Longtime Westporter Tom Hofstetter — whose civic involvement in Westport included Sunrise Rotary, sports, the arts, his church and more — died peacefully last week in Aiken, South Carolina. He was 90.
The Baltimore native majored in history at Washington College, then attended the University of Maryland Law School. After training at the Army Intelligence School, he served as an undercover CIC agent in Japan and Korea, at the end of the Korean War.
Back in the US, he obtained credentials from a small Maryland newspaper, and traveled to Cuba to report on the revolution there. He endured a restaurant bombing, and had weapons pointed in his face.
Returning to Baltimore, Tom worked in sales with Dun & Bradstreet, then transitioned into the brokerage business with Merrill Lynch. He became Walston & Company’s Northeastern sales manager, while completing courses at the University of Pennsylvania’s Investment Banking Institute.
Tom proposed to his wife Sally the first day he met her, at a Sunday morning church service.
He worked closely with Maryland’s governor and Baltimore’s mayor on many civic initiatives. He held leadership positions on the Baltimore Jail Board, Airport Planning Commission, Jaycees and Tourism Commission, and Fort McHenry. In 1964 he ran as the Republican candidate for Maryland’s 7th US Congressional District.
After moving to Westport in 1969, Tom served as vice president at Walston’s New York headquarters, and was active at the New York Stock Exchange. He led their first national marketing conference, and was pivotal in the exchange’s expansion into insurance and annuity sales.
After Wall Street, he opened Westport’s first brokerage branch. He built an extensive brokerage presence in Fairfield County, as Salomon Smith Barney’s vice president of investments.
He also traveled throughout Europe, in Hungary and Slovenia prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain. He sailed extensively too, on his sailboat moored at Compo Beach.
In Westport Tom founded the Sunrise Rotary Club, and served as president of Little League. He was also chief of the Tanka Tiki Indians – YMCA Indian Guides; board member of the Westport-Weston Foundation; board member of the Westport Historical Society; deacon of Greens Farms Congregational Church; 2-term master of Masonic Lodge #65; president of the Norwalk Symphonic Orchestra, and chairman of the board of Ashlar of Newtown, a skilled nursing facility.
In retirement Tom spent time at his Vermont cabin of 30 years, exploring the back country. He and Sally also traveled through the Caribbean, Russia, the Cape of Good Hope and the Arctic. He became a scholar of Arctic history and a collector of Inuit art, traveling extensively by light aircraft and Russian icebreaker to the far reaches of the area.
Relocating to Aiken in 1998, Tom promoted the arts. He served as president of the Augusta Opera, co-founder and past chairman of the Aiken Symphony, founder of the Aiken Opera Society, and trustee of Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch, Inc.
He also created Aiken Performing Arts, which introduced the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra to the area in 2005. He brought in world-class artists, while creating outreach opportunities through master classes and more.
Tom is survived by Sally, his wife of 62 year; son Thomas C. Hofstetter III, daughter Kimberly Dracon, 5 grandsons and sister Joyce May.
Funeral services are set for Saturday, June 25 in Aiken. Tom will be laid to rest on Thursday, June 30 in Westport, at a private family burial.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Aiken Symphony Orchestra, 262 East Gate Drive #440, Aiken, SC 29803.
First Selectwoman Jen Tooker delivered that assessment yesterday afternoon to a large crowd at the Westport Library, and more residents watching online.
Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein offered a similar verdict, for the Westport Public Schools.
The 5th annual “State of the Town” meeting was sponsored by Westport’s 2 Rotary clubs. RTM moderator Jeff Wieser led the session.
In her opening remarks, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker gave a shout-out to Olympic silver medalist snowboarder (and Westport resident) Julia Marino.
Tooker used town poet laureate Diane Lowman’s words — “resilient, optimistic, Westport strong” — in her opening remarks.
COVID has demanded a “vigilant, respectful” response — and municipal employees have delivered it “professionally and compassionately,” she said. Now, we begin to focus on “a return to the activities of living.”
Tooker spoke about various departments, including:
Human Services (expanded outreach, and reopening the Senior Center)
Police Department (“proactive service, and an ongoing commitment to transparency”)
Fire Department (administering over 5,000 COVID vaccines)
Human Resources (29 new hires last year)
Town Clerk (more online tax payments and dog licenses)
Parks & Recreation (record usage of golf, tennis, Cockenoe Island and clamming permits)
Tooker cited Sustainable Westport and a “restaurant renaissance” as other highlights of the year.
In addition, she thanked Police, Fire and EMS for their swift response 3 weeks ago, when her father suffered a heart attack.
Before 1st Selectwoman Tooker’s remarks on Westport, she sported a very local “nautical landmarks mask” from Savvy + Grace.
Her priorities for the future include upgrades to downtown (including Parker Harding Plaza, Jesup Green, and the Imperial Avenue and Baldwin parking lots); a new Longshore capital improvement plan; flood mitigation; sidewalk projects, and a new Traffic Safety Commission that will hold public meetings in all 9 RTM districts. The “Cross Highway corridor” near North Avenue will be a top priority.
In her schools presentation, Goldstein noted numerous awards and achievements. However, she warned, the district is not resting on its laurels.
Four key areas of attention include facilities (with a comprehensive look at Long Lots Elementary), and master plans for the 7 other buildings; strategic planning; social and emotional learning, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein.
Audience members then asked questions on hot town issues.
Regarding TEAM Westport, Tooker repeated her words at the body’s meeting last week: “I am fully committed to preserving the original mission, to achieve and celebrate a more welcoming and inclusive Westport community.”
Goldstein said that Westport schools have “a rich and long partnership” with the organization. “Their advisory capacity is very important to us. The Board of Education shares their commitment to multiculturalism, and lessening racism, homophobia and xenophobia.”
She said that the police, clergy, Library and Westport Country Playhouse — “and of course the schools” — attend TEAM meetings, as they do with other advisory groups like the Westport Arts Advisory Board.
Speaking personally, she added, “I categorically and unequivocally support the mission of TEAM Westport.”
Tooker used those comments to add thoughts on recent debates on issues like these.
“The community wants constructive discussions of important topics,” the 1st Selectwoman said. She expressed hope for “constructive discourse, in the way we know how to have it as Westporters.”
1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein answer audience questions.
On mask policies, Goldstein said she hoped the state would issue guidelines if the current mandate is not extended past February 15. If not, she said, the board will hear recommendations from the Westport Weston Health District, and medical advisors. “We will approach the off-ramp when it’s safe and appropriate,” she said.
Tooker noted that Westport’s current mask mandate applies only to town-owned buildings. The COVID Emergency Management Team meets every week, she said. Meanwhile, high rates of both vaccinations and previous infections here make future decisions will be made on different metrics than before.
Tooker refuted the belief that crime is up in Westport — though car thefts definitely are. She and police officials are holding neighborhood meetings. She urged the public to offer other ideas for mitigating strategies.
Tooker replied to a question about dredging the Saugatuck River by describing it as a complex project involving federal, state and local permitting and funds. She praised Congressman Jim Himes, former town director of operations Sara Harris and Public Works director Pete Ratkiewich for their work with officials at all levels.
So what keeps Tooker up at night?
Cybersecurity, for one. She feels “great” about town mitigation efforts, but knows that municipalities are “under siege.”
Affordable housing, for another. The first selectwoman fears “losing local control of how we diversify our housing stock.”
A third worry: “the lack of civil discourse everywhere. We struggle, as a country and a community. We can do better.”
Goldstein answered the question with praise of Westport
“I feel so blessed to be in this town,” the Board of Ed chair said. “Our problems are many. But I’m so grateful to live here, with these schools.”
But, she continued, “I worry about our families, kids and teachers. Imagine dealing with your own kids. Now think about 20 in one classroom. It’s exhausting.”
Still, she said, “I see some school board meetings in other places that are crazy.
“Ours are not. I’m good with that.”
Westport’s 2 Rotary Clubs sponsored the “State of the Town” event.
Here is the full text of 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker’s speech:
To the Rotary Clubs, thank you to both for hosting the annual State of Town Address. As a Sunrise Rotarian, who doesn’t make many meetings lately, I so appreciate all that you do for the community. Thank you to the Library for allowing us to use your space and technology to reach as many Westporters as possible. It is an honor and a pleasure to be here with you to share the progress Westport has made over the past year, and to update you on some of the exciting opportunities that we are now pursuing.
I’ve officially celebrated 8 weeks in office. And it has been quite a ride. But first, let’s talk about the past year.
Haiku from poet laureate Diane Lowman:
The state of the town
We are Westport strong
There is little doubt that the past year has been one of challenges and uncertainty. However, I can proudly say that our yown employees, our elected and appointed members of Westport’s Board and Commissions, our businesses, and our amazing residents have faced these difficult times with professionalism, perseverance, and resiliency. The State of our yown is indeed very strong.
Surges and drops in Covid-19 cases during the past 12 months have required all of us to be flexible and vigilant in our efforts to protect against the virus while reclaiming a new normal in our work, schools, and daily lives where possible. I wish to extend my heartfelt and deepest appreciation for my predecessor, First Selectman Jim Marpe, for his tremendous leadership during this time.
Our administration has and will continue to follow the data and the science and the recommendations from state and local health experts to enact policies that mitigate risk while also – and this is critically important – allowing us all to return to the activities and way of living we expect and deserve. While the way we live, work, and play will continue to evolve, we must and will move forward together. Our town will support our residents’ post-pandemic lifestyle choices as we continue to deliver the highest quality services, facilities, and amenities for our entire community.
I would like to take a few minutes to provide you with an accounting of our town’s undertakings and accomplishments over the past year. I would also like to recognize at this point the talented, dedicated town employees who have been on the front lines serving our residents throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and have done so with professionalism and compassion that makes me very proud to lead this amazing workforce. Our town employees are the very definition of essential workers and each and every one of them has contributed to our town’s success.
In Town Hall, our Human Resources Department had a busy year recruiting candidates to fill 29 important open positions in a very difficult job market for employers. As you know, we are competing with other towns and businesses who are experiencing worker shortages. It is a testament to our reputation as a top-notch employer that we can attract these impressive hires which are a diverse and accomplished group. We welcome them to our community and to our town Hall family.
Several of these terrific new hires have joined us in the Tax Collectors office, following the retirement of some long-time employees, and the department is now under the direction of our new Tax Collector, Christine Allison. This year, the department saw a marked increase in online tax payments compared to the year before and we will encourage that trend to continue. And we look forward to some good news about the grand list from our Tax Assessor’s office this week.
We hired a new town clerk this past year, Jeff Dunkerton, whose office for the first time offered online dog licenses for residents. This new program was a group effort between our IT Department, our operations director and our Town Clerk’s Office, and is just one of many examples of how we can better deliver services for Westporters through cooperation, collaboration and technology. In addition to our new town clerk, we also have 2 new registrars of voters and 2 new deputies and together this brand-new team managed a successful municipal election along with registering 100s of new residents to vote.
Speaking of new residents, we all know Westport’s real estate market was impacted significantly. With 100s of new residents and of course current residents wanting to improve their homes, our land use departments were incredibly busy – seeing a surge in permits. The same was seen on the commercial side with dozens of new businesses opening in Westport. Our Building Department implemented new software to allow permits and inspections to be viewed on line. Other land use departments — P&Z, Conservation, Health and Engineering along with our IT Department — continue pursue a comprehensive, on-line permitting system. They are dangerously close. We are always looking for ways to innovate and serve our residents and businesses more efficiently and effectively.
So, what has attracted all these new residents? There are many answers to that question. But in addition to our excellent schools, our parks and beaches continue to be a primary reason why people move to Westport. Our Parks and Recreation Department has been at the forefront of delivering opportunities, first-class amenities, and recreational activities for all Westporters. Recently, we hired a new parks superintendent – this critical role will oversee Westport’s more than 25 parks and beaches, I bet you all didn’t know we had that many, with a focus on user accessibility and of course enjoyment. Please visit Riverside Park if you haven’t already – it’s received a beautiful upgrade – and we are hoping the public will make use of it.
Our Parks and Recreation Department also adopted a Financial Sustainability Policy, which will ensure effective use of taxpayer resources, and the ability to maintain and upgrade our amenities and facilities for the future. We witnessed record usage of our golf course, our tennis and paddle facilities, Cockenoe Island and even clamming permits we up significantly. It is clear that our residents are embracing the outdoor lifestyle and seeking relaxation and enjoyment in our parks and beaches more than ever before.
But during this very challenging year, not only have our residents flocked to our outdoor spaces for refuge, but we have also seen that they have needed support in other ways. Our amazing Department of Human Services stepped up to meet the needs of residents with compassion and dedication. They continued their emergency management response to support Westporters adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including outreach and support to address residents’ long-term and immediate basic needs with mass drive-thru and home delivery food and meal distribution programs for food-insecure seniors and other residents. DHS staff members also provided community outreach and support for seniors, youth, and other vulnerable populations via home visits, phone, social media, and weekly email updates; all while addressing the ongoing social and emotional well-being needs of all residents and managing a specific $700,000 Department of Housing Cares Act Grant on behalf of Homes with Hope to make COVID-related improvements to the Gillespie Shelter facilities.
Through the Westport Center for Senior Activities, our seniors were kept engaged and connected to their peers and instructors via virtual programming which helped so many cope with the isolation of the ongoing pandemic. The Senior Center was successfully reopened in July for in-house programming in a safe manner. Staff also assisted seniors with obtaining vaccination booster shots and in obtaining test kits as the Omicron variant spread.
As mentioned before, we’ve had a surge of new businesses opening – many being restaurants. Along with the Chamber of Commerce and the Westport Downtown Association, the Planning and Zoning Department has worked tirelessly with business owners during a very challenging year. They facilitated existing restaurants to stay open and new restaurants to be established contributing to a restaurant renaissance in Westport.
The P&Z Department also took important measures to diversify housing in Westport and keep in compliance with legal requirements established by the State of Connecticut, and raising the total number of affordable units to 400. And they also adopted a text amendment to prohibit retail recreational cannabis establishments in Westport.
I mentioned before that our town employees are truly essential – without them, Westport simply doesn’t work. Our Department of Public Works is in many ways the backbone of our town. They are out there every day strategically planning for our future, fixing roads, plowing snow, upgrading our infrastructure, repairing sidewalks – you name it, they do it. This past year, for the first time, the town’s Department of Public Works took over responsibility for paving our school parking lots. So in addition to paving 6 Town parking lots, they paved 4 school lots as well.
And about 10 miles of roads. Additionally, they have undertaken dozens of infrastructure projects all around town including almost 1.5 miles of sidewalks, numerous complicated bridge projects and sewer upgrades. It is critical that we continue to invest in our infrastructure for the safety of our residents and the future of our Town.
While upgrading our infrastructure and planning for the future, we consistently look for opportunities to be a more sustainable community. We received quite an honor this year as we were awarded Silver Certification from Sustainable CT – one of very few municipalities and this is the highest honor. Thank you to the efforts of former operations director Sara Harris, virtually every single town department head, numerous local non-profits, former First Selectman Jim Marpe and especially the leadership of Sustainable Westport. Everything from converting our street lights to LED to increasing the number of electric vehicles in our town fleet – and specifically including our police vehicles – has enabled us to achieve this status. We will continue to work towards a sustainable future together.
Speaking of the future, in coordination with the Town of Fairfield’s IT, Police, and Fire Departments, we upgraded our police and fire department network to communicate with the newly created, state of the art joint dispatch center that will open for business soon. This new venture will allow us to continue to deliver effective emergency services while providing long-term cost savings. Identifying opportunities for coordination with surrounding towns on projects like this will continue be a priority going forward.
In addition to all the other first responder activities our firefighters do, they received COVID-19 vaccination training in early 2021, which enabled them to provide vaccinations at clinics for Westport Public Schools and the Aspetuck Health District. Firefighters administered over 5,000 vaccinations at these clinics. We are incredibly proud of their lifesaving work.
More of Westport’s finest, our police department continued to protect and serve our community with integrity, kindness and effectiveness in the midst of this global pandemic. Strict proactive protective measures allowed the Westport PD to maintain high levels of service despite COVID-19 infections raging.
Importantly, our Police Department continues to meet and exceed the requirements set forth by Connecticut’s Police Accountability Bill. We are extremely proud of our department’s record of conduct and their ongoing commitment to transparency, including the installation of a Civilian Review Panel and the approval of an upgraded body and dash camera project.
The effects of the pandemic have been keenly felt by our EMS staff. They continue to walk into medical emergencies with courage and purpose, never knowing what they will face. I witnessed their unbelievable professionalism first hand when I called 911 three weeks ago, yesterday. My dad was suffering what we thought was a mini-stroke, but ended up being life-ending heart attack. The entire team, EMS, PD and Fire, were kind, considerate, swift and decisive. I couldn’t be more impressed and grateful.
As you can see, our town has a long list of impressive accomplishments and goals reached during the past year. A year filled with daily uncertainty, the town staff exhibited true resilience and continued to deliver the high standards of service the community demands and deserves while taking on initiatives that are critical to the future of the town – all while managing a global pandemic. Speaking of the future, let’s talk about those priorities. I’d like to take this opportunity now to thank newly-elected Selectwomen Andrea Moore and Candice Savin for their leadership as we move forward. The opportunities before us are very exciting.
Downtown – We are ready to engage in upgrading our downtown. This will be a multi-year, staged effort starting with changes to the Parker Harding lot along the river and then moving to Jesup Green and the Taylor Lot and Taylor Place section and lastly to the Imperial Lot behind the Library. Additionally, the Baldwin Lot, which sees a tremendous amount of use for downtown shoppers, will undergo a much-needed repaving in the near future. Our goal is to create better connection and access to Downtown for shopping, dining, and enjoying our arts and cultural institutions. It will also allow us to activate our beautiful riverfront for the use of residents and visitors alike.
The Longshore Capital Improvement Plan will kick off at the February meeting of the newly constituted Parks and Recreation Commission. With our new partners at the Inn at Longshore, the time is right to move forward with a comprehensive long-term plan for this treasured Westport facility. We are excited for this process to commence and to seek the input of all stakeholders because we know that these changes will benefit our community for decades to come and help keep Westport one of the most attractive towns to live and visit in the region.
Traffic and pedestrian safety is a key priority for residents and of course for this administration. We will approach these challenges in a holistic way by first looking at issues in our neighborhoods. Prior to creating a new Traffic Advisory and Neighborhood Safety Commission, we will be hosting public meetings for each of the Town’s nine districts. These public meetings will enable us to receive real-time information about challenges and opportunities in each town neighborhood and will ensure that the concerns of all residents are heard as our town experts from Police, Fire, Public Works and P&Z will be in attendance. These meetings will be held through the spring and early summer. Please look for details. Running concurrently, we have prioritized a number of sidewalk projects in the first 2 years completing some connectivity around our schools and Downtown as we know walking has become important to our residents through the pandemic and beyond. Pedestrian Safety leads me to another issue, specifically the Cross Highway corridor from Bayberry to North Avenue. This heavily trafficked area, which provides access to a number of our public schools, is a top priority. We want to do everything possible to ensure the safety of our commuters and our students.
Flood mitigation and resilience is another area that continues to need our attention. Increasing frequency and severity of storms is a painful reminder. The leadership of the Flood and Erosion Control Board and our Engineering Department have proposed that this board take on an expanded role with respect to reviewing and prioritizing stream improvement projects and general strategy regarding flood prevention. I think this is an excellent idea and more details will follow regarding operationalizing this role. Again, running concurrently, we will continue to prioritize certain bridge and culvert repairs. However, I want to thank our Flood and Erosion Control Board and Engineering Department for their thoughtful and smart operational proposition.
Lastly, I would like to take a moment to discuss another key initiative of our administration that has been critical to our Covid-19 pandemic response, and will continue to support our residents in the near and long-term. That is the Westport Together Alliance, which focuses on the social and emotional health and well-being of our entire community. It is a partnership between the town, our schools, the PTAs, and our non-profit organizations, and has delivered essential programs and resources over the past two years. We know that the mental health and wellness struggles among residents continue – and in many ways the pandemic has shown a bright light on this issue. We are committed to bolstering the Westport Together Alliance to ensure every Westporter knows they have access to the support and resources they need.
Haiku from poet laureate Diane Lowman
Supporting our town
Thank you again to the Rotaries for hosting this event, to the Library for the beautiful venue and technology, and to all of you for attending and giving me the opportunity to discuss the progress and promise of this Town we all love. We will continue to wake up every day and work hard to ensure Westport remains the best place to live, work and play in the region and you know this is where you belong.
As Westport — and the nation — grapple with COVID’s Delta variant, superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice sent this notice to families:
“Greetings and Happy Summer! I hope that each of you are taking the time to rest, recharge, and most importantly, make some great memories with family and friends. As a parent, the time with my wife and 3 children feels like water through my hands…you cannot hold it, but you can feel it in the moment and you can remember that feeling forever.
“We have entered the beginning of August. This is typically the time of year that we provide some brief updates to our faculty and staff, and to our families. However, as the summer unfolded over the past few weeks, it became apparent that this will again not be a typical summer transition back to school. With that I’d like to share that we will provide updates throughout the month as soon decisions are made, and as guidance is provided to schools from the Department of Public Health and the State Department of Education.
“At the moment, the Governor has extended executive orders through September 30. This includes the masking mandate for all schools through September 30. However, I want to caution the entire school community that there will likely be many changes in guidance provided to schools over the next few weeks. This is frustrating for parents and students. I can assure you that this is equally frustrating for faculty and staff.
“At this time, we expect to follow the mandates that are required of public schools, but to emphasize as much normalcy as permitted within areas of discretion. Our year ended with some positive moves towards normalcy (i.e. changes to our elementary recess), and we will continue to move in that direction, where permitted, while maintaining a balance between safety and the social/emotional wellness of our students. .
There will be much more to come. I want to assure our families that we will build off of our success at the end of the 20-21 school year to make the upcoming year a positive experience for our students. Be well, and continue to make more positive memories over the next few weeks!”
Superintendent of School Thomas Scarice was vaccinated last spring. EMT (and Coleytown Middle School theater teacher) Ben Frimmer did the honors. (Photo/John Bayers)
One business opens, another closes: Sun Reflexology has been hit with a Stop-Work Order.
The state Department of Labor charges the massage therapy business in the small shopping plaza near Layla’s Falafel and Dunkin’ Donuts with “misrepresenting employees as independent contractors,” and “materially understating or concealing payroll.”
A phone call to the spa — and to its 2nd location, between Shearwater Coffee and the Sherwood Diner — went unanswered.
Andy Friedland has always watched out for others. The Staples High School graduate worked with AmeriCorps, and for the ADL. Now he’s at the University of Connecticut, earning a master’s to teach English.
It’s for us to watch him. He’ll be on ABC’s “The $100,000 Pyramid” this Wednesday (August 11, 9 pm EDT) — with New York Giants legends Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber.
The show was filmed nearly a year ago. Since that time Andy has scrupulously adhered to his Non-Disclosure Agreement. Even his closest relatives don’t know the outcome.
But whatever happens: Westport knows Andy is a winner.
Andy Friedland (Photo by Harold Shapiro for Connecticut Magazine)
Jon Lindbergh — son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, whose life the New York Times says “was shaped by the height of fame and the depths of tragedy that his family experienced” — died recently in West Virginia. He was 88.
The Times obituary mentions that his family lived in Westport. That surprised many people.
Though their time in Darien is more well known, the Lindberghs lived on Long Lots Road — on the right side, just before the Fairfield line — from 1944 to 1946. They kept a low profile, having endured both the kidnapping and murder of Jon’s 20-month brother Charles Jr. (5 months before Jon’s birth in 1932), and Charles’ unpopular political views as an isolationist and possible Nazi sympathizer during World War II.
Click here for the full New York Times obituary. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)
Norwalk Hospital will dedicate 2 newly renovated pediatric emergency rooms in memory of Dr. Al Beasley and Dr. Jean Beasley.
The husband-and-wife pediatricians were beloved in Westport. Dr. Al died last year; Dr. Jean passed away from cancer in 1973.
The most recent issue of Catalyst — the magazine published by Nuvance Health, Norwalk Hospital’s owner — devotes 2 pages to the Beasleys. The story notes that Al was the grandson of a Harvard-educated attorney who founded the Boston chapter of the NAACP; his father graduated from Harvard, his mother from Radcliffe. Al served 2 years as an Army reservist, the 4 years in the Air Force during the Korean War. He and Jean married while they were attending NYU Medical School.
Dr. Al Beasley was also a major benefactor of Staples Tuition Grants, in honor of Dr. Jean. (Hat tip: Burton Stuttman)
John (Jackie) Laux of Jersey City died June 9 in Midvale, Utah after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He passed at home to the tune of the Grateful Dead, surrounded by his wife Marybeth, son Robert, and daughters Kristen and Molly.
Jackie and Marybeth had recently relocated to Utah to live out his lifelong dream of becoming a ski bum and being closer to his grandchildren, Devyn and Callan Laux, and Maggie and Noelle Giusti.
Jackie was an accomplished hockey player, playing goalie for Iona College. He made many lifelong friends on the ice, a tradition that continued through his final years while refereeing youth hockey in Connecticut.
Jackie also loved golf, and was a proud member of Shorehaven Club in Norwalk. Surrounded by friends, he enjoyed the fresh air, light beers and moderate exercise, then met his children by the pool to catch a swimming, diving or tennis match.
He was always excited and proud to watch (or coach) his children’s soccer, baseball and softball games, and tennis matches. As his children grew, their joint love of sports grew into family gatherings at New York Giants and Rangers games.
Jackie’s generous personality garnered him hundreds of friends around the country. He was quick to lend a helping hand or buy a drink for a friend in need of company (or just plain fun). He connected with others instantly and deeply, and leaves behind a lasting impression on all who knew him.
Due to COVID, a private memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on July 12 at Westport’s Unitarian Church, and broadcast via Zoom (click here for the link). Following the service, family and friends are invited to Penfield Pavilion in Fairfield (5 p.m.).
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jackie’s name to Huntsman Cancer Institute or First Tee of Metropolitan New York.
Staples’ spring hockey team won the Southern Connecticut Hockey League Division 3 Spring hockey championship, thumping North Branford 7-0 in the finals. Incoming captains Andrew Gebicki, Jason Wolgast and Cole Feinleib led the team.
Staples High School students raise funds for many worthy projects. They thank their donors, work hard — but in their busy day-to-day worlds, never share the results of their efforts.
Jackson Cregan remembers.
The 9th grader loves Sherwood Island. After raising funds for Friends of Sherwood Island, he sent along this update:
“100% of your donations were used to purchase seagrass and jute erosion control cloth, trees and shrubs.
“In early April, I helped restore dunes. We planted 2,400 seagrass stems with 18 volunteers. In late April, we planted 125 trees and shrubs with 20 volunteers.
Jackson volunteers there nearly every week. He is learning from Michele Sorensen and other master gardeners. He helps with dune restoration, removing invasive species, tree planting, creating pollinator pathways, and maintenance.
Great work, Jackson! And thanks for letting all of us know what’s going on at our great state park.
Yesterday the former Staples High School and Little League World Series star’s current team — Duke University — won the ACC championship, 1-0 over NC State. It was the Blue Devils’ 4th ACC baseball title — but first in 60 years.
Knight — a 2-time state champion at Staples — batted .272, with 2 home runs, this year.
Memorial Day weekend’s rains meant a washout for many local businesses.
News12 sent a crew to Joey’s by the Shore. As expected, sales were slow. The popular deli/market had stocked up on supplies, expecting big crowds. But neighbors were stopping in. And the cameraman got some great shots, of Joey’s and Old Mill Beach.
And finally … B.J. Thomas died yesterday at his home near Dallas, of complications from lung cancer. He was 78.
Though best known for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” — the song from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which connected him forever with Westport’s Paul Newman and Weston’s Robert Redford — he had many other successes. Fifteen singles reached the Top 10, and he earned 5 Grammys.
I never liked “Raindrops.” But I sure did appreciate much of the rest of B.J. Thomas’ music. What a voice! (Click here for a full obituary.)
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