Tag Archives: jUNe Day

Photo Challenge #462

last week’s Photo Challenge was posted 2 days before UN Day.

The image showed United Nations headquarters, taken decades ago. (Click here to see.)

That was easy. The hard part was figuring out where in Westport it hangs.

I did not give credit to the reader who sent it in: Lisa Wexler.

That might have given the answer away. She’s Westport and Weston’s probate judge. She’s also host of a popular daily interview show on WICC.

You can see the UN photo not in her radio studio. But it is very visible to anyone entering Room 102 at Town Hall: The Probate Court hearing room.

Susan Iseman knew exactly where. Barbara Sherburne guessed “somewhere in Town Hall.”

I also noted that the photo was personally autographed. Susan nailed it: U Thant,

The third secretary-general of the United Nations signed it on June 28, 1969, in honor of jUNe Day. It was a gift to the town of Westport.

We’re back to 2023 for this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

(Thanks for playing our weekly Photo Challenge. To help support this, and every other “06880” feature, please consider a tax-deductible contribution. Click here — and thank you!)


Pic Of The Day #2261

jUNe Day flags on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge (Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

Roundup: jUNe Day, Redistricting, Ham Radio, Staples Class of ’73 …

Jesup Green was hopping this morning.

Westport Sunrise Rotary was preparing for its Great Duck Race, with family-friendly activities all morning and afternoon.

Meanwhile, 200 guests arrived from the United Nations, for our town’s annual jUNe Day celebration.

Oh, yeah: the Westport Downtown Association’s Sidewalk Sale is on too.

The world is coming to Westport. And we’re happy to show everyone a good time!

(Photo/Mark Mathias)


There is only 1 discussion item on Monday’s Board of Education agenda (June 26, 5 p.m., Staples High School cafeteria): redistricting.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice will present the topic. No materials are yet available on the town website.

The meeting can be viewed on Optimum Channel 78, and by livestream here.

Population shifts have made Long Lots the largest elementary school in town. As work moves forward on renovations or a new school on the site, redistricting may also be on the table.


Every June, more than 40,000 ham radio operators across the continent set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate science, skill and service.

“Field Day” — an annual event since 1933 — combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach and technical skills.

The Westport Astronomical Society’s Amateur Radio Club K1WAS celebrates Field Day this weekend. They’ll contact as many stations as possible on the 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 Meter HF bands today (Saturday, June 24, 2 p.m.) and tomorrow (Sunday,  June 25, 5 p.m.) at their ham shack (classroom) at the Observatory on Bayberry Lane.


The Staples High School Class of 1973 is ready for their 50th reunion.

They’ll celebrate Friday, October 6 at 2 familiar spots: the Black Duck and Viva Zapata. Saturday, October 7 includes a golf outing and 1 p.m. party at Compo Beach. On Sunday, October 8 they’ll enjoy a 4 p.m. cocktail party at Bridgeport’s Fayerweather Yacht Club.

Email alisonhealy@yahoo.com, or click here for the Facebook page, for more details,

Staples High School looked like this, back in 1973. (Photo/Fred Cantor)


It’s impossible not to love hummingbirds.

Marcella Lozyniak captured this one, in a rare stationary moment, for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Marcella Lozyniak)


And finally …. Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist of Broadway smash hits like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Fiorello!,” died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 99. Click here for a full obituary.

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog — and a non-profit. Please click here to make a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!)

Roundup: Parker Harding, David Grann, Chris Paul …

It looks like a simple legal notice. But it’s a big step.

The first agenda item for the July 5 Flood & Erosion Control Board reads:

Parker Harding Plaza / WPL-11724-23;  Application of Keith S. Wilberg, Town Engineer, on behalf of the Town of Westport, to revise the existing roadway and parking lot, build sidewalks, a riverfront boardwalk, and park areas, and to relocate trash and recycling dumpsters. The proposed activity is within the WPL area of the Saugatuck River.

Click here to view the application materials.

The agenda also includes this:

Upon completion of the Public Hearing, and time permitting, the members of the Board will have an open discussion reviewing the boards efforts to assist The Town of Westport in controlling flood and erosion. The open discussion will include the members of the Board with the opportunity to express their thoughts and recommendations on what can and should be done to help The Town of Westport further control flooding and erosion.

Sounds like an important meeting. It will be held via Zoom. Click here for the link. The meeting ID is 813 1215 9695; the passcode is 236833. The phone-in number is 646-876-9923.

The Flood & Erosion Control Board will discuss plans for Parker Harding Plaza on July 5. 


LymanAID — the huge July 9 party celebrating Westport’s sister city of Lyman, Ukraine — just got a big boost.

It came from our friends in Marigny, France — our first sister city, and the impetus for our relationship with Lyman.

Sunday, July 9 is LymanAID (1 to 7 p.m., Ukrainian-American club — just past the I-95 Exit 19 northbound entrance ramp in Southport).

The food, drinks, music and other entertainment is free. But there will be plenty of chances — raffles, Yankee auction, plant sale, book pulls, etc. — to help the men, women and children of Lyman.

Several of those auction items come from our Marigny amis. They include:

  • 3 copies of “601 Towns & Villages in La Manche” — a 700-page book, with a special inscription
  • 3 sweatshirts, which say “Westport/Marigny-Le-Lozon/Lyman
  • 1 bottle of hors d’âge” calvados” — a drink enjoyed by American GIs in Marigny, during World War II.

To RSVP for free admission, purchase VIP tickets and for more information, click here.

And to our friends in Marigny, who will be with us in spirit: Merci!

The Marigny book and dedication flank a bottle of calvados. All are gifts from our sister city of Marigny, as prizes at the July 9 LymanAID event for other city in Ukraine.


David Grann returned to Westport last night — and was greeted by over 100 people.

The author — a member of Staples High School’s Class of 1985 — spoke about his new best-seller “The Wager.”

He also sold plenty of copies. The line for autographs was long, and enthusiastic.

David Grann, at the Westport Library. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)


Speaking of autographs at the Library: Fairfield County basketball fans are already excited about Chris Paul’s upcoming event there.

Now there’s another reason to head to the Trefz Forum next Tuesday (June 27, 8 p.m.). After his discussion about his life and new memoir with journalist, Fox Sports anchor and Westport resident Lindsay Czarniak (she’ll be live; he’s remote), and questions from the audience, copies of his book “61: Life Lessons from Papa, On and Off the Court” will be on sale.

And they’re all autographed.

The free event will be livestreamed and recorded as part of Czarniak’s podcast, “Lunch with Lindsay.”

Click here to register for a seat at the Library event. “61” can be ordered through the same link.

Chris Paul


Tomorrow, Westport celebrates jUNe Day.

That means the flags of dozens of United Nations countries will fly on the Ruth Steinkraus Bridge.

Early today, town crews were replacing the dozens of American flags on the span.

It’s a small gesture of welcome. But it’s been part of our town’s tradition, for over 60 years.

Getting ready, on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo/Dave Matlow)


A reader told me there’s a “For Lease” sign outside Ulta Beauty & Hair Salon.

Does this mean they’re closing? I called to find out.

The very long phone message (including “curbside pick-up hours” — does anyone really still do “contactless” shopping?) finally gave me 2 options: Press 1 to make an appointment; press 4 (!) for all other inquiries.

I pressed 4. “Nothing was selected,” the voice said, and sent me back to the long message.

I listened again to all the shopping hours, plus curbside pickup. This time I pressed 1.

“Nothing was selected,” the voice said again. Again, I was sent back to the start.

So they may be closing. Or maybe not.

I couldn’t find out. Perhaps everyone was in back, dealing with shoplifters.

For lease?


Two local residents were honored last week, at Aspetuck Land Trust’s 57th annual meeting.

Bill Kutik of Westport was named Conservationist of the Year, for saving a key property in the 705-acre Weston Wilton Forest Reserve from development. (It is now called the Bill Kutik Honey Hill Preserve.)

Kutik has been an ALT member since 1999. The first editor of Backpacker magazine, a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and technology impresario, he has written for the Boston Globe, New York Daily News and New York Times. He is a hiker and trail steward, and has donated hundreds of hours to the Land Trust, as an editor and writer.

Michelle Fracasso is the Native Landscaper of the Year. She has planted hundreds of pollinator-friendly plants and shrubs, attracting bees, butterflies and birds (100% pesticide-free).

Fracasso is a long-time supporter of Fairfield County farms. Her own — Wells Hill — is the last working family farm with livestock in Weston. She has been active with Aspetuck Land Trust’s farmland initiatives, and a volunteer and advisor for their homeowner engagement program and native plant sales.

Bill Kutik and Michelle Fracasso


Charly Bliss has a new single. “You Don’t Even Know Me Anymore” is the band’s first new song since 2019.

What makes that “06880”-worthy is that Charly Bliss is an all-Staples group. Eva Hendricks (lead vocals, guitar), her brother Sam (drums), lead guitarist Spencer Fox and bassist Dan Shure all graduated from the high school.

The new single “celebrates personal growth,” says Rolling Stone.

Eva Hendricks “looks back on a bad breakup that left her wrecked and realizes she doesn’t feel the same as she once did. Instead, she has come to realize that the person she cried over doesn’t know her the way she thought they did.”

Click here for the full Rolling Stone story. (Hat tip: Kerry Long)


Winslow Park Animal Hospital doesn’t miss a holiday.

But July 4th is a big one. So the display in front of their Post Road East office is even bigger, more creative — and more colorful — than usual.

(Photo/Ed Simek)


A bunny bopping amid bachelor buttons captures our attention, in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)


And finally … there are 2 “birth flowers” for the month of June: roses and honeysuckle. So:

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog — and a non-profit. Please click here to make a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!)

Roundup: jUNe Day, Beach Smoking Ban, Police Reports …

Two longstanding local traditions — the Sunrise Rotary Great Duck Race, and Westport Downtown Association Sidewalk Sale — take place this weekend.

There’s also a third. And this one has an even longer history: over 60 years.

jUNe Day will be celebrated all over town on Saturday (June 24). United Nations diplomats, staff members and their families will spend the day here, having fun and enjoying special activities.

At 10:30 a.m. on Jesup Green — as part of the Great Duck Race celebration — UN Under-Secretary General General Christian Saunders will deliver a message from Secretary General António Guterres.

Options for our guests include Earthplace, Wakeman Town Farm, Compo Beach, tennis and golf at Longshore, and a soccer match (UN vs. Westport Knights, 11:30 a.m., PJ Romano Field).

UN visitors can also enjoy the Duck Race and Sidewalk Sales. Nearby, they’ll see flags from many UN member countries flying on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

That’s an apt sight. Steinkraus Cohen was one of the founders of jUNe Day, more than 6 decades ago. She was a longtime member of the United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut too, which sponsors the annual event in cooperation with the town of Westport.

For questions or more information, call Bill Hass: 203-454-7685 or 203-434-6609.


Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission voted unanimously last night to ban tobacco and cannabis smoking at all beaches, and certain parts of recreational facilities, like playgrounds, pools, fields and athletic courts.

The regulation — which includes a 25-foot buffer — does not include the golf course, or passive recreation areas like Winslow or other town parks.

No longer legal at the beach.


Speaking of the law: Westport Police made 2 custodial arrests between June 14 and 21.

One was for disorderly conduct, following a domestic violence incident.

The other was for issuing a bad check, worth $12,945.50, to a local business.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations; 8 citations
  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 3
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 3
  • Distracted driving: 2
  • Operating a motor vehicle while texting: 2
  • Traveling too fast for conditions: 2
  • Improper use of markers: 2
  • Failure to renew registration: 2
  • Operating a motor vehicle without minimum insurance: 2
  • Failure to obey traffic control signals: 1
  • Assault, 3rd degree: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 1
  • Failure to drive right: 1
  • Improper turn: 1
  • Improper use of high beams: 1
  • Failure to display plates: 1
  • Littering: 1

Don’t be a litterbug! (Photo/Jerry Kuyper)


Housing. Transportation. Gun safety.

Those were just a few of the topics Connecticut’s General Assembly voted on in the session that ended just a few days ago. (Oh, yeah: the budget too!)

Three local legislators — State Senator Ceci Maher, and State Representatives Jonathan Steinberg and Dominique Johnson — host a “wrap-up” discussion at the Westport Library next Wednesday (June 28, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Komansky Room).

On the agenda: successes (and failures), plus goals for the future.

Senator Ceci Maher, Representatives Jonathan Steinberg and Dominique Johnson.


It’s one of the most prestigious and elite legal programs around.

For 50 years, the Supreme Court Fellows Program has offered 4 positions a year to mid-career professionals, recent law school graduates and doctoral degree holders. Founded by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Berger, it draws over 1,000 applicants.

One of the appointees this year is Viviana Vasiu. A Westport and Brooklyn resident, she will be assigned to the US Sentencing Commission.

A former clerk for 2 US District Court judges, she participated in the Attorney General’s Honors Program at the Department of Justice. She earned a BA summa cum laude, and a JD magna cum laude, from Stetson University, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Law Review.

But there’s more to the story. Viviana came alone to the US at 18, from Romania. She enrolled at a community college in San Diego, and within a year earned a paralegal certificate. She was the Stetson’s first-ever immigrant and English major valedictorian.

Congratulations, attorney Vasiu!

Viviana Vasiu


The I-95 bridge in Philadelphia will be repaired — and reopened — barely 2 weeks after it collapsed, during a truck fire.

Meanwhile, work on I-95 in Westport — which did not collapse — appears to be on schedule for its completion date of November, 2038.

The Post Road project should be finished a week or two before that.

(Photo/Monica Herndon for Philadelphia Inquirer)


The Westport Rotary Club has a new president.

Outgoing chief Karl Mergenthaler handed the gavel to Kenny Epstein last night, at Ned Dimes Marina.

Dozens of Rotarians attended the annual event.

Incoming Rotary president Kenny Epstein (left) and outgoing leader Karl Mergenthaler. (Photo/Dave Matlow)


The next exhibition at Amy Simon Fine Art opens June 24.

Titled “Fresh!,” it features Charlie Bluett, Carla Goldber and Takefumi Hori. It runs through August 5. Click here for more information.

“These Precious Pieces We Find” (Charlie Bluett)


Tracy Porosoff’s garden burst with color this week, as her first dahlia of the year bloomed.

Fittingly, it’s our first “Westport … Naturally” dahlia of the year.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)


And finally … 2 takes on the new smoking ban (story above).

You can no longer smoke at the beaches, tennis courts, athletic fields and related recreational facilities …

… but you can still light up on the golf course, Winslow Park and other spots.

(As jUNe Day nears, a reminder: “06880” is where Westport meets the world. Please consider a contribution, to help us continue our work. Just click here. Thank you!)

Roundup: Flags, Trash, Blood …

Westport just celebrated our annual, wonderful. warm and welcoming jUNe Day.

So let’s start the week with a jUNe Day complaint.

A reader sends this photo —

— and writes:

“I noticed that the Russian flag is flying on the bridge — next to the American flag.

“Shouldn’t that flag come done while we are boycotting and protesting Russia’s invasion of sovereign Ukraine? Additionally, the Russian flag is right at the center of the bridge, next to the American flag — certainly a special spot. Can the town change the flags to reflect the current state of affairs?”


I’ve always been told the flags fly in alphabetical order. Right now, 193 countries are members of the UN. I did not count the flags this year. Besides, I’m no flags-of-the-world expert, so I can’t answer whether they are in alphabetical order or not.

(I would have contacted the Department of Public Works, which sets up and removes the flags each year, but they were closed for the weekend.)

My next thought: Maybe Russia still goes by its former name — the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That would, amazingly, put it smack next to the United States.

I checked the UN website. Nope: It’s “Russian Federation.”

Then I wondered if the DPW simply uses the same list year after year. The wheels of municipal government grind slowly, but I can’t imagine they’d use a list from the last century without anyone noticing.

Finally, I wondered: What are those other flags next to Russia?

The one on its right seems to be Romania  — which, alphabetically, comes right before Russia.

The one on the left — interrupted by the US — appears to be Rwanda. Bingo!

Perhaps the American flag is placed smack in the middle of the bridge because, hey, this is our country — and Russia just happens, ironically, to be where it is by the luck of the alphabet.

At any rate, there’s no reason to remove the Russian flag, even if the country is an international pariah.

This was jUNe Day, after all.

хорошего дня!


But wait!

The photo above was taken yesterday, during the reproductive rights rally.

The day before, Joel Treisman took a video of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. It showed a different arrangement of flags flanking ours:

What’s going on?

Sounds like a case for Interpol!


A flag kerfuffle and looming constitutional crisis notwithstanding, this was a perfect weekend for a walk at the beach.

My path took me along Bradley Street. I spotted this subtle — but hopefully strong — reminder to dog owners: Their lawn is not a canine crapper.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

I also noticed an astonishing amount of trash left on the tables outside the Hook’d concession stand, under the brick pavilion roof, and on South Beach.

How difficult is it to take your trash 5 steps to the nearby receptacle?

Westporters love to say, “This is our beach.”

Let’s treat it that way!


The need for blood is constant.

Kick off the holiday weekend by doing something for others. VFW Post 399 hosts its 24th straight monthly Red Cross blood drive this Friday (July 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 465 Riverside Avenue).

Click here for an appointment.


Cheese Fries & Froot Loops” — the true, moving and humorous one-man show written and performed by Weston native Chris Fuller about his attempt to make it to the PGA Tour while struggling with bipolar mental illness — debuted at Fairfield Theater Company last month.

It led to an invitation to perform at the United Solo Theater Festival in New York this fall.

First though, Fuller plans 2 shows here, to benefit the Artists Collective of Westport: July 23 and 24, 8 p.m. at the Westport Woman’s Club.

The suggestion donation is $15 a tickets, and includes complimentary wine and cheese.. Funds raised will help provide art supplies and activities to those in need. For reservations, email aspetuck@optonline.net or call 203-349-8786

Fuller — son of famed author John G. Fuller and playwright Elizabeth Fuller — will give away copies of his book “Goodnight, Golf!” after an on-stage putting contest during the show.


Dennis Poster died at home, surrounded by his family. on Friday. He was 82.

The Syracuse native, and Syracuse University graduate ran specialist books on the New York Mercantile Exchange and American Stock Exchange. He later managed D.B. Poster Associates, working from Connecticut to be closer to his family.

He was on the Executive Committee of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Dean Council, was emeritus chair of the JHE Foundation, and served on the boards of The Hole in the Wall Gang Fund, Save our Strays and The Compass Fund. He was also a trustee for The Aronson Family Foundation, which supports education, the arts, healthcare, and animal rescue charities.

Dennis loved golf, Pepe’s Pizza, DQ Blizzards, blackjack, backgammon, Shark Tank, watching CNBC, his cat Shadow, feeding the surrounding wildlife by his home, and most importantly, his family.

He had a near 50-year Father’s Day tradition of mini-golfing with his daughters, and then his grandchildren. He played semi-pro golf, and often joined pro-am golf tournaments with friends. He once shot a 66 at Winged Foot.

Dennis had a big heart, a warm soul and was fiercely loyal to his family and friends. We will miss his contagious chuckle, generosity, sage advice and especially his love.

Dennis is survived by his wife, Joan of 57 years; daughters Meredith and Cindy (David) of Westport; grandchildren Hannah, Lillie, Matthew, Max, Jack and Sam; brother Greg and sister Wendy.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and Let’s Win Pancreatic Cancer.

Dennis Poster


It took 4 years of nursing — inside her house, and on her deck — but Wendy Levy finally got her passionflower to bloom.

What a colorful way to start our “Westport … Naturally” week!

(Photo/Wendy Levy)


And finally … today is National Orange Blossom Day. How will you celebrate?

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Pic Of The Day #1894

Ukraine’s flag flies proudly on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge today. Westport’s annual jUNe Day celebration is set for tomorrow (Saturday). (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Roundup: Sidewalk Sales, jUNe Day, Hunt Club …


It’s gonna be quite a weekend in Westport.

Sidewalk sales are set for Saturday (June 26, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The day includes live music, food and drinks.

For the first time in Sidewalk Sale history, Main and Elm Streets will be closed to vehicles. There’s plenty of parking nearby — including Town Hall, 2 minutes away.


This Saturday is also jUNe Day. The United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut and town of Westport host 100 UN guests.

Everyone is invited to the opening ceremony (Jesup Green, 10:30 a.m.). Guest of honor Christian Saunders, Assistant Secretary General, will read a special message from Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The 56th annual event brings UN staff and representatives, and their families, to town. They’ll head to Compo Beach and Longshore to swim, golf and play tennis, to Earthplace — and of course the Sidewalk Sale.

As always, flags of many of the 193 UN countries will fly on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge this weekend.

To volunteer, call Andrea Dostal (203-526-3275) or email  Andreasusa@yahoo.com. For more information, call Bill Hass: 203-454-7685.

jUNe Day flags on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo/Jeff Simon)


If you’ve ever driven by the Fairfield County Hunt Club, and wondered what goes on there — particularly recently, and seen tents and jumping fences and more — now is your chance.

The 96th Fairfield County Hunt Club June Benefit Horse Show — that right, it’s been happening since 1926 — is underway. It runs now through Saturday (June 26), and includes everything from children’s ponies to Saturday’s Olympic-style $30,000 Grand Prix.

The public is invited. Questions? Email info@huntclubonline.org.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image is one we all relate to. Sometimes even man’s best friend needs another friend.

(Photo/Dan Aron)


And finally … On this day in 1887, Banff became Canada’s first national park. It’s one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever seen.

Pic Of The Day #1166

Getting ready for jUNe Day (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Friday Flashback #198

Had it not been for COVID-19, tomorrow would have been jUNe Day here. Dozens of United Nations guests would have enjoyed a day in Westport — including an impressive display of flags from their native countries on the Post Road bridge.

jUNe Day 2015, on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo/Jeff Simon)

That’s the same bridge where, earlier this month, hundreds of people massed in support of Black Lives Matter, and to protest the death of George Floyd. 

The 2 events are related. The Post Road bridge — with both its flags, and its role as the cherished spot for political demonstrations — is named in honor of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen. A remarkable Westporter (and former secretary to Eleanor Roosevelt), she dedicated her life to social justice, world peace — and music. 

The scene on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, several years ago.

With jUNe Day canceled, and political protests fresh in our minds, it’s time to learn a bit more about Ruth Steinkraus Cohen. Staples High School Class of 1981 graduate Laurie Cameron writes:

Back in the day I met a true Westport treasure: my piano teacher, Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen. She would have been 100 on June 8. She was also the grandmother of my friend and classmate Adam Weisman.

Ruth was a generous, warm person who made music and kindness. Learning piano from her was a great education; she made sure I knew Hadyn, Chopin, Brahms and Vivaldi in addition to Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. I learned about Vienna and the Music festival from her.

My brother Byl was the musician in our family. I had no gift for music, but I returned each week for almost 9 years. I was so fascinated by her travels, her art, her bookcase, her antique harpsichord, and hearing about the many jobs she had when she was not being a piano teacher.

My favorite time of the week was the hour that I waited for my brother Andy to finish his piano lesson, when I could stare at the paintings, books and sculptures in Mrs. Cohen’s living room.

Her colorful holiday parties were also our piano recitals. After each student performed, Ruth and her husband Herbert played a duet: she on the piano, he on violin. Their music was rich and melodious, but the joy on their faces was the true lesson for us.

Sometimes when Ruth could see me growing restless at the piano, she took me for a walk in her garden. It had a brick path that looked like the yellow brick road through the woods behind her house. It was so thrilling to me that I sometimes snuck out while waiting for Andy’s lesson to end, and ran down its wooden steps.

Ruth Steinkraus Cohen (center) joins famed singer Marian Anderson (2nd from left) at a concert by young Suzanne Sherman, at Bedford Elementary School.

During her time running the UN Hospitality Committee, Ruth placed over 50,000 people into American homes for cultural exchanges. My family learned about habits and traditions of people from other cultures from those we hosted, thanks to Ruth. She was a great humanitarian with a desire to bring the world together, and bridge gaps between cultures.

When I came back to Westport after being away for over 15 years, visiting Ruth was an important stop for me. Even in her late 70s she was warm, joyful and busy making the world better for those who needed it.

I feel privileged to have known Ruth and to have learned so much from her. Her knowledge, openness, love of music, energy and patience were great sources of inspiration to me. She would be so proud to know that a bridge bearing her name is used to support people fighting for peace, civil rights and equal justice.

(To learn more about Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, click here for her New York Times obituary.)