Category Archives: Obituaries

Roundup: Suzuki Music, Suicide Prevention, Camp Gallery …

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Suzuki Music Schools is a scary place.

Well, at least the parking lot at 246 Post Road East will be, this Sunday, October 24.

Kids are invited to dress up in Halloween costumes, for the annual Spooky Suzuki Concert & Carnival. The 3 p.m. concert is followed by refreshments, activities and games. Game tickets must be purchased in advance. Click here for more information.

Participants can also donate to the “Color a Positive Thought” fundraiser, for underserved Bridgeport neighborhoods.

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Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-to-24-year-olds, and the second leading cause of death among college students. Earlier this year Kevin Kuczo, 17, of Fairfield lost his battle with depression. Before playing sports at Fairfield Warde High School, he was a proud member of the Fairfield County Football League’s Wildcats. Westport PAL is a member of the FCFL.

The league wants all youngsters to know that they are not alone during their darkest times — and to instill the importance for athletes to give back.

They’re collecting funds now for suicide prevention research and educational programs. They hope to ease the stigma surrounding suicide and its causes, and encourage those suffering from mental illness to seek treatment.

Donations — made out to FCFL — can be sent to 25 Thistle Road Norwalk, CT 06851. For more information, call Carmen Roda of Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department: 203-640-8085.

Kevin Kuczko

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The Camp Gallery hosts a special night this Friday (October 22, 6 to 8 p.m., 190 Main Street). The featured artist is German-born Dominik Schmitt; there’s live music too with Chris Coogan and Linda Couturas.

Artwork by Dominik Schmitt

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Debby Ury died Sunday at Norwalk Hospital, after a brief illness. She was 68 years old.

She grew up in Danvers, Massachusetts. Debby graduated in 1974 from Simmons College in Boston with a B.S. degree in nursing, then Boston University with a Master’s Degree in education.

She and her husband Frederic Ury moved to Westport in 1977. She began working at Danbury Hospital. She had a long career in the medical field, and ended her career teaching various medical courses at Norwalk Community College.

Debby was an avid fan of any sports team from Boston, and enjoyed watching her beloved Boston Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots play every year, whether they won or lost. She loved the Adirondack Mountains, and spent much of the last 35 years at the family’s log home in Lake Luzerne, NY.

Debby is survived by her husband Frederic S. Ury; children Jennifer (Jeff) Gornbein and Robert Ury; grandchildren Jacob and Benjamin Gornbein; brothers Bryce Conner and Justin St. James; sister-in-law Linda Ury Greenberg and her husband Ned Greenberg, and their children Captain Michael Greenberg and Amanda Pinkston.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, October 23 (Saugatuck Congregational Church, 10 a.m.). There will be an opportunity to greet the family prior to the service. at 9:15 a.m. Burial at Willowbrook Cemetery will immediately follow the service. Click here to leave online condolences.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Debby H. Ury Scholarship Fund, c/o Lake Luzerne Music Camp. 203 Lake Tour Rd., Lake Luzerne, NY 12846.

Debby Ury

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Hazel Saviano of Westport died peacefully last Thursday, surrounded by loved ones, at the Roseville Road home she was born in. She was 94 years old.

Hazel was the daughter of Martha Mills and George Lewis Sr. The family’s roots in Westport stretched back to the mid-1800’s. Hazel remembered trolley cars traversing Westport streets.

She was a school bus driver in Westport for over 35 years. When she retired in 2003 at the age of 76, she had safely delivered thousands of Westport children to and from school.

Her family says, “Her heart was big and her smile was infectious. All who knew her loved and adored her.”

Hazel was predeceased by her husband, retired Westport Police lieutenant John J. Saviano Jr.; sons John J. Saviano III and Lawrence Saviano, and siblings Edna Call, Vera Lewis and George Lewis, Jr.

She is survived by her daughters Marie Richards (Robert), Melinda Bonin (Glen), Cheryl Petrone (Tom); daughter-in-law, Debra Saviano; grandchildren Robert L. Richards Jr. (Dawn), Melissa Bailey (Ethan) and Michelle Saviano; great-grandchildren Dylan and Violet Bailey, and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.  In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Hazel’s name to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Hazel Saviano

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“Westport … Naturally” often features creatures like praying mantises and deer. Today we go to the dogs.

(Photo/JC Martin)

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And finally … today in 1803, the US Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.

 

Remembering Claire Ford

Claire Moran Ford — a longtime Westporter and civic volunteer, whose beautification efforts enhance our town decades later — died July 28, at 89. She was surrounded by her loving family and parish priest.

The Long Island native thoroughly enjoyed Cornell University, where she received a BS in home economics and met Clark George Ford. They wed in 1954 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and lived in New York City and Germany, while Clark served in the U.S. Army. The couple settled in Westport in 1959, where they raised 3 children. Claire lived in their home on Timber Lane until 2015, and sold their home earlier this year.

She lived a full life enriched by family, social, professional, educational, religious, and volunteer experiences. She was an avid reader and gardener, and enjoyed cooking meals and hosting parties for family and friends. Claire was also an exceptional listener, problem solver and friend.

Claire’s early career was in marketing, starting with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, then with Young & Rubicam in Manhattan. She later worked for the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, after which she was a realtor in Westport with William Raveis and Coldwell Banker.

Claire Ford

Claire’s numerous volunteer activities included first chair of the Westport Beautification Committee. Established by First Selectman John Kemish in 1968, in partnership with the Planning & Zoning Commission, under Claire’s leadership the committee purchased small parcels of land, transforming them (and existing town land) into beautiful parks.

Working with the town and Westport Woman’s Club, the Beautification Committee contributed to the success of the Greening of the Post Road initiative, responsible for the thoughtful planting and care of trees and shrubs along the heavily traveled route.

Nearly 50 years later, some of the first trees planted still add to the beauty of Claire’s favorite town. After stepping down as chair, Claire continued serving on the Beautification Committee for decades.

She also chaired the flower committee, taught religious education and managed audio/visual equipment usage at St. Luke Parish, where she was a parishioner from 1959 until her death.

Claire served on the Westport Republican Town Committee and was a member of the Westport Woman’s Club, Westport Young Woman’s League, League of Women Voters of Westport and Republican Women of Westport. She volunteered at STAR, supporting individuals with special needs. She also volunteered at the Connecticut Unemployment Office, bringing both assistance and compassion to those going through a hard time.

Claire served as a justice of the peace, and enjoyed providing joy by performing weddings. She was an active supporter of her children’s interest in scouting, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, serving as a Cub Scout den mother and a Girl Scout troop leader, while also serving on the Board of the Southwestern Connecticut Girl Scouts Council.

Claire’s social activities included the “Beach Bunch” (friends who celebrated and thoroughly enjoyed Compo Beach together for nearly 60 years); Westport Country Playhouse, Westport Community Theater, Westport Community Gardens (founding member), the Gourmet Club, Food & Friends, County Capers and Cotillion dance clubs, multiple book groups, Cornell Club of Fairfield County (president for 10 years), Cornell Class of ‘53 (reunion chair for many reunions, and Columbine Investment Club.

Claire was always curious and adventuresome. She said she lived vicariously through her children, encouraging and supporting them in pursuing their interests. However, generations of family and friends continue to be inspired by her involvement in the world around her.

Claire’s most recent return to the classroom was at Norwalk Community College where in her mid-80’s she took several courses, fueling her passion for learning about history and the ever-changing world.

In her teens during the 1940’s she loved to pilot airplanes. In her 20s she took racing lessons using her beloved 1953 Jaguar XK-120. Claire and Clark had a lifelong love of travel, and took their family on trips within the US, and across Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean.

During her nearly 53 years of marriage to Clark, Claire exemplified the perfect partner. She was loving, collaborative, supportive, insightful, objective and independent, inspiring her children and grandchildren (among others) to live happy, healthy and balanced lives.

In recent years Claire lived at Maplewood at Strawberry Hill and, when it opened, Maplewood at Southport, where she socialized with her many new friends. She served on the Residents Committee, participated in the book club, attended movie screenings and outings with family and residents, and hosted numerous family gatherings, much as she had done throughout her life.

Claire is survived by her children, Jeff, Suzie and Chris; grandchildren Blair, Jaime, Max and Chloe, along with nieces and cousins. Her brother, Lawrence Joseph Moran, passed away 22 days after she did. Her husband Clark died in 2007.

A funeral mass will be celebrated at St. Luke Church on Saturday, November 6 (10:30 a.m.). It will be live streamed at https://www.saintlukewestport.org. A celebration of life luncheon will follow immediately.

Letters of condolence can be sent to Claire Ford Family, 606 Post Road East, Suite 3, #507, Westport, CT 06880 or clairefordfamily@gmail.com.

In lieu of flowers, donations “in memory of Claire Moran Ford” can be made to the Cornell Annual Fund online at www.giving.cornell.edu. There is a section online to specify “Cornell Fund” and another to specify “in memory of” information. Checks can be mailed to: Cornell University, Box 37334, Boone, IA 50037-0334.

Remembering Jackie Heneage

Jacqueline Heneage — Westport’s 1st female 1st selectman — died October 3. She was 96 years old.

A former president of the League of Women Voters, her election over incumbent John Kemish in 1973 marked the first time a Democrat had won the top spot since 1948. She was 3 more times, serving until 1981.

Jackie Heneage, 1979

As noted in Woody Klein’s history of Westport, she hired a grantswoman who obtained nearly $2 million. It was used to convert Bedford Elementary School into Town Hall, and for open space acquisition, a youth center (now the Gillespie Center), elderly housing, the Police Department and beautification projects.

Heneage extended long-term projects like flood control, and sewers and road improvements. She believed the town had enough commercial zoning, and pushed for reduced building sites, increased setbacks and the elimination of Design Development Districts.

Westport’s school population declined sharply during her tenure. In addition to the Bedford Elementary School conversion,  Hillspoint Elementary School became a childcare center; Greens Farms Elementary became the Westport Arts Center, and Saugatuck Elementary on Bridge Street became elderly housing.

Heneage also oversaw the construction of the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector, extension of sewers on Post Road East and in many residential areas, and the move of fire station headquarters from Church Lane to its current Post Road location.

Jackie Heneage in 2002 with Ted Diamond. He served as her 2nd selectman.

She entered into long negotiations with Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff, who owned 32 acres of land on the Post Road East/Compo Road North corner. In 1979 the RTM voted to appropriate $3,48 million for the purchase, but postponed giving her condemnation authority if the baron refused to sell. After her administration, the land became Winslow Park.

Heneage also oversaw Westport’s participation in the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976. Over that July 4th weekend, Main Street between the Post Road and Elm Street turned from 2-way traffic to a 1-way street.

But Jackie Heneage was more than a groundbreaking first selectwoman. Her daughter Audrey sends along this remembrance.

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Our mother, Jackie Heneage was a dynamo. During our childhood she worked part-time, volunteered in many civic organizations, played tennis and still found time to put a hot meal on the table every night (despite not being a domestic
goddess)!

Saturday mornings we woke up to Broadway tunes or classical music blasting in the living room and our list of chores. It was always: clean your room and another space, plus mow one side of the lawn in summer. But after that we were
free to do whatever with whoever until dinner.

Summertimes we were shipped off to Beach School or Longshore every day for swim lessons and general tanning. This regimentation may have felt onerous to us, but it allowed my mom to continue being herself and not drown in family life.

There was no guilt on her part and no lasting damage to us kids. In fact, the structure was just what we needed.

Winter vacations meant a visit to our grandparents in Hanover, New Hampshire where she taught us all how to ski on her old equipment on the golf course behind her house, which had a rope tow in winter. She threw us into all the activities she had loved as a child. We were always outside riding bikes, skating, swatting at tennis balls. While only one of us became an athlete (Cynthia). the exposure was not a waste. She supported Cynthia in every sport she wanted to try — swimming, figure skating, skiing, gymnastics. She became proficient at all of them, although Mom finally told her she had to focus on one because she didn’t have time to drive her to the various practices.

Our mother planned fantastic trips and outings for our family. After Cynthia brought home several books on the national parks, she planned a 1-month trip out west. In summer 1966 we visited 7 different national parks and Mexico.

Jackie Heneage (seated) with her daughters.

The ’60s were the time of her increasing involvement in the Westport League of Women Voters, eventually becoming its president. The League’s study of town government prepared her for her first political campaign for a seat on the Zoning
Board of Appeals, and her later successful campaign for First Selectman.

As first selectman she was busy at work all day, and at town meetings every night. She took speechwriting very seriously and labored over each one, reading them aloud for our feedback.

On weekends, the police chief called her to report various disturbances around the town, many which her youngest daughter had attended (but never as a troublemaker)!

Her 8 years in office coincided with her parents needing increasing care in New Hampshire. Every holiday she and our father Peter traveled to give the caregivers their time off, never taking the holiday for themselves.

Jackie Heneage, reading the Westport News.

She retired from First Selectman in 1981 and went on to further corporate and government jobs. In 1983 she became a grandmother and doted on her grandchildren.

After her retirement in 1992 she and Peter delighted in taking them on excursions and extended trips, in between their own travels. She continued to play her favorite sport, tennis, until she was 80 years old. She was eventually blessed with 5 great-grandchildren she loved to see.

Peter and Jackie moved to Sedona, Arizona in 2018. Always active, Jackie made a friend who took her to meetings of the Sedona League of Women Voters and out to lunch. Jackie maintained her sense of humor and upbeat attitude to the end, becoming a favorite at Sedona Winds Assisted Living. But when she reached the age of 96, the age of Peter at his death, she decided it was time to check up on him, and off she went. We will miss her dearly

Roundup: De Tapas, Pink Floyd, Pumpkins …

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One of the earliest casualties of COVID was Chez 180.

The patisserie at 180 Post Road East had been open just a couple of weeks in March 2019. It earned rave reviews, but could not weather the sudden, total town shutdown.

Now — 19 months later — a new tenant is moving in. According to a sign on the door, it’s De Tapas: a “Spanish gastropub.” Details to follow soon.

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Adventure, music, sports and motorcycles — all star in the upcoming Remarkable Theater schedule.

Films at the Imperial Avenue drive-in include:

  • “Pirates of the Caribbean” (Saturday, October 16)
  • “The Last Waltz” (Monday, October 18)
  • “Slap Shot” (with Westport’s own Paul Newman: Tuesday, October 19)
  • “Easy Rider” (Wednesday, October 20)
  • “Pink Floyd: The Wall” (Saturday, October 23).

All shows begin at 6:30 p.m. Click here for tickets and more information.

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As the leaves turn, Earthplace welcomes families for fun events. They include:

Pumpkin carving and painting (Saturday, October 23, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — click here to register)

Halloween stories and family campfire (Sunday, October 31, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — click here to register)

Bicycle repairs (while you wait: Friday, November 5, 12 to 3 p.m.).

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You should never drive while distracted.

Especially from tomorrow through October 31.

That when the Westport Police Department joins the state Department of Transportation’s “distracted driving enforcement campaign.”

They note that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph — the average speed on the Post Road, sometimes, ahem — that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

And did you know that driving while texting is 6 times more dangerous than intoxicated driving?

If you don’t care about that, consider this: Tickets for distracted driving are $200 for the first offense, $375 for the second, and $625 for all subsequent violations. 

Considering the consequences, that’s low.

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Bob Cooper reports vandalism at the Riverwalk downtown. He noticed a bench that was missing, except for one leg. The other leg, as well as its engraved seat, were in the water.

Fortunately, he says, the bench look reparable. It’s made from 3 piece, and each appears intact.

He also spotted engraved bricks that had been thrown into the brush:

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Yesterday’s Roundup note about the upcoming webinar on the impact of family violence on children (October 18, 7 p.m.) was missing a linkClick here to register.

The event is sponsored by the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force, Westport Human Services Department and Westport Library

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What’s better than shopping and cocktails?

How about shopping, cocktails and supporting breast cancer research?

Savvy + Grace’s fundraiser offers all that. The date is Thursday, October 28; the time is 5 to 7 p.m. (146 Main Street). Funds raised for the Cancer Couch Foundation will be matched 100%.

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Congratulations, Avi Kaner!

The former 2nd selectman and Board of Finance chair has been named to the Algemeiner’s list of “Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life 2021.”

His writeup calls the co-owner of the Morton Williams supermarket chain a “social media activist on behalf of Israel. When ice cream manufacturers Ben & Jerry’s announced in July that its products would no longer be sold to Jewish communities in the West Bank, Kaner went on the counteroffensive, securing agreement from the Morton Williams Board to reduce the Ben & Jerry’s products it sells in its 16 stores in New York and New Jersey by 70 percent.”

Avi Kaner

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Congratulations too to Lucy Dockter.

A Staples High School Inklings editor, and editor of the literary journal Soundings, was quoted at length in a Guardian story about the school surveillance tool Gaggle. The reporter found her through an Inklings editorial she wrote last year. Click here for the eye-opening Guardian article.

Talk about surveillance!

Lucy Dockter

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The outdoor fall fun celebration (with ’70s singalong) at the Unitarian Church in Westport, scheduled for this Saturday, has been moved to Sunday (October 17, 12 to 3 p.m.) due to predicted rain.

The event includes a musical mural, cake carousel, rock painting and bobbing for apples. For COVID safety, bring your own food.

Westport’s Unitarian Church

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The VFW is collecting new hats, scarves, mittens, gloves and socks, for men women and children.

There will be a drop-off box in the lobby (or patio, if closed) at their building (465 Riverside Avenue), from October 23 through November 20. They ask for only those items listed above.

VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399.

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Westporter Jim O’Donoghue died Sunday. He was 83 years old.

The Dublin native captained the rugby team at University College Cork. He earned a bachelor’ degree in electrical engineering there, and also met his wife Margaret.

Working for Quigley steel refractories, Jim travelled extensively, and brought his 3 daughters mementos from all over the world. The company was bought by Pfizer, and the family moved to Westport in 1984.

Jim ran regularly, golfed and rowed. He loved fishing, especially on Waterville Lake. He was a historian, a great conversationalist and a gripping storyteller. Dinner was punctuated with discussions on politics, as well as anecdotes about travel.

Jim wrote several books, including children’s stories, and read avidly. He was a fan of Russian classics and spy novels.

Jim is survived by Margaret, his wife of 58 years; daughters Elina (Dan), Sharon (Jack) and Lisa (Ilair); brother Neil; sister Anne, and grandchildren Ryan, Ciara, Maija and Sophie.

A viewing and farewell is set for Harding Funeral Home in Westport this Sunday (October 17, 3 to 6 pm). Mass will be held at St Luke Church also in Westport on October 18 (11 a.m.) The service will be live streamed (click here).

Jim O’Donoghue

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Fall is all about colorful leaves. But today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo takes us to Bonnie Brook Road, and a different kind of scene.

(Photo/Liz Blasko)

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And finally … Paddy Moloney died Monday in Dublin, at 83.

The New York Times called him “the playful but disciplined frontman and bagpiper of the Chieftains, a band that was at the forefront of the worldwide revival of traditional Irish music played with traditional instruments.”

They won 6 Grammys, and collaborated with everyone from Van Morrison, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney to Luciano Pavarotti. Click here for the full obituary.

Roundup: Selectmen, Mark Twain, Winslow Park …

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Missed yesterday’s debate between the candidates for first and second selectmen?

No problem!

The event — sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library — is now online. Click below to view.

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Domestic violence is real, and part of Westport life.

Next Monday (October 18, 7 p.m.), the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force, Westport Human Services Department and Westport Library will present an important webinar.

“When Stop Doesn’t Work: What is the Impact on our Children?” features Ann Rodwell-Lawton, associate director of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center. She and Liz Modugno — an alcohol and addiction counselor at Westport’s Aspire Counseling — will discuss the generational impact of trauma and family violence on children. Click here to register.

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Westport native Bruce Michelson is now an English professor — and noted Mark Twain scholar — at the University of Illinois. He credits Burr Farms Elementary School 6th grade teacher June Jack with getting him interested in the famed author.

John Kelley — who sent along this interview with Michelson from the Mark Twain Circle of America newsletter — recalls a field trip to Twain’s Hartford home with that class. Michelson mentions the visit in the piece.

It took place more than 60 years ago. Who knows what youngster today will follow a career in the 2080s that started — perhaps today — in one of our elementary schools?

Bruce Michelson

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Frank Sisson writes:

At Winslow Park. another dog owner told me he had seen a dead dog on the road just outside a North Compo entrance — one of several openings in the stone wall along the road. Why are those openings not gated to prevent such a tragedy? Dogs will be dogs, and one unauthorized squirrel chase in the wrong direction could spell disaster.

If the town can’t swing it, maybe a group of regular Winslow Park dog owners could get together with a plan to chip in and make this happen.

There are gates — though open on this part of the Winslow Park stone wall. (Nell Waters Bernegger)

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Longtime Westporter June Fernie died recently. She was 94 years old.

A child of the Depression and World War II, she was the eldest daughter in a family of 7 children. She left her home in Guelph, Ontario, Canada at 17 for Toronto, where she worked as secretary at an advertising agency. Her life changed when John Fernie, a recently discharged RAF pilot and artist from Scotland, walked through the door looking for a job.

After a quick courtship they married and emigrated to the US in 1947, making their first home in a cold-water flat in Brooklyn.

A talented illustrator, John found work quickly at a prestigious Madison Avenue ad agency. Working together, the newlyweds earned success.

In 1950 they moved into their first real home in Westport. Their children Bruce, heather and Mitchell were born and raised there.

June and John enjoyed all that New York, Westport and London had to offer in the swinging ‘60s, socializing with creatives from the art and literary worlds as well as entertainers from movies and music.

June organized family skiing in Vermont every winter, and annual summer holidays in England and Europe. Supportive of John’s love of fast automobiles, she was an enthusiastic pit crew during frequent weekends at the racetrack.

In 1970 June and John moved their family to Vermont, before finally settling
in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1980.

June was a talented administrator who, in addition to managing her husband’s art business, worked for many years as an administrative assistant in Maine. Her years as a volunteer at the Kennebunkport Historical Society brought her a great deal of pleasure.

June is survived by her children Bruce (Katherine Walsh) of West Tisbury, Massachusetts and Heather Fernie McInnis (Craig) McInnis of Kennebunkport; daughter-in-law Barbara Borchardt of Cumberland, Maine; foster daughter Jill Deveraux of Oro Valley, Arizona; grandchildren
Alexander, Dana, Bowen, Avery, Mitchell and Trevor, and great-grandchildren Mae Fernie, Helena and Ollie.

June Fernie

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The Westport Library Book Sale earlier this month exceeded already high expectations. That’s due in part to over 200 volunteer who assisted with setup, the event itself and cleanup. Other volunteers work year long processing books, and helping at the Westport Book Shop.

Organizes give a special shoutout to organizations that supported the effort, including the Westport Young Woman’s League, Neighbors and Newcomers of Westport, Abilis, Westport Public Library staff, Staples Service League of Boys, Westport National Charity League, Builders Beyond Borders, and Staples High School National Honor Society.

All proceeds of the sale support the Westport Library, and the employment of adults with disabilities.

Staples Service League of Boys (SLOBs) at the Westport Library book sale.

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Three attorneys at Westport’s FLB Law — Stephen Fogerty, Eric Bernheim and Joshua Auxier — have been named to the 2021 Connecticut Super Lawyers list. Brian Tims has been named to the publication’s Rising Stars roster.

Super Lawyers lists are generated by peer ratings.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo pays homage to our beloved fall ritual: Dogs are allowed back on Compo Beach.

This guy acts like he owns the place, all year long.

(Photo/Collette Winn)

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And finally … happy 63rd birthday to Marie Osmond!

 

 

Roundup: Coming Out Day, Family Fun Day …

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Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day.

If you’re LGBTQ (the “Q” stands for either queer or questioning) — or you know someone who is — you can celebrate by watching “When Did You Know?”

That was last week’s webinar, sponsored by Westport Pride. Panelists — including former Staples High School principal John Dodig, former Staples High School tennis captain Luke Foreman, Staples Players alum Samantha Webstier, Weston High media influencer Zac Mathias, Staples teacher Kayla Iannetta, Westport moms Julie DeLoyd and Bethany Eppner, and Westport dad Brian McGunagle discuss their growing-up experiences, and life today.

It’s wide-ranging, informative and very, very human. Click here for the link. The passcode is “Westport06880!” (without the quotation marks).

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You don’t have to be a Unitarian — or even religious — to enjoy next Saturday’s Fall Family Fun event. All (even singles) are welcome at (October 16, 2 to 5 p.m., Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road).

Entirely outdoors, it includes a “Best of the ’70s” singalong with the lead singer of DizzyFish, a musical mural, cake carousel, rock painting and bobbing for apples. For COVID safety, bring your own food.

The Westport Unitarian Church welcomes everyone.

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Lifelong Westporter Samuel DeMeo has died. He was 94.

A US Army World War II veteran, he was a member of Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399. He was an avid hunter, fisherman and gardener, and loved spending time at Compo Beach in Westport. He also played the accordion in a band.

He is survived by daughters Suzy DeMeo, Karen Sternberg and Lynn Smith, 6 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren. He was pre deceased by his sisters Ellen Barker, Lynn DeMeo and Palma DeMeo. Services were private.

Samuel DeMeo

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Claudia Sherwood Servidio has been a Westporter for only a few days. But she’s already contributed a striking “Pic of the Day.”

Now she’s nailed a “Westport … Naturally” feature too. Claudia has a wonderful newcomer’s eye for local beauty — and Saugatuck River scenes that never get old.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

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And finally … today is the 104th anniversary of the birth of Thelonious Monk. The jazz pianist/composer died in 1982, age 64. But he lives on, in recordings like these.

Remembering Joel Smilow

Longtime Westport resident Joel Smilow — known initially as CEO of Playtex, then for his generous philanthropic efforts on behalf of Yale University, cancer patients and other healthcare institutions — died last Sunday at Yale-New Haven Hospital. He was 88 years old.

He grew up in Washington, Virginia and Maryland. After graduating from Bethesda’s Woodrow Wilson High School, he became a proud and active member of Yale’s Class of 1954. For the rest of his life, he was an active participant in almost anything Yale. In 1993, Smilow was awarded the Yale Medal for outstanding service.

At graduation, he was commissioned as an ensign in the US Navy, and served on destroyers based in Norfolk. He held the rank of Lieutenant JG at the time of his discharge.

Smilow then attended Harvard Business School, and graduated as a Baker Scholar in 1958.

Joel Smilow

His business career started at Procter and Gamble as an assistant brand manager. In 1965 he moved to Glendinning Associates, a small marketing consulting company in Westport.

In 1970 he was recruited to become CEO of International Playtex. He successfully guided the company until retirement in 1995.

Smilow’s interest in philanthropy had already begun, but it soon became a major focus. He was involved with many diverse institutions. His generosity helped countless numbers of people, in large and small ways.

He was a member of the Blind Brook Club, Birchwood Country Club, and the Reserve and Eldorado Country Clubs in California. In his younger days, he enjoyed playing tennis and golf, and continued to enjoy poker and bridge. Above all he was a huge football fan (the Yale Bulldogs were his favorites).

He belonged to the Young President’s Organization and Chief Executives Organization, and enjoyed the many friendships former there. He was also a longtime friend and partner of Chef Daniel Boulud.

He is survived by Joan, his wife of 67 years; children Rick (Debi), Bill (Kathy) and Susan; grandchildren Charlotte, Anna, Griffin and Lexi, brother Michael, and many nieces and nephews.

A private service was held. Donations in his name can be made to
Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven Health, Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital, Smilow Intensive Care Unit at Norwalk Hospital, or Smilow Heart Center at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California,

Roundup: COVID, Sheryl Crow, Unsung Science …

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1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

“The rise in case levels in Westport for the past 1 weeks placed the town into the ‘substantial transmission’ (‘red’) category this week. Westport Weston Health District (WWHD) Director of Health Mark Cooper stated, ‘High risk individuals should take extra precautions, particularly those who are unvaccinated, by avoiding large gatherings. Getting fully vaccinated, wearing masks and social distancing continue to be strongly recommended for all.’

“The First Selectman’s Executive Orders #9 and #10 remain in effect. They require masks in indoor public places within Westport for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Indoor public spaces include retail establishments, restaurants, or other businesses, as well as galleries, museums, performance spaces, places of worship and government buildings. Businesses may still require proof of vaccination to enter, but a mask will also be required. Executive Order #10, which modifies Executive Order #9, refers specifically to gyms and workout studios, and provides certain exceptions to mask-wearing in those public places only.

“I am grateful that Westporters recognize the importance of wearing masks and getting vaccinated. It is for our physical and mental health and safety that we remain vigilant.

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If you know Dan Aron, you know how proud he is to be an Indiana University grad.

If you don’t know Dan Aron, you know his house. It’s the one on Soundview Drive with the huge IU flag.

On October 14 — during Homecoming — he’ll be one of 3 recipients of Indiana’s Distinguished Alumni Service award. It’s the highest honor the school gives to a graduate.

Dan earned a BS from IU’s Kelley School of Business in 1983. He was an equity sales trader, partner and head trader for 30 years with Salomon Brothers, John Levin & Co. and others. Along the way he mentored Kelley students, and served on many school advisory boards.

Dan and his wife Maureen raised daughters Alexa, Ashley and Anna in Westport. The couple underwrote the Investment Center in Hodge Hall, and the Kelley Diversity Merit Bicentennial Scholarship.

“I will never forget where I came from. I will always be a Hoosier,” Dan says. (Hat tip: JD Denny)

Dan Aron

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Speaking of Dan Aron: Among his philanthropic activities, he’s a big supporter of the Levitt Pavilion.

He was there there — near the stage — at last night’s great Sheryl Crow concert. Here’s his photo:

(Photo/Dan Aron)

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David Pogue has a new project.

Well, the Westport tech guru/media personality always does. But this is especially intriguing.

“Unsung Science” (@UnsungSci) debuts Friday. Each weekly episode offers the origin story of a cool science or tech achievement. They’re told by the characters themselves, from their first inspiration to the times they almost gave up.

Episodes include the NASA engineer whose team landed a delicate, unpiloted $3 billion rover on Mars without kicking up dust; the father of the cellphone; the committee that chooses which emoji to add to your phone each year; the computer scientist who blessed/cursed the world with CAPTCHA website login obstacles; the storm chaser who discovered that Tornado Alley is shifting east into more vulnerable states; the inventor of the Impossible Burger, and more.

Click here for more information.

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Stephen Gustafson loves dahlias. Others do too. He’s formed them into a close-knit Facebook group: the Westport Dahlia Society.

Now he — and anyone else who shares the dahlia passion — will meet at Wakeman Town Farm. The event is  October 18 (7 p.m.).

Gustafson will explain the overwintering process of tubers to save for next year. There’s a door prize of dahlia seeds.

Guests can bring their favorite flower cuttings. Novices looking to learn more about dahlias are welcome too. For more information, email westportdahliasociety@gmail.com.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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“06880” does not run wedding announcements.

But this photo — by frequent Pic of the Day contributor Lauri Weiser — was too good to pass up.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Her daughter, Sabrina Weiser-Min, married Matt Crorey last weekend at the Bryant Park Grill in New York City.

She has been friends with Micha Grand since Bedford Middle School. Micha and Matt were roommates in college. Then all 3 lived together in New York. He was the perfect choice to officiate.

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Frederick Louis Hyman, former president and CEO of The Cousteau Group and co-founder and president of The Cousteau Society, died October 7. He was 89.

After graduating from Staples High School in 1949, and then the University of Connecticut, he served as first lieutenant, combat command, in the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

Hyman’s career started with Associated Artists Productions, a distributor to television of feature films and short subjects, best known for the Popeye, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. After acquisition by United Artists Associated, he became executive vice president. He then co-owned Scope Advertising, a New York agency.

He also founded Americom, a Westport manufacturer and marketer of unique custom phonograph records that combined print and sound for the publishing and education markets. He innovated a 4-inch flexible single record, the PocketDisc, with its own player.

His experience with educational television and publishing led Jacques-Yves Cousteau to him. Hyman joined Cousteau in 1971 as president and CEO of The Cousteau Group, the operator of all Cousteau related companies in the US and in France; television production; publications based on expeditions; the 20-volume Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau; research activities aboard Calypso, and the development of new technology.

A gift by Hyman and Cousteau was the basis for their 1973 creation of The Cousteau Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and improvement of marine life and the environment. Hyman served as president and later a board member. However, he later lost confidence in the management and no longer supported TCS.

Hyman was a founding member of the Aspetuck Valley Country Club in Weston. He played in 3 British Seniors golf championships, plus many tournaments in Bermuda.

He is survived by Janett, his wife of 67 years; children Richard (Margaret), Mark, Dean and Jane, and grandchildren Emily, Brent, Sarah, Ben and Olivia.

Frederick Hyman

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June Rose Whittaker is aptly named. She sends along this “Westport … Naturally” submission from her home: “the last rose of summer.”

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … if you missed Sheryl Crow last night, this will make you happy:

 

 

Roundup: Staples #1, Tyler Hicks, Young Authors, MoCA Show …

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“06880” does not post most “ranking” stories (Best Beach Towns in America, etc.). The criteria are random, the headlines are often clickbait, and — particularly with education — if, say, our school district is #1 one year and #2 the next, Westporters demand to know “What happened?!”

So this story is not about Niche’s ranking of Staples as the #1 school in Connecticut — for the 3rd year in a row.

Instead, it’s about the Channel 8 news report about that honor. Click here to learn more, from (very proud) principal Stafford Thomas.

Screenshot of Staples principal Stafford Thomas, on Channel 8’s “What’s Right With our Schools” feature.

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As the US withdraws from Afghanistan, the New York Times looks back on Tyler Hicks’ 2 decades of chronicling life and death in that faraway land.

The 1988 Staples High School graduate/Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer arrived there soon after the October 7, 2001 invasion — 20 years ago today. One of the first sights he saw was the execution of a Taliban fighter.

His most recent assignment, in July, was near Bagram Air Base — the same spot he saw that harrowing first scene.

Click here for today’s Times retrospective of Hicks’ haunting photos. (Hat tip: Gil Ghitelman)

In 2001, Northern Alliance fighters dragged a wounded Taliban fighter out of a ditch. They shot him dead. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for New York Times)

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When COVID put the kibosh on after-school activities, Jordan Razza created her own.

She arranged classes for her daughters Daisy and Ainsley, and 2 other Westport youngsters, with children’s book author Jacky LaMenzo.

She lives in Massachusetts, but no matter. This was COVID; classes were held via Zoom, on Tuesday evenings.

This was more than just “how-to.” LaMenzo emphasized “do it!”

Brainstorming ideas was key. Daisy — now a 7th grader at Coleytown Middle School — wanted to write about LGBTQ people.

Ainsley — a Coleytown Elementary 5th grader — loves alligators, crocodiles and frogs. She focused on an alligator who makes friends.

Both girls honed in on the theme of acceptance. Now, both are now published authors.

Daisy’s book is “My Colors.” It’s illustrated with her own digital art.

Ainsley wrote “Outcast.” Her drawings are freehand.

The books are available on Amazon. Part of the proceeds go to a literary charity.

The girls are interested in many things. Daisy does gymnastics, the school play and swimming. She’s also in CMS’ Pride Club. Ainsley enjoys synchronized swimming and art. Both continue to write.

The Razzas may not be Westport’s newest authors. But they definitely are our youngest!

(Click here for more information on Daisy’s book. Click here for Ainsley’s.)

The Razza sisters’ books.

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“When Caged Birds Sing” — a teaching exhibition created by Westport artist Ann Weiner — opens to the public on October 29. An opening reception is October 28 (6 to 8 p.m.).

The exhibit features 8 life-size sculptures representing women’s rights activists who suffered and survived abuse because of their gender, yet continue to advocate for the rights of others at risk.

Weiner’s work shines a spotlight on sex trafficking, kidnapping, transphobia, female genital mutilation, honor killings, domestic abuse, the conversion of kidnapped girls into sex slaves and killers by rebel armies, merciless Taliban law and transphobia.

Visitors are invited to write stories, experiences or feelings on pieces of paper that will then be folded into the origami shape of a bird and placed in a bird cage, for release later. A 45-minute documentary about the women featured in the exhibition will also be shown.

For more information, click here.

Part of MoCA’s “Caged Bird” exhibition.

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The Tailored Home is known for its custom furniture, window treatments, accessories, reupholstery, refinishing and design services. It’s a great place, and it knows its Fairfield County clientele.

But last night the Sconset Square store sponsored a funk band. It was something different, for sure.

(Photo/Paul Delano)

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For 10 years, Voices Cafe at the Westport Unitarian Church has featured great folk music. Peter Yarrow, Paul Winter and Suzanne Sheridan have performed there; Brother Sun chose it their final concert. Many events support social justice causes.

Voices Cafe begins its 2nd decade on Sunday, October 24 (7:30 p.m.). with double bill: Newtown-born Sawyer Fredericks (winner of The Voice’s season 8) and The Accidentals, a powerful female-led indie rock and punk folk band.

The concert will be both in-person at the church, and livestreamed. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Sawyer Fredericks

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Sorelle Gallery’s final exhibition of 2021 features abstract artist Ned Martin. Beginning Saturday (October 9). Light refreshments will be served in the Bedford Square spce.

Martin’s work includes birds, female portraiture, natural forest-scapes, and pure abstraction.

“Fragmented in Time” (Ned Martin)

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James Goodenough died peacefully at his Westport home on September 29, surrounded by Gloria, his wife of 73 years, and his 4 children. He was 95 years old.

He was born in New Haven to Dr. Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough, a professor at Yale University, and Helen Miriam Lewis. Jim  graduated from Yale University.

In 1954 Jim and Gloria moved to Westport. He worked at a specialized business magazine company, Cleworth Publishing, rising to publisher of several magazines, then vice president and treasurer.

Jim was a man of consummate integrity, wisdom and humbleness. He is survived by his wife Gloria; children Sandra, Janice, Andrew and Elizabeth; 6 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren, and his brother John B. Goodenough, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year for his work on the lithium ion battery.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, October 17 (2 p.m., Saugatuck Congregational Church). Memorial donations are suggested to Saugatuck Church or Westminster School in Simsbury.

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In our never-ending quest to feature every living thing possible, “Westport … Naturally” today turns to termites.

Susan Garment writes: “I came across this swarm of termites in a tree on my yard. I called several exterminators and sent them this picture. They  became extremely excited, because they had never seen anything like it. They wanted to send the picture to the Connecticut Department of Entomology.

“We removed the tree. Fortunately,  none of the termites migrated to my house.”

(Photo/Susan Garment)

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And finally … the next MoCA exhibition — “When Caged Birds Sing” (see above) — reminded me of this seriously underrated Beatles song. Sure, there’s no connection between the tune and the Maya Angelou-inspired museum title, other than the bird theme. But I love this track:

Roundup: Crosswalks, Cannabis, Cancer Fundraiser …

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Today is October 1. That’s the seemingly arbitrary date on which new laws take effect in Connecticut.

Among them:

An expansion of the law requiring drivers to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. it now includes a pedestrian who simply steps to the curb and raises a hand to oncoming traffic.

Drivers must also now stop, then proceed slowly while passing ice cream trucks (only while selling!).

It is now illegal for employers to require a jobseeker’s age, birth date or graduation date on a first application.

Medical marijuana patients 18 or older can now grow up to 3 mature and 3 immature plants at home. Starting July 2023, anyone 21 or older can grow plants at home. There is a cap of 12 plants per household.

New rules for crosswalks.

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Westport is filled with fundraising events: walks, runs, and “-thons.” All are worthy, and Westporters support them well.

But one of the most fun takes place this Sunday (October 3, Staples High School field hockey field). It’s the 12th annual Push Against Cancer.

And it benefits an organization with strong local ties.

The event — in which people of all ages do push-ups, in return for pledges — raises money for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. That’s the fantastic refuge for children suffering from serious illnesses, founded in 1988 by our own Paul Newman.

It costs $2,500 to send one child to the upstate Connecticut camp for a week. Since its inception by fitness expert Andy Berman, the Westport Push Against Cancer has raised over $725,000.

This year’s goal is to send 100 kids to camp. That’s $250,000. Groups like the Staples High School girls and boys have already raised over $34,000.

There’s still room to participate, or donate. Click here for information.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas, founder Andy Berman and First Selectman Jim Marpe banged out pushups at a previous event.

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The RTM is non-partisan. So is “06880.” (Most of the time.)

But we have to single out one candidate today. Not for his political views — but his sense of humor.

Fred Cantor received an email from the District 1 hopeful. It included the usual quotes and endorsements from voters. Boilerplate stuff.

But Fred and his wife Debbie found the final quote well worth reading: “‘Even knowing what I know now, I would still have married you.’ — Rick’s wife.”

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Nearly a week after the last ride stopped, and the final stuffed bunny was won, the Westport Woman’s Club continues to revel in the success of the Yankee Doodle Fair.

The annual event — an enormous fundraiser for the organization’s charitable activities — was moved from June to September , after being canceled in 2020 by COVID. But children (and adults turned out by the hundreds this year.

They had waited 27 months. The next wait will be much shorter. The Yankee Doodle Fair returns next spring, to its traditional Father’s Day/end-of-school weekend.

Last weekend at the Yankee Doodle Fair. (Photo/Joel Triesman)

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National Coming Out Day is October 11.

To support the LGBTQ community, Finding Westport will donate 10% of sales from t-shirts this month to Westport Pride.

The shirts show the Minute Man, silhouetted against the rainbow flag. To order, click here.

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A record fell at Wednesday’s girls’ swim and dive team meet. Staples High School beat Ludlowe 104-79.

Highlights included a record-breaking swim in the 50 meter freestyle — by a  freshman. Annam Olasewere. broke the school record with a time of 26.48. She also won the 100 meter freestyle (59.82).

Top performances also came from Annam’s twin sister Ayaan Olasewere, senior captain Jessica Qi, Kate Whitaker, Mia Guster, Ava DeDomenico, Ella Alpert, Dani Schwartz and Ali Chodash.

The winning 400 meter free relay team (from left): Annam Olasewere, Ayaan Olasewere , Ella Alpert, Jessica Qi,

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David Komansky — a Westport resident who as chief executive officer and chair of Merrill Lynch from 1996 through 2003 led a major international expansion of the firm’s key businesses — died Monday in New York. He was 82.

He was raised in the Bronx by his mother, an Irish Catholic who converted to Judaism when she married his father, a postal worker whose family had emigrated from Russia.

Komansky began his 35-year career at Merrill Lynch in 1968 as a financial advisor trainee in Queens, after living in Miami where he served in the Coast Guard, attended the University of Miami and worked in a variety of odd jobs.

He sat on the boards of BlackRock, the WPP Group and the New York Presbyterian Hospital, where the Komansky Children’s Hospital was established at the Weil Cornell campus.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, of Westport; daughters Jennifer Komansky and Elyssa Williams (Simon), and grandchildren Joey and Maverick Williams.

A private family service will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital (www.nyp.org/komansky) or the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org).

David Komansky

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The Staples High School Class of 1962 is planning its 60th (!) reunion, for June 17-18.

To learn more, send your name, address and phone number to StaplesReunion62@gmail.com.

An aerial view of Staples High School, when the Class of 1962 was there.

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“Westport … Naturally” has featured these 2 creatures before.

But never together.

As photographer Doug Brill notes: “Good day for praying mantis. Bad day for monarch butterfly.”

(Photo/Doug Brill)

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And finally … of course we follow up the new Connecticut rules on marijuana growing (first item above) with: