Tag Archives: Assumption Church

Remembering Ed Capasse

Edward Capasse — a lifelong Westporter, former Board of Finance chair, and an active volunteer with the Westport Weston Family Y and Assumption Church — died last week, surrounded by his family. He was 91.

Ed was born October 1, 1930 in Westport, son of Police Captain Edward T. Capasse and Theresa PrunoLo Capasse.

Ed graduated from Staples High School. That’s where he met his wife of 48 years, Esther Ann Mondella, a Westport teacher.

After graduating from Fairfield University in 1952 and Boston College Law School in 1955, he became a prominent lawyer. He worked for over 60 years in Westport, first with Tate, Capasse & Johnson, then Nevas, Nevas & Capasse.

Ed Capasse

In addition to his work with the Board of Finance, Y and Assumption, Ed was an avid boater, golfer, swimmer and tennis player. He was a member of Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club and the Patterson Club.

Beyond his career as “consigliere” to Westport businessmen, he is
remembered by his family as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, who lived up to his Staples yearbook quote: “Upright as the cedar.”

“Deeply religious, he espoused strong family values, integrity, work ethic and charity, spiced with a wily sense of humor. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and gardening, while pursuing a late ‘singing career.'”

Ed spent his final years in Westport and Vero Beach, Florida with his late second wife, Linda Coburn Capasse, with whom he shared a decade of memories.

Ed is survived by his children Thomas (Jeanne) of Westport, Mary Beth (Jim) Carroll of Falls Church, Virginia, David of Bridgeport, and Meg (Dan) MacLeod
of South Portland, Maine; grandchildren, Jay (Becca), Erin and Addison Carroll and Natalie (Subhash) and Michael Capasse; great-grandchild Jarmin James
Carroll, and numerous nieces and nephews.

In addition to Esther and Linda, Ed was pre-deceased by his sister, Marie Whelan.

Calling hours will take place at Harding Funeral Home, Westport
on August 15 (4 to 7 p.m.). A Mass of Christian Burial is set for Assumption Church on August 16 (11 a.m.), followed by burial at Assumption Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Foundation for Fighting
Blindness. Afflicted with a hereditary eye disease, Ed overcame occupational and
professional disability with support from the Foundation. He was an
active participant in their mission. Click here, or send to PO Box 45740, Baltimore, MD 21297.

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Assumption Church, across the Saugatuck River (Photo/Michael Angell)

Roundup: Leaf Pickup, Riverside Avenue Closure, Charlie Karp …

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From now through December 6, Westport’s Public Works Department is collecting leaves placed in biodegradable paper bags on the curbside.

All leaves must be placed safely near the curb of a town street (not private roads to guarantee pickup. Leaves placed in plastic bags will not be picked up (the composting process cannot handle plastic).

For further information, call Public Works office at 203-341-1120.

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Saugatuck drivers beware!

From today through Tuesday (November 23), a road improvement project will close Riverside Avenue between Bridge Street and Saugatuck Avenue to all but local businesses and residents. All other traffic must use Saugatuck Avenue and Charles Street.

Closed for renovation.

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Charlie Karp was a Westport musical legend.

The Staples High Class of 1971 member dropped out of school to play guitar and tour with Buddy Miles. He later played with Jimi Hendrix, then returned to the area and front numerous bands. He inspired countless young musicians. His death from liver cancer in 2019 was followed by an all-star memorial concert at the Levitt Pavilion.

Yesterday, friends and classmates unveiled a memorial plaque at Staples. It’s part of the music department’s showcase, and highlights his career and influence.

Among the attendees: Mark Soboslai, Rafe Klein, Walter Panek, Bruce Carter, Brian Keane, Bonnie Erickson and Lynn Untermeyer Miller.

Westport Public Schools’ music and visual arts coordinator Steve Zimmerman (left) and Walter Panek, plaque and logo designer. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Karp’s death also spawned 2 documentary films. The second — just released to the public — was created by his friends and fans. It tells the story of his life, and the tribute concert. To view this gift to the community, click here.

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Westport Country Playhouse’s popular script-in-hand reading series is back — live!

“A Merry Little Christmas Carol” — written and directed by Script in Hand curator Mark Shanahan — combines magic, holiday cheer and the magic of the holiday.

It’s in person on December 13 (7 p.m.).

For theater-goers not ready, or unable, to return to the theater, an on-demand livestream is also available (December 16-19).

Click here for tickets and more information.

The Script in Hand series returns to the Westport Country Playhouse. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Assumption Church has embarked on a culturally diverse music program.

This Sunday (November 21), the Filipino Community Choir sings at 5 p.m. mass.  The Hispanic Community Choir follows December 12 (9 a.m.), with the Vietnamese Community Choir on January 3.

Still to be scheduled: the Haitian Community Choir and Regina Pacis School Children’s Choir.

Filipino Community Choir

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Congratulations to the Westport Soccer Association’s U-12 white travel team, coached by Alyson Panaro: league champions!

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One more “Westport … Naturally” gorgeous view, before the leaves fade:

Saugatuck River view. (Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

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And finally … if you’ve never heard Charlie Karp play guitar (see story above), check out his work with Buddy Miles …

… and solo:

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Assumption Church and Saugatuck River (Photo/Tatyana Hixon)

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Assumption Church (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

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Assumption Church, from Grace Salmon Park (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Roundup: COVID Vaccine, Beach Stickers, The Remains, Invasive Plants …

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In case you missed it: Connecticut has moved up the date for all eligible residents 16 and over to get COVID vaccines. It’s now April 1 — no fooling!

An increased supply of vaccines will enable 200,000 doses to be distributed next week. That includes the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

You can call 877-918-2224, 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to schedule an appointment. Click here to schedule online.

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Beach stickers will be available this Monday (March 29). Click on the Parks & Recreation Department website, then “Memberships.”

At least a couple of beachgoers were ready yesterday for summer to begin:

(Photo/Karen Como)

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Westport hits the jackpot with this month’s Connecticut Magazine.

Local writer Michael Catarevas contributed an in-depth, insightful, and very intriguing look back at the Remains.

They’re the band — fronted by 1963 Staples High School graduate Barry Tashian, with ’64 alum Bill Briggs on keyboard — that packed clubs around New England, played “Ed Sullivan” and “Hullabaloo,” had a major recording deal — and in 1966, toured with the Beatles.

They were all set to be rock’s next big thing — until they weren’t.

I’ve written often about the Remains. Jon Landau nailed it, back in the day: “They were how you tell a stranger about rock ‘n’ roll.” Now Catarevas’ story — which includes details about their still cult-like status and recent tours — puts it all together, for a statewide audience.

Bonus cuts: There are sidebars about Briggs’ tour with the Kingsmen (“Louie Louie”),

Click here for the main story. Click here for one sidebar on ’71 Staples grad Fred Cantor’s off-Broadway play and film documentary on the Remains — and another on Prudence Farrow, the inspiration for the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.”

The Remains

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A reader writes:

“In light of the town support of our Asian community, I want to share what I saw in New Luxx Nail & Spa (near the old Calico) earlier this week.

“A gentleman in uniform came in. I’m not sure if he was a police officer or firefighter. I heard him speaking to the owner and workers, who are Asian.

“He warmly told them that we (I assuming he meant Westport law enforcement) are very proud of and value our Asian business community. He said ‘we are here to support you,’ &Sp and that anything they need, or any issues they might have, they should not hesitate to contact them.

“I am proud of our community and law enforcement, that they made this outreach to these wonderful people of whom I have grown very fond. It is these unseen acts that help make Westport the place that it is.”

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Invasive plants have invaded Westport. They crowd out natives and are harmful to our natural resources, disrupting biodiversity and ecological processes.

Earthplace has partnered with Sustainable Westport and the Town of Westport to host 2 events.

The first is an in-person walk this Sunday (March 28th, 1 to 2:30 p.m., $10). Click here to register.

The second event is a free webinar on Sunday, April 11 (1- to 1:45 p.m). Click here to register.

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The Assumption Church Youth Group holds a food drive this Sunday (Palm Sunday, March 28, 7:30 a.m. to noon). Non-perishables are needed. All donations go to their sister parish in need — St. Charles in Bridgeport — and to children in the care of Missionaries of Charity in Bridgeport.

Donors should pull into the back parking lot. Someone will unload your trunk.

Meanwhile, tomorrow (Saturday, March 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Weston’s St. Francis Church holds a drive-through food drive in their parking lot on 35 Norfield Road. As with Assumption, volunteers will unload non-perishables from your trunk. All donations will be delivered to the Weston Food Pantry, and Norwalk’s Open Door Shelter.

Assumption Church, from Imperial Avenue (Photo/Patrick Goldschmidt)

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And finally … ladies and gentlemen: The Remains!

 

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4 reflections: Ford Road … (Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)

… and Compo Beach …(Dann Johnson)

… and Saugatuck River …  (Photo/Amy Schneider)

… and deer on North Avenue (Photo/Jo Shields Sherman)

Westport Says Farewell To Vinny Penna

Police officers from far and wide joined hundreds of Vinny Penna’s Westport friends this morning, to bid a final farewell to their colleague and friend.

The retired deputy police chief died last week, at 51.

The Saugatuck native’s Assumption Church funeral Mass was livestreamed. A graveside service follows, at the Assumption cemetery on Greens Farms Road.

(Photos/Amy Schneider)

Jean Donovan: Not The Westport Girl Next Door

John F. Suggs is a longtime Westporter, regular “06880” reader and former Jesuit. He is also passionate about keeping Jean Donovan’s memory alive. John writes:

Jean Donovan

Forty years ago today, 4 U.S. churchwomen were kidnaped, tortured, raped and killed in a remote section of El Salvador. They were targeted for openly living with and caring for the poor in the midst of El Salvador’s bloody civil war.

According to a 1993 United Nations Security Council report, the women were ordered killed by the US-trained and funded Salvadorian military, which covered up their involvement in the murders and obstructed initial investigations.

Three of the churchwomen were Catholic nuns. The fourth — Jean Donovan — was a 27-year-old lay Catholic volunteer who grew up in Westport.

In many ways, Jean was like any other Westport kid. She marched in the annual Memorial Day parade with her Girl Scout toop, made her first communion at Assumption Church and her confirmation at St. Luke.

A member of the Staples High School class of 1971, she played on the basketball and field hockey teams. An accomplished equestrian at Westport’s Fiddle Horse Farm, Jean managed the tack room after school and supervised youngsters assigned to work in the stables.

Jean Donovan, at Fiddle Horse Farm. (Photo courtesy of Ray and Patricia Donovan)

She was the quintessential Westport girl next door.

Until she wasn’t.     

Only 6 years after graduating from Staples, after finishing grad school and starting as an account executive at Arthur Andersen, Jean put her career on hold to pursue something radically different.

She applied for a volunteer position with the Catholic Maryknoll Lay Mission. The program required a 2-year commitment living with and serving an impoverished community in El Salvador.

Accepted into the program, Jean quit her job, to begin training and coursework.

Today it is common for young Westporters to go on service or mission trips. Some expect a transformational experience. Others pad their resumes to help get into competitive colleges.

As parents, we sign permission slips and write checks, knowing that at least the trip gets our kids out of the Westport bubble. We hope their experiences in communities of poverty might have a beneficial impact on them — something lasting, beyond serving as a great subject for a college application essay.

I believe it was here that Jean began to differentiate herself from the quintessential Westport girl next door.

A tribute to Jean Donovan and fellow churchwomen, near the spot of their murder in El Salvador.

Jean had already been accepted into the right undergrad and graduate schools. She had completed her studies, and landed that important first professional job.

Jean had no need to make this 2-year service commitment to help advance her career. If anything, her decision derailed it — at least with Arthur Andersen.

So why did Jean do what she did?

Though I never had the pleasure of knowing Jean personally, I’ve worked hard over the years to help keep her memory alive in Westport. So I have given this question a lot of thought.

Based on all the information that I’ve gathered, I believe her decisions to not only quit her job and make this commitment, but also to stay in El Salvador as the violence escalated, were the result of her making a spiritual discernment.

This centuries-old decision-making process seeks to assist an individual in determining their best course of action. The person first becomes aware of the interior movements and deepest desires of their heart, then tests and evaluates its validity in alignment with God.

A tribute to Jean Donovan hangs outside Assumption Church. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Two weeks before Jean died, she wrote a friend in Connecticut about the final decisions and actions she was about to take, based on what I believe were the results of her spiritual discernment.

The Peace Corps left today and my heart sank low. The danger is extreme, and they were right to leave….

Now I must assess my own position because I am not up for suicide. Several times I have decided to leave El Salvador. I almost could, except for the children, the poor, bruised victims of this insanity. Who would care for them? Whose heart could be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and helplessness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.

Today let’s remember and honor this once quintessential Westport girl next door, whose discernment and subsequent action culminated in making the ultimate commitment to protect and care for the most vulnerable of all.

(Jean Donovan will be remembered this Sunday [December 6]. during the 11 a.m. mass at Assumption Church. Attendance is limited, due to COVID; click here to reserve a seat. The mass will be livestreamed.

(In progressive Catholic social justice networks, Jean Donovan is considered a saint. A Jean Donovan Summer Fellowship at Santa Clara University — a Jesuit school — supports students interested in social justice, while in Los Angeles the Casa Jean Donovan Community Residence houses members of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

(Her story was told in “Salvador.” Written by Oliver Stone — who directed it too, as his 1st major film — the character based on her life was played by Cynthia Gibb. Amazingly, she too is a Staples High graduate, exactly 10 years after Jean Donovan.)