Tag Archives: Gavin Anderson

Thanking Our Veterans, On Their Special Day

For some Westporters, Veterans Day is a holiday. For others, it’s business as usual.

No matter what today is, all of us — all Americans, really — should take time to reflect on the millions of men and women who, over the years, have sacrificed greatly to serve our nation, and the world.

Here are just a few of the many Westporters who deserve our deepest gratitude.

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In March of 1944 Emanuel (“Manny”) Margolis turned 18. He was a student at the University of North Carolina, but lacked a deferment. Drafted into the Army, he was chosen as a candidate for Officer’s Training School, and taught Morse Code.

Sent to England as a forward observer radio operator, he carried a 100-pound radio on his back. He weighed just 118.

PFC Manny Margolis, age 18 in June 1944.

PFC Manny Margolis, age 18 in June 1944.

He went to France and Belgium, to the Rhine River. The Germans had blown up all but 1 bridge crossing — a railroad bridge near Remagen. Made of wood, it was not meant to handle heavy tanks and artillery. The Army sent 100 engineers to remove dynamite, and shore it up.

Manny was among the first in his unit to be sent over the bridge. Radio operators had to report back to artillery how far to set their cannon fire.

Manny was not far into the woods on the other side of the bridge when the Germans began firing. He lay down behind a tree, and was shot through the leg and kneecap. He asked to be sent back to his unit, but his war was over. It was March 17, 1945 — 1 day before his 18th birthday.

The Army got some tanks and artillery over the bridge, but it collapsed with 100 engineers working on the underside. Many were killed.

Luckily, Manny’s leg was not amputated. He had 3 major operations in England, and more after returning home in the spring of 1946. He was awarded a Purple Heart, went back to UNC and graduated in 1947.

Manny Margolis, at a Town Hall ceremony. (Photo/Craig Skinner)

Manny Margolis, at a Town Hall ceremony. (Photo/Craig Skinner)

Thanks to the GI Bill, Manny went to Harvard. He earned a master’s and Ph.D. in international law. He taught at the University of Connecticut, then was accepted at Yale Law School with 1 phone call (no LSATs or interviews).

Manny worked for civil rights and civil liberties for 55 years, and lived nearly all his adult life in Westport. He died in August of 2011, at 85 years old.

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Stanley L. Englebardt landed on the beach at Normandy a couple of days after the initial assault. He saw action on the front line during the Battle of the Bulge. Initially a corpsman, he was put into infantry when the Germans broke through Allied lines in 1944. A longtime Westporter, he died this past March.

Stan Englebardt, age 18, soon after entering the Army.

Stan Englebardt, age 18, soon after entering the Army.

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Donald Snook was a B-17 pilot in the 369th Squadron of the 306th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. He was stationed at Thurleigh Air Force based north of Bedford, England during World War II. He flew 24 missions over Europe, and remained there with the Occupational Air Force until July 1946.

Don is now 91. He lives in Westport with his wife, Katherine.

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Bob Beeby served in the South Pacific during peacetime, just after the Korean War.

Bob Beeby

Bob Beeby

As a naval aviator he flew an anti-submarine aircraft to hunt for typhoons. With technology less advanced than that in today’s Prius, he went through the walls of a typhoons 1,500 feet above sea level, directly into the eye. He took readings with a sextant, and radioed the storm location to the fleet, in case they had to relocate.

Aircraft were often damaged by storms. Pilots risked their lives on emergency landings. Bob was one of them.

He has lived in Westport for 50 years. He logged over a million air miles a year as CEO of the international division of a major corporation. He is generous in time and spirit, and a loving father and grandfather.

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Byron Miller was a Special Forces radio operator in Vietnam. For the past 38 years, he's been a psychotherapist  in, and resident of, Westport.

Byron Miller was a Special Forces radio operator in Vietnam. For the past 38 years, he’s been a psychotherapist in, and resident of, Westport.

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Tom Feeley at Fort Benning Airborne School, 1962.

Tom Feeley at Fort Benning Airborne School, 1962.

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Robin “Bob” Custer Sr.  graduated from technical school in 1965, with a degree in drafting. He then served in the Army, seeing combat duty with the 1st Infantry Division (the “Big Red One”) in Vietnam from 1967 to ’68.

For years, Bob has played a big role in Westport. He’s been the sexton at Greens Farms Congregational Church for over 20 years (giving students on the Jennings Trail Tour the church  history), is quartermaster at VFW Post 399, and always marches in the Memorial Day Parade.

Bob Custer, standing amidst the flags he loves.

Bob Custer, standing amidst the flags he loves.

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Jay Dirnberger served with the 1st Cavalry Division in South Vietnam, in 1968.

Jay Dirnberger served with the 1st Cavalry Division in South Vietnam, in 1968.

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Kendall Gardiner Anderson was in Vietnam, with the U.S. Army

Kendall Gardiner Anderson was in Vietnam, with the U.S. Army

Kendall Gardiner Anderson's husband, Lt. Cdr. Robert Gavin Stewart Anderson, served in Cyprus with Her Majesty's Royal Navy. After moving to Westport and becoming a naturalized US citizen, he served his town on the Board of Finance and as second selectman.

Kendall Gardiner Anderson’s husband, Lt. Cdr. Robert Gavin Stewart Anderson, served in Cyprus with Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. After moving to Westport and becoming a naturalized US citizen, he served on the Board of Finance and as second selectman.

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And let’s not forget the Gilbertie family. John S. Gilbertie Sr. volunteered in World War I, and was awarded medals by the US, French and Italian governments for bravery.

He enlisted at 17 — just 12 years after emigrating from Italy — and served as a scout behind enemy lines in the Argonne forest, among other locations. He became a founding members of Westport’s Joseph J. Clinton VFW, was grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade, and helped organize Memorial Day ceremonies on Jesup Green for many years. His name is on the Doughboy statue on Veterans Green (with the Italian spelling, “Ghiliberti”).

John’s son Mario went to Korea. Anthony, who was younger, was a member of the Army National Guard.

Several grandchildren also served. Jay was in Vietnam, and was a member of the 1st crew of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy. Marty was in the Navy CBs during Vietnam. Tom joined the Air Force in the 1980s, while Peter was in the infantry then.

Trevor — a great-grandson — recently returned from Afghanistan, with the Army National Guard.

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Thanks to all the Westport veterans we’ve mentioned — and the many, many others who also served proudly served us, over so many years.

 

Remembering Gavin Anderson

Gavin Anderson — the British-born naturalized US citizen who served Westport in countless ways since moving here in 1977 — died early today, after a long illness. He was 74.

Gavin was elected to the Board of Finance, and served on the Board of Selectmen. He was also chair and member of the First Selectman’s Maintenance Committee, and the Sherwood Mill Pond Committee.

An accountant with Colgate Palmolive, he worked around the world. For the last 35 years, Westport has been his home — and a place he served with energy, passion, grace and integrity.

“06880” readers are invited to click “Comments” to offer condolences and share memories of Gavin Anderson.

A Good Time For Charlie

Good things happen to good people.

Charlie Haberstroh

Charlie Haberstroh is one of the genuinely good people in Westport.  The 60-year-old, 2-decade Westporter — a 2-term Board of Finance member, former RTMer, longtime Rotary leader and sports volunteer — is the Republican Town Committee nominating committee’s choice to fill a vacancy on the board of selectmen.  If approved by the full RTC, and then the 2 Democratic selectmen, Charlie would replace Gavin Anderson, who resigned for health reasons.

Charlie was not looking to leave the finance board — especially not during budget season. But 7 years is a long time.  I can’t begin to fathom what all those loooong meetings — filled with mind-numbing numbers and interminable speeches by passionate yet repetitious town officials and common citizens — does to the human brain.

Board of selectmen meetings may be quicker and less contentious, but they are just as important as Board of Finance gabfests.

“I’ve run my own asset management firm for 10-plus years, and was a manager for most of the 30 years I worked for other finance firms prior to founding my own,” Charlie told “06880.”

“The Town of Westport has many challenges over the next few years, including increasing pension and medical obligations, as well as anemic economic revenue growth at best.

“I can help try to rationalize expenditures, and look to try to make government work more efficiently.  I know the Westport school system well, and may be able to help integrate like functions.”

Charlie knows there is no magic wand.  The key is “hard work to try to do more with less.”  The other option:  “Westport runs the risk of turning into the other very high-taxed New York metropolitan suburbs.”

Selectmen are frequently caricatured (okay, by me) as dealing solely with stop signs.  Most Westporters know the selectmen only as proclamation-proclaimers.  Though the duties of the 2nd and 3rd selectmen (the former runs for office on a ticket with the 1st selectman; the latter is the loser with the most votes) are to advise the 1st selectman on all aspects of town government, and approve town contracts, the value of the 3rd selectman depends on the willingness of the 1st selectman to use his or her expertise.  The 3rd selectman’s status as the lone representative of the other party ensures that chances for dramatic votes are slim.

“I have every confidence that the (current) 1st selectman has the intellect and confidence” to use the 3rd selectman’s skills and expertiese effectively, Charlie says diplomatically.

So what about running for 1st selectman himself, in 2013?

“I have no political ambitions,” Charlie says.  “I run my own firm, and do not believe that will change in 3 years.  I can only do the best job I can for the town as 3rd selectman.

“Westport has been very good to my family during the 20-plus years we’ve lived here.  During that time my wife (Westport Department of Human Services coordinator Patty) and I have tried to give back to the community in any way we can.

“My goal has been to leave whatever organization I am involved in in better shape than when I began with it.  If I can do that in the 3rd selectman position, I will be very satisfied.”

Gavin Anderson leaves some big shoes to fill.  Charlie Haberstroh is one man who can step right into them.

Fortunately, the Westport board of selectmen is not the United States Congress.  Gordon Joseloff is not Harry Reid; Shelly Kassen is not Nancy Pelosi.

And — though he loves to golf — Charlie Haberstroh is most definitely not John Boehner.

“06880” looks forward to Charlie’s quick approval next Tuesday by the Republican Town Committee, and soon thereafter by Harry and Nancy Gordon and Shelly.

A First For First Selectman

A woman nearly earns the presidential nomination; an African American edges her out, and wins in a landslide.  What’s next?

How about an Englishman running for first selectman?

That’s next, by Jove, after this week’s announcement from the Republican Town Committee. Gavin Anderson — two-term Board of Finance member, and long-time  corporate finance director — is expected to win nomination when the RTC meets in July.

His running mate is likely to be Board of Education member Kristin LaFleur.  That’s not ground-breaking — Jacqueline Heneage, Marty Hauhuth and Diane Farrell were female first selectmen; Betty Lou Cummings has served in the second spot, and Shelly Kassen is our current second selectman(woman)(person).

But a Brit — that’s one for the books. 

Gavin Anderson is straight out of central casting.  He stands tall and dignified; he speaks perfect English (in a perfect English accent), and makes key points with wry understatement.

His manners are courteous.  His expected foe — first selectman Gordon Joseloff — is similarly calm and clear-headed.

Both men love Westport, and have served the town in many volunteer capacities.  The incumbent was raised here; the challenger chose it years ago, after leaving his native land.

Whoever wins, Westport will not lose.