“I’m one of the parents who continues to walk their kids to school (Coleytown Elementary) every day on the sidewalk along the Easton Road ‘speedway,’ instead of adding to idling cars waiting for drop-off. Over the years, more and more families have decided not to walk. due to these issues.
“Our hope is to continue to do this. But it has become increasingly more dangerous.
“Easton Road is a poorly marked 25 mph zone, with cars during morning rush hour usually doubling that. To make matters worse, distracted drivers (often texting) have created a number of recent close calls for families (including us), and crossing guards who brave this dangerous stretch of sidewalk.
“Local parents and CES/CMS want more protection. But it’s a state road, and requests have gone unanswered for years.
“Things are getting worse. See this photo from the intersection of Easton Road and North Avenue, taken Friday morning:
That’s not all. Ryan sent along another photo, from August. It shows the aftermath of a car hitting a tree. Fortunately, he says, there were no pedestrians nearby.
Wynston was there again Monday — the day before beginning his sophomore year at Staples High School. Owner Andrea Pecoriello hosted him.
His mother Lynda Kommel-Browne says: “Wynston had a nice conversation with 4 families, who were not familiar with non-speakers and spelling boards. Wynston beamed with pride and energy to show folks his communication skills.It was a great eye-opening experience for all.
Wynston Browne and his communication partner, Elisa Feinman, show his spelling board to customers at The Porch. His brother Harrison is standing (right).
“Wynston’s 16-year-old brother Harrison beamed with pride too, seeing customers take an interest in Wyn, and seeing Wyn respond to questions with high level answers.
“For example, he said, ‘In biology we are studying macro molecules … carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Carbohydrates is your body’s main energy source.'”
He talked about “The Kite Runner” too — and asked some of his new friends questions like what they like to eat at The Porch.
Wynston’s world is opening up — and he is opening up ours. “06880” will continue to report on his progress, and on opportunities for Westporters to meet him.
“We use the ‘speed load’ setting. Our washing machine runs for 25 minutes, instead of an hour and 10 minutes on the regular setting. Our clothes get just as clean — we have never had an issue with that.”
Any other water-saving ideas? Click “Comments” below.
Select “quick wash,” which you probably never noticed before.
Connecticut’s official 9/11 memorial is at Sherwood Island State Park for 2 reasons.
On that horrific day 21 years ago, people gathered on the shore saw smoke rise from the Twin Towers 50 miles away.
And the area was ready to be used as a staging area for rescue helicopters. Sadly, none were needed.
Two decades later, the simple memorial attracts a steady stream of visitors. It includes the names of state residents who died in the terrorist attacks.
Each year, there is a remembrance ceremony at the Sherwood Island Living Memorial. This year’s is set for Thursday, September 8 (5:30 p.m.). Family members of those killed will participate, and the names of the 161 victims with ties to Connecticut will be read aloud.
The ceremony will be livestreamed at ct-n.com. An on-demand video will be made available there shortly after its conclusion.
The 9/11 Living Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park. (Photos/Ellen Bowen)
Held, as always, in the Westport Country Playhouse barn, it features works by homeless veterans. The art was created in classes run by the Collective, at Bridgeport’s Homes for the Brave shelter.
There’s a reception next Wednesday (September 7, 6 to 8 p.m.), and an artists’ talk Saturday, September 10 (4 p.m.). The works are on display to the public September 8 to 10, from 2 to 6 p.m. each day.
The Artists’ Collective does great work, very quietly. They don’t toot their own horns. So I’ll toot it for them.
See you at the show!
I hate to keep throwing barbs at Hook’d.
But really, the Compo Beach concession is just mailing it in.
Earlier this summer, after sharp comments on “06880,” they finally began posting their hours on the door.
That’s gone now.
With the doors locked yesterday, this was the scene:
That’s still better than a few days ago. The doors were locked then. The sandwich board sign was out.
A couple of area businesses have come in for some harsh criticism on “06880” lately: Hook’d (the Compo Beach and Longshore concessionaire), and Optimum (the communications near-monopoly).
Other readers have other beefs, like Main Street stores that leave their doors open in the middle of summer, blasting wasteful air conditioning onto the sidewalk in hopes of luring customers, and banks that cut hours and services (but raise fees).
Many complaints are legitimate. But they should not be directed at front-line workers.
The teenagers behind the Hook’d counter do not set opening and closing hours, or decide whether or not to offer sauerkraut.*
The cable guy who arrives sometime between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. is not responsible for scheduling policies, or for the amount of training he undergoes before he is launched on his own.
The young people working in stores with wide-open doors are embarrassed at and angered by corporate demands. And the bank teller no doubt earns less when Saturday hours are eliminated.
On the front lines at Hook’d. (File photo/Dan Woog)
It’s easy to take out our frustrations on the workers we see. They are the public face of private companies.
But they’re not the problem. Their bosses — so high up the food chain, they no doubt work from home (or the beach) — are.
So, to all the hard-working workers, young and middle-aged and old, who have felt our wrath this summer (and bite their tongues, rather than reply):
Thank you. We’re sorry. We know it’s not your fault.
And — if it’s any consolation — you are our “06880” Unsung Heroes of the Week.
*Hook’d does not.
(If you know an Unsung Hero, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Unsung Heroes is one of “06880”‘s regular features. To support this one — and everything else we do — please click here.)
Sweetgreen went before the Architectural Review Board last night.
The salad-and-bowl fast casual restaurant — with over 150 outlets in more than a dozen states — will replace Organic Krush. The “lifestyle eatery” replaced Chipotle less than 2 years ago. Board members were pleased with the new look. (There were no comments on the menu.)
Representatives from Bridge Square faced more questions, about the new look of that venerable plaza. Questions centered around architectural additions, the back (river) side, and color.
Ultimately, the ARB voted to let the project continue, with the recommendation that the owners come back with a new color scheme.
The ARB took the most time on a pre-application review of a text amendment for The Hamlet at Saugatuck, the proposed redevelopment of the area bordered by Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Charles Street.
No decisions were made. Members asked questions about height and architecture. ROAN Ventures, the project developer, continues the process with the ARB and Planning & Zoning Commission in September.
One of Westport’s oldest best known liquor stores is for sale.
A commercial real estate listing for Greens Farms Spirit Shop says: “Prime location on well-traveled road. Fantastic selection of all types of Spirits, with experienced Staff. Full delivery service, and help with all Events, Weddings, as well as corporate outings. Truly a must see to get the full affect [sic] of the operation.”
It’s listed for $2,250,000. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Amy Swanson)
Hook’d — the Compo Beach concessionaire — remains controversial.
A few “06800” readers accused me of being too harsh, with my recent report that my request for a rare cheeseburger was denied.
That’s the Health Department looking out for beef eaters, apparently. (Don’t forget: The girl at the counter said that all their burgers are cooked the same: medium. I couldn’t have gotten mine well done, either).
So take this next item with a grain of salt. Alert reader Martin Iselin writes:
“Joey’s (the previous concessionaire) was known for one of the best hot dogs around. After a bike ride I always rewarded myself with one.
“After finishing a recent ride, I thought I’d try the new place. I ordered a hot dog, and asked if they had sauerkraut. No!
“I asked about relish. No!
“Disappointed, a put a little mustard on it. I don’t what brand they use, but it was so salty I could not eat it.
“What kind of beach summer place has no condiments, and such bad food?”
Sarah Jane Cion snagged first place in the 17th annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition.
Tomorrow, she plays the magnificent Steinway — direct from the legendary Village Gate club — at Westport’s VFW (465 Riverside Avenue). It’s the next, and one of the most anticipated, “Jazz @ the Post” shows of the summer.
Cion has performed with legends like Clark Terry, Etta Jones, Anita O’Day, Bucky Pizzarelli and Don Braden, and is a regular at Birdland. Judges for her award-winning competition were Horace Silver, Kenny Barron, Ellis Marsalis, Benny Green and Bill Charlap.
Music begins at 7 p.m. The cover charge of $10 goes directly to the musicians.
With the recent barbs being thrown Hook’d’s way, let’s revisit the Compo Beach concession stand.
We’ve featured these in previous Friday Flashbacks. But with so many newcomers to town — and so many others who so fondly remember Hook’d’s ancestors — it’s a good time to check in with its predecessors.
Long before Joey’s by the Shore, there was this:
The photo is from 1933. The concession stand was located where the volleyball courts are now.
Later, at the same spot, came Chubby Lane’s:
(Photo courtesy of Liz Doyle Boyd)
Anyone could drive right up, order a really good burger, and eat outside — all without a beach sticker.
Like many teenagers, I worked at Chubby’s. It was a plum job: in the middle of all the action, with plenty of other kids, and free food. Sure, we wore dorky navy blue shorts and knee-length socks, but that was the price we paid.
Before my time, Chubby’s employees roamed the beach with walkie-talkies. They’d call in orders, and tie a balloon on a beach chair. A few minutes later, another employee hand-delivered the food.
Joey Romeo was the next well-organized, much-loved concessionaire. He was there for over 30 years. His customer service is legendary too.
Now we’ve got Hook’d. Years from now, will it be a nostalgic Friday Flashback — or just the answer to a trivia question?
(If you enjoy our Friday Flashbacks, please consider supporting “06880.” Click here to help.)
Unfortunately, that’s not the only Hook’d-related news today.
A reader writes: “A quick Google search of (concessionaire) Upsilon Ventures and (owner) Itai Shoffman uncovers all sorts of stuff, like unpaid taxes.”
Attached was a link to Southern District of New York District Court judgment in “United States of America v. Itai Shoffman.” He was held liable for $201,659.73 in unpaid federal income taxes for 2007 and ’08, plus interest.
The judgment was dated February 12, 2021 — nearly one year after he and Upsilon were awarded the concession contract for Compo Beach and Longshore.
Every day, there’s family fun at Wakeman Town Farm.
But this Saturday (July 9, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), it’s an official, capitalized Family Fun Day.
Kids of all ages can visit feed animals, plant sunflower seeds, and enjoy music from the School of Rock Fairfield. Food and drink for purchase includes ice cream, smoothies, iced coffee, lemonade and wood-fired pizza.
11 to 2:45: Animal visits; reading room
11 to 12:30: Buzzin’ Bees Craft
11:30 to 12:45: Seed planting
11:30 to 2:30: Pizza
12 to 2: Ice cream
12:30 to 2: Face painting
1 to 2:45: Flight of the Butterflies Craft
1 to 3: Music from the School of Rock House Band
1:15 to 2:45: Farm Olympics.
Click here for advance tickets. Walk-ins are welcome too.
Canoe paddles along the Saugatuck River — in search of egrets, osprey, ducks, shorebirds and much more — are set for this Saturday (July 9, 10 a.m. to noon); Friday, August 12; Saturday, September 10, and Sunday, October 16. Click here for reservations and more information.
Family campfires, with (of course) roasting marshmallows — plus meet an animal ambassador, and enjoy s’mores and a guided activity. There is a different theme for each campfire. Each family has their own picnic table. Dates are July 15, September 16, October 21, November 26 and December 21. Click here for details.
Meanwhile, admission to the Earthplace Museum is free through September 5, for Connecticut residents age 18 and under, and one adult caregiver. Support comes from Connecticut Humanities, the Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts, and ARPA.
Round Pond is one of Westport’s most historic (and overlooked) sites.
Located near the Longshore entrance road — and across the street from the house F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald rented in 1920 — it was where social reformer Lillian Wald lived for many years. Eleanor Roosevelt was a frequent guest.
These days, it’s better known as a winter skating spot.
A small sign now notes its name. It’s in keeping with the beauty of the place — and a great image for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.
The controversy over Hook’d’s management of the Compo Beach and Longshore concession stands, and the golf course halfway house, is not half-baked.
I’m old enough to remember when the contract came up for approval, way back in the spring of 2020.
A few months earlier, Joey Romeo and the town had ben unable to agree on terms of the lease for the food service he’d run at Compo for over 30 years, plus the 2 Longshore operations. (Click here for the first “06880” story; click here for Joey’s statement to his customers.)
Joey Romeo, in a typical pose.
On March 31, 2020, I posted a story about the upcoming approval of a new concessionaire: Upsilon Entertainment Group of Larchmont, New York (click here to read).
The piece drew 33 comments. Readers wondered about the bid process, and the decision not to choose a local vendor. Both King’s Kitchen and Norwalk’s Sunset Grille — connected to Westport via ownership of Jr’s Deli — were interested, but not considered.
The money quote came from Jay Walshon. He wrote:
A modicum of internet “research” finds that Upsilon Entertainment Group, registered in 2017, is “Permanently Closed”. Principal is Itai Shoffman. Address is 4 Durham Rd, Larchmont, NY.
Upsilon Ventures, Principal is also Itai Shoffman, registered address 4 Durham Rd, Larchmont, NY, is also “Permanently Closed”.
Real estate usage and event management. No evidence of retail restaurant experience, restaurant history, food reviews, menu, pricing, financials, etc.
4 Durham Rd, Larchmont appears to be a family colonial home rather than being a corporate building or established business entity.
The word on the street is that this company was chosen over local ones because this Larchmont company offered the Town more money for the concession contract – perhaps even $25,000 more. Tried and true local restauranteurs with proven track records may have been turned down on this basis….
This concession is no small thing. Compo is arguably Westport’s most precious crown jewel, beloved and utilized by virtually every Westport resident, parent and their children. If we are to be hostage to this singular provider, WE should make that decision.
For so long we have incessantly heard business leaders admonish us to support local, buy local, choose local. Here we have a major opportunity to do just that and instead we look to Larchmont NY??? Really?
The shuttered beach concession. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)
Three weeks later, Upsilon passed muster by the Planning & Zoning Commission (acting in its land use capacity) as the concessionaire. (Click here for the full story.) I wrote:
(Parks & Recreation Department director Jen) Fava said that 3 groups were interviewed by a committee of representatives from the RTM, Parks & Rec Department, Parks & Rec Commission, and Department of Public Works.
They selected Upsilon for a variety of reasons. One was (that it offered the) highest fees (which top out at $120,000 a year or 12% of gross revenues, whichever is higher, in the final year of the 5-year contract). An opt-in clause covers 2 additional 5-year terms.
Fava said the committee was enthusiastic about Upsilon’s previous experience, which included operations at New York’s Bryant Park, Prospect Park and Hudson River Park.
The menu would include “typical beach food,” plus “healthier options like smoothies and salads.” They would offer special food nights, like Italian cuisine, and events like cheese tastings.
The company will use biodegradable packaging, and will compost materials. They committed to hire local staffs, and sell Connecticut-based products.
“They’re very professional,” the Parks & Rec director said. “They want to be partners with us, and involved in the community.”
The Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen later okayed the contract.
Westporters waited eagerly for the concession stand’s return.
There were 23 comments on that April 24, 2020 story. Added to questions about the bid process and lack of a local vendor were concerns about the menu and promises made.
Peter Blau revisited the worries about the operators themselves:
It’s worth looking at the company’s website, as well. They are not a restaurant or food service company, but a “Project development, marketing, hospitality, and production firm specializing in public-private partnerships and the use of public spaces and real estate for iconic attractions, sponsor activations, events, consumer engagement, temporary retail, and other revenue generating opportunities.”
In other words, they specialize in making deals with deep pocket entities, no doubt with a very sophisticated marketing pitch, but when it comes to making the burgers, they hire that out to someone else.
How it’s possible to get a better deal by hiring an event marketing company as the middleman between the town and the actual food service escapes me.
2020 was a tough year for any business — especially a new one. COVID had just hit, when the contract was signed. With fears about indoor dining high, the concession stand did not open; instead, a food truck late in the summer served a limited crowd of beach-goers.
Hook’d finally opened last May.
The rest is history.
Employees posed in May 2021, ready to serve. (Photos/Dan Woog)
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Eric Chiang is July’s guest exhibitor at the Westport Book Shop.
The Jesup Green store features the oil painting “Moon Light Sonata,” from his Musical Planet series. He delves into weighty issues of human connection and the meaning of existence, showcasing loneliness, desperation, love and hope.
Chiang’s work has been exhibited from MoCA Westport and Silvermine to Texas and Taiwan. Concurrently with the Book Shop show, his Westport Library exhibit runs through July 14.
Chiang’s piece will be on exhibit at the Book Shop through July 31, 2022.
Most readers agreed with the one quoted. They filled the Comments section with stories of their own, slamming the Compo Beach concessionaire for mediocre food, long wait times, and a lack of planning and care. (A couple of readers disagreed; they love Hook’d).
Much of that falls on the owners’ shoulders. Word on the street is that employees are frustrated and embarrassed — and sometimes bear the brunt of customers’ complaints.
The cooks and counter help are local teenagers. They have no control over whether enough burgers and hot dogs are ordered, the price, or the systems in place to make ordering simple and pick-up fast. They’re at the mercy of their bosses.
Give the kids a break. It’s not an easy situation to be in.
But — as many readers have noted — the owners deserve whatever they get.
Westport is still buzzing about the fantastic Independence Day fireworks on Thursday.
It couldn’t have happened without the generosity of Melissa & Doug, the locally based, internationally beloved toy company; the hard work of the Westport Police, Fire, EMS, Parks & Recreation and Public Works Departments — and the volunteer efforts of Westport PAL.
The biggest party of the year is a fundraiser for PAL. They could not run their many sports programs for boys and girls, or scholarships for Staples High School students, without that help.
So, whether you bought a ticket or freeloaded, consider a contribution to one of Westport’s most important organizations. Click here to see all they do; then click here to donate.
Kathie Bennewitz — our talented town art curator, who tirelessly finds, documents, preserves and exhibits the Westport Public Arts Collections — has taken on a new challenge: to preserve the legacy of iconic American artist Edward Hopper.
The other day, Westport artists Eric Chiang and Mark Yurkiw took up Bennewitz’s offer to visit. Yurkiw reports: “The walkable and vibrant destination, with the Hudson River as a backdrop, makes a fabulous day trip. See the museum, stroll down Hopper Way and around the village of Nyack, with plenty to eat and experience.”
And say hi to Kathie at the museum, before she heads home to us.
(From left): Eric Chiang, Kathie Motes Bennewitz and Mark Yurkiw, outside the Edward Hopper Museum.
“I was at Old Mill Beach with my husband and 3 young boys. We have come at low tide for years, to swim and find hermit crabs. Today, we saw this:
“At first we thought the owners would return to pick up the bags, but there were no dogs or owners around. The tide was coming in, and these bags would have been washed away into the sea. I took them to the trash. It was very disappointing, and obviously disgusting.”
Paul Cohen, formerly of Westport and Fairfield, beloved husband of Barbara R. (Bobbie) Herman, passed away peacefully yesterday in Redding, He was 98 years old.
The New York City native enlisted in the Army Air Corps on his 19th birthday in 1942, the earliest that was permitted at the time. He served in the Galapagos and Central America, commanding a radio operations group to protect the Panama Canal.
After the war he attended Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. then the Sorbonne and La Cinémathèque Française in Paris, where he studied cinematography. He was employed by the March of Time in Paris.
After returning to the US Paul worked at Owen Murphy Productions, a producer of documentaries and commercial films. After several years, he acquired the company. He produced films for clients like IBM, the USIA, Western Electric, the 1960-61 World’s Fair and the States of New York and New Jersey. and won many awards. He traveled with 3 presidents: Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.
He and his wife Helene moved to Westport in 1974, and became involved in town activities. Paul produced bulletins, posters and newsletters for the Westport Arts Center, Y’s Men, Y’s Women, Westport Woman’s Club and Unitarian Church. He won several awards in the Y’s Men annual photo contest.
Helene died in 1993. Paul married Bobbie in 1997. In addition to Helene, he was predeceased by a daughter Susan, a brother and 2 sisters.
Survivors include his son Peter, stepsons Randall Schein (Ann Reingold), Jonathan Schein (Cynthia Hewett), and step-grandaughters Samantha and Lily Jo Schein.
A memorial service will be held in the fall. Donations in his memory may be made to the Unitarian Church in Westport, or a charity of your choice.
Longtime Westporter Stanley Bryk died Wednesday, at Norwalk Hospital. He was 87.
The Bridgeport native lived in Westport for 55 years, before moving to Southport 2 years ago.
Bryk — a Marine Corps veteran — spent 41 years with Sikorsky Aircraft. He was a member of the Frank C. Godfrey American Legion Post, and the VFW. He was also a lifelong New York Giants fan, and an avid traveler.
Survivors include his wife, Laura Renzulli Bryk; daughters Linda (Brent) Norton of Goshen, New York, and Susan (Robert) Tierney of Glastonbury, and grandchildren Taylor, Kelly, Erika, Casey, Rebecca and Kevin. He was predeceased by his brother Frank and one sister Mary Murphy.
AMass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, July 9 (11 a.m., St. Luke Church). Internment with military honors will follow in Willowbrook Cemetery. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Saint Jude Children’s Hospital for Cancer.
Some of the most affordable housing in Westport is hidden in plain sight.
Two 2-bedroom units at The Saugatuck — formerly Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street — will go on the market soon.
The Saugatuck is a senior complex (residents must be at least 62) that caps resale prices to ensure affordability for people with moderate incomes or below. The restriction last year was roughly $105,000 for a single person, and $115,000 for a couple. There are no asset restrictions.
The property manager maintains a list of interested buyers, for sellers or their agents. For information on how to get on the list, email email@example.com.
For the past few weeks, a range of readers have complained to “06880” about the Compo Beach concession stand.
Some emailers are angry. Some acknowledge that this is a First World problem. But there are enough of them that they can’t be ignored.
Hook’d took over as the concessionaire from Joey’s by the Shore in 2020. They did not open that COVID-plagued year. Last year’s opening was delayed too. Many Westporters gave the new operators the benefit of the doubt; replacing a 30-year beloved institution would not be easy.
But patience is wearing thin. Here’s a typical email:
“I was there on Tuesday with grandkids at 4 pm. NO ICE CREAM. The place looked empty of everything.
“One of the workers said there have been lots of complaints about running out of things. It has no atmosphere, and is the exact opposite of Joey’s. And the food is very mediocre. I had a terrible hot dog. Burgers are so so.
“Compo beach needs a great beach stand. Have you heard this from anyone else?”
Yes. Other issues include early and random closures, and no posted operating hours.
There’s this too:
“A little birdie told me when the manager sends his supply list, corporate cuts it to their liking. It’s so not Joey’s. Typical ‘corporate.’ They don’t care about us Westporters. Just their bottom line.”
One reader wonders why, even when no one else is in the place, Hook’d employees insist on taking a customer’s cell phone number, to text when it’s ready.
Readers: What’s your experience with Hook’d? What are they doing well, or poorly? Are there any easy fixes? Click “Comments” below.
Hook’d is open. But customers don’t always know when. (Photo/Karen Como)
The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism hosts “Havdalah on the Beach” next Saturday (July 9, 6 p.m., Compo Beach).
Everyone is invited for a short service, with folk and klezmer music. Guests can swap Jewish-themed books too.
The CHJ will provide homemade desserts and soft drinks. Bring dinner, adult drinks and a beach chair. There’s no need for a beach pass; tell the gate guard that you are attending the CHJ event, and follow the signs.
The next Westport Country Playhouse “Sunday Symposium” guest is Ins Choi. The writer of “Kim’s Convenience” — the play that inspired the popular Netflix series, and which is the next WCP production — will talk about the show, following the July 10 matinee.
The Sunday Symposium is free and open to the public. No performance ticket is necessary; just arrive 80 minutes after the 3 p.m. curtain.
Perviews for “Kim’s Convenience begin July 5, with opening night on July 9. For information on tickets and special offers, including discounts for students, senior citizens, educators, military, first responders, Indigenous peoples, professional playwrights and groups, click here.
“06880” subscription news: Issues continue to plague readers with Optonline.net addresses,
WordPress and Optonline don’t play well together. The great folks at the new Optimum store near Fresh Market are working on the issue, but have not yet solved it.
If you know someone with an Optonline.net address is not receiving “06880,” ask them to email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll send a list of troubleshooting steps.
The easiest solution, of course, is to subscribe to “06880” using a different email address.
MaryLou Bell died peacefully Thursday at her Westport home, surrounded by family. She was 83.
Born to Patsy and Antonette Doddo, she was a life-long Westport resident. She graduated from Staples High School in 1956.
MaryLou was a well-respected local banker. She began with the Westport Bank & Trust Company while in high school. She sun-bathed on her lunch breaks with fellow employees on the roof of the downtown building (now Patagonia).
Loyal customers followed her to newest bank branches in her capacity as branch manager. Through the years she worked with Connecticut Bank & Trust, the Bank of Darien, the Bank of Westport and others. She ended her career in 2012 at Fairfield County Bank.
MaryLou enjoyed New York outings with colleagues, taking in Broadway shows and dinner. Her vacations in North Truro on Cape Cod were special to her. She volunteered at the Sons of Italy Festival Italiano and Westport PAL’s annual golf tournament, and was a member of Westport Sunrise Rotary.
She was active in local politics during the 1970s and ’80s, with the Republican Town Committee and Save Westport Now. Her family says, “She enjoyed spending time at the Westport Senior Center, and sharing laughs with her friends and family. She was fiercely independent, a straight-shooter, and was never afraid to express her thoughts to others. MaryLou lived life her way.”
MaryLou’s family thanks her exceptional caregivers Millie and Thomasine for providing friendship along with compassionate care.
MaryLou is survived by her daughter Kathy )Scott) Santarella of Westport; son Bob (Marybeth) Stephens of Suffolk, Virginia; grandchildren Jordan and Jamie Santarella, and Wesston, Tyler, Ashley and Will Stephens; sister and brother-in-law Annette & AJ Izzo of Westport; her brother-in-law Ray (Linda) Barry of Fairfield, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
MaryLou was predeceased by her husband of 35 years, William Bell, in 2000, and her youngest sister Angela M. Doddo in 2001.
Friends may greet the family on Wednesday (July 6, 4 to 7 p.m., Harding Funeral Home). A mass of Christian Burial will celebrated at Assumption Church on Thursday (July 7, 10 a.m.). Entombment will follow at Willowbrook Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association, or the charity of your choice.
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