Tag Archives: Betty Lu Grune

Roundup: Spotted Lanternfly, Playhouse Benefit, More Theater …

Spotted lanternflies are back.

At least one.

(Photo/Stephen Rothenberg)

Stephen Rothenberg reports from the Westport Community Gardens: “Spotted, and smushed.”

The SLF is a sap-feeding plant hopper native to China. It is believed to have entered this country as an egg mass stuck to a shipment of stone sent to Pennsylvania in 2012. Since then, that state’s agriculture, vineyards, forests, nurseries and residential areas have suffered serious damage.

The spotted lanternfly made its way into Connecticut in 2021. The state Agricultural Experiment Station issued a quarantine order. The hope is that the pest will be slowed long enough to find a treatment to control or eradicate it.

The beautiful-looking insect affects fruit trees, grapes, hops and ornamental trees. The nymphs (immature stage of the SLF) and adults feed on sap from trees and vines, causing them to weaken. Excretions from the SLF stick to the leaves; black sooty mold grows, reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesize properly.  This reduce crop yields, and weaken trees and plants further, eventually destroying them.

It can also wreak havoc on lawn furniture, sidewalks, sides of buildings, car tires and everything else outside, making them a sticky mess.


More guest artists have been added to the Westport Country Playhouse’s benefit concert, “An Evening with Justin Paul & Friends, with Kelli O’Hara and James Naughton” (September 9, 8 p.m.).

Joining Tony, Oscar and Grammy Award-winning (and 2003 Staples High School graduate) Justin Paul are friends from his films, stage musicals, and other projects.

Two are from Westport: former Staples Player Jacob Heimer (Broadway’s “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”), and Stacie Morgain Lewis (“Wicked,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Urinetown,” “Titanic”).

Other guests include Loren Allred (vocalist on “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman”), Andrew Barth Feldman (“Dear Evan Hansen”); Grammy nominee Mykal Kilgore (“Motown the Musical,” “Hair,” “The Book of Mormon”); Tony winner Aaron Tveit (“Moulin Rouge! The Musical!”), and Jessica Vosk (“Wicked”).

Headlining with Paul (“La La Land,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “The Greatest Showman”) are Kelli O’Hara (Tony Award for “The King and I”), James Naughton (Tony Award for “City of Angels” and “Chicago”), and Greg Naughton (founding member of folk-rock group The Sweet Remains). 

Director Caley Baretta — another former Staples player — is senior manager of creative development at Disney Theatrical Group. Producer Ben Frimmer is well known as Coleytown Middle School’s longtime theater instructor.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Justin Paul


Speaking of the stage: The Westport Community Theatre’s 66th season begins September 8-24, with “A Picasso.”

It’s followed by “Time Stands Still” (November 10-26), “Love Letters “(February 2-18), “Switzerland” (April 5-21) and a final show, TBA (June 7-23).

Subscriptions are available for the theater, located in the lower level of Town Hall. Click here for information on tickets, and upcoming shows.


Gil Ghitelman writes:

“It’s been said boat owners enjoy 2 immeasurable highs: First when they buy it,  then when they sell it.

“Dog parents {please don’t call them ‘owners’) achieve nirvana only once. The loss is off the charts on the Richter scale of sadness. No one adopting a pup thinks about the dreaded end. The fact is, our pets just don’t live long enough.

“When word filtered down that we lost our beloved Oskar, we were embraced with tearful hugs from our friends and Oskar’s buddies’ parents. What was especially touching were the kind condolence notes left in our mailbox by our caring Westport neighbors whom we only have a nodding relationship with.  Mega-shoutouts are in order to these compassionate folks.

“When things settle down, we’ll look for another dog to join our family. The local  rabbits that Oskar chased (and never caught) are probably hoping we move slowly on this. I’m sure they think a little respite is in order.”



Arthur Lipner & the Caribbean Cruisers put on quite a show last night, at the Levitt Pavilion. Even the lighting was red-hot.

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Tomorrow night’s show is one of the summer’s big ones: Daryl Hall, with special guest Todd Rundgren.

It sold out quickly. But a few tickets have been returned, by people who now cannot attend.

The gala and cocktail party tickets are for both the pre-concert cocktail party sponsored by Roz and Bud Siegel, at Don Memo and Walrus Alley.

Concert-only tickets are available too for the show made possible by the Arthur & Claudia Cohen Foundation. But everyone can enjoy the Levitt parking lot, as it becomes a plaza with food trucks from the Blind Rhino, Little Pub and College Creamery Ice Cream, plus a full bar operated and sponsored by Rizzuto’s.

Click here for tickets, and more information.


Every week, the Westport Rotary Club learns something new.

This week’s subject was Urban Impact of Black Rock.

Executive director Bob Niedermeyer described the organization’s mentorship support for kindergarten through 12th grade students living in Bridgeport’s PT Barnum Public Housing Complex.

100 volunteer mentors form long-term relationships with their students. and become involved in their lives beyond the classroom.

Bob Niedermeyer explains Urban Impact’s impact.


Staples’ Class of 1965 is one of the most legendary in the high school’s 139-year history. (No, I was not a member. But they blazed the way for us youngsters well.)

To prepare for their 60th reunion in 2 years, they’re scouring the globe for classmates.

Click here to add your name to the database. If you’re not on Facebook, or have questions, email Kaempfer@mcarthurglen.com.

Members of Staples’ Class of 1965 remember when the school was 9 separate buildings. (This view is from 1959; an addition was finished in 1964).


Former Westporter Betty Lu Grune died peacefully last week in Florida, surrounded by her family. She was 93.

Her father was a US Navy chaplain. Betty Lu lived in many US and international locations. She met her husband, George Grune, at Duke University during the first weeks of college.

Betty Lu graduated from Duke in 1951, with a B.A. in English. She married George in 1952. They lived in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania before moving to Westport. They were here for 33 years.

Betty Lu was active in the Newcomers Club, PTA and Westport Garden Club. She also served as chapter president of the PEO philanthropic organization.

In 1988 the Grunes retired to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where they supported local organizations including the Jacksonville Symphony, Cummer Museum, Players by the Sea, and Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida.

Betty Lu was a vibrant participant in countless events in support of her husband, the former chairman and CEO of Reader’s Digest Association. She took great pride in her 3 sons.

Betty Lu was predeceased by her husband George, and siblings Virginia May (Achtmeyer) Adams, Fern Marie Atkin and Francis Lee Albert, Jr. She is survived by her sons George Jr. (Judy) of Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, and their children Heather, Lindsey and George III; Robert (June) of Ponte Vedra Beach), and their children Alexandra, Robert Jr. and Jordan; and Steven (Nancy) of Darien, and their children Steven Jr, Natalie and Kevin.

A service to celebrate Betty Lu’s life will be held later at the Palms Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Click here to leave an online tribute.

Betty Lu Grune


Today’s compelling “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from the Community Gardens.

Photographer Lou Weinberg explains: “Compared to other native North American birds, goldfinches are late breeders.

“They start building nests in late June and early July, when thistle and milkweed are going to seed. Goldfinches like to use the seeds in their nests, and also as food for their young.

“The Westport Community Gardens and Long Lots Preserve have ample quantities of thistle and milkweed growing, along with one of their favorites, the sunflower.”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)


And finally … happy 74th birthday to Rick Springfield!

 (Jessie’s girl, Jessie himself — and everyone else — is invited to contribute to “06880.” Please click here. And thank you!)