Tag Archives: Akiko Ikeda

Westport 2022: We Stand On The Shoulders Of Giants

What a way to start the new year.

In less than 48 hours, Westporters learned of the deaths of 4 neighbors.

Larry Aasen, Dick Berkowitz, Akiko Ikeda and Nick Rossi — all passed away over the past few days.

Three were in their 90s. One was 81.

Three spent most of their adult lives here. One moved here just 3 years ago.

All added immeasurably to Westport.

Larry Aasen was an avid and proud Democrat. He contributed to his party — but he reached across this aisle on the non-partisan Representative Town Meeting (RTM). With friends of all political persuasions, he pitched in enthusiastically to do whatever needed doing with the Y’s Men, Rotary Club, Saugatuck Congregational Church and more.

Dick Berkowitz was an attorney who touched nearly every facet of Westport life. He was elected to the RTM and Planning & Zoning Commission; was president of the Kiwanis Club and Birchwood Country Club; served on the boards of Staples Tuition Grants and Temple Israel; helped found what is now the Youth Commission, and coached basketball, football and baseball.

Clockwise from upper left: Dick Berkowitz, Larry Aasen, Nick Rossi, Akiko Ikeda (Dick Berkowitz photo/Ted Horowitz)

Akiko Ikeda made her mark with the elderly. She served in a variety of positions at the Senior Center, helping build it from the ground up. But she also chaired Community Nursery School board for over 15 years, and was president of Church Women United too.

Nick Rossi lived here for only 3 years; he moved in with his son’s family after his wife died. But he immediately became a beloved presence at the Senior Center, and his grandchildren’s arts and sports performances. Last spring, the World War II veteran was grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade.

All led remarkable, productive and fulfilling lives. If you haven’t yet read their full stories, click the links above.

But let’s reflect too on what they gave to Westport — and what their legacy means to us today.

Dick Berkowitz was 29 when he helped form Westport’s youth commission. For the next 55 years, he did whatever he could to make our town a better place.

Larry Aasen, Akiko Ikeda and Nick Rossi kept making Westport better well into their 90s.

As we begin a new year, we’re a town in transition. Over the past 2 years, our ranks have swelled with newcomers. Many are young families, leaving cities for different lives. They chose this community because it is a community.

We are blessed with superb schools, wonderful arts and recreational facilities, an astonishing library, and vibrant organizations serving every interest imaginable.

But we need many more Larry Aasens, Dick Berkowitzes, Akiko Ikedas and Nick Rossis to sustain them.

And sustain us.

Whether you knew some or all of these remarkable individuals, or never heard their names, the challenge is the same: Honor their legacy by doing what you can to make Westport better.

As they proved, you’re never too young — or old — to start.

Remembering Akiko Ikeda

Longtime Westporter and advocate for the elderly Akiko Ikeda died Thursday in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin, after a long illness. She was 95.

Akiko was born in Kyoto, Japan, and lived in Manila, Los Angeles, Bayside New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing, Webster Groves Missouri and the Bronx before marrying Thomas in December 1954. They settled in Westport, where they lived for over 50 years and raised their family.

In 2006 Thomas and Akiko began splitting time between Westport and Sarasota, to be close to their daughter Louise and her family. They moved to Florida full-time, then became snowbirds again when Jennifer became their caregiver, enjoying Door County, Wisconsin in the summer.

Akiko Ikeda

Much of Akiko’s 25-year professional career was spent as administrative manager at Norwalk Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, where she created lasting friendships. But her passion was serving the elderly, women and youth, which she did through her many volunteer activities.

She served on the Westport Commission for Senior Services for nearly 30 years (including chair from 1983 to ’89), and on the Southwestern Connecticut Regional Area on Aging from the 1970s through ’90s.

Her involvement with Westport’s Senior Center was one of her most proud accomplishments. She received a service award in 2006, at which time she recognized those who worked with her. She also served as chair of the Board of the Community Nursery School for over 15 years, president of Church Women United, and president of PEO Chapter J.

Her family says, “Perhaps through her experience of living in so many places, Akiko easily formed friendships. She cherished those who touched her life and loved her friends. She read voraciously and appreciated the arts, participating in many trips to museums, gardens and concerts. She also enjoyed watercolor painting, flower gardening and birding.”

She was predeceased by her husband, Thomas. She is survived by son Laurence (Andrea DeCoro), daughters Louise Lester (Thomas), Jennifer Ikeda Faugust (Michael), Mary Susan Ikeda; grandchildren Stephanie, Stacy and Mark Ikeda, and Steven Lester; sister Teruko Craig, brother Masahiro Ugaya, and many friends and other relatives.

A memorial service will be held at a date to be determined at the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Akiko’s name to that church (click here).

Her family notes, “Through her last years, we imagined a picnic with all her friends and family at Compo Beach. For those who shared our love of Aki, visit your favorite spot and remember her beautiful smile.”

Expressions of sympathy, memories and photos of Aki may be shared with her family through her tribute page (click here.)