Tag Archives: Lee Greenberg

Tennis Grand Slam Comes To Westport

Tennis fans know that the Grand Slam of Tennis —  the Australian, French and US Opens, plus Wimbledon — are played on 4 different types of courts.

But you don’t have to fly to 3 continents to see them.

In fact, you don’t even have to leave Westport to play on 4 surfaces.

The town’s first Grand Slam Open is near. Singles, doubles and mixed doubles competition on private red clay, grass, hard and soft courts is set for August 16 to 18.

One court that will be used for Westport’s Grand Slam …

Each stop has a different theme, with Australian, French, English and American food and drinks. There are trophies and t-shirts at each court too.

The event also includes a ping pong tournament and pool party. Music is provided by the Dave Kardas Band — whose leader heads up the Longshore tennis program.

… a second …

The Grand Slam Open is a fundraiser for Joseph Oyebog’s tennis academy in Cameroon.

The former Davis Cup tennis player/Cameroon national champion/beloved local tennis coach has impacted thousands of youngsters in his home country. Twenty players have earned college scholarships, or obtained coaching positions in the US and Europe. Many more have gained confidence, hope and opportunity.

… a third …

Ben Sturner — who played tennis at Boston University, and runs the Leverage Agency sports marketing firm — met Joseph when he taught Ben’s children.

When Ben learned how far a little money can go in Africa, he created the Grand Slam concept. Also helping: Clair Mason (Intensity owner and Oyebog Tennis Academy board member), longtime player June Eichbaum, and Ben Stein and Evan Felcher, members of Staples High School’s state champion 2018 tennis team.

… and a fourth.

Ben and Evan are still teenagers. But Westport’s Grand Slam Open involves a centenarian too.

Lee Greenberg is 101 years old. A sign on her Saugatuck Shores home says, “Tennis bum lives here.” Sure enough, she has a grass turf court.

Ben Sturner and Joseph knocked on her door, to ask if they could use it. She invited them in. For an hour, Lee told stories about her life in tennis, and her passion for it. She’s been playing since she was 10 years old — more than 9 decades ago.

Lee was born in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, and moved to Westport 75 years ago. Each of her 4 homes here had a tennis court. She organized many games, with a variety of people.

Lee is also an avid sculptor. She organized the tennis art show at the opening of the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island — in 1954.

And, Lee said, years ago, Joseph taught Lee’s son Michael.

Lee Greenberg at her 100th birthday celebration with her children: Mike, Debbie and Gail.

Lee was happy to offer her court. The other 3 are in the Compo Beach neighborhood.

Players of all ages and abilities are eligible to sign up. If you prefer not to enter, no problem. Joseph will hold a clinic for non-competitors.

When it comes to helping kids, I can’t think of a better service than this.

(The suggested donation is $150 per entry. For more information, call 475-999-1335, or email BenjaminStein2000@gmail.com or carolinem@leverageagency.com.)

Joseph Oyebog

Unsung Heroes #107

A couple of weeks ago, Brooke Davies posted this note on Facebook’s Westport Front Porch page:

Does anybody know Lee Greenberg? I have a postcard for her from the Galápagos Islands that’s supposed to be hand delivered. (People write postcards and leave them there. If you see one for someone who lives near you, you’re supposed to take it and hand deliver it.)

Brooke’s brother had found the postcard, written in 2018. He was excited that — thanks to his sister — he knew someone who could actually connect the letter to its recipient.

But, Brooke added, “Based on my Google search, she’s 101. I don’t want to show up at her house unexpected! Thanks!”

Lee Greenberg at her 100th birthday celebration with children Mike, Debbie and Gail.

Front Porchers responded quickly.

One said that local builder Mike Greenberg is Lee’s son. Another added that Mike’s wife Amy is also on Front Porch. Someone else said that Lee is a longtime Rotary Club member, and would probably be at that Tuesday’s meeting in Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall.

Negin Janati chimed in: “Lee is my husband’s grandmother! I’m sure she would be very happy to have you stop by to visit. Otherwise, we’d be happy to give it to her. What a wonderful concept!”

Soon, Toni Simonetti announced: “Just saw Lee at the beach. She has heard about the postcard and is awaiting its arrival!”

The letter.

Barbara — and the others who helped lead her to Lee — are not amazing heroes. They did not cure AIDS, or save people from a burning building.

But heroes come in many shapes and sizes. Through their small acts of kindness, they brought joy to a neighbor.

And they proved once again how connected Westport is to the world.

Including the remote islands of the Galápagos.

Happy 100th, Lee Greenberg!

Lee Greenberg — a longtime and iconic Westporter — celebrated her 100th birthday this week.

Lee Greenberg, 100 years young,

She entertained a crowd of 50 — mostly relatives, and a few of her fellow Rotary Club members — at Maplewood at Strawberry Hill. Lee broke her hip a few weeks ago, but is recovering well there.

Lee Greenberg has 4 great-grandchildren. Zefera — shown here — will be 100 in 2115.

Family members came from as far as California for the celebration.

Lee Greenberg with her children: Mike, Debbie and Gail.

Lee asked that in lieu of gifts, donations be made to Westport Rotary. Guests happily obliged.

Michael — married to Lee’s granddaughter Allegra — entertained the crowd (and his grandmother-in-law).

Happy birthday, Lee! Thank you for all you’ve given the town. Here’s to many more candles, and a lot more cake!

Bill Clinton Comes To Town

As president, Bill Clinton visited Westport 3 times — all for fundraisers.

He was back again last night. This time he raised cash on behalf of someone he hopes will be another President Clinton: his wife Hillary.

Attendees paid up to $2,700 for the event, at the Beachside Avenue home of hedge fund manager/Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry.

Press coverage was not allowed. Attendees said Clinton spent half an hour making a spirited case for his wife’s election, then chatted with guests for another half hour.

President Clinton with longtime Democratic activists Lee Greenberg and Martha Aasen.

President Clinton with longtime Democratic activists Lee Greenberg and Martha Aasen.

President Clinton and Senator Richard Blumenthal have been friends for many years.

President Clinton and Senator Richard Blumenthal have been friends for many years.

President Clinton with RTM member Kristan Peters-Hamlin. She is a descendant of Abraham Lincoln's first vice president, Hannibal Hamlin.

President Clinton with RTM member Kristan Peters-Hamlin. Her husband is related to Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president, Hannibal Hamlin.


Lee Greenberg: “Liz Taylor Lived In My House”

It was once one of the largest and grandest homes in Westport.  Today — in a town of McMansions — 175 Long Lots Road merits barely a second glance.

But what history lies within its walls!

In 1957 Liz Taylor — married to film and theater producer Mike Todd, the 3rd of her 7 husbands — was pregnant.  Her mother lived in Ridgefield, and Liz wanted to be near her.  Westport was filled with actors and movie producers, so Liz and Mike came here to house-hunt.

Their realtor called Nat Greenberg — a long-time Westport real estate developer — in a panic.  He had no houses to show Liz Taylor, he said.  They’ve driven all the way up here in a Rolls-Royce — can I show them yours?!

“So in walked Liz Taylor and Mike Todd,” Nat’s widow Lee Greenberg recalled this afternoon.  “They loved the house” — it included a swimming pool and tennis court — “and asked if we’d consider renting it for a year.  My first reaction was, ‘Of course not!'”

But Nat told Liz and Mike he’d be in touch.  The Greenbergs talked, and Lee said, “If we can do something unusual as a family for a year, let’s do it.”

She quickly came up with that “unusual” idea:  Switzerland.  The Greenbergs were skiers, and their 4 young children could have an intriguing year in a Swiss school.

Nat called Mike.  “He was deliriously happy,” Lee said.  “In fact, he offered to pay — besides the year rental — for all 6 of us to go to Switzerland.  And for our chalet.”

Did the Greenbergs accept the offer?

“Of course!” she said.  “Wouldn’t you?”

The last photo taken of Liz Taylor and Mike Todd. (Photo courtesy of IMDB)

Several months later Lee was on a tram, going up a Swiss mountain.  She was just learning French, but she knew enough to translate the huge newspaper headline:  “Mike Todd est mort.”

The producer and 3 other men had been killed in the crash of an overloaded private plane, in an ice storm, near Grants, New Mexico.

The date was March 22, 1958.

Fifty-three years — and 1 day — later, Liz Taylor too is dead.

Post-script:  Liz Taylor and Mike Todd were not the only famous residents of 175 Long Lots Road.  Lee and Nat Greenberg sold their home to Harry Reasoner in 1968 — the same year the TV newscaster teamed up with Mike Wallace to begin CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”

Harry Reasoner retired in 1991.  Three months later he died — from complications of a fall at his Westport home.