Tag Archives: Westport Senior Center

Senior Center Names New Director

There will never be another Sue Pfister.

But now there’s a Wendy Petty.

The Fairfield resident — and, for the past 11 years, Weston Senior Activities Center director — was announced today as the new director of the Westport Center for Senior Activities.

Pfister — who led Westport’s Senior Center for 36 years — retired December 31.

Wendy Petty

Petty led Weston’s Senior Center expansion through fundraising, capacity-building and advocacy. She established partnerships with local organizations, volunteer networks, colleagues and social services agencies, to develop innovative social and recreational opportunities for seniors.

Originally from Southern California, Petty and her husband Jim raised their children in Weston. She has a BA in counseling and human Services from Notre Dame de Namur University.

In addition to her specialty in senior services, Petty has experience in non-profit operations, team leadership, grant and program development, and budget administration.

“I am very happy to welcome Wendy to Westport’s Center for Senior Activities,” says 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker. “She brings professional expertise, operational management and local knowledge to the Human Services team and, most importantly, to the WCSA.”

Petty says, “I am very excited to join WCSA’s team and look forward to building on their success as an exemplary hub for local seniors. Together, we will continue to provide the best possible care and service to the senior community.”

In her free time Petty enjoys running, taking long walks with friends, and spending time with family. She and her husband are active in the local car enthusiast community, and enjoy weekend rallies on the back roads of Connecticut.

Westport Senior Center

“The Senior Center’s success can be attributed to a variety of factors, including a Town administration that prioritizes seniors, participants who both contribute and drive programming, and our professional staff members who facilitate connections and run the programs day in and day out,” says Human Services Department director Elaine Daignault, which oversees the Senior Center.

“Under Sue Pfister’s leadership, the WCSA’s dedicated team helped to build the center of Westport’s dreams.

“Today, we prepare for a new era of growth and prosperity for our most esteemed senior residents. I could not be more excited to welcome Wendy to the team.”

In addition to Petty’s appointment — effective February 1, 2023 — Tooker promoted Holly Betts to assistant director of the Senior Center, and Jason Wilson to program specialist, effective immediately.

Senior Center Feeds The Souls

Some older Westporters can’t shop or cook for themselves.

Some can, but want companionship for their meals.

Other residents are happy to help.

Quietly — but quite efficiently — Westport’s Senior Center meals program provides tasty, nutritious food.

In a wide variety of ways.

Paulina Przybysz’s is “nutrition program coordinator.” That dry title does not convey the spiciness and zest of the work she oversees.

Paulina Przybysz, with nutritious food in the Senior Center kitchen.

The first of the 3 prongs is home-delivered meals. Available to homebound residents 60 and older, the program allows them to live at home.

A cold lunch or hot dinner — or both — is delivered Monday through Friday (with extras for weekends and holidays), between 10 a.m. and noon.

There are options for hot and cold meals; special or therapeutic diets (for example, diabetic, bland, chopped or puréed), and requests like no pork or beef.

Eighteen volunteers — all vetted — handle deliveries (3 to 6 are needed each day). A typical route takes about 45 minutes, with 5 to 8 stops.

Drivers use their own vehicles, and pay for their own gas. (Some towns with similar programs have to hire drivers.)

If a recipient is not home, the driver calls Paulina. She follows up, to make sure the resident is okay.

The biggest challenge is when bad weather makes deliveries impossible. Seniors are urged to have canned goods on hand for those emergencies. (If the weather eases, drivers may head out later in the day.)

The program is federally funded. There is no cost to anyone covered by The Title III Older Americans Act.

Seniors with more mobility enjoy congregate lunches at the Center. Served weekdays at noon in large, bright Sue’s Café — named for longtime, recently retired Senior Center director Sue Pfister — this is a chance to socialize over a meal.

Creative Catering of Norwalk prepares both the congregate and home delivered meals. Chef Luis is “very accommodating,” Paulina says. 

Chef Luis, at work.

He arrives at 9:30 a.m. to prepare fresh food in the Senior Center kitchen. Congregate meals include soup, an entrée and dessert, all prepared under federal nutrition guidelines. (There’s an option to order a chef ‘s salad or cheese omelet too.)

The usual crowd is about 30, though Thursday bingo and special events like a Hanukkah lunch draw more. Just before Christmas, an elementary school chorus sang.

In the works: A Valentine’s Day “heart healthy” meal.

The congregate lunch program is also federally funded. There is no cost, though a donation of $5 to $7 per meal is suggested.

Paulina Przybysz serves lunch at Sue’s Cafe.

The third program is called “Hello Neighbor.” Begun during the pandemic, when seniors felt particularly isolated, it connects people who need help shopping (or a friendly phone call) with Westporters who can provide either (or both).

Participants are matched by interests — gardening, say, or reading.

“Every day is different,” Paulina says of her 3 programs. “But the seniors are so appreciative of everything.”

Dig in!

For more information on the Senior Center meals programs — including how to participate or volunteer — contact Paulina by email (pprzybysz@westportct.gov) or phone (203-341-5097).

(From senior citizens to seniors in high school — and every other age group — “06880” covers Westport. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

We Give Thanks For …

What are you thankful for?

That’s the question I posed last week.

Plenty of “06880” readers responded. Family, friends, community, health — the emails poured in.

When we all sit down tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner, we’ll give thanks for many things. Among them:

The minute the moving truck left us on our first day in Westport in 1999, our friends Dee and Herb Appleman took us to the Library. I felt instantly at home, and have been devoted to it ever since. My sense of belonging grew as I met people through WestportREADS, guest lectures, hands-on workshops, art openings, concerts, contests, student performances, and PJ Story Time. (Do they still do this? My daughter is now 25!) My heartfelt thanks to all the staff, volunteers and fellow devoted patrons of the Westport Library. (Kerstin Rao)

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

  I am thankful for another year that has seen our efforts to Save Old Saugatuck — a neighborhood of homes and history — from destruction at the hands of an uncaring developer. We’re a community, not a commodity. (Carolanne Curry)

I am thankful to have a home in Westport, even if only part time. It is about the place, but more about the people, plus a focus on all the arts, the shoreline, the physical beauty, the diverse intellects and energies. (Rosalie J. Wolf)

The family of teen non-speaker Wynston Browne’s epiphany that he is not intellectually disable, but a fully verbal “speller,” gifted, and readying to contribute to the world. (David Browne)

I am so thankful for the Westport Senior Center. They offer many classes and lectures that keep our senior minds active and social. With the Senior Center, old age would become boring and depressing. (Scott Kuhner)

Closed today.

 Grateful to still have the love of my life after her aorta spontaneously “dissected” last February (and the surgeon who saved her!). This is the still largely unacknowledged connective tissue disorder that stole John Ritter and Jonathan Larson. ERs must learn to more quickly detect this hidden killer that masks as a “non”-heart attack. (Anonymous)

I’m thankful my sisters and mom live in Westport, so I can visit often. (Laura Lehman)

I am thankful to be able to honor the Osage Nation land that I am privileged to live on. I honor the Osages who died while trying to live on this land in Oklahoma, and other parts of this area. I have gratitude for the growin powers of rich soil, rain and sunshine, and for farmers and thosoe who work in the food chain to bring the food that we eat. I honor the indigenous peoples whose lives we have shattered so that we white folks can celebrate “Thanksgiving.” The Native Americans call it “thanks taking.” (Lucy Weberling, Staples High School Class of 1961)

I’m thankful to h

Our family is so grateful to the teachers who have taught our children over the years!  All the way from the first preschool teacher (who taught us parents as well as our child) to the teachers at Staples who have taught them subjects we parents could never teach them.  We are deeply indebted to every one of them — the incredibly inspiring music and art teachers, Science Olympiad coach, paraprofessionals who added so much friendliness to the days, school psychologists, incredibly patient custodians who helped countless times to look for lost items, principals who learned everyone’s name, librarians, cafeteria workers, nurses, secretaries who looked after the children and us parents and made such significant differences so many times over.  There are so many people who worked way harder than their job description required and were so generous with their time, caring, empathy in addition to their commitment to impart knowledge and love of learning. (Anonymous)

The late head custodian Horace Lewis was just one of the many Westport Public Schools employees who earned our profound thanks.

ave grown up in Westport in the 1950s and ’60s. I am thankful I went to Berkeley in 1967. I’m thankful I had the chance to travel around the world a bit. I’m thankful for all the friends I have made and kept. (“With lovers and friends I still can recall/Some are dead and some are living/In my life I’ve loved them all.”) I’m even thankful for the grief. I am thankful I met my husband 44 years ago, and that we now live here in Westport. It turns out for me, you can go home again. (Ellen Naftalin)  

While having my family healthy, happy and in town for the holiday is always my most joyous celebration, this particular season I am proud the concerted efforts to extinguish our democracy by a minority group of fascists has been wholeheartedly rejected by my fellow Americans. The voters of this nation have restored my faith in our ability to self govern. I am proud to witness the endurance of democracy. The 4th of July 2023 holiday should touch everyone’s heart a little more than usual. It will for me, and for this I am also thankful. (Joseph Vallone)

From poet S. J. Miller: “Autumn leaves falling/Winding their way down/Like the first foliage of the first fall/Praise for the colors/Praise with elation/God’s recreation/Eden recalled.” I’m so grateful for the rhythm of life: Divine order. For the diversity we experience in our daily lives and the faith that carries us through. One truth, many paths. (Susan Joy)

The coaches of the Police Athletic League football program, along with the Staples varsity team, having the best year in ages. Big game on Thanksgiving! (Adam Vengrow)

I am thankful for life. I nearly died in 2020. My surgeon told me a year later that he gave me a 1% chance of survival. He told my sister and brothers “She will die.” I had sepsis, and my entire system was crashing. I was intubated, on a feeding tube and God knows what else. I was out of it for 2 months. One of my brothers urged my twin sister to “pull the plug.” The doctors dubbed me the “Miracle at Meriden.” I will spend Thanksgiving by myself, but that’s okay. I usually decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving, which gives me something useful to do. (Barbara Sherburne)

I’m thankful for today. I’m thankful for family, friends, health and home. I’m thankful I’m an American. (Claudia Jensen)

Old friends — and there is double meaning to that. Friendships that go back more than half a century are indeed special. I am also thankful to have spent the second part of my childhood and a significant part of my adult life in a place with so much beauty, along with such wonderful local resources and history. And I am thankful to have had so many wonderful and special teachers and coaches, like Jack Finn at Coleytown Junior High School, who gave a late bloomer like me a chance to blossom and pursue my passion. (Fred Cantor) 

The 1966 Coleytown Junior High School soccer team. Fred Cantor is in the 2nd row, 2nd from left (white shirt); coach Jack Finn is in back.

I’m thinking a lot about how good my life is. A childhood friend just died of a brain tumor. I think about how random it is to get sick, and die. No guarantee for longevity. I have my health, my family, many activities that I enjoy, a satisfying volunteer life. I can’t think of anything that I need or want. I try to help those less fortunate. So my Thanksgiving is a day to reflect, and be grateful for all the blessings in my life (Jalna Jaeger)

For many years I walked most mornings with a close friend, at Old Mill Beach. I’m grateful for all my years in Westport, for the many friends I made, and for the wonderful school system and great teachers. About 3 years ago I was struck with a lung illness that changed my life in a flash. I’m now on oxygen 24/7, and spend most of my time at home. I’m grateful my condo has no steps, and that I have a nice-sized patio. I’m grateful I can have outdoor visitors 8 months a year. Some friends even visit in the winter. I’m grateful for my 2 air purifiers with HIPA filters. I went through a period of denial (believing I would get better), mourning, and am now working on acceptance. I miss traveling home to see childhood friends. I am so grateful that friends and neighbors still stop by to visit. I’m grateful to my part-time helpers, and all the delicious healthy food I can order from The Pantry. Also on my gratitude list are my reflexologist and Pilates/gyrotonic teacher. who come to my home to work with me. (Anonymous)

Our family, including our puppy, our friends, those passed and present, and for my ability to think critically, learned in part at Staples High School. (Charlie Taylor)

I’m thankful for my family, for the new friends I have made this year and the old friends I still have around me. I am thankful for the new generation that has come to Westport to keep us going in the right direction. (Bobbi Essagof)

I’m grateful for the feeling of gratitude itself. It helps me my life in perspective, and to be caring and empathetic to the world around me. (Rindy Higgins)

I am so grateful to have discovered Westport. After having experienced a full life, living in many places in the world, I have settled in a place where I am surrounded by civic-minded, passionate people — farms and farmers’ markets, great dining, and all surrounded by water, with which I have a deep spiritual connection. Thank you Westport, for the many comforting things you offer. (Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

I am profoundly and enduringly grateful to the friend (who we now consider family) whose generosity of spirit motivated him to save my husband Robert’s life by donating his kidney. Robert and I fell in love as teenagers, and just celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary. Now we will be able to live, love and grow old together thanks to a living donor who unexpectedly stepped forward without even being asked. Whatever brought us together when he happened to see me crying is a miracle. Forever we will be thankful for this act of kindness, compassion and sacrifice. (Robin Frank)

Jill Franke’s Butterflies Are Free

For nearly 30 years, Jill Franke has led exercise classes  at the YMCA and Senior Center.

An aerobics, group and aqua fitness instructor, she helps members and clients achieve their goals.

Some are initially afraid to work out. Jill proudly watches them turn into “beautiful butterflies,” she says.

It’s an apt metaphor. She does exactly the same at home, with caterpillars. Jill nurtures them, as they turn into beautiful — and actual — monarch butterflies.

Her hobby began six years ago. She helps the eggs grow, from a milkweed plant to microscopic caterpillars. Jill watches as they eat for two weeks, getting “big and fat.”

The start: tiny eggs.

They climb to the top of her cage, hang by their feet for 1 to 2 weeks, then spend 24 to 48 hours turning into butterflies. Their wings are wet, and they are “exhausted” from the transformation.

They walk around the cage, drying their wings. After 1 or 2 days, Jill releases them. The day must be warm (the heat helps them fly), with little wind.

In past years, Jill released 25 monarchs. This year, she has freed only 15. “Builders have been ripping out milkweed,” she explains. “Pesticides hurt too.”

To help the cause, Jill worked with Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fairfield. She and a landscaper planted thousands of milkweed seeds. It’s a beautiful spot.

During COVID, groups met there to meditate. They continue still.

Jill feels a “spiritual connection” to monarchs — an endangered species. The other day, an injured butterfly landed at her feet. She fed it sugar water until it felt better, then watched it rise away.

Jill Franke releases a monarch butterfly.

“I’m passionate about helping them survive. I’m glad I can play a part,” she says. “It’s a miracle.”

When monarchs fly off, Jill adds, she feels as if she is watching an “ancestor.” Then, she says, “I trust them. They’re watching over me.”

In late October, most butterflies are gone. There are few plants, like zinnias, to feed on. Now, she spends more time with her human friends.

Monarchs need plants to thrive.

“I’m a helper,” she says. “When it’s helping people reach their fitness and nutrition goals, I get the same satisfaction as watching caterpillars turn into gorgeous butterflies.”

Some of her success stories fly away. Some stay on earth, and return for more classes.

Insect or human, all are important parts of Jill Franke’s world.

Roundup: Movie Shoot, “Candidate” Movie, Halloween Painting …

Jesup Green was the site of an anti-racism rally yesterday.

Well – the movie version of one, anyway.

Local filmmaker/Staples High School graduate/former Westport Journal editor Jarret Liotta hopes to make sense of current events — racism, gun violence and cancel culture — with a new dark comedy short film, “Small Town Movie.”

Yesterday’s shoot was the final scene in the project. Liotta has worked on the movie for a month. He hopes to finish by the end of the year.

The script is timely. The intent, he says, is to “poke fun at everyone equally, regardless of their social or political views, and hopefully to give everyone a minor epiphany about themselves and the world we live in.”

Yesterday’s crew included Westporter Isabella Bullock, who served as assistant producer; director of photography Liam Hanley, and production assistant Joey Fassarella.

Liotta is producing the film “basically out of pocket.” Among his supporters: Ruth Mannes, executive director of MoCA Westport; longtime Westport resident Judy Hardy; Bob Saloomey, owner of S&S Dugout in Southport, and Kyle Overturf, manager of the Blue Trail Range in Wallingford.

For more information, email JarretLiotta@gmail.com.

Cast and crew at yesterday’s “rally against racism” movie shoot on Jesup Green. Jarret Liotta is at far right.


Meanwhile, a completed film — “The Candidate,” with Robert Redford — screens tomorrow at the Remarkable Theater. The timing is important: a week before Election Day.

The Imperial Avenue lot opens at 5 p.m. for tailgating. The movie begins at 6. Click here for tickets.


On Saturday, dozens of Westport youngsters painted Halloween scenes on store windows all over town.

They did the Senior Center too. That was the project of Greens Farms Elementary School Girl Scouts Troop 50588. The event was sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

Making the Senior Center scary.


Bill Ryan spotted this boat name at the Ned Dimes Marina.

He says, “I suspect the vessel’s owner has a good sense of humor, rather than a graphic artist with a spelling problem.”

(Photo/Bill Ryan)


You’ve heard of the dog days of summer ?

Here — just in time for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature — are the dog days of fall:

(Photo/Celia Campbell-Mohn)


Lenny Lipton — the Cornell University college freshman who wrote the words to “Puff the Magic Dragon,” which his friend and fellow physics major Peter Yarrow later put to music — died this month in Los Angeles, of brain cancer. He was 82.

Click here for a full obituary.

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog. Please click here to support our work.)

Senior Center’s Huge Loss: Sue Pfister To Retire

Susan L. Pfister — the only director the Westport Center for Senior Activities has known at its Imperial Avenue home — has announced her retirement.

She leaves the post she has made an enormous mark on, effective January 1.

Sue Pfister

Pfister has spent 35 years with Westport’s Department of Human Services. She was hired in 1987, after graduating from Sacred Heart University with a bachelor’s in social work.

She earned a master’s in social work at Fordham University, and dedicated her career to supporting Westport senior citizens.

The Senior Center had humble beginnings, and no permanent home. It bounced between the YMCA, Greens Farms Elementary School, Longshore and Staples High School.

Pfister helped lead construction of the Imperial Avenue facility in 2004, ahead of schedule and under budget. She also oversaw the 2016 expansion.

Westport’s Senior Center serves hundreds of people daily, thanks in large part to Pfister’s expertise and administration. “Sue’s Café” is just one honor. It was named in recognition of her establishment of the daily congregate meal program, complete with its own chef.

Westporters of all ages — along with town officials, and her colleagues around the state — admire Pfister’s creativity, resourcefulness and inclusive vision.

Sue Pfister (seated, right), at her beloved Senior Center.

She says:

I’m honored to have had the opportunity to spend my entire career with the Town of Westport. Westport truly values and recognizes the important role seniors play in the community.

I send heartfelt appreciation and thanks to the various administrations, boards and commissions, town departments and staff, instructors and volunteers, and most importantly, my staff for supporting me throughout my career. I will always call Westport my home away from home.

The Westport Senior Center.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker adds:

Westport residents, and in particular our seniors and their families and caregivers, have been blessed with Sue’s presence. Through her due diligence and oversight, the Senior Center has become a crown jewel of Westport, offering comprehensive programs that enhance the lives of seniors and create countless opportunities for seniors and volunteers to enjoy friendships and daily enrichment.

Sue always has the best interests of those she cared for at the forefront. Her considerate nature and calm demeanor, coupled with a no-nonsense management style has been an enormous asset to this community.

On a personal level, when my mom and dad moved to town, my dad became enamored of the Center and its many activities. It was Sue and her staff who were sincerely welcoming and hands-on in helping with a difficult life transition for him.

I know she is the same with all her beloved seniors. Sue took the lead without fanfare – she just did it – and with a smile on her face. Of course, Sue will be sorely missed as the Senior Center director. But I also know that she will continue to be in service to others as she enters a new chapter in her life. We wish her only health and happiness in her retirement.

Carl Frey blew out birthday candles with (from right) his wife Iris, and Senior Center director Sue Pfister.

Human Services director Elaine Daignault notes:

Sue has a penchant for quick-thinking, organization, and collaboration, playing a critical role in the town’s emergency response efforts through countless storms and public health emergencies. She and her team offered essential respite and support by feeding, housing, and comforting emergency workers and residents during significant nor’easter storm events like Hurricanes Sandy, Irene and Isais, and the COVID19 pandemic.

Sue’s energy and dedication are inspirational. Her drive and compassion for others have been a tremendous source of reassurance to me, and those that she has helped along the way.

I am very grateful for her camaraderie and friendship, and I wish her a well-deserved retirement where she’ll continue to spread light and hope to others.

High Point For The Senior Center

I’ve written before of my gratefulness for growing up on High Point Road.

At a mile, Westport’s longest cul-de-sac — and where my parents moved in 1956, when the (then-few) mailboxes were clustered together at Long Lots Road, and their address was not a street number but “Lot 12 East” — was its own true neighborhood.

Dozens of post-war baby boomers rode our bikes up and down High Point. We played games at the “turnaround,” wandered into and out of each other’s houses (and got fed by whoever’s mother happened to be in the kitchen), and gathered in large groups at bus stops (for Burr Farms Elementary School) or to walk (to Long Lots Junior High).

In this 1965 aerial view, Staples High School is on the left. An arrow points to High Point Road — and the house I grew up in.

We had block parties — first on empty lots near where Angora Lane is now, then on the Staples High athletic fields directly behind the homes on the road’s west side.

There was Christmas caroling (with Jewish families joining in), and all-road Halloween events.

Rod Serling and his family celebrating Christmas, at their High Point Road home.

Parents had their own adult-only parties. My mother and many other women formed a garden club, and planted pachysandra up and down the road. A monthly newsletter introduced newcomers to their neighbors, and vice versa.

Like many neighborhoods, the ages of families waxed and waned. Some decades rocked with lots of elementary kids; others were quieter, with far fewer. Eventually younger families moved in, and the cycle continued.

A map of residents through the years. “1954” refers to the first residents.

High Point is still a fantastic neighborhood (even if it’s more difficult for kids to cut through back yards now to get to Staples). But the High Point Road Association — a half-century-old tradition — faded away a few years ago.

There was not enough time (or interest?) among most new families to keep it going. The 2010s and ’20s are not the 1950s and ’60s.

There was just one issue: What to do about the $1,000 that remained in the bank account. It had sat there for years, untouched.

Ulla Atweh — the organization’s last president — had an idea. To honor of some of the older residents — men and women like Peg Nesbitt, Paul Heilman, Walter Eads and my own parents, who had kept the Association going, and the few remaining residents like Judy Weinstock and Estelle Kesselman who are the last links to the past — she gave the money to the Senior Center.

High Point Road continues to evolve. New homes are being built (including where I grew up, which long ago changed from “Lot 12 East” to “#34). New families are moving in.

Times change.

Maybe one day they’ll start a new High Point Association. For right now though, the Senior Center is richer, thanks to the generosity of this remarkable road.

Happy, friendly High Point Road residents, in 2019.


Remembering Akiko Ikeda

Longtime Westporter and advocate for the elderly Akiko Ikeda died Thursday in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin, after a long illness. She was 95.

Akiko was born in Kyoto, Japan, and lived in Manila, Los Angeles, Bayside New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing, Webster Groves Missouri and the Bronx before marrying Thomas in December 1954. They settled in Westport, where they lived for over 50 years and raised their family.

In 2006 Thomas and Akiko began splitting time between Westport and Sarasota, to be close to their daughter Louise and her family. They moved to Florida full-time, then became snowbirds again when Jennifer became their caregiver, enjoying Door County, Wisconsin in the summer.

Akiko Ikeda

Much of Akiko’s 25-year professional career was spent as administrative manager at Norwalk Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, where she created lasting friendships. But her passion was serving the elderly, women and youth, which she did through her many volunteer activities.

She served on the Westport Commission for Senior Services for nearly 30 years (including chair from 1983 to ’89), and on the Southwestern Connecticut Regional Area on Aging from the 1970s through ’90s.

Her involvement with Westport’s Senior Center was one of her most proud accomplishments. She received a service award in 2006, at which time she recognized those who worked with her. She also served as chair of the Board of the Community Nursery School for over 15 years, president of Church Women United, and president of PEO Chapter J.

Her family says, “Perhaps through her experience of living in so many places, Akiko easily formed friendships. She cherished those who touched her life and loved her friends. She read voraciously and appreciated the arts, participating in many trips to museums, gardens and concerts. She also enjoyed watercolor painting, flower gardening and birding.”

She was predeceased by her husband, Thomas. She is survived by son Laurence (Andrea DeCoro), daughters Louise Lester (Thomas), Jennifer Ikeda Faugust (Michael), Mary Susan Ikeda; grandchildren Stephanie, Stacy and Mark Ikeda, and Steven Lester; sister Teruko Craig, brother Masahiro Ugaya, and many friends and other relatives.

A memorial service will be held at a date to be determined at the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Akiko’s name to that church (click here).

Her family notes, “Through her last years, we imagined a picnic with all her friends and family at Compo Beach. For those who shared our love of Aki, visit your favorite spot and remember her beautiful smile.”

Expressions of sympathy, memories and photos of Aki may be shared with her family through her tribute page (click here.)

SMORES: Staples Students Help Seniors Tackle Technology

The reopening of the Senior Center on July 1 is good news for hundreds of Westporters. For over 15 months they have missed the classes, lectures and social events that were so meaningful and fun.

It’s good news too for all those seniors who need help learning a new electronic device, figuring out how to Zoom, or otherwise coping with the digital world.

Before the pandemic, they got help in person from teenagers. A dozen Staples High School students were part of SMORES (Social Media Outreach Educators), a group started by Jake Motyl.

SMORES members and their “students,” at the Senior Center before the pandemic.

The coronavirus forced them all online. It was not easy teaching someone unfamiliar with a tablet or phone how to use it remotely, but both the teens and their “students” persevered.

Earlier this month, Jake graduated from Staples. This fall, he heads to the University of Southern California.

But SMORES is stronger than ever. The new leader is his sister, rising junior Caroline Motyl.

She’s been Jake’s vice president since freshman year. She shares his enthusiasm for helping older Westporters. In fact, it’s one of her passions.

Caroline Motyl

“I’m pretty active in social justice — racism, sexism, environmentalism,” she says. “But people don’t usually talk about ageism. A lot of people look down on older people. They think they’re not in touch.”

Caroline admits that she’s sometimes guilty herself. “When my mom can’t post on Instagram, I’m like, ‘Come on!’ She says, ‘I didn’t grow up with this. You did.’ I’m trying really hard to prevent myself and others from being like that.”

Through SMORES, Caroline has learned to look at perspectives different from her own. “It’s so easy for me to use a cellphone. My generation does it so fast. We do everything fast. But that’s not the case for older generations. They do things more slowly.”

The importance of “non-digital natives” navigating the complex universe of devices, social media, printers and routers was driven home last Thanksgiving. Caroline helped a woman set up her iPad, so she could Zoom with family members.

“That’s such an important holiday. It meant so much to her to be together, even just on Zoom,” Caroline says.

She looks forward to helping, live, again. “I thought online school was hard. But trying to help someone use a phone while actually n the phone was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I couldn’t point to something, or touch the screen. But it’s so important for them to feel connected. Somehow we did it.”

In 8th grade science class, Caroline had to write detailed instructions on how she made a Lego structure. This year, she hopes to use that concept to create step-by-step instructions for some of the most frequently asked questions.

“So many other countries treat older people with the utmost respect,” Caroline notes. “Our country does not treat them as we should.”

She and her fellow SMORES members are trying to change that. One cellphone, tablet and laptop at a time.

(For more information or help, text Caroline at 203-644-7749, or call the Senior Center: 203-341-5099.)

Roundup: Joey’s, Vaccine, Seniors’ Blog …


Yesterday’s gorgeous weather brought beach-lovers to Compo.

It also kicked off the season for entitled drivers. First off the mark: This person, who believes the only way to enjoy the water is to park as close as possible to it.

(Photo/Roseann Spengler)


Another sign of spring (and summer): Joey’s by the Shore (featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffee Bar) opened yesterday.

Hours are currently 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather dependent. Joey, Betsy and the crew say hi!


After all the stories about difficulties scoring a COVID vaccine appointment, I heard the other side: how efficiently the process runs, once you actually get a slot for a shot.

The operation at the former Lord & Taylor parking lot in Stamford sounded particularly well organized.

That’s where I was scheduled yesterday, for my first dose. It’s all true.

From check-in to the shot itself and on through the 15-minute observation period afterward, the process was top notch. It was run with military precision. That’s not surprising: Connecticut’s National Guard was in charge.

Kudos to all involved. A big shout-out to the Guardsman pictured below. We had a great time chatting. He represents his unit — and the entire operation — exceptionally well.

The only tweak needed is laughably minor. The address given for the Lord & Taylor lot is 110 High Ridge Road. But the entrance for vaccines is on Long Ridge.

I can live with that.

(Photo/Dan Woog)


Westport Police say:

“The Westport Police Department is shocked and saddened by the murders that occurred this past week in the greater Atlanta area. Our hearts go out to the victims as well as their loved ones. Violence committed against a person because of their race is something that should never be tolerated or excused.

“The Westport Police stands with law enforcement agencies nationwide as well as our partners at the Anti-Defamation League in condemning this horrible crime.For more information and resources please go to the Anti-Defamation League’s website.”


Electric vehicle brands and state legislators hold a press conference tomorrow (Monday, March 22, 10 a.m.) at the Westport train station’s eastbound side.

They’ll discuss what they call “outdated dealer franchise laws that have plagued direct electric vehicle sales for almost a decade.”

A proposed bill would give “innovative companies the ability to have an uncorked presence in Connecticut.” Without this legislation, they say, many EV manufacturers will continue to be blocked from opening sales sites, offering test drives, and selling directly to consumers.” Click here for more details.

Westport is an appropriate site for the press conference. We have the highest percentage of EVs registered in the state — over 250 Teslas alone.

Electric vehicles lined up by the Staples charging stations (from left): Chevy Bolt, Tesla S, VW, Tesla X, Nissan Leafes,


For nearly 2 years, Rosemary Cass’ blog has enriched the lives of people age 55 and older.

“Seeing it Clearly Now” inspires everyone — retired or not — be better with age. Her focus is on learning new things, finding purpose, and exploring the arts.

The blog features creative works of older writers and artists. For example, a recent post explored the writer’s gratification from her volunteer work with Al’s Angels.

Many contributors are members of the Westport Senior Center. Cass herself is a student in Jan Bassin’s writing workshops.

She’s always looking for submissions. Click here for the blog; email cass.rosemary@gmail.com.

Rosemary Cass uses the pen name “Rosy Prose.”


And finally … Happy 436th birthday, Johann Sebastian Bach!