Category Archives: Organizations

MLK Celebration: A Week Of Introspection And Inspiration

This year more than ever, it’s important to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

And — now more than ever — it’s vital to do it on more than just Martin Luther King Day.

Layla F. Saad

The town is already gearing up for next Sunday’s conversation with Layla F. Saad, author of the compelling “Me and White Supremacy.” The livestreamed event is set for 12 noon. (Click here to register. Click here for more details.)

But that’s just the start of a week-long series of virtual events. For the first time, Westport is expanding its MLK celebrations beyond a single keynote.

Rev. Alison J. Patton of Saugatuck Congregational Church says, “In recent years we have shifted the focus of the Dr. King celebration from a remembrance of his groundbreaking leadership to an occasion to deepen our understanding of the continuing impact of systemic racism. There’s a need to equip ourselves to more effectively unmask and dismantle racism in our lives and community.”

Saad’s talk will be followed 2 days later by a panel discussion on “Me and White Supremacy: What Can I Do Next?”

The January 19 session (7 p.m.) focuses on the process outlined in Saad’s best-selling workbook, a 28-day challenge “to combat racism, change the world and become a good ancestor.” Click here to register.

The week culminates with “New Works/New Voices,” an evening of original monologues in response to Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy” (Thursday, January 21, 7 p.m.). It’s a world premiere, with Gracy Brown, Tenisi Davis, Tamika Pettway and Terrence Riggins sharing new works exploring themes surrounding racial justice. Click here to register.

Monologue authors ready for world premiere.

There’s more next month. February will include many opportunities for “profound personal engagement on the impact of white supremacy and privilege,” says TEAM Westport’s Bernicestine McLeod Bailey. Details will be announced soon.

TEAM Westport is co-sponsoring the Martin Luther King celebration, with the Westport Libraray, Westport Country Playhouse, Westport Weston Interfaith Council and Westport Weston Interfaith Clergy.

Remembering Elise Maclay

Elise Maclay — a poet, writer, foodie, elegant dresser and accomplished traveler — died peacefully January 5, in her Westport home by Long Island Sound. She was 95.

She spent her final days looking over the water, surrounded by family and with a photo of her beloved husband David at her side.

Elise attended the College of William & Mary on a full scholarship. She majored in English, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and served as class poet until her death.

Elise had a successful early career in the heady Mad men days of advertising. She commuted to New York from Connecticut with 2 small children at home, gracefully navigating the mandatory 3-martini lunches in an otherwise male world.

She wrote copy for the prestigious BMW account — and once posed as the model for an ad she created, when the talent did not show up.

Elise Maclay

Elise’s poetry appeared in publications like Nature magazine. Her “Walk Softly” is often quoted by nature lovers.

She wrote 2 books of prose poems, and collaborated on 5 other books with artist Bev Doolittle.

Elise’s poetry, and interest in Native American, wildlife and nature themes, complements Doolittle’s “camouflage” art.

Elise sourced fine food locally, long before chefs used cilantro and kale. A carnivore, she enjoyed great food robustly. Her culinary taste and writing gifts led to another career. For over 25 years she was Connecticut Magazine’s food critic. She captured tastes, ambiance and the personalities and dreams of chefs.

The number of exquisite meals delivered to her home in recent months is a testament to the loyalty and gratitude of many chefs, young and old, whom she discovered and celebrated.

But her true passion was travel — preferably adventures to far and exotic locales — with her husband. She hiked Machu Picchu, explored the Himalayas and climbed Mt. Kenya in a blizzard.

She, her niece LeeLee and dear friend Fi explored the Caribbean islands, Italy and Portugal as recently as last February.

Closer to home, she was a beloved presence at her family’s summer home on Cape Cod. She walked the beaches, swam, read by the fire, and regaled generations of family and friends with adventures and cherished memories.

Her spirit is carried on by her son Gary Gibbs, his wife Kaija and their 4 children; stepson Bill Maclay, his wife Alex, and their 2 sons; stepson David Maclay Jr., his wife Juliet and their 2 sons; cousn Joyce Haun, and an extended network of neighbors, chefs and friends from all walks of life.

She was predeceased by her husband David, son Brian Gibbs and stepdaughter Sherry Maclay.

Elise would want all to know David’s final words, quoting Tennessee Williams: “Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.”

Memorials will be held post-COVID in Westport and Chatham, Massachusetts.

Donations in Elise’s name may be made to the CT Hospitality Employee Relief Fund or Save the Sound.

(Hat tip: Judith Hart)

Roundup: Real Estate, Burying Hill, Bridgewater, More


Just how hot was last year’s real estate market?

COVID-19 pushed the number of single-family home sales to a record 639. That compares to 356 the previous year.

Including condos, there were 688 residential transactions in 2020. The year prior: 389.

It wasn’t just volume that soared. Check out the MLS graph below, showing the dollar volume of closed sales over the past 3 years. Westport is in blue; Weston is green, Fairfield yellow, Wilton red.

Westport’s median sales price in December was $1,399,000. (Hat tips: KMS Partners and Chuck Greenlee)


Remember the November photo of the driver who zoomed past the fence and up the hill at Burying Hill Beach, parked at the top and admired the view of Long Island Sound?

Either she inspired a copycat. Or — just like the US Capitol on Wednesday — it is now okay to breach every normally accepted rule of behavior that has governed us forever.

Rusty Ford spotted this yesterday. And no, it’s not the same car at all.

(Photo/Rusty Ford)


Looking for a job?

Bridgewater Associates is looking for an executive chef.

The Westport-based world’s largest hedge fund ran a classified ad in the current Westport News.

The chef will provide catering services for executive-level meals and VIP meetings — over 150 business and social events annual, from small breakfasts to parties for more than 100.

But he or she won’t be stuck in the firm’s 2 offices here (Weston Road and Nyala Farm). Some of the cooking will be done on the VIP yacht.

The ad explains: “International sailing catering services include … creating menus for daily fare and social events; and procuring necessary culinary supplies in ports of call around the world for extensive travel time on the water. Travel to various unanticipated locations domestically and internationally, including onboard VIP yacht, is required.”

Interested? Send your resume to bw_talentacquisition@bwater.com, or mail to Bridgewater Associates, 1 Glendinning Place, Westport, CT 06880. Don’t forget the job code: BW55.

Bridgewater’s new executive chef will not be stuck at Westport headquarters.


Westport is a Transportation Leader.

That’s the official title. Our Department of Human Resources received the silver award for our CTrides 2021 Transportation Leaders program.

Earning Transportation Leader status requires an annual commitment by town government to work with CTrides to educate, encourage and incentivize employees to use greener modes.

Westport was recognized for providing commuting and CTrides information to all employees, establishing a telework and flexible work schedule program, and access to electric vehicle chargers at Town Hall.

1st Selectman cited interim Transit District director and RTM Transit Committee member Peter Gold for his support in receiving the award.


And finally … happy 80th birthday to singer/songwriter/activist Joan Baez!

 

 

Unsung Hero #173

Michael Burns — president of Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service — could nominate many folks as Unsung Heroes.

But he’s chosen one: paramedic Kevin Doherty. Michael writes:

Beyond Kevin’s regular duties, he puts in a great deal of effort teaching people at EMS the basics and advanced skills of a paramedic.

But in addition to Kevin’s day-to-day duties on the ambulance, he has been the infection control officer for Westport’s 3 emergency services for nearly 10 years.

During the pandemic, Kevin’s ICO responsibility has expanded to include all town employees. He is effectively on call 24/7.

Kevin Doherty

He has taken on an especially critical role as co-safety officer for the town’s Emergency Operations Center Command Group. Kevin is responsible for not only tracking and advising any sick employees in town, but also working with the selectmen’s office and town department heads, setting policies ensuring the safety of all employees.

He is also responsible for 1-on-1 instruction with each new or returning EMS member in COVID-specific safety (for example, fit-testing N95s, and the safe donning and doffing of all PPE) and equipment decontamination procedures.

Kevin selects and procures (with the town’s Logistics, Purchasing, and Finance Departmenets) all COVID-related PPE and supplies.

During all this, he has continued to function as lead advisor for the Youth Corps

He goes above and beyond the call of duty in so many ways. Kevin is on top of it all. That’s why he is so respected and loved by everyone he works with at EMS.

He does a hell of a job.  And he is just a nice guy!

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

Roundup: Y’s Hikers, David Waldman, Amazon’s Gatsby, More


COVID has caused many organizations to move meetings online.

You can’t do that with a hiking club, though. So the Y’s Men group has adapted. They meet in smaller numbers now. They maintain strict social distance — 8 feet, just to be sure. They wear masks when they assemble.

But they still get their exercise. And their miles.

Twice a week, Chris Lewis leads 10 to 15 hikers. He knows all the trails, throughout the county.

Wednesday hikes are 2 hours long. Friday’s are more strenuous, and can take up to 3. Only heavy rain or extremely slippery conditions stop the Y’s Men.

In addition, “walkers” meet nearly every day. They avoid difficult trail conditions.

This may not be the Y’s Men’s motto. But it should be: “COVID? Take a hike!”

(Hat tip: Michael Hehenberger)

A recent hike at Trout Brook Preserve, owned and managed by Aspetuck Land Trust.
Tom Johnson (3rd from left) is a Y’s Men hiker and ALT member. (Photo/Sal Mollica)


Dave Briggs is one of the best interviewers around. He brings out the best in his subjects, in a relaxed, fun and insightful way. His Instagram Live chats are always intriguing.

And I’m not just saying that because I was a recent guest.

Today (Wednesday, January 6, 4 p.m.), he’ll chat with David Waldman. They’ll talk about the commercial realtor’s work developing Bedford Square and the west bank of the Saugatuck River, bringing Barnes & Noble downtown, and much more.

Head to @WestportMagazine on Instagram. You’ll be entertained — and learn a lot.


“Gatsby in Connecticut: The Untold Story” is ready for prime time.

Or at least, Amazon Prime.

The 70-minute movie by Robert Steven Williams — starring Sam Waterston and Keir Dullea, covering F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s formative summer in Westport — is available on the streaming service.

The New Yorker called it one of the best films of 2020. Click here, and judge for yourself. (Hat tip: David Meth)


David Tarqueno died on December 24 at Norwalk Hospital, from complications of COVID-19. He was 61 years old.

His obituary says, “David left behind an incredible number of friends who loved him. His personality was like no other. His presence could light up a room. His smile, his laughter and his humor will remain with every heart he touched.

“David loved fishing — he was out there every fishing season opening day. Nature and animals were an important part of his life. He was devoted to his family and friends. That devotion was selfless, his trust boundless, and love endless.”

The Staples High School graduate is survived by his parents, Joseph and Marianne Tarqueno; sister Lisa Tarqueno-Crawford; brother Peter Tarqueno, and his beloved dog Harry.

David Tarqueno


And finally … today, the Electoral College meets. Will Vice President Pence do what Joe Biden did as vice president 4 years ago (and Al Gore, George H.W. Bush and many others before him), affirming the legitimate winner of the election 2 months earlier?

Or will American democracy be launched into a parallel universe, one in which lunacy rules and losers’ temper tantrums make us the laughingstock of the world?

Fingers crossed!

Amy Feder: Eldercare Concierge

Amy Feder has always found seniors fascinating. At weddings, she says, “I talk to the grandmother no one else pays attention to.”

Helping people is in her DNA. Her father was a child psychiatrist; her mother taught special ed.

Amy found her calling in social work. She earned a master’s from New York University, and is certified as a dementia practitioner and geriatric care manager.

She moved to Westport 20 years ago, and raised her children here. “This town has been so good to me,” she says. “I’ve never felt alone.”

Amy Feder

After working at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYU Medical Center, Norwalk’s Family & Children’s Agency and, for the past 8 years, Jewish Senior Services as a care coordinator helping people stay in their own homes, Amy is now a private practitioner.

Her niche is eldercare and aging. She’s in the right place at the right time.

“I was getting calls from friends for help with elderly parents or spouses,” she says. “They needed knowledge, advocacy and support. I became a concierge for eldercare.”

Their questions were real, and crucial: How do I find an assisted living community? How do I talk to my parents about driving? How do I figure out the Medicare maze? I’m burned out from being a caregiver — can you help?

COVID has amplified senior issues. Isolation is bad enough; add the need for conversations about end-of-life care, and Amy has been busy since spring.

She has been pleased — but not surprised — by how well many senior have coped with the coronavirus. “They’re less restless than younger people,” Amy says. “They’re resilient.” Of course, isolation is tough for everyone, at any age.

Sometimes she consults for an hour. Other times she provides ongoing counseling.

Over the past several months, Amy has helped families set up technology for loved ones, to keep connected. She’s found communities where they can engage with others. She’s offered strategies to combat loneliness.

Y’s Men meetings are now held by Zoom. Amy Feder helps seniors and families set up technology, to stay connected.

Always, she listens. Often, Amy notes, “people just need someone to talk to.”

A while ago, she had to have end-of-life discussions with her own mother. They were painful, she admits. But Amy found solace that her mother died with “all of her wishes known.”

The pandemic hastened trends that Amy had already noticed, like telemedicine. She finds the future exciting — for seniors and their families.

She believes Westport is a “great town” for seniors. “The Senior Center is fabulous — it’s closed now, but they still run great programs. And there are plenty of resources all over town.”

Still, she adds, “we could use more senior housing. We’re an aging population, and this is an expensive town and state to age in.”

The Residence at Westport is our town’s first assisted living facility. Amy Feder says we need more senior housing options.

Having had a vaccine, Amy is available for home visits.

“It’s important to engage now and plan ahead,” she says. “No one wants to get into an emergency situation.”

(For more information click here, email amyfeder@optonline.net, or call 917-826-6660.)

Roundup: Remarkable Bookcycle, MoCA Art, More


Sure, the Westport Library is open now by appointment only.

But — just like the Hotel California — you can check out any time you like, at the Remarkable Bookcycle.

Westport’s favorite mobile library (named for our favorite former bookstore) has been parked recently on Church Lane, at Bedford Square.

Check it out! And if you’ve got any books to give as well as receive — well, bring ’em on.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)


“Hindsight is 2020” — the high school student art show opening January 23 at MoCA Westport — has extended its submission deadline. The final date for entries is now next Monday (January 11).

The show is open to all high schoolers. It’s a great opportunity to have their work reviewed by noted Westport artist Amy Kaplan and dealer/gallerist Paul Efstathiou — and have it showcased at the museum.

It’s also a chance to earn cash prizes of $500, $300 or $100.

We know students have had a challenging year. Art and creative expression have helped many students with coping and resilience,” museum officials say.

A wide variety of entries have alrady come from across Connecticut and Westchester County.

Click here for submission deadlines.



Fleet Feet Run Club’s winter session starts this Saturday (January 9).

The Sconset Square store’s coaches can help everyone reach their goals. It can be  running a marathon — or running down the block.

For details, stop in the shop or call 203-557-3608.


And finally … the 1972 disaster film “The Poseidon Adventure” had an all-star cast: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Albertson, Shelley Winters, and Red Buttons.

Also starring on the tsunami-struck ship was Pamela Sue Martin. She earned more fame later, as Nancy Drew on the ABC-TVseries, and Fallon Carrington Colby on Dynasty.

Well, Pamela Sue — or “Pam,” as I knew her as a classmate at Long Lots Junior High and Staples High — celebrates her birthday today.

“06880” celebrates with the most famous song from “Poseidon Adventure.” It was nominated for an Academy Award, then became a hit the next year for Maureen McGovern. Happy birthday, Pam!

 

 

Remembering Herbie Carusone

Westport native and longtime Westport firefighter Joseph Herbert Carusone died last week in his Walpole, Maine  home. He was 88.

Herbie’s father owned the Mayfair Market grocery store, on the corner of Post Road West and Wilton Avenue. He worked there, and enjoyed fishing and crabbing in the nearby Saugatuck River.

Carusone graduated from Staples High School in 1951, though he missed the ceremony because he had already joined the Navy. His 4 years of service included deployment to the Mediterranean Sea on the USS Tidewater.

He sent some of his pay back home to help his parents, but kept enough money to buy US Savings Bonds.

Joseph Herbert “Herbie” Carusone

After returning to Westport, Carusone joined his dad in the grocery store. He worked alongside his younger sister Pat, and his best friend Ray Bowne.

In 1964 he joined the Westport Fire Department. His grandfather had been a volunteer there too.

In his free time Carusone went fishing, clamming and lobstering in Long Island Sound. He also painted houses.

Carusone used his construction skills to build a house in Weston, acting as general contractor.

After retiring from the Westport Fire Department as a lieutenant in 1986, with 22 years of service, he sailed up the New England coast. Moving to Wiscasset, Maine, he became known by his first name, Joe.

In Maine he met Janis Breen Warsky. They were married in 1991.

Carusone frequented auctions to find diamonds in the rough, to refinish and sell in his shop, Wiscasset Cottage Antiques. Customers loved his workmanship, and he enjoyed sharing his treasures with them. He was in his shop through this past summer.

When he wasn’t there, Carusone caught stripers in the Sheepscot River, was an avid collector of antique household items, and renovated several houses.

Carusone particularly loved being with family and friends, having large family dinners, and chatting with his kids and grandkids. Recently he found joy in sitting on the patio with Jan, watching waves crash onto the rocks at Pemaquid Point.

Carusone was preceded in death by his sisters Naime Wakeman and Nona Aznar. He is survived by his wife, Janis Warsky-Carusone; his daughter Pamela and husband Garvin Gardner; sons Joseph (Maria) and Jeffrey; step-daughters Stephanie Smith (Nathan) and Kristen Warsky (partner Joshua); step-son Jordan Warsky (Kelly); sister Pat Stannard (Elmer); 9 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

His family thanks the many doctors and nurses who provided Carusone with exceptional care and love.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to MaineHealth Care at Home,15 Industrial Park Road, c/o Roy Garland, Saco, Maine 04072.

There will be a special days of remembrance in Connecticut and Maine this summer.

Roundup: Academic All-Americans, Art Gallery, Ice Giants, More


For the 18th time in 20 years — and the 15th season in a row — the Staples boys soccer program has been honored with a national award for academic excellence.

And they did it with a record-setting GPA, one far beyond the already high standard.

A squad must have a 3.25 grade point average for all varsity players. The award is given for the previous academic year. In 2019, Staples’ varsity players had an average GPA of 3.76 — way higher than the previous record of 3.43.

The Academic All-America award is given by United Soccer Coaches, a 30,000-member national organization. The Wreckers’ coach, Dan Woog — hey, that’s me! — says indications are good that the 2020 squad should also qualify for  the honor.

The 2019 Academic All-American Staples boys soccer team. (Photo/Christina Bassler)


The arts scene in Westport just got even more interesting.

George Billis Gallery has relocated from New York City to Westport. The new space is 166 Main Street, next to Simon Pearce. It features work by national and international emerging and established artists.

When the gallery was established in1997, it was the 12th to open in the Chelsea Arts District. In 2004, Billis opened a 2nd location in the burgeoning art district of Culver City, Los Angeles.

Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment (203-557-9130). Click here for the website.

George Billis art gallery on Main Street.


It’s a new year, and our thoughts turn to … Uranus and Neptune.

On January 19 (8 p.m., Zoom and YouTube) the Westport Astronomical Society hosts a virtual lecture with Dr. Heidi B. Hammel. She’ll talk about a new concept to return spacecraft to explore the 2 “Ice Giants.”

This Dr. Hammel’s 3rd WAS appearance. A rock star in her world, she is vice president for science at AURA, which operates the Hubble Space Telescope and many other observatories. Click here for more information.


And finally … on this day in 1959, Alaska was admitted to the union, as our 49th state. The next year Johnny Horton sang the theme from the film “North to Alaska,” starring John Wayne, Ernie Kovacs and Fabian. Horton was killed in an
automobile accident the day after the movie was released.

Photo Challenge #314

Some Photo Challenges can be answered by anyone who has once lived in Westport. They’re permanent parts of our landscape.

Others are solvable only by those who live here now. But those bits of town will still be around for a while.

Last week’s Challenge could only be known by the latter grouop. If you haven’t seen it though, you better not wait too long.

Amy Schneider’s photo showed a beautiful butterfly. It’s hidden in plain sight — the alley behind Anthropologie, in Bedford Square — but it won’t be there forever. (Click here to see.)

The colorful charcoal work by Susan Fehlinger is part of an outdoor art project called “Vanishing Species/Vanishing Murals.” Sponsored by the Artists’ Collective of Westport, it’s one of 4 pieces that — exposed to the elements — will disappear.

Which is exactly what’s happening to so many creatures around the globe.

“The process of aging, fading and degradation speaks to the attention span of our fast-paced world, and offers its own lesson on the ephemeralness of art and life itself,” the Collective says.

Rindy Higgins, Nancy Axthelm, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Michael Calise and Jeanne Esposito all knew exactly where to spot the lovely butterfly.

For now, at least.

This week’s Photo Challenge is a lot more permanent. And a lot less friendly.

If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Elaine Marino)