Tag Archives: Howard Dickstein

Remembering Kate Dickstein

Kate Dickstein — a longtime Westporter, beloved special education teacher and talented writing instructor — died Thursday in Mill Valley, California. She was 86.

Born in Wurzburg, Germany, Kate Lauber emigrated with her parents in 1936. They settled in the Bronx, not far from the original Yankee Stadium. Fluent in German and English, and as a Holocaust refugee raised by parents from a long line of German Jewish and Lutheran families, her life reference points spanned time, eras, cultures and long distances.

With a precocious and open mind, Kate excelled in school. She was active in many human rights initiatives, and established deep and meaningful lifelong friendships with people from all walks and phases of her life.

Kate earned an undergraduate degree from City College of New York, and a master’s degree in special education from Fairfield University. She spent more than 5 decades as a teacher, first at Weston Elementary School, then Coleytown Middle School, and finally at Staples High School.

She was known and highly regarded for effectively encouraging academic achievement among youngsters with different learning styles. Kate touched and lifted countless students, in a variety of learning environments. Her students adored her for her personal attention, care and compassion, and adherence to strict standards. She stayed in touch with many as they became adults and celebrated their accomplishments as though they were her extended family.

She also taught her colleagues. She was instrumental in the development of an “Understanding Disabilities” program, which put educators in special education students’ shoes. She was a mentor to many special education teachers of all ages.

Kate Dickstein

Kate was a talented artist, a lover of theater, opera, and jazz, classical and rock music, and an enthusiastic outdoorswoman. She particularly loved the north coast of Maine, where she spent many summers with her family and close friends, hiking, partying, making new friends and delighting in the magic of New England summers.

Kate was an avid reader. She had a playful sense of humor, and a ready laugh. She rejoiced in and worked hard to maintain special relationships with her childhood friends. Their families became important, joyful parts of her and her beloved husband Howard’s lives, and then of her own children’s sphere of friends.

As a daughter she was fiercely protective and supportive of her immigrant parents, who depended on her to help them navigate their new and unfamiliar world.

As a devoted wife of 65 years Kate was Howard’s greatest friend, supporter, protector and constructive critic.

Howard and Kate Dickstein

As a mother Kate was loving and doting, yet laissez faire in the most positive sense. She allowed her children space and time to be independent, and pursue their passions.

As a grandmother Kate took great pleasure in developing unique and deep connections with each of her five grandchildren. She listened to, coached and tutored them, showered them with unconditional love and affection, and maintained a perfect record of noting and celebrating their birthdays.

Kate wrote many short stories telling of her childhood memories and family history. She juxtaposed perspectives from the “old and new worlds.” Her experiences as an ever-assimilating U.S. citizen shaped her world view and infused her writing. Her family’s challenging journey gave her great empathy for all who she deemed persecuted by society.

She channeled and acted on that empathy in her professional and personal lives. She collaborated with local and national civil rights leaders in an effort to build bridges and develop understanding among disparate racial and socioeconomic groups, while always remaining true to her core values and modeling behaviors that positively influenced her family and friends.

There is much more to say, and her many admirers will say it in the months and years to come. Kate, and her rich and rewarding life will be forever remembered and treasured by all who knew her.

Kate is survived by her sons Peter and wife Lisa of San Francisco, California; Stephen and wife Natalie of Delray Beach, Florida; daughter Jane and husband Gordon of Mill Valley, California; her five adoring grandchildren Jordan, Anna, Jackson, Tess and Miller; her sister Irene and husband Chris, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

At her and her family’s request, Kate’s remembrance and life celebration service will be private. Contributions in Kate’s name may be made to Hospice by the Bay, 17 E. Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Larkspur, CA 94939 (hospicebythebay.org).

Remembering Howard Dickstein

The men and women who grew up in the 1920s and ’30s — and who served their country in so many ways — have been called the Greatest Generation.

The nickname fits in Westport too. Arriving here in postwar droves, those young parents served their new hometown with the same vigor. They imparted important values to their kids (and their kids’ friends). They volunteered wherever and however they could. The roots they planted then still help bear fruit today.

Westport lost another member of that Greatest Generation last week. Howard Dickstein died at home, a month shy of his 90th birthday.

You may not have known his name. But he was one of those men and women who made Westport the kind of town it is.

An honors graduate of New York’s DeWitt Clinton High School (at age 16), he supported himself through NYU’s journalism school by working at an ad agency, and as a stringer for the Herald Tribune.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, he completed his NYU degree on the GI Bill.

Dickstein spent most of his career in advertising, eventually running his own agency. He returned to journalism after retirement, as a proofreader and columnist (“Hawkeye”)/sportswriter for the Minuteman. He particularly enjoyed covering the Staples High School soccer team, long after his sons Peter and Steve starred for the Wreckers.

Howard Dickstein

Dickstein’s passions ranged far and wide. During the civil rights era he co-sponsored The Forum, which brought speakers like Floyd McKissick and Norman Thomas to Westport.

He promoted dialogue between Westport and Bridgeport, and designed pamphlets for fair housing.

He was a 2-term president of the Southern Connecticut Ethical Society, a volunteer in the Norwalk Hospital emergency room, a meal server at the Senior Center, and a longtime Little League umpire.

Fascinated by the OJ Simpson trial, he enrolled at Norwalk Community College to study criminal justice. As part of his studies, he accompanied local police on ride-alongs.

He and Kate — his wife of 64 years — were original members of The Turkeys. For 30 years, the group met in members’ homes, read plays and shared food and laughs.

He was a talented and tireless handyman. He spent years constructing a massive stone wall at his Park Lane home.

Dickstein adored the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, and was chronically disappointed by the New York Mets.

Of all his accomplishments though, he was most proud of his family. He is survived by his wife Kate; sons Peter (Lisa) of San Francisco and Stephen (Natalie) of Delray Beach, Florida, and daughter Jane (Gordon) of Mill Valley California; 5 grandchildren; his sister Geraldine, and nieces, nephews and cousins.

Special gratitude goes to his dedicated caregivers, Stacy Meikle and Jennifer  Wilson.

At his request, a memorial service will be private. Contributions in Howard Dickstein’s name made be made to Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, PO Box 489, Wilton, CT 06897.