Tag Archives: Norwalk Hospital

COVID-19 Roundup: Center Street Concert; Free Face Masks; Meal Train; More


Last weekend, residents of Center Street enjoyed an amazing performance.

Their neighbor John Karrel, and fellow Westporter and friend Jeff Chasnow played beautiful selections from Bach and Vivaldi.

The musicians were socially distanced, on John’s porch. But they — and all who heard — were drawn emotionally together.

“It was so lovely sitting in the garden surrounded by spring blossoms, with the best weather of the year so far,” says Heidi Curran. “I hope they will treat us to more!”

John Karrel (left) and Jeff Chasnow)


Every Christmas, the tree next to Assumption Church is hung with lights.

This spring there’s something new on Riverside Avenue: face masks.

They’re hand-sewn, washable — and free for anyone to take. Be sure to pick up sanitizing prep pads too (donated by Knights of Columbus) — and a prayer card.


Everyone needs positivity. Savvy + Grace has it, for sure. In fact, it’s called a Positiv-A-Tea Basket.

That’s just one of the many fun, fine products the Main Street gifts-and-more store has for Mother’s Day (and the rest of the pandemic too).

Owner Annette Norton — downtown’s biggest booster — offers both shipping and no-contact curbside pickup (weekdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Her Easter baskets were a huge success, so Mother’s Day is a natural follow-up.

For gift baskets — or options to built your own gift box from their great selection of clothing, lounge wear, cashmere, fine jewelry, food items, bath and body products, and gorgeous home items — click here, or call 203-221-0077.

Positiv-A-Tea gift basket.


Tomorrow is National Nurses Day. As they and their colleagues bear the brunt of the pandemic, we can show support by signing up to feed a team (about 20 people) at Norwalk Hospital.

Ordering online through for this meal train helps them — and your favorite restaurant. Click here; it’s easy, quick and important.

Volunteer Lisa Power says, “If you’ve already signed up, and/or already donated to one of the many other places or people in need, please pass the link along to others. Spread the word!”


Speaking of Meal Trains: Garelick & Herbs participates. And they donate 20% of the price of any order to Jewish Family Services.

The popular market offers “Do Good, Feel Good” meal trains for Norwalk Hospital (20 staff members), Greenwich Hospital (50), Carrollton Nursing Home (35), and 5 options for police and fire department shifts.

They’re all on Garelick & Herbs’ website (scroll way down to the bottom). While you’re there, check out the huge variety of options for yourself, either curbside or delivery: breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, noodle bar, dinners, quiches, breads, pastas, desserts and more.

Plus Mother’s Day brunch, dinner, gift baskets, cakes — and a special “You Cook for Mom” feature.


In 6th grade, Emma Borys was diagnosed with epilepsy. The teenager is now an outspoken advocate for research and education.

The Walk to End Epilepsy — which she has raised plenty of funds for — has been canceled by the coronavirus. She also will not be able to take part in her long-awaited graduation walk at Weston High School.

But Emma is not deterred. She organized a virtual Walk to End Epilepsy — and promises to walk 2,020 steps (get it?) every day, from now until graduation, in return for pledges to the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut. Click here to help.

Emma Borys


The Avery Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology now offers COVID-19 antibody testing to determine whether you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, even if you have no symptoms. It’s by appointment, at 12 Avery Place. Call or text 203- 227-5125.


And finally … a couple of years ago I saw “Bruce Springsteen on Broadway.” (Remember Broadway?!)

It was an evening of poetry, passion and power. Among the most powerful moments: a stripped-down version of this song. As always, The Boss says it best:

COVID-19 Roundup: Daffodils; Pink Moon; Earthplace; Easter Egg Tree; Augmented Reality; More

Thanks to the wonderful, multi-talented Miggs Burroughs for the new “06880” logo above. It will grace every Roundup from here until there’s no more COVID news to report. Fingers crossed …

Speaking of masks, here’s what the well-dressed blogger should wear. Apparently I can now look like this even at the bank.


Eileen Ward — director of the Children’s Community Development Center — writes:

“A long long time ago, as children would say (but really only last fall), we planted 1,000 daffodil bulbs in the beds along Hillspoint Road, and our entrance in back.

“Our volunteers — along with hundreds of other people Westporters — decided to ‘paint the town yellow’ in memory of people we love, and to brighten our passings all over town.

“Now, in the most bittersweet of ways, they are blooming en masse. As I come and go, to and from an empty CCDC, I remember the families and children who helped make this beautiful scene possible — and I hope and hope some more.”

The project was conceived by Debra Kandrak. Other daffodil gardens can be seen by the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown, the Sherwood Island Connector, Beachside Avenue, and Project Return.

Daffodils around town.


Rindy Higgins writes: “Calling all Westporters to go outside tonight at 8 p.m. and howl at the pink moon! If the Italians can sing from their balconies to connect during social distancing, we can howl to the moon as a way to reconnect with the human pack.

“Even if it’s cloudy, there’s still the biggest and brightest supermoon of 2020 in the sky. So let’s connect to nature and each other by howling tonight at 8!”


Lisa Power provides this update on the Norwalk Hospital meal train:

The goal is to get daily meals to every unit at Norwalk Hospital (20 people each), delivered by a restaurant. It’s a win-win: feeding hard-working medical personnel, while supporting local businesses.

Many restaurants are even providing discounts for donors. Click here for a list of participating restaurants (scroll down to “General Instructions,” and to donate. Restaurants interested in being listed should email lapower2014@gmail.com.


A special shout out to Food for the Front Line who have been amazing and feeding all units at Norwalk Hosptial on Mondays. I’m hoping this Meal Train will help fill the gap on those other days.

Earthplace now has its own YouTube channel. Features include animal videos, activities to do at home, and story time. Click here to see.


The coronavirus is taking a toll even on Stew Leonard’s. Departments are shutting early — the butchers now leave at 5 p.m. weekdays — and the entire store will be closed this Easter. That’s a first in the store’s history.


Easter services may be canceled, but one tradition lives on: Jalna Jaeger’s Easter Egg tree!

For the 13th year, the 1971 Staples High School graduate has decorated a large tree on her 3 East Avenue property in Norwalk (just down the hill from Stew Leonard’s) with hundreds of eggs.

Kids (of all ages) enjoy it. “We all need something cheerful these days,” Jalna says. She provides it!


Here’s a novel way to amuse yourself (and others), during the pandemic.

Westporter Steven Kranz is a founder of Strax Networks. The new company just launched “StraxAR.” It’s “augmented reality” — and all you need is a smartphone.

Take a video. Then digitally “stick it” to any item: a logo, a painting, a stop sign…

Take a look at this video:

Strax is offering any “06880” reader the chance to submit a video (45 seconds or less). It could be a special recipe, a do-it-yourself project, even a singing dog. They’ll “stick it” to the target of your choice. Your content will be available worldwide, to anyone who “Straxes” that target.

Send your video to support@straxnetworks.com. Their crew will turn it into an augmented reality experience. And — completing the circle — “06880” will feature some submissions here. (The Strax app is available through the App Store and Google Play.)

PS: If you’d like, your augmented reality experience can lead to the home page of a charity of your choice.


And finally, this one might be a springtime cliché. But — as Jalna says above — “we all need something cheerful these days.” We can always count on the Beatles for that.

 

COVID-19 Roundup: Drive-By Palm Sunday; Hospital Meal Train; Find Your Fitness; Give Hemp, And More

Palm Sunday is coming. What’s a church — closed for the pandemic — to do?

Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal will make it a “drive by.”

Just drive to the front of the church, receive a priestly blessing, and listen to bagpipes!

Of course, like every other religious institution, CHT is doing a lot more during the pandemic.

For example, they put donation bins in the back door servery. Anyone can donate food. Volunteers bring it to the Gillespie Center, and 2 Bridgeport organizations: King’s Pantry (for elderly patrons, veterans, people with disabilities and the homeless) and Feed My Sheep, which helps over 80 families.

The church also provides meals for Westport police, fire and EMS personnel.

Donations can be made online too (the church buys the groceries). Click here for details.

In addition, Christ & Holy Trinity offers a short Facebook Live prayer service every night at 7. The men’s group meets every week for a spiritual discussion on Zoom. An abbreviated virtual church service is livestreamed every Sunday. Click here for details.


Westporter Lisa Power helped put together a meal train to help feed the overworked and often hungry Norwalk Hospital staff.

Lunch and dinner slots are connected with specific units. Each unit has 20 or so staff members.

The request is for individually packaged or wrapped meals (no large food trays that require sharing). Meals can be donated by individuals, families, groups or businesses. Call your favorite restaurant or deli to order.

(A&S Fine Foods in Westport has done a great job delivering food so far, Lisa says.)

Click here to sign up for the meal train. For questions and more information — including restaurants and delis that would like to be listed on the mail train — email lapower2014@gmail.com.


When COVID-19 forced the closure of gyms and fitness centers, thousands of Westporters lost their daily routines. And scores of Westporters lost all their income.

Jessica Newshel is trying to help.

The Westport resident and Pilates instructor has launched Fit Finder CT.  The free service helps people find accredited trainers who can work with them one-on-one or in small virtual groups, on the platform of their choice.  Workouts are tailored to each client’s specific needs and ability, and the equipment (or lack of) available at home. There are many types of trainers, for all ages. Click here for the FitFinder website.

Yoga instructors are also listed on FitFinder. (Photo/Frances Hoyte)


Westonite Elan Wischkin is the founder of The Giving Hemp, a craft CBD company.

He’s put 18 CBD “Giving Boxes” on his website, for $10. That money will be donated to a GoFundMe providing ventilators for Connecticut COVID-19 patients.

The box can be sent to someone as a gift, to help ease stress and anxiety.  Each includes a bottle of CBD tincture, a dark chocolate with 15mg CBD, and a poem by Kahlil Gibran: “On Giving.”

Elan will also donate 20% of sales all month to the GoFundMe for ventilators. Click here for the Giving Boxes, and the Giving Hemp website.


The Fairfield County Story Lab was all set to celebrate 1 year as a gathering place for local writers.

Instead, all gathering places are closed.

But founder Carol Dannhauser has the “write” stuff. From now through the end of the coronavirus quarantine, she’s opening up all events — free — to any writer in Connecticut, Westchester and New York City.

There are sessions for freelancers, memoirists, and people looking for agents; virtual happy hours, game nights — you name it. For details, email info@fcstorylab.com.


And finally, just another reminder:

A Westporter’s Difficult Journey Through The COVID-19 Healthcare System

The Westport woman felt fine on Monday.

She played tennis, as she does nearly every day. She took her 2 kids — both Staples High School students — to various activities.

But when she got home later that afternoon, she felt sick. Her temperature was 102.4. “I never get a fever that high,” she says.

She went to bed. And she worried.

Three days earlier, she played tennis with someone from Central America, who had a cold. Her kids’ friends are in and out of the house constantly. And she herself has asthma.

She called her primary care physician. The advice: Take Tylenol and Advil.

Two days later — Wednesday — she heard the news that COVID-19 is definitely in Westport. The schools were shutting down.

She called her doctor’s office again, and asked to be tested. She was told they have no testing kits — in fact, no physician around here does.

And because of her exposure to someone from another country, they said she could not come to the office. Instead, she should go to the Norwalk Hospital emergency room. They — along with Bridgeport, St. Vincent’s and Greenwich Hospitals — have “drive-by” testing, the doctor’s office said. She would not even have to get out of the car.

The office promised to call the hospital, alerting them she’d be there soon.

At Norwalk Hospital, the woman told the valet she’d been expected. He had no idea. He summoned a nurse.

The nurse told the Westporter there was no drive-by testing. She had to park, and go to the ER waiting room.

South Korea has plenty of drive-by testing sites. The United States does not.

She did. A nurse took her pulse, and said, “You know, you won’t be getting the coronavirus test.”

The nurse at the emergency room desk confirmed the news. The only people they’re testing, she said, are those who are pale, have blue skin, and/or an oxygen level below 90.

But the nurse never asked the Westport woman if she’d been exposed to anyone from a foreign country. Or if she had pre-existing respiratory issues. Or anything else about her condition.

She did say that the woman’s primary care practitioner was “not informed” about Norwalk’s procedures. The nurse “heard” there was drive-through testing at Greenwich Hospital. But definitely not Norwalk. (An announcement yesterday confirmed that drive-through testing is available in Greenwich — at a primary care facility, not Greenwich Hospital — as well as Stamford and Stratford. Click here for details.)

The woman was taken to a private room, with a sealed door. She was left there for an hour.

Finally, she opened the door. “Is anyone coming in here?” she asked.

“Close the door!” someone yelled.

The only communication she had was by phone. Finally, a doctor entered. He wore a hazmat suit.

He told the woman, “you won’t be tested. There are only 600 kits in the entire state.”

COVID-19 tests are scarce. There may be only 600 in all of Connecticut.

The woman told a nurse, “Vice President Pence said anyone can get a test.”

“I know,” the nurse replied. “I don’t want hysteria, but people need to know: It’s not true. We’re not equipped for this.”

She did get tested for the flu, and strep throat.

As she was leaving, the woman saw 3 elderly patients on stretchers. They were being transferred to other hospitals.

While waiting for her discharge paperwork, the woman learned that a nurse had run out of containers, for a coronavirus test she had administered to someone. So the nurse taped the swab next to the bed, until the test dish arrived.

“They don’t want people just showing up at the hospital, unless you’re over 70,” the woman says. “They’re not ready for this.”

She is glad she went. She got an Albuterol inhalation prescription, for her asthma.

But, she says, “You don’t want to go to the hospital — especially if you have no underlying health issues. Just isolate yourself.”

Self-isolation is not easy. But it’s important.

Back home, she took off her clothes in the garage. She took over the master suite; her husband is using the guest room, and using a different bathroom. She’s not letting her kids hang out with anyone outside the family.

She also called her physician’s office, and told them they’d given her the wrong information. They were appreciative, the woman says.

Now, her fever has broken. She just feels tired, and has a sore throat.

“I’ll be fine,” she says. “But I want people to know what’s happening.”

She pauses.

“This is not good.”

Alert “06880” reader Chip Stephens sent along this helpful symptoms chart, from WebMD.

 

With iPads, Kids Overcome Cancer

Life was not always easy for David Gottschalk.

During his 15 years in Westport, his daughter spent time in Norwalk Hospital. In 2010, his father and mother-in-law died of cancer.

Despite his grief — and his busy work at a hedge fund — in 2011 Gottschalk searched for a way to give back to the town he loves, and the hospital he relied on.

With the help of an accountant and lawyer working gratis, he formed a non-profit: KIDSovercancer. The goal was to buy iPads, for children in extended hospital stays.

David Gottschalk presents an iPad to Dr. Vicki Smetak, chair of Norwalk Hospital’s Pediatrics Department.

Gottschalk did not realize that any technology donation must go through a rigorous approval process. “Kids will get in trouble sometimes,” he notes. “The hospital had to see a real purpose for iPads in their pediatric wing.”

Because they were new devices, the hospital added necessary protocols. Gottschalk was good to go.

His initial donations were to Norwalk, Yale, Danbury, Bridgeport, Greenwich and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospitals. Soon he added other states, including rural hospitals where youngsters may not have had access to technology before.

Gottschalk promised contributors that every penny KIDSovercancer received would go directly toward iPad purchases. There are no administrative expenses — not for shipping, IRS filings, nothing.

“It’s much more than entertainment,” Gottschalk notes. Hospitals use the iPads to teach youngsters about their illnesses, and as a distraction tool during small surgical procedures.

An iPad is a welcome distraction for youngsters in hospitals.

Eight years later, KIDSovercancer has sent tablets to over 56 hospitals, in all 50 states. An average of 100 children use the iPads a year in each hospital — a total of over 11,000 kids.

Gottschalk calls the project “the most satisfying thing” he’s ever done.

Of course, he can’t do it alone. He needs everyone’s help. Contributions to KIDSovercancer can be sent to: 606 Post Road East, Suite 515, Westport, CT 06880.

Norwalk Hospital Seeks Memories, Memorabilia

No one alive today remembers a time without Norwalk Hospital.

Founded 125 years ago, it’s been an integral part of the birth, life and death of countless area residents.

Norwalk Hospital then …

Now — in honor of its quasquicentennial — the hospital hopes people remember what it’s meant to them.

They invite community members, staff and retirees to share memories and photos of Norwalk Hospital over the years. They’ll be displayed on its website, and posted on social media. Click here to complete the form.

They’re also gathering historical items — memorabilia, photos, newspaper clippings, etc. — for display in the hospital archives. Email maura.romaine@wchn.org for more information.

Be creative! Though I’m sure they’re not looking for your old hospital bracelet.

Or your tonsils or appendix.

… and now.

Whittingham Cancer Center: Care With A Hometown Heart

Tony Menchaca’s 2006 colonoscopy was clean. With no family history of colon cancer, he was happy to wait 10 years for his next one.

But when he saw blood in his stool in 2013, he had another procedure. Diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer, a foot of his colon was removed at Norwalk Hospital.

The disease had spread to his lymph nodes. He faced 6 months of chemotherapy.

Tony Menchaca

Tony — a Westporter since 1990, whose 3 boys earned fame as Staples High School wrestlers — had a choice. He could undergo chemo at world renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, or at the much smaller Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital.

His surgeon, Dr. James McClane, described the value of a local center. It was important, he said, to think about ease of access, and the personalization of a smaller facility.

Tony chose Whittingham. Four years later — and cancer-free — he is very pleased with his experience.

“I got super treatment,” Tony says. “The level of expertise is comparable to New York. And the amount of caring was phenomenal.”

(Whittingham Cancer Center recently affiliated with Memorial Sloan Kettering. MSK medical and radiation oncologists are now onsite at Norwalk Hospital.)

Over 6 months, Tony underwent 12 rounds of chemo. He’d go in on Monday, for 3 hours of infusion. On Wednesday, he returned to have his pump disconnected. The next day, he went back for a booster shot.

Tony drove himself to his appointments. He did not want his wife Sara or his kids hanging around the infusion suite.

However, the setup encourages loved ones or friends to be there during treatment. “If you want people around, it’s great,” he notes.

Whittingham Cancer Center

Tony’s oncologist, Dr. Richard Frank, was very accessible. “I always saw him,” Tony says. “He’s a great guy, and like most of the doctors there, he’s local.”

So local, in fact, that he plays sax in the popular doctor-dominated rock band DNR.

“I may not have had that level of exposure to a physician in a larger cancer center,” Tony says.

But, Tony says, the heart of Whittingham is its chemo suite infusion nurses. They’re the ones he spent most of his time with. He can’t say enough about their expertise and concern.

The real eye-opener, though, was “the value of a local cancer center. If he spent 6 months commuting to chemo, Tony believes his recovery would have been far harder.

Even before his diagnosis, Tony had ridden in the CT Challenge, a bike ride fundraiser for cancer survivors. He’s now done it 7 times.

His other major effort is Whittingham’s 3K walk and 5K run. It’s doubly special this year: the 15th annual event for the cancer center falls on the 125th anniversary of Norwalk Hospital.

It’s Saturday, May 5 at Calf Pasture Beach. That’s just a couple of miles from his Westport home, so of course Tony will be there.

It’s not like he has to go all the way to New York for exercise.

Or excellent, life-saving cancer care.

(For more information on the Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Sally’s Run, click here.)

Westporters Lead Norwalk Hospital Board

When Amy Schafrann recruited Mark Gudis for the Norwalk Hospital board of directors, it seemed like a good fit.

The senior investment professional had spent much of his career examining healthcare companies. His wife MaryGrace was already on the hospital’s foundation board.

He found the work fascinating. “The landscape is changing so rapidly,” he says. “But people will always get sick. Working on the board is all about seeing what we can do to make things better for everyone.”

Then Gudis himself got sick.

A health scare in early 2013 caused him to reflect on what was most important in his life.

Mark Gudis

“It was humbling and scary,” he says. “But it made me a better person. I’m more focused now on doing things that benefit others.”

Which is why Gudis has just been named chairman of the Norwalk Hospital Association board of directors. And Schafrann — who recruited him years ago — is the new vice chair. Both are longtime Westporters.

Gudis has 4 goals for the hospital. He wants to engage all 1,400 employees, making sure they’re growing in their jobs and satisfied with their work; ensure that the hospital’s 425 physicians get whatever they need to serve patients; continue to enhance and innovate the hospital’s work in the community, and make continuous improvement in safety and security.

For 125 years, Norwalk Hospital has been a part of the local community. But it’s also moved forward, extending its reach and resources.

In October, the hospital partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. That means accelerated access to the latest treatments — and Sloan Kettering’s renowned physicians — right here at home.

The hospital is also allied with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center — which means improved inpatient medical care for kids.

And Norwalk Hospital is collaborating with Northwell Health, the large New York provider, to share best practices and provide better buying power.

“So a community hospital can have all the resources of a large metropolitan hospital,” Gudis explains.

Last year, Norwalk Hospital did 10,000 surgeries, and treated 50,000 emergency room patients.

“We’ve done a good job,” Gudis notes. “The Norwalk Hospital of 10 years ago is not the Norwalk Hospital of today — or tomorrow. It’s very exciting.”

He looks forward to working with Schafrann. The 1972 graduate of Staples High School — who spent 20 years as a Yankelovich managing partner, and now runs a college consulting firm — says that for many years she took the hospital for granted.

Twenty-eight years ago, she went into labor at 26 weeks. Her daughter Sara was born — weighing just 1.5 pounds.

“It was a very scary time,” Schafrann says. She and her husband Richard grew to appreciate the neonatal intensive care unit.

After 3 months of “incredible care,” Sara went home. She weighed 5 pounds.

Her story ends happily. A few months ago, several doctors and nurses attended Sara’s wedding. She earns her doctorate in clinical and social psychology this May, and will work with children with learning disabilities and special needs.

Amy Schafrann

“We wanted to give back to the hospital that gave us our wonderful daughter,” Schafrann says. At first, she and her husband made financial donations to the unit.

Several years ago, she was asked to join the Foundation board. Now she’s vice chair of the full board.

Schafrann is proud of the Circle of Caring/Grateful Patients program she founded. It encourages notes of appreciation to doctors, nurses, aides, meal deliverers, technicians — anyone who made a paitent’s stay easier or better.

While co-chair of the Whittingham Cancer Center Walk/Run — with fellow Westporter Tammy Zelkowitz — Schafrann recruited local students to form teams. She’ll continue to search for ways to keep teenagers involved in the hospital.

Her goal on the board is “to help deliver high-quality care. With all the financial pressures, many local hospitals have disappeared. Through our network, with economies of scale and thanks to our donors, we’ll continue to provide advanced emergency care, state-of-the-art cancer treatment, and community health and wellness.”

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.

Westport Y: Suddenly $40 Million Richer

A capital campaign for a new Westport Weston YMCA  fell short of its goal earlier this decade. So the Mahackeno facility — called the Bedford Family Center — was broken into 2 phases.

Phase I opened last fall, with an airy fitness center, gleaming new pool, well-lit exercise rooms, nice new gym and a much-needed child’s play space. The site was purchased decades ago — with the generous help of Frederick T. Bedford, Ruth’s father.

The new YMCA -- known as the Bedford Family Center -- at Mahackeno.

The new YMCA — known as the Bedford Family Center — at Mahackeno.

But the new Y lacks other amenities, like childcare, gymnastics and racquetball. And the locker rooms are badly cramped. Y officials promised they’d be added some vague time later, during Phase II.

Phase II suddenly seems a lot closer to reality.

The Y announced today that it has received $40 million from the estate of Ruth Bedford. The last surviving granddaughter of Edward T. Bedford — a director of Standard Oil and founder of the Westport Y, among many other philanthropic projects — died last June, at 99.

Norwalk Hospital logoYet this is not Ruth Bedford’s only astonishing gift. She also left $40 million to Norwalk Hospital. She loved that institution too — and volunteered there, logging almost 17,000 hours in the gift shop, over 5 decades. (A previous gift from E.T. Bedford, decades ago, enabled the hospital to double its patient capacity.)

But wait! There’s more! Another $40 million bequest — believed to be the largest ever to an all-girls’ school — went to Foxcroft, a tiny private girls school in Virginia that was Bedford’s alma mater.

The Y’s plans for the fallen-from-the-sky money are not yet set.

Officials say they will use it for “current and future capital development needs” — perhaps including new locker rooms? — and “to endow programs for wellness and youth in a way that honors the tradition of the Bedford family legacy.”

For nearly a century, that legacy has enriched Westport. It continues to do so, even after death.