Giles Goodburn lives in Westport. But he grew up in the UK, where he became great friends with rugby teammate Marc Bennett.
They stayed close over the years. Their families celebrated special occasions together; they vacationed together too, all over the world.
Most recently, the Goodburns would visit the Bennetts in Dubai, where Marc — a travel industry executive — worked. Marc, Nancy and their 2 boys would reciprocate, in Westport. Marc loved fishing off the Westport shoreline, and Cockenoe Island.
One memorable Christmas Eve, Marc, Giles and and their sons skated at Longshore. Marc fell, dislocated his shoulder, and spent that night in the ER.
“He was the life and soul of the party, and a dear friend,” Giles says.
Marc’s most recent job was with Qatar Airways to boost Qatar’s tourism trade, in the runup to the coming soccer World Cup.
Near the end of 2019, he was found hanging in a Doha hotel. He had been arrested at his office 10 weeks earlier. He told friends he had been detained for 3 weeks, blindfolded, stripped, blasted with high-pressure hoses, slammed against wall and deprived of sleep, by the country’s secret police,
After his release he could not leave Qatar. Authorities there called his death a suicide. But British officials, and Marc’s family, are not so sure.
Last week, the Times of London published a story about the case, and of the secret Qatari unit that was involved. In the run-up to the World Cup, Qatar has attracted international attention for its human rights abuses, and the deaths of foreign workers building stadiums and other infrastructure.
Click here for the full Times story.
Westport Zoning Board of Appeals member Thomas Hood Jr. died on Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The New Jersey native was 65.
Thomas received his BS in civil engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, an MBA from the University of Connecticut, and a master’s in architecture from NJIT.
He had over 40 years of experience in the design, planning and construction of buildings, software engineering, advanced product development, marketing, and consulting.
Thomas was appointed to the ZBA in 2018. Previously, he spent 2 terms on the Flood & Erosion Control Board.
He was a member of the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston for more than 30 years, where he served as a trustee and sang in the choir.
Thomas’s favorite activities were spending time with his family, painting, cooking, and being near the water. An avid sailor, he was a member of both Cedar Point Yacht Club and the Mantoloking (New Jersey) Yacht Club.
Thomas is survived by his wife of 40 years, Mary Jane (Pascale) Hood; their children, Elizabeth (James Ifert) of Philadelphia, and Thomas and Meredith, both of Brooklyn; his sister Barbara Hood Benz (Charles) of Mantoloking, and extended family.
Visitation will be held Thursday, (October 6, 4 to 8 p.m., Magner Funeral Home, 12 Mott Avenue, Norwalk, CT). A memorial service is set for Friday (October 7, 11 a.m., United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston).
Memorial contributions can be made to the American Diabetes Association.
Sure, there’s a lot going on this month.
But if you’ve got children, try to make time to the 2nd annual Fall Family Festival (Saturday, October 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Greens Farms Academy; $20 per family).
Sponsored by WestportMoms — the multi-platform we’ve-got-kids-covered organization — it features food, crafts, games and fun (bouncy houses, ninja course, music, art projects, DJ, pumpkin and cookie decorating, face painting, hair extensions, glitter tattoos, magic, STEM activities and more).
Many businesses will show off their products and services — all with activities for kids.
Organizers Megan Brownstein and Melissa Post ask attendees to bring gently worn jackets, for donations to a local non-profit.
Speaking of kids: They love nature. They also love Victoria Kann.
This Sunday (October 9, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), they can combine both. The author will read from her popular “Pinkalicious: Treasuretastic” book, and sign copies. There’s also a scavenger hunt for natural treasures through the remarkable Blau House gardens, and a chance for children to take a bean home and watch it grow.
The gardens are at 9 Bayberry Ridge Road. Registration and payment ($10 per child, which includes a copy of the book) must be done by October 7. Click here for details.
Speaking still of kids:
The 3rd grade Brownies troop from Long Lots School recently raised funds through cookie sales to purchase a native tree for the Long Lots Preserve, next to the Community Gardens.
The Preserve protects land for future generations, while educating Westporters about a healthy environment. It is turning open space overrun with invasive plants and pests into a native New England forest.
The girls — who have been a troop together since kindergarten — worked with Long Lots Preserve director Lou Weinberg, and their troop leaders to dig a hole and plant their tree. It was a great project — one they can see every day, outside their school.
Westport’s National Charity League chapter invites 6th grade girls to apply for the 2023-24 year.
With over 275 members, NCL Westport has more than 275 members (women and their daughters in grades 7-12) provide volunteer service for over 30 community non-profits.
The 6-year core program includes leadership development and cultural activities. Click here or email mmurphy33Wyahoo.com.
Lynn Flint writes: “I’m really concerned about the number of people walking on the side of the road with traffic, not against it, wearing dark non-reflective clothes, in the early twilight and darkness — especially where there are no sidewalks, and the streets are poorly lit.”
As darkness falls earlier, this long-running (and walking) problem gets worse. “06880” readers: Please wear light clothing. Walk against traffic, not with it.
And if there’s a sidewalk nearby, use it. Taxpayers have paid good money to save your life.
Speaking of taking care of accident victims:
This weekend at the VFW, Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service honored the achievements of our volunteers. Among them:
- Crew Chief of the Year: Jamie Bairaktaris
- Volunteer of the Year: Stew Reifler
- Youth Corps Member of the Year: Jenna Baumblatt
- EMT of the Year: Ryan Blake
- Presidential Service Awards Lifetime Recognition: Danielle Faul
- Presidential Service Awards Lifetime Recognition: Audrone Tarnok
- Carol Dixon, Danielle Faul: 20 years of service
- Dorrie Harris: 30 years of service
- Pat Salvo, Jay Paretzky: 40 years of service
Click here, then scroll down for more information on each honoree.
Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features just one autumn leaf.
It’s October 3. Believe me: There are many more to come.
And finally … Happy 81st birthday, Chubby Checker. Let’s dance!
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