced soon.

The Problem with Kids, at the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum last night.

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For 2 months, Netflix has been filming “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” all around the area. The Stephen King thriller stars Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell.

The most recent site was Sherwood Island State Park, by the old stables. Intrigued beach-goers spotted tents, trailers and lights near the wood last week.

Preparing to shoot “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone.”

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“Extraterrestrial Life: Are We the Sharpest Cookies in the Jar?”

That’s the provocative title of the Westport Astronomical Society’s next virtual lecture. Harvard professor Avi Loeb speaks via Zoom (click here) and YouTube (click here) on December 21 (8 p.m.).

PS: No one know the answer. But I do know this: If we were the smartest beings in the universe, we wouldn’t have to ask.

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Chris Robison — noted musician, teacher, gay rights activist and a longtime Westporter — died this week. He was 73.

Born Harold Alton Meyer in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Chris made his mark in the New York City rock ‘n’ roll scene of the 1970s as a member of the New York Dolls, Elephant’s Memory, Steam and Stumblebunny. He was also a music teacher here for over 30 years.

Chris recorded with John Lennon, Keith Richards, Papa John Phillips and Gene Simmons.

With Elephant’s Memory he toured with Aerosmith, Rare Earth and Billy Preston, and played a Circle Line tourist boat gig — hosted by the Hell’s Angels — with Bo Diddley and Jerry Garcia.

The New York Dolls toured Japan with Jeff Beck and Felix Pappalardi. A crowd of 55,000 jammed Tokyo Baseball Stadium to hear them play. Click here for a longer “06880” story on Chris’ musical exploits.

His family says, “His relentless passion for artistic expression and civil rights will be treasured for years to come.”

Chris is survived by sons Dexter Scott of Brooklyn and Tiger Robison of Laramie, Wyoming; sisters Laurel Meyer of Wellesley, Wendy Woodfield and Marilee Meyer of Cambridge, Massachusetts; brother Bruce Meyer of Camden, Maine, and 3 grandchildren.

A memorial service is set for this Tuesday (December 7) at MoCA Westport, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Chris Robison

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If every business was as well landscaped as Tiger Bowl — well, they’d all be featured on our “Westport … Naturally” page!

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

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And finally … Chris Robison led quite a life (see his obituary above). We honor him here with these videos.

He was not in “Steam” when they recorded their signature (and only) hit (in Bridgeport). The band did not even exist; “Steam” was just studio musicians.

But the label wanted a tour. Chris joined the group that played 28 states, in a  grueling 3-week tour of 1-night stands, TV shows and festivals. They shared the bill with Bob Seger and MC5, among others. “Steam” played all original material; the only obligation was to start and end each set with …

His next gig — with Elephant’s Memory — included this 1974 song:

Then it was on to the New York Dolls. They were a key influence on later punk, new wave and glam metal groups like the Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads.

Later Chris formed his own band, Stumblebunny, which toured the UK and Germany with the Hollies.

He recorded solo, too.

Thanks for the music and the memories, Chris!

Roundup: Shop Local, Chris Frantz, Crossword Contest …

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We’ve all heard the mantra: “Shop local!”

We don’t always know how.

Just in time for the holidays, FairfieldCountyShops.com can help. Searchable in many ways — clothing, kids, art, beauty and wellness, home, jewelry, accessories, outerwear, sales and more — it includes Westport merchants like Organachs Farm to Skin, Winged Monkey, West, Age of Reason, New England Hemp Farm, Gioiella Jewelry and more.

New stores are being added all the time.

Two of New England Hemp Farm offers holiday gifts.

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Speaking of shopping local: There’s no better place than Savvy + Grace.

And no better time than today (Thursday). From 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., Annette Norton and her crew host a holiday open house — and an UGG trunk show.

Enjoy raffles, light bites, drinks and fun. Plus free UGG crew socks with an UGG purchase. Just my style!

Annette Norton at Savvy + Grace.

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A few seats remain for this Saturday’s inaugural “Chris Frantz Presents: Emerging Musicians” at the Westport Library. The 7:30 p.m. show (December 4) introduces New York’s Lulu Lewis and New Haven’s The Problem with Kids Today. Both play kick-ass rock, with punk influences.

The collaboration with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Verso Studios features up-and-coming regional, national and international talent, hand-picked by Fairfield’s (and Talking Heads’) own star.

For tickets and more information, click here.

The Problem with Kids Today (band photo, not an editorial comment).

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Speaking of the library: Registration is now open for the 23rd annual Crossword Puzzle Contest.

Led by legendary New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz himself, it’s a fun (and humbling) way to enjoy an often solitary activity in the company of other nerds, some of whom are even smarter than you.

It’s Saturday, February 5 (1 p.m.). Put down your pencil, and click here for registration and more information. Spots go fast!

Finalists in the 2020 event. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Birchwood Country Club golfers know their pro, Kammy Maxfeldt, is a great teacher.

Now the entire nation knows it.

Golf Digest has just released its list of the top teaching pros in every state. Topping the Connecticut list: our own Kammy.

Voting is done entirely by peers. More than 2,000 teachers across the country weighed in on their colleagues. Click here for the full story.

But that’s not all. Three years ago, “06880” hailed Kammy as an Unsung Hero. She’d just earned a spot in the US Senior Women’s Open tournament — after battling leukemia. Click here for that even more interesting story.

Kammy Maxfeldt

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Former Staples High School English teacher Daniel Geraghty has just published his first book.

According to Amazon, “Cast Away Stones” is “a raw, honest and lucid account of overcoming life’s challenges and developing personal resilience. The book details surviving the attacks of 9/11/2001 in New York City and a choice to serve the American people.

“A victim of violent abuse as a child on the verge of adolescence, Geraghty transformed pain and trauma into focus, drive and motivation. A US Army veteran, Airborne Ranger, Captain, 9/11 survivor, first responder, teacher and leader, he has waged a battle to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for over 20 years through a dedication to service and his family.

Click here for more information, and to order.

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One of the best toy drives anywhere is the one sponsored by the Westport Police Department Union and Westport Police Benevolent Association. Gifts go to underprivileged children throughout Fairfield County, including St. Vincent’s Hospitals.

Westport police officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys, as well as cash donations, in the parking lot of ASF Sports (1560 Post Road East) on this weekend (December 4-5) and next (11-12), between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

There will also be toy collection boxes in the police station lobby (50 Jesup Road), and at Toyota of Westport (777 Post Road East), now through December 13.

Questions? Email t ANowinski@WestportCT.gov or call 203-341-6000.

What a great gift: a police toy for the police toy drive!

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Save the Sound is hiring for 5 positions:

  • Regional director, water protection (Larchmont, New York)
  • Director of finance (New Haven)
  • Lands communications specialist (New Haven)
  • Clean water communications specialist (Larchmont)
  • Ecological communications specialist (New Haven).

Save the Sound fights climate change, saves endangered lands, protects the Sound and its rivers, and works with nature to restore ecosystems across Connecticut, Westchester, New York City and Long Island.

For more information, click here.

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Linda Dobson — who ran D&D Refuse here for more than 30 years — died peacefully last month at home, after a long illness. She was 73.

She is survived by Sierra Dobson of Fairfield, brother Malcolm (Donna) Frazier Jr.. granddaughters Erica and Erin Flynn, and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband Sydney.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Fairfield County, 22 Danbury Road. Wilton, CT 06897, who took compassionate care of Linda. Click here to sign the online guestbook.

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You gotta love this “love tree.”

Sandy Rothenberg spotted — and snapped — it on Greenlea Lane, near Bayberry, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

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And finally … this is National Cookie Cutter Week.

This is probably not what the organizers had in mind, but let’s celebrate!

Roundup: COVID Ornaments, Carissa Schumacher, Holiday Market

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Marley Brown is an enthusiastic, creative junior at Staples High School. Her most recent project: designing a holiday tree ornament to commemorate the development and distribution of COVID vaccines. It can hang for years to come, a reminder of the trials and triumphs of the global pandemic.

She and her family spend nights and weekends sticking labels on vials, stuffing plastic baubles, and tying ribbon to create the cute decorations. They are available with Pfizer, Moderna or generic labels.

Marley has already sold hundreds of ornaments all across North America, via Etsy, Facebook and Amazon.

She’s earning money. But she’s paying it forward. Marley donates some of her profits to the Ehlers Danlos Society. She and her mother suffer from the genetic connective tissue disease, which makes her joints prone to injuries and dislocations.

Click here to purchase ornaments — and help find a treatment for EDS.

One of Marley Brown’s COVID vaccine ornaments.

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I stopped reading the New York Times story about a California spiritual adviser who receives messages from the dead after the 3rd paragraph (when I learned she charges $1,111 an hour — she “likes the synchronicity”).

But several “06880” readers read on. They learned — deep in the story — that Carissa Schumacher — the high-priced medium to stars like Jennifer Aniston, Uma Thurman and Andie MacDowell — was raised in Westport.

She was a member of Staples High School’s Class of 2000 (and earned All-FCIAC status as a cheerleader). She went on to Brown University, where she majored in cognitive neuroscience.

After learning of our high school (and college) connection, I re-read the article. It’s actually pretty interesting. Click here to see.

Caarissa Schumacher meditates in the Elfin Forest. (Photo/Michelle Groskopf for the New York Times)

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The Westport Farmers’ Market is all about shopping local. So it’s natural for them to hold a special Holiday Artist Market this Saturday (December 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center.

“Local artisans don’t experience supply chain issues the way big box stores do,” notes Lori Cochran-Dougall, executive director of the Farmers’ Market. “If there was ever a year to spend, support and give local, this is it.”

The Artist Market takes place in 3 open-air greenhouses, and features a wide array of one-of-a-kind handcrafted gift ideas. Food trucks will be on hand too.

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Longtime Westporter John Washburn died peacefully at his home recently. He was 91.

He was born in Pittsburgh to Dr. Stephen and Lois Fellows Washburn, both educators. He received his BS in industrial management from Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) in 1952.

One week after graduation he married his high school sweetheart, Olga Dukewich. They moved to Cleveland, where John started his career with Standard Oil of Ohio.

They brought their young family to Westport in 1968, when John joined Xerox Education Group in Stamford as a vice president. Over the course of his career John held senior executive positions with Xerox, Scovill, Mott and GenRad.

In retirement, John served on the board of directors of Physicians Health Services, and as a consultant to the Eastern Companies. He spent many hours dedicated to his beloved Westport community, including as treasurer of both Greens Farms Church and the Westport Historical Society, as a member of the Westport Schools Building Planning Committee and the Westport Conservation Commission, and as a volunteer with the Y’s Men, Westport Library, and at the polls on election days.

John’s greatest joy and accomplishment was his family. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather who enjoyed life. John loved to sail and kayak in the waters around Westport. He played tennis and golf, swam, and took daily walks in his neighborhood.

He especially loved traveling with Olga to Europe and Asia, and visiting their children and grandchildren. For years John and Olga hosted a spring gathering for their children and grandchildren in Sanibel, Florida.

John is survived by his wife of 69 years, Olga; their children Pamela Washburn (David Boyers) of Los Altos, California, Janice Trentacosti (Charlie) of Austin, Texas; John S. Washburn of Carmel, Indiana, and grandchildren Michelle, Michael, Jordan, JB, Julia, Anabelle and Sophia.  He is also survived by his sister Carolyn Shields of Staunton, Virginia, brother Alan of Monterey, California, and many nieces and nephews.

Services were held at Greens Farms Church. Donations in John’s memory can be made to Westport EMS.

John Washburn

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This handsome guy posted near Longshore for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

He almost blended in with the scenery. That’s the idea, right>

(Photo/Elisabeth Levey)

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And finally … today in 1982, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was released worldwide.

Yes, the best-selling record album in history — nearly twice the sales of AC/DC’s 2nd-place “Back in Black” — is now 39 years old.

 

Roundup: Tunnel Of Love, Compo Swim, Cribari Lights

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Just in time to kick off the holiday shopping season, a small ceremony honored the re-lighting and re-naming of the pedestrian tunnel between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza.

New lights show off Miggs Burroughs’ stunning lenticular images. They portray Westporters connecting with each other. Each changes, depending on the angle you view them from.

The original name was “Tunnel Vision.” Suzanne Tanner came up with the new “Tunnel of Love & Community” — abbreviated as (of course) TLC. Then it was re-opened — as it always has been — to the public, 24/7/365.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker (center) and guests enjoy the newly re-lit Tunnel of Love & Community.

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While all the tunnel re-dedicators were bundled up in Friday’s chill, Ann Chernow’s grandchildren chilled at Compo Beach.

Well, actually, they went in the water.

She sends a photo of “2 of my crazy grandchildren. They usually swim  in the Pacific in San Francisco.” At 47 degrees, Long Island Sound was much chillier.

Yikes!

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Also this weekend: The Cribari Bridge is lit for the holidays.

Betsy Pollak sends along the first of what is sure to be many photos of one of Westport’s favorite and most colorful traditions.

(Photo/Betsy Pollak)

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Westport’s hidden music gem, Voices Cafe, offers in-person, high quality live music (or livestream), with café-style seating. Everyone brings their own snacks and beverages.

Coming this Saturday (December 4): Eclectic musical duo The Whispering Tree, and award-winning folk couple Ash and Eric (formerly, The Promise is Hope).

Click here for tickets and more information. Seats are assigned by ticket purchase date.

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Photos keep coming in of new Thanksgiving Day traditions. Here’s one more — of a group of dads and sons — with the by-now-familiar name: Turkey Bowl. (Hat tip: Bianca Jonas)

(Photo/Eric Ritter)

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You can’t be too busy next month, right?

If you need an activity, check out these 2 from Wakeman Town Farm.

“In “Making Spirits Brighter: A Holiday Mixology Class” (December 6, 7 p.m.), “Mixxed by Ed” Hernandez will teach you how to make 5 holiday-themed drinks, using natural ingredients picked straight from the farm. Premium liquor is provided by Remy Cointreau.

“A Holiday Centerpiece Workshop” (December 14, 7 p.m.), features WTF’s Chyrse Terill and Ellen Goldman. Materials are collected from the Farm. You can take home your creation — and feel free to bring an appetizer, bottle of wine or other drink.

Click here for details and registration.

“Mixxed by Ed” Hernandez

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Former Staples High School football star Joseph Vincent DeMattio died Wednesday, following a courageous battle with a long-time illness. He was 63, and is survived by a large extended family and hundreds of friends.

Joey played tackle on the Wreckers’ 1975 state champion team, and was a 1997 inductee into team’s Wall of Fame. He also played defense for the University of Maryland where he played  defense for the Maryland Terrapins. An excellent athlete, he returned to Westport and played softball for the legendary Sonny’s team.

His family says, “There was never a dull moment in Joey’s life. From running with the bulls in Pamplona to fighting pirates in the Bahamas, he was no stranger to adventure or travel.”

Although Joey held several positions in his career, his favorite was working for Keith Richards in Weston. He often said how down to earth and kind the family was to him.

He was also an accomplished inventor, and held 2 provisional patents.

Joey had a huge heart, especially for children and the elderly.

Joey loved Saugatuck, Jr’s Hot Dog Stand, Compo Beach, Aunt Jean’s eggplant parm, Walter K, the Maryland Terrapins, Ledo’s Pizza, inventing things, his little dog Tony, his beautiful home, eating any food (especially Italian), his Saugatuck Saints jacket, Calvin the monkey, yelling at umpires, playing football, traveling, the Three Stooges, the Rolling Stones, and pistachio ice cream.

His family notes, “Saugatuck will never be the same without you.”

A  funeral is set for Thursday (December 2, 10 a.m., Assumption Church). The family will receive friends in the Harding Funeral Home on Wednesday (December 1, 4 to 8 p..). Click here to leave online condolences.

In lieu of flowers, donation can be made to Safer Refuge of Central Texas, where 2 of Joey’s beloved puppies come from.

Joey DeMattio, in the 1977 Staples High School yearbook.

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Nicholas T. Saviano Jr. of Westport died quietly at home earlier this month.

After graduating from Staples High School in 1947, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Union College and a master’s from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was inducted into Sigma Xi Honor Society.

Nick was a lifelong Westport resident. He was an avid reader, and enjoyed photography, horseback riding, skiing, wine making, family genealogy, and aviation and navigation.

In his younger years he owned a small private plane with his older brother. He traveled throughout the country and abroad, including Italy and China with family and friends.

For most of his career he worked as an electrical engineer at Sperry Rand/Unisys in New York as the senior research section head, software development, shipboard and ground systems group. Nick also held a number of patents.

He volunteered for many years at the Westport Library and Sons of Italy. He was also an usher at the Assumption Church. He was devoted to his family and friends.

He was predeceased by his elder brother Ralph, his nephew David and his wife Joanne of New Hampshire, and several dear life-long friends. He is survived by his sister Florence of Stratford; brother Thomas of Westport; nieces Dyana and Felica of Monroe; niece Suzanne of New Hampshire; nephew Mark of Colorado; several great-nephews and nieces, great-great nephews and nieces, and 7 godchildren.

A funeral is set for Saturday (December 4, 10 a.m., Assumption Church). Interment will follow in Assumption-Greens Farms Cemetery. A reception immediately following the burial will be held at Christ and Holy Trinity Church. Gifts may be given in Nick’s memory to Union College,

Nick Saviano

 

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Today’s colorful “Westport … Naturally” image comes from the home and camera of Linda Stern:

(Photo/Linda Stern)

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And finally … Today in 1925, the Grand Ole Opry began broadcasting in Nashville, as the WSM Barn Dance. Uncle Jimmy Thompson was the first guest.

And if you’ve got a couple of hours to kill:

 

Roundup: Viet Vets, Swimming, Sports …

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It may have been lost in the run-up to Thanksgiving.

It shouldn’t be.

Earlier this week, John Brandt moderated a fascinating discussion with 4 Vietnam War veterans. Part of the Westport Library’s Oral History Project, it delved deep into the experiences of the quartet — all Westporters — and what it all means today.

Panelists included retired Army veterans Capt. Jay Dirnberger, Sgt. Preston Koster, Sgt. Bud Siegel, and retired Navy Lt. JG Tucker Mays. Click below to watch.

Missed it? No problem. Click below to watch.

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The broken record of Staples High School swim and dive team broken records continues.

The girls finished their season in style last weekend, with 4 state open record- breaking performances.

Freshman Annam Olasewere once again dominated the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events, with state open record times of 22.58 and 50.21. The 200 free relay team of Jessica Qi, Ella Alpert, Ayaan Olasewere and Annam Olasewere recorded a record 1:35.94. In addition, their record-breaking 3:27.46 in the 400 free relay qualifies them for All-American status.

Other outstanding swims came from Jessica Qi (4th in the 100 free, 8th in the 200 free). Divers Kate Whittaker and Mia Guster finished 13th and 17th respectively. Freshman Ayaan Olasewere was 12th in the 50 free and 13th in the 100 free, while senior captain Ella Alpert placed 10th in the 100 fly.

From left: Annam Olasewere, Jessica Qi, Ella Alpertm Ayaan Olasewere.

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Speaking of sports: A new tradition began on Thanksgiving Day.

A bunch of fathers — all relatively new to Westport — reserved PJ Romano Field behind Saugatuck Elementary School for the first-ever “Westport Dadz Turkey Bowl.”

Cones were set, football flags arranged, and teams picked. A good time was had by all. Even a few hamstring pulls could not keep these guys from smiling, and enjoying the rest of their holiday weekend.

(Photo/Josh Stern)

Meanwhile, a much older tradition — the Staples boys soccer Turkey Bowl — took place at Wakeman Field.

Over 60 current and past players worked up an appetite. There were alumni from as far as California and Texas, and as far back as Staples’ Class of 1975. Guys who just finished their college season showed their stuff. So did everyone else.

There were plenty of alumni spectators too. And the weather was perfect too.

The 2021 Staples soccer Turkey Bowl. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

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Longtime Westporter Vermelle Miro died recently, at 88. Her funeral is set for today (Saturday, November 27, 11 a.m., St. Luke Church).

The Greenwich native had a variety of hobbies, interests and careers. She worked at Vogue magazine before opening the Westport Country Day Preschool in the 1970s.

“Mel” became a realtor in Westport in the 1980s, and enjoyed a successful career until she retired close to 40 years later.

She was a member of the Westport Young Woman’s League and Westport Rotary Club, along with many other civic groups.

Mel traveled around the world, learning about different cultures and viewing famous pieces of art. She was a talented artist as well.

Her family says, “Mel had a unique ability to connect with people on a deep level, providing a safe haven for her community of friends and acquaintances. She was a magnet to others, always willing to lend an ear to those who needed it. But er greatest joy came from her children and grandchildren.”

Mel is survived by her children, Donald (Kim Healy); son-in-law Chris Healy; grandchildren Ryan, Tyler and Brittany Healy, and grandson-in-law Steve Geiges. She was predeceased by her husband Donald Miro and her long-time partner, Patrick Mitchell.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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On this holiday weekend — when all of us are stuffed — photographer Lou Weinberg says of this “Westport … Naturally” photo from Lansdowne Condominiums: “Hey, everybody’s gotta eat.”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … Stephen Sondheim died yesterday, in Litchfield County. The legendary Broadway composer was 91.

The New York Times calls him an “intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths … the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century, if not its most popular.” Click here for Sondheim’s full obituary.

Remembering Julie Belaga

Julie Belaga — whose career took her from the Westport P&Z and RTM to the Connecticut House of Representatives, then a run for governor, teaching at Harvard, regional director of the EPA and a director of the Export-Import Bank —  died peacefully on Friday, at her Westport home. She was 91, and lived here since 1965.

Julie grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, where her father was a fish wholesaler on the Boston docks. After graduating from Syracuse University, she worked for several years as a 2nd-grade school teacher.

Then she found her true calling: politics. After a term as president of the Westport League of Women Voters, Julie served on the Planning and Zoning Commission (including a stint from 1972 to ’76 as chair), and on the Representative Town Meeting.

She was next elected as Westport’s representative to the Connecticut House . She served for 10 years, including positions of deputy majority leader and assistant minority leader. Julie achieved legislative success on a number of environmental issues. She took the lead in drafting and implementing Connecticut’s coastal management laws.

Julie Belaga

She was active in developing the state’s hazardous waste management service, and instrumental in reforming the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (now the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority), which provides recycling and waste disposal services for cities and towns. In 1985, the Hartford Courant named Julie one of the “Top 10 Legislators of the Year.”

After deciding not to seek reelection, Julie was chosen by the Republican Party as its 1986 candidate for governor. She lost to incumbent William O’Neill in the general election.

Out of politics for the first time in more than a decade, Julie served briefly as a television political commentator. She was also a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University and taught grassroots politics at the Kennedy School.

In 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed Julie as administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency for New England. As regional administrator she oversaw a budget of over $5 million, and more than 14,000 employees.

After she left the EPA, Governor Lowell Weicker appointed her to the Connecticut Development Authority. She left that position in 1994, when she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as one of 5 directors of the US Export-Import Bank. Clinton cited Julie’s “impressive range of public and private sector experience, particularly in the area of the environment.” She was easily confirmed by the Senate, and she served on the Ex-Im Bank board through 1999.

Julie retired from government in 1999 but continued her active community engagement, serving on the boards of several environmental organizations, including the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and the Audubon Society, as well as the Westport Library and the CT Mirror.

Julie was predeceased by her husband of more than 65 years, Mike. She is survived by her children Debra Belaga (Steve Stublarec) of Tiburon, California; David (Alison) Belaga of East Northport, New York, and Heather (Rob) McLean of Owings Mill, Maryland, and granddaughters Kristen Stublarec, Tracy Spencer and Lindsey Belaga.

Arrangements for a memorial service are pending. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound.

Julie and Mike Belaga

 

Roundup: Ann Weiner, Blood Drive, Cookbooks, …

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Ann Sharon Weiner died peacefully earlier this month, at 81. She lost a long, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer at her Westport home, with her family by her side. She was a noted artist and, with her late husband Sidney, sponsors of A Better Chance of Westport’s Glendarcy House on North Avenue.

Ann and Sidney’s 50-year marriage was considered the “paragon of devotion” by family and friends.

A New York City native, Ann earned undergraduate and graduate studies in fine arts at Queens College. She pursued careers as a high school art teacher, and the designer/art director for Sportswear by Pronto and Ann W. She received several fashion industry awards before devoting herself full time to a career as an exhibiting artist.

Ann’s most recent exhibit, “When Caged Birds Sing,” reflects her passion as a women’s advocate. It opened in 2017 at Brown University and is now a permanent exhibit at MoCA Westport.

Ann received the Silvermine Living Art Award for her impact on the art community.

Ann was also a philanthropist. In addition to sponsoring A Better Chance’s Glendarcy House with her husband, she worked tirelessly with Amnesty International,

Ann was predeceased by her husband Sidney and their 2 adult children, Darcy and Glenn. She is survived by her children Gregory and Devin Weiner of Norwalk; her long-time loving friend Paul Burger, niece Stacy Waldman Bass and nephew David Waldman, both of Westport ; nephews Jay and Todd Myers, and countless friends whose lives she touched.

A service is set for Thursday (November 18, 11 a.m.,  MoCA). In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to in memory of Sid and Ann Weiner to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research (lustgarten.org) or the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.

Ann Weiner, with one element of “When Caged Birds Sing.”

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American Red Cross is experiencing a blood emergency. To help, Joseph J. Clinton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 399 hosts a blood drive. It’s set for Wednesday (November 17, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., 465 Riverside Avenue).

For an appointment, click here (use sponsor code VFWWestport), or call 800-733-2767.

Donors who give blood by November 23 will receive a $10 Amazon gift card via email.

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Sparked by last week’s “06880” story on Allium — the new dining experience on Railroad Place — Lori Levine van Arsdale stopped by.

She loved it. She also spotted this at the entrance:

“I love that the chef has Post-It Notes sticking out of the cookbooks,” Lori says.

“Such a refreshing change from the normal cookbooks, which are usually only displayed for sale. It made me feel like I was in someone’s home.”

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John Kantor spotted — and took — today’s “Westport … Naturally” image at Sherwood Mill Pond.

The bald eagle was camera shy, and flew off. John — and many others — hope he returns.

(Photo/John Kantor)

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And finally … on this day in 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman began his famous March to the Sea.

Between today — when he captured Atlanta — and December 21, when he took over the port of Savannah — he and his Union troops destroyed military targets, industry, infrastructure, and civilian property, and disrupted the Confederacy’s ransportation networks. It was a major turning point in the war.

Roundup: COVID Vaccine, Cribari Lights, Staples Soccer …

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900 kids showed up yesterday at the Staples High School fieldhouse.

Most came willingly, even eagerly. A few had to be dragged in.

All were 5 to 11 years old — and now all are vaccinated against COVID. They enjoyed (appreciated? tolerated?) a clinic sponsored by Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

Westport’s Emergency Medical Services personnel, and Community Emergency Response Team, were on hand to help. So were Westport Public School nurses, assistant superintendent of schools John Bayers, and State Senator Will Haskell.

The youngsters were given balloons. Most smiled. Their parents smiled too — with relief.

State Senator Will Haskell and Long Lots Elementary School nurse Max Zimmer, at yesterday’s clinic. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Colorful lights on the Cribari Bridge are as much a part of Westport life as — well, traffic on the Cribari Bridge.

The annual lighting ceremony is set for Friday, November 26 — the day after Thanksgiving — at the Saugatuck Rowing Club (click here for details).

But before that happens, each of the thousands of lights must be individually checked, and repaired.

Volunteers from Al’s Angels and AJ Penna Construction performed that task in the cold pre-dawn yesterday. It took several painstaking hours.

But their great work will provide many days of joy, for very thankful Westporters.

Testing the lights this weekend. The next time the lights will be on is November 26. (Photo/Magnus Larsson)

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What an exciting time to be a Staples High School soccer fan! The boys and girls teams won 3 state tournament games each last week. Both have roared into the semifinals.

Yesterday, the 6th-seeded Wrecker boys team knocked off #3 Fairfield Prep, 1-0.  Reese Watkins power-headed Matthew Jordan’s corner kick in the second half. Outstanding defense by Bruno Guiduli, Jackson Hochhauser, Caleb Tobias, Hunter Smith, Jack Foster and keeper Jacob Greenberger secured the win. The boys face Farmington in the semis,

The girls also won off a corner kick, against Farmington on Thursday. Neva Mermagen nailed Maddie Sansone’s cross for the dramatic overtime game winner. The Wreckers meet Fairfield Warde in their semifinal match.

Both games will be played at neutral sites, later this week. Days, times and sites have not yet been announced.

Reese Watkins (left) celebrates his goal against Fairfield Prep with (from left) Dylan Hoke, Murilo Moreno, Tim Liakh and Hunter Smith. (Photo/Mark Sikorski)

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Hungry for another Westport Library’s Trefz Newsmakers Series conversation?

The series — featuring Emmy-winning CBS News justice and security correspondent (and 1988 Staples High School graduate) Jeff Pegues — continues next month, with acclaimed chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson. It’s set for the Trefz Forum on December 2 (7 p.m.).

Samuelsson is the chef behind restaurants worldwide, including Red Rooster Harlem, Red Rooster Shoreditch and Marcus B&P. He was the youngest person to ever receive a 3-star review from The New York Times, and has won multiple James Beard Foundation Awards.

A noted philanthropist, Samuelsson co-produces the annual week-long festival Harlem EatUp!. He also co-chairs the Careers through Culinary Arts program.

The Trefz Newsmakers Series is free. To register for a seat, click here.

Marcus Samuelsson

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“The Band’s Visit” continues its national tour at the Bushnell in Hartford this week.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Staples High School 2013 graduate Clay Singer. The former Players star plays Itzik — unemployed, raising an infant with a frustrated wife — with “aching honesty.”

The Tony Award-winning show runs November 16-21. Click here for more information, and tickets.

Clay Singer in “The Band’s Visit.”

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Westporter Jacquelin Mullin died peacefully after a brief illness last week, with her sons at her side.

She spent her childhood in Bronxville, New York. After graduating from Pace Business School Jacquie married her high school beau, Gerard Mullin, in 1946, They lived in Florida and Illinois and New Canaan. Their growing family moved to Westport in 1954.

Jacquie raised their 3 sons while Gerry worked in NYC.  She volunteered in Westport schools. Her active boys kept her busy transporting them to sports events, dealing with a menagerie of wild “pets,” and worrying about motorcycle mishaps.

Divorced in 1973, Jacquie remained in her Westport home and entered the workplace as an administrative assistant, working her way through a number of marketing positions until she retired from GTE.

She also volunteered with the Westport Historical Society, Westport Woman’s Club and Nature Center (now Earthplace), among others.

She was a devoted gardener. In later years she surrounded herself with flowering plants on her deck, where she spent many hours.

She traveled extensively with friends and family members. Proud of her Irish heritage, visiting “the auld sod” was an important journey. She was inseparable from her beloved cars, driving solo south each winter to visit friends and family.

She also enjoyed Compo Beach, watching the ever-changing seasons of children, dogs and beach walkers.

With her sons grown, her best times centered on sharing a meal or driving adventures with old friends from work, and new friends from all walks of life. Her family thanks everyone who enriched her life with their companionship and wit, and to the aides that made her later-life lunches possible.

Family was the center of Jacquie’s existence. She hosted holiday dinners until the younger generation took over, and kept track of everyone’s birthdays.  She was pre-deceased by her former husband (1997), her middle son Randall James Mullin (2017), and daughter-in-law Audrey (Albright) Mullin (2005).

She is survived by her brother, John Sheedy Jr. of New York City and Red Rock, New York; sisters Marie Ponce of Charlotte and Marguerite Adams of  Garrison, New York; sons Jeffrey (Joan Hall) of Bourne, Massachusetts and Scott of Ridgefield; daughter-in-law Jackie Mullin of Neptune Beach, Florida; grandchildren Amy and Brian Mullin; great-grandchild Ethan Mullin, plus nieces, nephews, and their children:

A private graveside service will be held at Assumption Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society; Wakeman Town Farm, or Earthplace. Her family adds: “Plant perennial flowers in your garden in her memory!”

Jacqui Mullin

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Deer are a popular “Westport … Naturally” subject.

But we haven’t seen too many bucks. Here’s a great shot, from Baron’s South:

(Photo/Tammy Barry)

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And finally … happy 121st birthday to America’s great composer/conductor, Aaron Copland!

Roundup: Fleet Feet Food Drive, Paul Lane Field, Nail Cutting …

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Today’s the day for Fleet Feet’s food drive.

Now through 6 p.m., the Sconset Square store is collecting non-perishable food items for Connecticut Foodshare.

You can give cash or online too (click here). There’s a free gift from Brooks for donations over $100 — and you’re entered into a raffle to win a Brooks running shoe.

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There was a lot of action at the Staples stadium last night.

The football team honored its seniors. Then the Wreckers beat Ridgefield 26-10, keeping their postseason tournament hopes alive.

They also dedicated “Paul Lane Field.” The legendary coach died in June, at 93.

On hand were many former players, and family members. Among them: Skip Lane. The star — who was coached by his father — sported his Super Bowl ring, earned as a member of what was then called the Washington Redskins.

Skip Lane, with his Super Bowl ring. (Photo/Baxter Urist)

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IHOP closed in 2011. Three years later, it reopened — as a nail salon.

Now it too is gone.

Judging from Matt Murray’s photo, it needs a trim.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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One more “Oaktober” event (slightly delayed from November).

On Thursday, the Westport Garden Club planted a swamp white oak at Grace Salmon Park. Club members will mulch and water it for the first 2 important years after transplant.

It’s a fitting spot. Grace Salmon was an early member of the club.

A hat tip to Frank Geiger of Greenscape Design in Fairfield. He provided the tree at a reasonable price. His staff then carefully planted it close to the water.

Planting the tree, at Grace Salmon Park

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The Westport Astronomical Society’s 2022 calendar is available now.

Amateur astro-photographers — led by president Shannon Calvert — took the photos. There’s daily astronomical data too, courtesy of Phil Harrington.

The cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Shipping is $5 for 1 or 2 calendars, $10 for 3 to 5. It can also be picked up at WAS events, To order, email alex@was-ct.org,

Westport Astronomical Society calendar

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Longtime Westporter and noted hair stylist Frank Migliarese died unexpectedly last week. He was 88 years old.

Following graduation from Staples High School, Frank served his nation in the Army.

Returning to his beloved Westport, he enrolled in the Sassoon Academy and began a career in cosmetology. With his haircutting skills and charming personality, he won the hearts of many.

He owned Salon Coiffeur in down Westport, where he made his mark in the world of beauty. He loved his customers, and worked well into his 80s.

When he was not at his salon, Frank enjoyed Compo Beach, a special place all his life.

Frank’s obituary calls him “family-oriented, warm, personable, well-dressed, understanding, with a great sense of humor.”

A funeral is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, November 17 at Assumption Church. Interment will be private. The family will receive friends in the Harding Funeral Home on Tuesday, November 16, from 4 to 8 p.m. Click here to leave online condolences.

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Many Westporters support Adam J. Lewis Academy, the innovative Bridgeport elementary school that for nearly a decade has changed many lives.

On November 18, they’ll unveil a “Hope Quilt.” Artist Lizzy Rockwell led a community production with over 200 volunteers. The quilt will hang proudly in the school.

For more information on Adam J. Lewis Academy, click here.

The Adam J. Lewis Academy quilt.

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Congratulations to Staples’ November Students of the Month!

Alonzo Darby, Nina Driscoll, Max Levy, Christina Meehan, Maria-Despina Mutescu, Michael Porzio, Tyler Rockwell  and Chanel Wash “help make Staples a welcoming place for peers and teachers alike. They are the ‘glue’ of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students that keep the high school together, making it the special place that it is.”

Teachers nominate students who are friendly to staff and fellow students, and make positive contributions in class as well as the Staples community.

From left: Max Levy, Alonzo Darby, Nina Driscoll, Tyler Rockwell, Maria-Despina, Mutescu, Christina Meehan, Michael Porzio. Missing: Chanel Wash. 

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Town Hall attracts all kinds of visitors.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows one recent arrival. My guess for the destination? The Conservation Department.

(Photo/Danielle Dobin)

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How do you know that Thanksgiving is near?

Here are some turkey orders, at Stiles Market:

(Photo/Richard Jaffe)

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And finally ,,, today is World Kindness Day.

Who gives a f—?