Category Archives: Unsung Heroes

Unsung Hero #212

In the frenetic day-to-day life we call Westport, it’s hard to stop and smell the roses — or the people who plant them.

Judy Patterson Lanyi does. Along with all the other flowers. She writes:

“I moved to Lincoln Street almost 3 years ago. Here  is a photo of the house across the street, as it looked when I arrived.

“Since then, the a new family moved in. Urszula Solowinska has transformed the entire front lawn into something lovely. It adds so much beauty to Lincoln Street.

“Urszula does all the work herself. And the flower garden contains fabulous veggies too!”

Thanks, Judy, for the photos. And thanks too, Urszula, for the transformation. You are this week’s lovely Unsung Hero!

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Unsung Heroes #211

Betsy Kravitz writes:

The other night we took my father-in-law to Tutti’s, to celebrate his 96th birthday.

I got there early to put balloons and flowers on the table. When people saw “96,” they had a loto of questions. That number is not often celebrated.

I let the whole place (inside and out) know who it was for. When my father-in-law walked in, everyone broke out in applause and wished him a happy birthday.

It was such a touching moment for all of us. And, I think, for the restaurant patrons as well.

Tutti’s bought us a bottle of wine. Again the whole restaurant chimed in when we sang “Happy Birthday!’

My father-in-law was elated. He had the best time, thanks to the amazing people dining and celebrating at Tutti’s.

Thank you to everyone there, especially the owners (the Funicello family).

PS : The food was outstanding too!

Tutti’s owners Pasquale and Maria Funicello.

Unsung Hero #210

Stephanie Mastocciolo writes:

My 13-year-old daughter attended the Staples High School football game last Friday night with a group of friends. It was her first time attending such a large fun community event on her own. She looked forward to being with her friends, while supporting our awesome team.

Unfortunately, near the end of the game she lost her wallet, with $15 cash. She  only noticed as her carpool ride was picking her up.

I was at home waiting for her when my phone rang. A young voice proceeded to ask if I had lost my wallet at the game. I quickly texted my daughter to ask her, since I was unaware.

The young voice said there was a business card with this phone number, and they hoped to find the wallet’s owner. My daughter has a small dog sitting service called  “Bianca’s Buddies,” and her business card has my cell phone.

I didn’t get the name of the young adult who was kind enough to say they would leave the wallet hidden at the scoreboard. But I want to commend this young individual for reaching out and trying to find the rightful owner.

When my daughter and I went to retrieve it, everything was inside — including the $15 cash. Thank you, kind young Westporter, for doing the right thing — and for taking a moment out of your Friday night to show us that good deeds and trustworthy individuals still exist.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Unsung Hero #209

Longtime area resident Bobbie Herman writes:

I’d like to nominate someone as an Unsung Hero.

I don’t know who she is, and I don’t remember ever meeting her before. But she did something wonderful for me.

I was meeting a few friends for a picnic on Labor Day, and stopped into Gold’s for a couple of items. The bill came to almost $18

I reached into my bag for my wallet, and realized I left it home when I changed purses. I was extremely embarrassed, and asked the man behind the counter if I could bring the money the next day.

Suddenly the woman behind me held out her credit card and said, “I’ll pay for her.”

I asked her for her name and address so I could reimburse her, but she refused.  All she said was “Pay it forward.”

She told me her name was Maria, but nothing else. She was wearing a mask, so I doubt if I would recognize her if I saw her again.

I’d like to nominate Maria as a Unsung Hero, and express my undying gratitude.

Done, Bobbie! Thank you, Maria, for your generous act — and for inspiring all of us to “pay it forward.”

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Unsung Heroes #208

Tracy Porosoff writes:

I arrived at the Westport post office early the other day. They don’t open until 9, but Lou saw me standing beyond the metal gates. He opened them for me, and waved me inside to Rosie’s counter.

I was there to mail a birthday package to a friend in Idaho. I put the box on Rosie’s scale, and she calculated different options. I settled on the cheapest: $17.76 for ground delivery. It would take at least a week to arrive. I told Rosie it seemed expensive.

“Try Priority,” she suggested, and left her spot behind the counter to get the box for me. I asked if she thought my items would fit. She taped up the new box, opened my existing package, and helped me carefully place the items inside the smaller one.

“But what about the stickers?” I asked, pointing to the decorations I had attached to the original box.

“Here.” She tenderly removed the tape from the box that had the stickers attached and transferred them to the new box.

Rosie typed a few things into her computer, then said, “Now it will cost less money and get there faster.”

Wow — that was service!

I was amazed. And grateful. For all of the jibes about workers “going postal” and civil servants being apathetic clock punchers, this experience proved the contrary. And I even got out of there before the official 9 a.m. open!

Thank you, Rosie and Lou, for caring enough to go the extra mile for your patrons, and for taking care of our stuff.

Rosie has worked at the Westport branch as long as I have lived here. I truly appreciate her kindness, knowledge and sticker transferring skills.

Lou and Rosie. (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

 

Unsung Hero #207

Scott Turkel raised his children in Weston. But to hundreds of Westport youngsters, he’s their beloved PAL football coach.

Michelle Titlebaum’s son Benji is a Staples High School senior. He started his career on Scott’s 3rd grade team.

His classmates — who knocked off Trumbull last Friday, with a thrilling last-minute interception — are a tight bunch. They’ve been inspired by Scott, who coached them for 2 years. He then spent the next several years coming to all their games — in plenty of sports besides football, too.

Scott Turkel, with a Westport PAL youth team.

His former players always hug him. They’ll do the same this Friday (September 17). Scott will be honored at 7 p.m., before the Wreckers’ home game against St. Joseph.

He’s had health issues. But he’ll be uplifted when he sees his former players again.

They’ll have a special gift for him. Back in 3rd grade, Scott gave his players bricks, as motivational gifts. Most of those players still have theirs.

This time, they’ll give them back to Scott. No matter what the score that night, they — and he — are winners.

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

Scott Turkel last month, at the wedding of a former player’s sister.

 

 

Unsung Heroes #206

Rob Earley and his family are recent arrivals in Westport.

But he knows an Unsung Hero when he sees one.

Last week — the day after Hurricane Ida unleashed 7 inches of rain on his new town — he sent along this photo:

Rob writes: “My kids just started at Saugatuck Elementary School. Unfortunately I don’t know this man’s name. I am so grateful that he was out there, up to his knees in water clearing drains at the school.

“The facilities staff probably don’t always get recognition. But I immediately thought of your site, and the town’s Unsung Heroes that you profile.”

Thanks, Rob. You nailed it. So to the Saugatuck staff member — and all the other facilities folks who dealt with drains, leaks, floods, branches, debris, and everything else in Ida’s wake — thank you.

And thanks too for all you do every day, in so many other ways, for all of us!

(If you’ve got a favorite school facilities employee, share his or her story in the “Comments” below. And do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Winslow Park Cleanup: The Sequel

Last Wednesday’s “Unsung Hero” feature highlighted the work of an older, unnamed man.

Quietly, consistently and anonymously, he’s been cleaning up Winslow Park for years. He picks up branches and trash. He removes invasive vines. He follows the mantra: “Leave this place better than you find it.”

A collage of Winslow Park’s cleanup projects. (Photos/Rita Corridon)

Readers quickly identified Winslow’s savior as Lowrie Gibb. A longtime Westporter — and the father of actress/singer/dancer Cynthia Gibb, a Staples graduate and founder of Triple Threat Academy — he was known to many for his long stewardship of town properties.

Wendy Crowther wrote:

He has been a park advocate since at least the late1990s when I first met him. He has quietly worked behind the scenes in all seasons at Winslow Park to tidy up the overgrowth that encroaches upon the pathways and chokes the trees. He is a good and humble man who does this just because he cares.

He’s also in amazing shape, despite his advancing age, because he works so hard not only in Winslow but also because he’s a runner, swimmer and skater – all using the Westport amenities he loves so much at Longshore and Compo Beach.

After the story ran, Jo Shields Sherman was at the dog park. Turns out, he knew nothing about the accolades.

Lowrie Gibb, with Goldie. (Photo/Jo Shields Sherman)

She writes:

Wendy’s description was spot-on wonderful of this very special man.

I read all the comments to him. He was totally humbled, in amazed and appreciative disbelief. He was so touched to hear what “06880” readers had to say. “No, no! Really?” he repeated.

He then mentioned that he has new thoughts and plans to discuss for improvements around town. Given his thoughtful take and naturalist’s eye for our special corner of the world and all he has done for it so far (far beyond the piling of twigs!), we could all benefit to listen, and listen well, to our own Lowrie Gibb.

In addition, Jo says, Lowrie created many of the trails in Winslow Park. He’s planted elm trees around town too.

Westport is a wonderful place, for many reasons. Lowrie Gibb is just one of them.

But why should he have to clean up alone? We all share in the beauty and wonder of our town.

Let’s all be a little like Lowrie Gibb. If you see something that needs cleaning, fixing or straightening: Do it yourself.

Lawrie Gibb is an inspiration. Now it’s up to us to follow his lead.

 

 

Unsung Heroes #205

A group of “06880” readers who ask for anonymity write:

We would like to nominate the founding members of the Westport Preservation Alliance as the Unsung Heroes of the Week, for their valiant efforts to preserve both the history and the open spaces of our beloved town.

We were ecstatic to see their activism recently in relation to Baron’s South. We are grateful for their tireless efforts. We watch, with great pride, the activism that they galvanize in our community.

Newcomers to Westport should know that it is thanks to the tireless efforts of  WPA members Morley Boyd, Wendy Crowther, Helen Garten and John Suggs that much of Westport’s natural beauty, as well as some of its historic treasures, remain protected.

The preservation of our Cribari Bridge and the prevention of its expansion and/or destruction, for example, is due in large part, to the WPA’s inexhaustible efforts. Without it, 18-wheelers might now be causing even worse traffic, cacophony, and air pollution in our otherwise idyllic town.

William F. Cribari Bridge. (Photo/Sam Levenson)

It is with great relief too that we watch the WPA step up to protect such sites as the Golden Shadows mansion and surrounding property (between South Compo and Imperial Ave.)

As we keep our eyes on the new Amazon development in the former Barnes & Noble plaza, we hope that the WPA will monitor potential subsidiary developments, and keep the area surrounding Greens Farms Elementary School safe for our children.

It is a tremendous honor for us to nominate Boyd, Crowther, Garten and Suggs for their tenacity and strength as they stand up in order to do right by our charming, beautiful, and relatively peaceful town.

Each of the founding members has an impressive resumé in his or her own right; the fact that these Westporters devote so much time and effort to keep our town unspoiled makes the WPA more than worthy of the Unsung Hero of the Week nomination. Thank you, Westport Preservation Alliance, for fighting the good fight for us all.

{PS. For those who don’t know the history of the WPA’s efforts in preserving the iconic Cribari Bridge, we encourage you to click here to read the detailed history of the WPA’s efforts.)

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Unsung Heroes #204

Longtime Westport Library book sales volunteer Mimi Greenlee writes:

Our community is so happy now that the Westport Library is accepting book donations in the gray trailer in the upper parking lot (during library hours).

The first weeks were overwhelming. I want to give a round of applause for our volunteer team of 50 sorters and category managers.

By singling out one person, I hope “06880” readers see how much devotion and dedication is present in every one of our year-round volunteers.

Dan Delehanty was Westport’s town engineer from 1978 to 2008. In 2001 he became a volunteer for our Book Sales. He transported books and supplies from storage to our sales, sorted donated books, and was always available for any other jobs needed for Friends of the Library and the Library staff.

Dan Delehanty shows off his work. Note the time on the clock: 6 a.m. (Photo/Fred Caporizzo)

He loved putting on music and sorting books, usually in the very early morning or late at night. I was always amazed at what he had accomplished, and with such efficiency.

Dan moved to Maine in 2020 to be with family, yet this spring he came back to visit. Longtime friend and co-worker Fred Caporizzo suggested Dan come help in the Book Center for “nostalgia” reasons. That’s exactly what he did.

The 2 men were there at 6 a.m., sorting books for our Book Shop and the next book sale.  How about a round of applause for them — and everyone else on our team!

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)