Scores of Westporters turned out yesterday to honor a wonderful Westporter.
And they did it in a very fitting Westport way.
Angela Trucks — who died last month at 69 — was co-chair of the town’s Beautification Committee. She dedicated her local life to making Westport look good. She was particularly involved in the Re-Greening of the Post Road.
So what better place to light a fir tree — symbolizing beauty, warmth and freshness — than on the Post Road?
The tree sits in front of Jesup Hall — Westport’s original Town Hall. It was donated and decorated by Terrain.
The patio was filled with people of all ages. There was music, mulled wine from Rothbard’s, and s’mores courtesy of Amis.
When Angela Trucks died last month at 69, she left a legacy of beauty.
As co-chair of the town’s Beautification Committee for well over a decade, she championed the Re-Greening of the Post Road. The project encouraged business owners to take pride in their property, with the most outstanding “streetscapes” recognized at an annual awards ceremony.
Today, great streetscapes include Terrain and Jesup Hall. So it’s fitting that both are collaborating on a memorial tree lighting that celebrates Angela’s life.
The event is this Saturday (December 7, 5:30 p.m.), on the Jesup Hall patio. Attendees are asked to bring coats and/or clothing, to benefit Homes with Hope.
Terrain donated and decorated the tree. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association is contributing ornaments and tree tags, so people can write warm thoughts of Angela or a loved one they’d like to remember.
The tree lighting is part of a “Holiday Jam” (4 to 6 p.m.). It includes live music, and free warm drinks for kids and adults. Rothbard’s will provide complimentary mulled wine, while Amis will have a s’mores table.
But the tree lighting in Angela’s memory is the centerpiece. “Hang messages from its branches, to sparkle in the light,” her friends and colleagues urge.
And then enjoy the beauty — literal and figurative — of downtown Westport.
Angela’s friend from Terrain, Page Englehart, adds this tribute:
Angela lived in Westport for a quarter century. Seven years ago, having gardened every allowable nook in town (legally or otherwise), she signed up to help transform our Cadillac dealership into Terrain.
Angela was an original Mother Earth. She bemoaned homes that did not have a hose, shovel or garden tool of any kind. She loved sharing her knowledge of plants and design with her clients — those who wanted “just pink flowers,” those who had budgets, and those who did not. She was a master at inspiring people who had seen it all before, and those who confessed to knowing “absolutely nothing.”
Angela Trucks, hanging a basket on Main Street.
Angela was a team player. The physical work she led us to do was at times hard, but she was always the hardest worker among us. And although she’d send newbies to string outdoor lights on the waterfront side of properties in December, she was always there to help, encourage and indulge a good natter on whatever ailed you, anytime of day (particularly over a sandwich).
Her husband Bill made her iconic sandwiches (peanut butter and apple, turkey and homemade horseradish). She’d tear off a section of the sandwich to share with you before loading her red Toyota Tercel with bags, brooms, branches, moss, plants, lights, wires and tools.
Angela never struggled with the small stuff. She understood the ebbs of nature and its beauty in any season, how the woods blended, how each plant worked with the other. She understood the same of people.
When Angela fell ill, and when she was no longer popping over to clients’ homes despite her cancer, our Terrain folk thought of ways we could lift her spirits — when she came home, when she got better …. a Christmas tree in her honor, perhaps.
When she died, many clients came together to celebrate her imprint on our community: Terrain, the DMA, Jesup Hall and Amis. All felt the best way to memorialize her was with a seasonal tree decorated with natural ingredients — vines, cones, branches and metal tree tags, to sparkle in the light and ring in the darkness.
The tree tags also gave us the opportunity to make Angela’s tree the town’s tree, by encouraging everyone to inscribe a thought or wish before hanging them on the branches. Whether they knew her or not, these tags allow us all to connect with Angela’a good spirit, with her love of the natural world, with a wink.
When the tree comes down at the end of the season, we hope to collect the tags and give them to the Trucks family.
Longtime resident Angela Trucks died last weekend. She was 69.
Her mark on Westport through beautification efforts is visible — literally — everywhere we look.
The Long Island native was a teacher, restaurant owner, and a village trustee. She was also one of the first female regional sales managers for Del Monte Foods.
Angela is survived by her husband William; her daughters Leigh Lutenski and Emma Trucks; their spouses Mark Lutenski and Jordan Padnuk, and her grandchildren Leonardo and Benjamin Lutenski, and Josephine Padnuk. Linda Adelman offers this tribute:
Angela Trucks was a force of energy to be reckoned with. She was artistic, curious, passionate and tenacious in her efforts to promote beauty. She loved Westport, and Westport benefited from her perseverance.
For well over a decade, as co-chair with Nancy Carr of the Westport Beautification Committee, Angela — a master gardener — conceived of and completed projects that improved the appearance of public spaces and promoted pride in our community. She maneuvered through bureaucracy, sought funding and donations, fostered consensus, and tackled physical work if needed.
The Re-Greening of the Post Road was a major 3-year project to improve the visual appeal of the Post Road between the Fairfield and Norwalk borders, and the median between Roseville Road and the Sherwood Island Connector.
Undaunted by state Department of Transportation red tape, town bureaucracy, business owners’ concerns, a shortage of funding or anything else, Angela resourcefully found ways to ensure that 90 trees were planted and cared for.
Angela encouraged business owners to take pride in their property, publicly recognizing the most outstanding “streetscapes” at an annual awards ceremony in Town Hall.
She envisioned gardens of perennials on the corners of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, and made them happen.
Every spring, she guided the committee as they organized and oversaw the participation of local businesses in the planting of flowers and shrubs on traffic rotaries. They were called “Adopt-A-Spots,” and Angela was relentless in her effort to reduce the number of illegal signs littering those islands.
In the early years of her tenure, Angela delegated committee members to cut evergreens wherever they could find them to use as holiday decorations in baskets on light poles along Main Street. She never hesitated to climb a ladder to “plant” those baskets.
Angela Trucks, hanging a basket on Main Street.
Angela Trucks was warm, generous of spirit and full of life. She was an inspiration, a beloved leader and friend. She worked without fanfare, but had a lasting impact on Westport’s public landscape.
Angela’s death has left a hole in our hearts. She is a hero who will be greatly missed by many.
(In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Norwalk Hospital, in recognition of the caring and dedicated nursing staff.)
The 2 gardens at the eastern (Klaff’s/Starbucks) end of the Post Road bridge have gotten a bit grotty.
As “gateways” to Westport — among the 1st things you see as you enter downtown from the Merritt, I-95 or Post Road — they provide a poor 1st impression. Built 20 years ago, they’re now weed-infested, overgrown and neglected.
The only people who care about them, it seemed, were folks who trampled over them putting up illegal signs, which stayed long after the events they advertised were done.
The 2 gardens were designed to be mirror images of each other. Now all they share is decrepitude.
But if you want to see for yourself, you better hurry. All that is about to change.
The town Beautification Committee is giving the “Gateway Gardens” an extreme makeover.
It hasn’t been easy.
Four months ago, a generous company agreed to pay for renovations. The committee solicited plans. Five local firms complied. 3 were selected — Laurel Rock, Daybreak and Geiger’s — and their proposals were passed on to the benefactor.
But the company reneged on its offer. The Beautification Committee apologized to the 3 garden design firms, and wondered what to do next.
Nancy Carr and Angela Trucks at work, weeding a Gateway Garden.
A week later, Burton DeMarche called. 35 years ago his father founded Dickson DeMarche Landscape Architects in Westport. Now called LaurelRock, after Burt — a horticulturist — joined DDLA, it’s expanded to become one of Fairfield County’s leading sustainable design/build firms.
Though its headquarters are in Wilton, DeMarche wanted to do something for his hometown. He offered to donate LaurelRock’s services — from planning and plantings to hardscape materials and installation — to bring the gardens back to life.
And to do it in time for this year’s Fine Arts Festival — July 16 and 17.
It’s a donation valued at over $35,000. Beautification co-chair Angela Trucks calls LaurelRock “our heroes.”
LaurelRock also agreed to maintain the gardens through the fall. Then the Downtown Merchants Association will take over. The Beautification Committee will pay for water. (No easy task — it must be trucked in.)
DeMarche has assigned one of his top landscape designers — Brian Westermeyer — to the project. “We drew our inspiration from the bridge’s shape and structure, as well as the river,” he says.
He’s creating a garden that will blend in with both. Plantings — including evergreen ground cover and hedges, perennials and flowering shrubs — will provide “an ever-changing palette of color, texture and pattern year-round.”
Trucks is thrilled by the new Gateway Gardens. “With stress levels so high here, it’s important to ride through town and see beauty,” she says. “This is such a pivotal spot, and to make it beautiful says a lot about Westport.”
She applauds the partnership between her committee, the DMA and town officials — and is thrilled at the generosity of LaurelRock.
“There are still a lot of giving people around,” she says.
And they’re giving downtown the gift of beauty.
(The dedication ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, July 17 at 1 p.m.)
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