Tag Archives: Westport Minnybus

Remembering Leo Keehan

Leo Keehan died on Tuesday, at 89. He was a lifelong Westporter, a 1947 Staples High School graduate — and a man with an intriguing connection to our town’s transportation history.

Leo Keehan

Leo owned 3 businesses here. One — Teddy’s Taxi — was located for years on the eastbound side of the Saugatuck train station.

It shared space with the local Avis rental agency — which he also owned.

Noticing growth in the number of trips to New York airports, he added a limo service: Teddy’s Limousine.

Leo’s son Kyle says, “Leo had many amazing and sometimes scandalous stories about famous people who rode in his fleet of vehicles. He had ‘Taxicab Confessions’  before HBO came up with the idea.”

In the 1970s, Westport was selected by the state government as an ideal town for an experimental local transportation system. In the first phase, Mercedes “minnybuses” followed fixed routes to and from the station, taking commuters to the train each morning and bringing them home at night.

In between, the buses ran routes connecting downtown with outer neighborhoods.

Inexpensive passes allowed Westporters to ride minnybuses without limits. Parents quickly realized the buses were cheap babysitters. They put their kids on, and waved goodbye, occupying them happily for hours.

The second phase — “maxi taxis” — was a van service. Several customers sharedrides to points around town. 

A Minnybus at Jesup Green.

Leo was recruited as president. Both programs ran successfully, until funding ran out.

Leo sold his businesses in his early 50s. Retirement lasted only a year. The family that purchased Teddy’s wanted his expertise to grow the business. Twenty-five years later he retired permanently from Teddy’s’ — a job he truly enjoyed.

A young Leo Keehan

Leo was a Korean War veteran, stationed in Germany. After returning to Westport he began working in the auto parts industry. He married Beverly Breault, daughter of Gilbert and Breault — original owners of Ye Olde Bridge Grill.

Leo lived at Compo Beach for more than 45 years. He loved the water, and sailing.

The Keehan family has been Westport residents for over a century. His sons  Kyle and Scott both live in town, and hope to keep their family here for another 100 years.

A celebration of Leo’s life will be held on Friday (January 25, 10 a.m., St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield). In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Friday Flashback #53

In 1979 2009 — as her 30th Staples High School reunion neared — Peggy Lehn made this collage:

Now — 8 years later — she dug it out of her garage, and sent it along.

Click on or hover over to enlarge. If you were in Westport then: How many of these places and things do you remember? Westport Pizzeria and Liberty Army Navy seem to be the only 2 stores still around.

If you were not here: What are you most curious about? I’m guessing the Minnybuses — and the bizarrely named S&M Pizza. (Trust me, nothing crazy went on there.)

Click “Comments” below to share memories — or ask questions.

Waterbury: Where Westport Minnybuses Go To Die

Or, at least one of them does.

Jennifer Sabella is a 1982 Staples graduate. She lives in Litchfield now. For years she’s passed by a junkyard near the Route 8 Colonial Avenue exit in Waterbury.

Deep in the woods — almost hidden by brush — she spotted an old Westport Minnybus.

Jennifer DeJesus Sabella's 1975 and '76 Minnybus passes.

Jennifer DeJesus Sabella’s 1975 and ’76 Minnybus passes.

Back in the day, they were Westport’s cutting-edge (yet diesel-belching) transportation technology. Driving fixed routes, they ferried people — mostly kids — around town. At least one parent was known to park kids on a Minnybus for a round-trip or two, using it as a vehicular babysitter.

At least 10,000 youngsters used it as a place to escape home, smoke cigarettes, make out.

Jennifer always wanted to take a photo. But that stretch of highway is busy. The junkyard entrance is hard to find. And there’s (of course) a barking dog.

The other day though, there was very little traffic. She pulled over.

And she recorded this little bit of Westport history, now rusting quietly away in the Valley.

Minnybus in Waterbury