Tag Archives: Bernie Dorogusker

Roundup: Birds, Gardens, MoCA …

It’s been a while since we checked in with our ospreys.

Carolyn Doan visited the Fresh Market raptors on Saturday. She reports:

“I found mom on the very top of a neighboring pine tree. She was giving herself full view of the action around her.

“To her left, the first of her 3 chicks had fledged and was enjoying space away from his sisters. To her right, 2 female nestlings were front and center in the nest, getting ready for their first flight. It may happen this week!”

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)


Speaking of our fine feathered friends: “Birdbrain” is not a compliment.

But for the past few years, birds have been bright enough to build nests on top of a fire alarm signal box in the Playhouse Condominiums parking garage.

It’s warm. It’s protected from both weather and predators. And because they’re birds, “home” is a lot easier to access than residents who battle the shopping center traffic every day.

Still, bringing a chick into the world is not easy. In years past, the condo’s cleaning crew has dismantled the nest; other times, the parents abandoned it.

But this year, all’s well in birdland.

The Playhouse Condos proudly announces its newest resident:

Chick, atop the fire alarm box. (Photo/Dick Truitt)


Speaking still of nature:

On Saturday, the Westport Community Gardens held an open house.

Dozens of residents of all ages flocked to the Hyde Lane oasis. They toured the 100-plus plots; marveled at the wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers grown there; enjoyed the pergola and bocce court, and toured the Long Lots Preserve that rings the plots.

Gardeners shared tips — and some of their bounty too.

Enjoying the Westport Community Gardens… (Photo/Lou Weinberg)

… and some of the bounty. (Photo/Karen Mather)


As summer heats up, so does MoCA.

Last week, members of Club203 enjoyed art classes at the museum. The next Club203 art class is August 14 (6 p.m.).

The organization — Westport’s social club for adults with disabilities — is just one of several MoCA Gives Back partner groups.

The goal of the MoCA program is to offer art experiences to all, through high-quality programming, and strong outreach to under-resourced populations.

MoCA Gives Back is successful, thanks to dedicated volunteers and instructors. 

An exhibition on August 27 will showcase works created by MoCA Gives Back participants. 

Meanwhile, Friday night’s MoCA Some Noise: Open Mic Night offered performers a chance to share poetry, readings and acoustic music in the gallery. More are planned.

Click here for a full MoCA calendar.

Club 203, at MoCA Westport.


Sure, yesterday was a washout.

But that gives us 4 days for the weather to clear before Thursday’s 9th annual “06880” blog party.

We’re all set for 6 p.m (July 20). The site is Compo Beach — the alcohol-is-okay South Beach, by the trees (the opposite end from the cannons).

Bring your own food, beverages (no glass bottles!), beach chairs and blankets. We can always use a folding table too.

Our blog party is a community gathering – a chance to meet and mingle with the diverse “06880” community (both online and real). It’s fun, un-fancy, and free!

We extend a special welcome to all our new “06880” readers. And those who have never come to our bash. See you July 20!

Patti and Doug Brill and friends say: “Come to the blog party!”


Longtime Westporter Bernard Dorogusker died on June 29, with his family at his side. He was 97.

The Bronx native was born to immigrant parents. Times were not easy, but he and his 2 siblings experienced a full New York City childhood. He helped in his father’s store, and sold comics on the corner and hot dogs at Yankee Stadium. At 13, he attended the 1939 World’s Fair.

Bernie served in the Army in the European Theatre under General George S. Patton, Jr.

After his service he attended RCNY and the RCA Institutes for post graduate work in radio and electrical engineering. He loved everything about computers, instrumentation and technology, and started his career building computers at IBM.

This led to a decades long engineering career at the Perkin Elmer Corporation. He worked on government projects, including instrumentation for aircraft and the Hubble Space Telescope.

He met his wife, Barbara Helen Zepko, at Perkin-Elmer. They married in 1959, settling down to start a family near Compo Beach.

Bernie’s passion for all things sports included racing cars, skiing and sailing. In the early 1960s he turned in his iconic Austin Healey to focus on One Design competitive sailing.

Bernie was fascinated by wind patterns, aerodynamics and sail performance, and spent years studying data and research.

Cedar Point Yacht Club became his second love (after his family), and Bernie and his Thistle #1124, “Zelda III,” were a fixture of an award-winning fleet for many, many years.

He was instrumental in growing various fleets at the club, and was a master technical scorekeeper for all things racing at CPYC. After decades of successful racing he retired his boat, and became principal race officer for the cruising fleet. The cruising class honors him every year with the Bernie Dorogusker Trophy for every division in their Wednesday night series.

Bernie also was instrumental in publishing a book on Cedar Point’s history.

Seth Vanbeever honored him with a social media post. Seth wrote:

“35 years ago I was in the junior sailing program at Cedar Point. I wanted to race on the big boats, the cruising class, in the Wednesday night series. No one wanted to take a 12-year-old on the boat.

“I went to the race committee and asked if they needed any help. Bernie, who was in his 60s, said, ‘Shuuuuur’ in his New York accet.

“Bernie didn’t put me to work. He taught me to how to do race committee. He took me under his wing (while explaining Bernoulli’s principle) for the next several years.

“I did race committee on Wednesday nights, raced Thistles on the weekends with Bernie and Walt Stuebner. We even sailed in the Frostbite Series at Essex Yacht Club.

“these two men taught me a tremendous amount about the sport of sailing. I will always remember Bernie.”

Bernie is survived by his wife Barbara of Trumbull; daughters Robin of Boxford, Massachusetts and Laurie of Trumbull; grandsons Erik and Alex Weisensee; brother Alvin, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Renie Zinsmeister.

A graveside service with military honors will be held this Friday (July 21, 11 a.m., Oak Lawn Cemetery, Fairfield). A memorial service at the Cedar Point Yacht Club will take place at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project or the American Cancer Society. To sign his online guestbook, click here.

Bernie Dorogusker


Johanna Keyser Rossi almost inadvertently squished this tiny praying mantis the other day, on one of the Riverwalk steps near the Levitt Pavilion.

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)

It’s a good thing she didn’t. For one thing, it’s Connecticut’s official state insect.

For another, we wouldn’t have today’s “Westport … Naturally photo.


And finally … Andre Watts died last week, at his Bloomington, Indiana home. He was 77, and suffered from prostate cancer.

The New York Times called him “a pianist whose mighty technique and magnetic charm awed audiences and made him one of the first Black superstars in classical music.”

He was “an old-world virtuoso — his idol was the composer and showman Franz Liszt — with a knack for electricity and emotion. He sometimes hummed, stomped his feet and bobbed his head while he played, and some critics faulted him for excess. But his charisma and his technical powers were unquestioned, which helped fuel his rise to the world’s top concert halls.” Click here for a full obituary.

(If you enjoy our decade of osprey coverage — or anything else “06880” does — please consider a contribution. Just click here — and thank you!).

1 Road, 3 Neighbors, 50 Years

In 1952, Mike and Galy Starzyk moved to Drumlin Road.

Two years later, Gordon and Dot Hall moved in across the street. Nine years after that, Bernie and Barbara Dorogusker bought a house next door to the Starzyks.

Much has happened since then. Countless families moved in, had kids, raised them, moved away. Decks were built, 2nd floors added. Trees have grown tall (and fallen).

But nearly 50 years later, all 3 families still live on the horseshoe-shaped drive near Hillspoint and Green’s Farms Road, just south of the railroad tracks (and the “Connecticut Turnpike” — I-95 — which was still being debated when the former cow pasture was developed back in 1952-53).

There may be no other place in Westport where 3 neighbors have lived so close together since the Kennedy Administration.

A 1952 ad for "Compo Manor: A Residential Community Situated in Westport, Beauty Spot of Southern Connecticut" shows "The Perfect Three-Bedroom Rancher" model home. It is "Priced at $14,500. Complete."

The Starzyks are the only original owners left. Mike and Galy were living in Bridgeport. With 2 children, they needed more room. Galy’s brother-in-law — Art Reale — told them about a new development, “Compo Manor.” The lots were small — 1/4 acre — but the $14,500 price was perfect.

Better yet, nearly all their neighbors were like the Starzyks: young, and with kids.

In 1955, Gordon and Dot Hall’s daughter was not yet born. Married 2 years, and both teachers — he at Bedford Junior High School, she at the brand-new Coleytown Elementary — they had rented “tiny, ramshackle places” elsewhere in town.

But they saved their pennies — “literally,” Gordon notes — and loved the little ranch house that was for sale. Other tract homes they’d seen — on Reichert Circle, Bauer Place and Tamarack — all faced in the same direction. The 43 Drumlin homes were built with the same 2 or 3 floor plans, but they were angled uniquely. And each setback was different.

The asking price was $20,600. The Halls paid $19,600. On their salaries — he made about $3,000, she $2,900 — that was manageable. But for 4 summers, when they took graduate courses, they rented the house out. The extra cash helped make ends meet.

“There were lots of strollers, and there was lots of sledding,” Dot recalls. “Everyone was very sociable, because (the adults) were all around the same age.”

Gordon and Dot Hall's house in 1957 (left) and 2012 (right). The 3 families that have been neighbors for nearly 50 years share the mailboxes in the photo at right.

Barbara Dorogusker is the “newest” of the 3 neighbors — but she’s got the longest local connection. A 3rd-generation Westporter, she grew up on 6 acres on Sturges Highway. Her grandmother (a former indentured servant in Poland) lived next door. The property included a pond and barn.

After graduating from Staples in 1952, Barbara married a man from New York City. They wanted to buy a house, but without much land. Bernie was a sailor; proximity to the Sound was key.

With $2,000 in the bank, they searched for a while. Finally they saw a place on Drumlin. With a big field in back — off Jennie Lane — they could look at nature, but not have to take care of it.

“It wasn’t our dream house,” Barbara admits. “But every house is a compromise.”

Her parents were “appalled. They thought we  were moving into tomorrow’s slums because the lots were so small.” But, Barbara says, “it was perfect for us.” And Cedar Point Yacht Club was just down the hill, at Compo Beach.

They built a big sunroom, and a deck. They had 2 children. “We wanted them to grow up surrounded by friends,” Barbara says. “They sure did.”

The kids created secret pathways between bushes. An empty school bus would pull up to the foot of Drumlin Road. It drove away filled.

Every summer, the Drumlin Road neighbors have a block party. Last summer's event showed an enormous span of ages -- but plenty of smiles.

Over the years, the road changed. There were many “older couples, divorced people, one-child families,” Gordon says.

Miraculously for Westport, there have been only 2 demolitions — and both were caused by accidents. One house burned; the other had a tree fall on it.

Of course, many homes have been remodeled. They’re a bit larger than they were (Gordon calls them “mini-mansions, not McMansions”). So they’re once more attractive to young couples. “We’re seeing bicycles and strollers again,” says Dot.

But not every house has been sold, re-sold, and re-re-sold.

“Why would we ever want to move?” Barbara asks. “Everyone looks out for each other here. We’ve got one story, which is great.” (She’s 77; Bernie is 85.)

“And with housing prices going to pot, why leave?”

Similarly, after the Starzyks’ kids grew up and moved away, Mike and Galy stayed. “We were comfortable,” she recalls. “There was no reason to leave.”

Sixty years later, they’re still on Drumlin Road.

“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be in this world,” 93-year-old Galy says. “But I have no plans to move.”

Nor do her neighbors. After 49 years together, there’s no place like home.