Tag Archives: Eloise Reilly

Roundup: Ireland, Lacrosse, Politico …

“06880” readers know that Westport is a great place to live.

Now it’s official — at least, across the Atlantic.

Susan Garment spotted this sign the other day in Westport, Ireland. It says: “Tidy Towns National Winner.:

And below that: “Best Place to Live in Ireland.“

(Photo/Susan Garment)

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Westport sports fans know that the Staples High School boys lacrosse team’s rout of Darien in the state championship final was big.

But just how huge was it?

Inside Lacrosse just ranked the Wreckers’ win as the top performance in all of public high school lax this spring — in the entire country.

The site says:

A strong argument could be made that the Wreckers’ stunning 12-3 victory over Connecticut powerhouse Darien in the Class L state championship game was high school lacrosse’s biggest story in June. Scoring the game’s first eight goals to take a 9-1 lead into halftime, Will Koshansky’s squad played smart, methodical lacrosse en route to a commanding win over a Blue Wave squad that spent much of the season in the national Top 10.

This spring, the Wreckers picked up six victories over teams from the computer ratings Top 100, topping Massachusetts state champ St. John’s Prep, as well as Fairfield County foes Greenwich, Wilton, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Darien….

The 9-goal victory over Darien in the state championship stands above all of the Wreckers’ previous accomplishments this season, and now, Staples finishes as IL’s No. 1 public school program to end 2022…

AD

A young nucleus returns, so expect to hear even more about Westport’s finest going forward. (

(Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Dave Briggs)

Staples High School: boys lacrosse state champs — and now, #1 in the nation. (Photo/Chris Greer)

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Earlier this year, Steve Parrish brought Carlotta LaNier — one of the Little Rock 9, who desegregated Central High School in 1957 — to the Westport Library.

Now the consultant specializing in specializing in crisis management, corporate social responsibility, public affairs and communications — and frequent TV news show guest — has reached into his Rolodex, to plan another intriguing evening.

On July 19 (7 p.m.), he’ll chat with political journalist and Politico co-founder John Harris. Prior to creating one of the country’s most visited news sites, Harris was a national political reporter for the Washington Post.

Click here to register for a seat in the Trefz Forum. Click here for the livestream.

John Harris

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Kathie Motes Bennewitz — who serves as both Westport town arts curator and executive director of the Hopper House Museum and Study Center in Nyack, New York — joins Westporter Robin Frank in inviting “06880” readers to the Museum on July 19 (6 p.m.). Frank will give a presentation on “Framing Memory in American Art: Visions of Love and Loss.” The lecture is followed by  complimentary cocktails to toast the current exhibition Liliane Tomasko: Evening Wind.

Memory is the underlying theme of both Hopper’s isolated figures in interiors and Tomasko’s lyrical paintings of unmade beds. In addition to their works, I will discuss a diverse array of historic and contemporary objects—ranging from eighteenth-century mourning jewelry to a Covid-inspired video on view at the Whitney Biennial—that celebrate love and memorialize loss.

Click here for more details and tickets.

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Longtime Westporter, Red Cross volunteer, and one of Staples High School’s longest-lived graduates, Eloise Neyle Reilly died peacefully at her home, surrounded by her family and caregiver, on July 1. She was 102 years old.

Born on March 22, 1920 in New York City, she was called “a remarkable, self-sufficient and independent woman, known for her positive outlook on life.”

Eloise moved to Westport in 1934, and graduated from Staples High School. One of the most important chapters in her life began during World War II. She joined the American Red Cross Club Mobile Unit, a service to provide comfort and support to combat troops on the front lines with coffee, donuts and conversation.

After the war ended, she spent 2 more years in Germany, supporting US troops. She often told stories of her remarkable friendships and experiences during her years with the Red Cross.

Eloise’s strength and independence continued beyond the war when she returned home to Westport. In the late 1940s and ’50s she built a career in New York City, culminated as a human resource director at the advertising firm Young and Rubicam.

Eloise designed and worked with a local contractor to construct the home that she lived in since 1957. She was an avid gardener, a lover of nature and a long time member of the Westport Garden Club.    

In the late 1960’s, she left the city and the commute to start a second successful career as a real estate agent, with Helen Benson Real Estate.

One of her passions and strengths was maintaining great friendships in her community, and staying connected with lifelong friends and family across the country. A result of this passion came in the early 1970’s, when she began the first of many annual Red Cross Club Mobile reunions at her home here.

The tradition gained momentum and continued through the early 2000’s.   Reunions were held at the homes of Red Cross members and friends across the US and Europe.

Eloise is survived by her nephews, Kevin (Leslie Carrere) Reilly of Newfield, New York; William (Laura Gotfried) Reilly of Enfield, New York and Peter (Mary Picard) Reilly of Rye, New Hampshire; grand-nieces and nephews Colin, Marissa Mia, Megan and Conor Reilly, and great-grand-niece Kendall Reilly.  Her brother, Donald Reilly, recently predeceased her.

The family gives special thanks to Mary Krewsen, her personal caregiver, for her loving care, and the staff of Visiting Angels of Fairfield for their support.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in her honor can be made to The American Red Cross.

Family and friends are invited a visitation on Wednesday, July 13th (9:30 a.m., Christ & Holy Trinity church. Funeral services will follow at 10 in the church sanctuary.  Interment will follow at the Christ and Holy Trinity Cemetery.  Click here to sign the online guestbook.

Eloise Reilly

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Crabs are not the most elegant looking creatures.

But they — like this one, today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature — have been at Compo Beach and environs longer than we have.

lot longer.

(Photo/Jeanine Esposito)

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And finally … happy 52nd birthday to Beck. The one-named singer/songwriter/ producer turns 52 today.

(“06880” relies on the support of readers like you. Please click here to donate.)

Eloise Reilly: The Centenarian’s Great Sequel

I was so glad this morning to run an upbeat story. Westporter Eloise Reilly turned 100 on Sunday, and — from a safe distance — her neighbors helped her celebrate.

I called her a “longtime Westporter, and still-very-active community member.” I didn’t know the half of it.

Today, alert and inspired “06880” reader Kristin McKinney sent along a profile of Eloise she wrote a couple of years ago, for the Westport Garden Club newsletter. In honor of Eloise, she graciously shares it with us.

She picked up her landline on the second ring, old school style, no email, no cell phone. Connecticut native and Westport Garden Club member since 1977, Eloise Reilly was cheerful, bright and as receptive as she could be, certainly she would meet with me tomorrow for a WGC newsletter profile.

She gave me directions; we agreed to meet at 10 a.m. Approaching her property and ascending the longish driveway I noticed the American flag hoisted proudly on a tall, metal flagpole. Ellen Greenberg tipped me off that Eloise served in some capacity during World War II, and seeing Old Glory so elegantly displayed convinced me that was indeed the case.

I parked, found the door after looping around the house which coincidentally afforded me a very nice glimpse of Eloise’s gardens, and gave a gentle knock. Two sets of beautiful eyes met me, Eloise’s piping blues and those of her two-year old rescue kitty who viewed me somewhat suspiciously.

Eloise Reilly, on her 100th birthday. (Photo/Darren and Sally Spencer)

I was invited in and led to a comfy chair near a large bay window where the next three hours passed like a New York City minute. Not having the advantage of searching a Facebook page or Linked In profile in advance of our interview, I proceeded conversationally, looking for common ground.

Eloise was charmingly forthcoming; our initial topic of discussion involved her very successful career as a human resources manager for advertising giant Young & Rubicam that began in 1953, and a second career after tiring of the NYC commute as a realtor with Helen Benson Real Estate.

Talk moved to her home, a beautiful structure designed and built by none other than Eloise herself in 1956, in a time and era where women “just weren’t doing those types of things.” I asked Eloise where she developed her fondness for gardening and asked if as a little girl, she spent time in her mother’s gardens.

The answer was not only yes, but it turns out that like Janet Wolgast, her mother knew the Latin names of every variety of plant, flower and shrub that is identified by the American Horticulture Society.

What is her passion? Growing from seed. Eloise shared that she loves watching things grow, geraniums in particular. As a curious seed novice, I asked about her method for obtaining them, her quick-witted response was, “Order them from Fark’s!”

Eloise Reilly, during World War II.

An interview with Eloise wouldn’t be remotely complete without going into detail about a period in her life which she describes as, “a fabulous experience. Never happened before, will never happen again.”

After reading an article in Life Magazine, Eloise discovered women could go overseas with the Red Cross. She applied unsuccessfully multiple times, each rejection letter specifying the same reason:  she didn’t meet the minimum age requirement of 25.

That year was 1943 and according to Eloise whose two brothers were in the Naval Air Corps, “1300 of Westport’s 7K residents were in active service, everybody and anybody enlisted.”

Not to be deterred, Eloise finally scored an interview in DC and in battling the age argument audaciously stated, “I’m not 25, the war is going to be over by the time I’m 25, but I’ll match my family against anybody you have in the Red Cross.” She was officially in.

Eloise Reilly became a member of the Clubmobilers, a unique unit of service recognized by U.S. Senate Resolution 471 dated May 23, 2012, for exemplary service during the Second World War. Clubmobiles, established in 1942 and conceived by Harvey Gibson, the Red Cross Commissioner to Great Britain, provided fresh coffee, doughnuts, entertainment and a listening ear to troops across Western Europe and eventually the Far East.

Eloise’s tour of duty took her through England, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Holland and Belgium, as she says, “zigzagging all over the place.” According to Eloise, “I learned to drive a six-wheel, two-ton truck with a double clutch and no power steering. We were assigned to a division, the 12th army group, and we had to meet them upon request in various towns or even countries. There were 8 trucks per group, 3 girls apiece, 24 in total. There was also a supply truck with two girls who could sing or play the piano.”

Eloise Reilly, as a Clubmobiler.

In the event of capture, the ladies were made second lieutenants and although this allowed them admittance into the officer’s club for a meal, they preferred to dine with the GI’s. The Clubmobilers found themselves living in tents, chateaus or even theoccasional, local bordello.

If they asked for directions to the powder room, most often the response was met with a nod toward the surrounding woods. Eloise remarked that in a world of men, the Clubmobiliers were placed on a pedestal, treated like sisters, aunts, mothers.  “They were protected,” said Eloise. “Nobody got out of line, the GI’s were self-policing.”

I asked Eloise if she was ever afraid and the answer was a resounding “no.”  While she admits to being apprehensive at times and despite some accidents and fatalities sustained by fellow Clubmobilers, she was never concerned for her own life.

In fact, her goal was to get to the Front.

FUN FACTThe Westport Garden Club is 96 years old. To Eloise, that’s almost a child.

Happy 100th, Eloise Reilly!

In the midst of a grave health crisis, it’s important to celebrate milestones.

Which is exactly what Eloise Reilly’s friends and neighbors did on Sunday. (From a safe but loving distance, of course.)

After all, it’s not every day someone turns 100 years old.

Eloise — a longtime Westporter, and still-very-active community member — topped off her radiant look with a sparkling pink tiara.

Eloise Reilly (Photo/Darren and Sally Spencer)

“Eloise has seen a lot in her lifetime,” say her friends Darren and Sally Spencer, who tied a joyful banner around her house.

“But she always keeps a positive attitude. That should serve as a great lesson for all of us.”

It does indeed.

Happy birthday, Eloise, from your many fans in 06880 and beyond!