Peter Wormser’s death on Tuesday stunned and saddened many Westporters. The architect, gardener, cook and avid outdoorsman was involved in many facets of Westport life. But Wakeman Town Farm had a special place in his heart.
And the town’s sustainability center loved Peter back. This tribute is from Christy Colasurdo, co-chair emeritus and events director.
Wakeman Town Farm lost its biggest champion Tuesday night. More than a decade ago Peter Wormser was among the first in town to step up to renovate the aging farmhouse at 134 Cross Highway, and make it habitable for its early caretakers, Mike and Carrie Aitkenhead. Today it is a thriving institution, thanks in large part to the efforts of Peter and his wife, Liz Milwe, to create a truly special gathering space for the entire community.
Peter had an enormous impact on the Wakeman Town Farm team. We don’t remember him as the world-renowned architect who designed the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or the flagship Restoration Hardware store in downtown Manhattan.
Instead we recall Peter clad in faded jeans and his trademark blue T-shirt (matching his cerulean eyes), scooping ice cream, dishing up chili and flipping burgers at Family Fun Day, or bartending at our annual Harvest Fest dinners.
Peter truly loved the Farm, and what it meant to Westport residents. He quietly made his mark by attending countless meetings, doing detailed architectural renderings (without compensation), and eventually moving from his NYC office to one in Saugatuck, so he could GC construction of the Farm’s multipurpose facility (again, gratis).
When the building was ready for its unveiling, Peter’s son Tim died unexpectedly. The WTF committee unanimously voted to name the venue Tim’s Kitchen, honoring Peter and Liz, the Farm’s co-chair, for their contributions over the years.
Since the early days, Peter made a slew of improvements to the Farm grounds, including designing our unique Pizza Piazza, stone patios and walkways. He was in the process of working up drawings for the barn’s revitalization.
More than this, Peter and Liz were frequent attendees at Farm events, cooking classes and chef’s dinners. Peter rolled up his sleeves and assisted in the kitchen, working alongside Artisan’s Frederic Kieffer, Possa’s Chef Massimo and Peter Romano of Saugatuck Sweets.
It took us all by surprise when Peter, an avid cook, gardener and swimmer, was grounded by a mysterious illness 2 years ago. He underwent an array of treatments and grueling medical procedures. Eventually, he was diagnosed with leukemia.
Peter died July 13, the same day as his beloved son Tim, only 5 years later.
Wakeman Town Farm co-chair Bill Constantino fondly remembers Peter for his sensitivity to the Farm’s historic roots. He says, “Peter always had the best interest of keeping the integrity of my grandparents’ homestead and farm in mind, while being able to create an amazing space for the residents of Westport. He will truly be missed.”
Our hearts go out to the Wormser family, including sons Jon and James, and longtime partner Liz Milwe. We share heartfelt gratitude to one of the most giving, talented and unpretentious humans we have had the pleasure to know.