Tag Archives: Westport Sunrise Rotary

Roundup: Pete Wolgast, Scholarships, Kowalsky Property …

Westport’s 2 Rotary Clubs honored Pete Wolgast yesterday morning. with a prestigious District Governor’s Citation. The ceremony was held at the Sunrise Rotary meeting at Greens Farms Church. In addition to top Rotary officials, attendees included 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, her predecessor Jim Marpe, RTM moderator Jeff Wieser and Westport Weston Family YMCA CEO Anjali McCormick.

Wolgast’s service to Sunrise Rotary (he’s a former president) — and the entire town — is legendary. The University of Michigan and Harvard MBA graduate:

  • Was elected to the Representative Town Meeting, and chaired its Finance and Parks & Recreation Committees
  • Was executive assistant to 1st selectman Doug Wood; been a member of the Westport Republican Town Committee (2 terms as chair)
  • Twice chaired the Y’s board of trustees (2007-11 and 2013-20); chaired its Endowment Committee (2000-06); Volunteer of the Year honoree 2020
  • As president of the Westport Historical Society, chaired the committee that supervised the writing of the town’s definitive history
  • Been part of Westport’s Charter Revision Committee
  • Chaired Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s board, and volunteered on its Finance Committee
  • Joined the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston in 1987, and been its president
  • Served as a Boy Scout troop leader and board chair
  • Coached youth baseball and basketball for nearly 20 years, in Westport and London.

Wolgast and his wife Janet have been married for over 65 years. They have 4 children, 7 grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Congratulations, Pete, for this well-deserved honor. And thank you for all you have done, for all of us.

Pete Wolgast, at yesterday’s ceremony. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

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Staples Tuition Grants’ annual awards evening is one of the feel-good highlights of the year.

The 2022 event — set for Tuesday, May 31 (6 p.m., Staples auditorium) — will be particularly special. The $400,000 in scholarships will be the most ever — a whopping 14% higher than last year.

The average award will be $3,700. That too is a record — about $1,000 more than STG’s 10-year average.

The average help is 19% of net need. They can’t fill the aggregate net need of $2.4 million, but STG provides more assistance the even the federal government ($370,000 in Pell grants).

Help is provided to 8.4% of the graduating class of 2022. About 10% of the class needs help paying for college. The cost of tuition, room and board has reached $85,000 at some schools. Meanwhile, the funding gap widens — up 50% from 2 years ago.

Grants will help 108 students attend 76 colleges.

Nearly 700 Westporters and friends donated to STG’s general fund, named or endowed awards. Click here for more information, and to help Staples Tuition Grants.

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Speaking of scholarships: Westport PAL awarded its scholarships on Monday night.

Awardees included Charlie Howard, Jaden Mueller (Chief Luciano Athletic); Alex Harrington, Kyle Harrington (Chief Luciano Good Citizenship); Brian Fullenbaum (PJ Romano Scholarship); Colin Konstanty (Greg LaValla Scholarship); Nick Augeri (Buck Iannacone Scholarship); Jack Oakley (Bernstein Family); Matthew Spada (Deputy Chief John Anastasia Scholarship).

Westport PAL scholarship awardees and officials.

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If you missed the Staples Spring Choral Concert earlier this month — what a shame. It was a wonderful show. All the music was selected by students. They performed difficult pieces, in a wide range of genres and styles, at their usual spectacularly high level.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (and of videographer Jim Honeycutt), you can watch the whole concert now. Just click here — and enjoy.

Screenshot from the Staples High School Spring Choral Concert.

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An application to subdivide the 12-acre Kowalsky property on Morningside Drive South, bordered by Clapboard Hill Road and Turkey Hill Road South, has been withdrawn. It will be resubmitted at a future date.

The Planning & Zoning Commission meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss it — and the Westport PAL clubhouse at PJ Romano Field — has been canceled. (Hat tips; Dick Lowenstein, Art Schoeller)

109 Morningside Drive South

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When Suzanne Tanner lived in Los Angeles, she met a Holocaust survivor named Rachel Goldman Miller.

After writing a multimedia musical documenting Miller’s life, Tanner is dedicating this Memorial Day weekend to her.

“Resonant music, lyrics and modern art can help us understand that history is only as strong as memory, a poignant reminder for today’s mounting war atrocities,” Tanner says.

Miller narrates her life story from a background movie that peppers the show with impactful visuals and testimony, while Tanner plays her role live — from her childhood in pre-war Paris to her elder years as a valuable Shoah participant and loving mother of a son who died of AIDS.

“Beyond Me: A Song Cycle in the Key of Survival” will be performed next  Saturday (May 28, JCC, Sherman, CT). Tickets are $25 and $20, available at the door, but reservations recommended. Click here for details.

Suzanne Tanner

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The Westport Weston Family YMCA Livestrong program –a  free, 12-week program of physical, educational and social activities for adults living with, through and beyond cancer — filled up fast. There were 25 applications, for 8 spots.

The good news: The Wilton Y is starting the same program the first week in June. Five spots are open; Wilton residency is not required. Email magenuario@riverbrookymca.org for more information. (Hat tip: Amy Weiss)

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The Westport Book Shop‘s almost-summer celebration is set for Saturday, June 4 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Jesup Green). There’s a DJ, safety tips from Stewie the Duck, crafts and snacks.

The almost-summer celebration takes place across from the Westport Book Shop.

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No one is a fan of Canada geese — especially at Compo Beach.

But you gotta admit, these goslings in today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo look kinda cute.

(Photo/Pam Washburn)

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And finally … this weekend’s Westport Woman’s Club art show includes a treat not often associated with art shows or woman’s clubs: live music by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Mark Naftalin.

He’s best known as a Paul Butterfield Blues Band keyboardist. But the Westport resident played on many other famous recordings — including this one, sent to “06880” by Dave Lowrie.

Roundup: Transit $$, Farmers’ Market, The Universe …

Last night, the Representative Town Meeting voted 30-1 to restore $133,000 the Board of Finance had cut, to Wheels2U Westport’s 2022-23 budget.

Wheels2U Westport, is the Westport Transit District’s on-demand, group ride shuttle service. It takes riders from their door to the Saugatuck and Greens Farms train station platforms, and from the stations to their jobs and other places in Westport.

The restoration will keep Wheels2U operating through June 30, 2023.

Peter Gold, Westport Transit District director (and an RTM member), said he and his colleagues received over 200 letters from “all segments of Westport’s population” in support of restoring the funds.

For more information about Wheels2U, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here,

A Wheels2U bus.

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If you’re starved for good news, listen up: The Westport Farmers’ Market returns to the Imperial Avenue parking lot on Thursday, May 12.

Favorite farmers return, including Fort Hill, Riverbank, Ox Hollow, Calf + Clover Creamery, Beaver Brook, Herbal Deva, Muddy Feet Flower Farm, Two Guys from Woodbridge, Bee Love Project, Horseshoe, Deeply Rooted, Popp’s, Rose’s Berry, Seacoast Mushroom, Lost Ruby and Woodland. There are a few surprises too, says director Lori Cochran-Dougall.

Prepared food vendors include fresh faces alongside those you have come to rely on for your weekly shopping and entertaining needs, including Boxcar Cantina, NitNoi Provisions, Farmers and Cooks, Simply Local, Herbaceous Catering, Badass Bagels and Parlor Pizza, among others.

After 2 years, dining returns 🙂 . Music again fills the air , kids’ activities take center stage, and chef and other demonstrations are back as well

A 10 a.m. mindful opening will be led by Pause + Purpose. A toast follows at noon, with Cross Culture Kombucha.

The market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday, through November 10. For more information, including a full list of vendors and programs, click here.  find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, too!

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What a sweet way to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month!

1st Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker presented the town’s official proclamation on Sunday, before an excited group of Asian American and Pacific Islander Westport families — at Saugatuck Sweets.

2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein and RTM member Sal Liccione joined in.

To celebrate the month, Saugatuck Sweets is lighting their Westport and Fairfield stores yellow.

Happy AAPI Heritage Month at Saugatuck Sweets!

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Staples High School’s AWARE Club is not only aware of the world.

They’re doing something to help.

The acronym stands for Assisting Women through Actions, Resources & Education. It’s affiliated with local and national AWARE organizations.

The teenagers are supporting refugees their age from Ukraine and Afghanistan, who will arrive in Connecticut this summer. They’re collecting new beach towels and water bottles, so their peers can have a bit of enjoyment.

The towels and bottles can be dropped off from now through May 11. There’s a bin by the front door at 14 High Point Road (off Long Lots).

Teens who would like to join Staples’ AWARE Club — or volunteer at the “Tapas & Twilight” May 14 AWARE fundraiser, to benefit the Women’s Mentoring Network — should email info@awarect.org.

 

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The Martin Luther King Day presentation by noted author Heather McGhee — postponed from January — has been rescheduled. It’s now set for May 18 (7 p.m., Westport Library).

Her book “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was longlisted for the National Book Award. Her 2020 TED talk “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone” reached 1 million views in just 2 months.

The MLK Day program also includes a recital by the Bridgeport Boys Choir, and a dance by the Regional Center for the Arts.

Click here to register for the free program in the Library’s Trefz Forum, or via livestream, and to purchase a copy of “The Sum of Us.”

The event is sponsored by the Westport Library, Westport Country Playhouse, TEAM Westport, Westport/Weston Interfaith Council, and Westport/Weston Interfaith Clergy.

Dr. Heather McGhee

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Westport Sunrise Rotary’s Great Duck Race returns for its 13th running on July 9. The location is new: Jesup Green.

On Sunday, the Rotarians tried out their new design. The Westport Fire Department provided the water; AJ Penna donated the front loader, to dump the ducks. In case you missed it:

The test will help the event run smoothly. Meanwhile, tickets are already on sale from any Sunrise Rotarian or online. $10,000 in prizes will be awarded — and all proceeds go to charity.

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The Housatonic Museum of Art is out of this world.

Actually, it’s just a few minutes away in Bridgeport. But they’re hosting :How Beautiful, The Universe …” — a free exhibition of 20 astrophotography prints — in association with the Westport Astronomical Society.

The Museum is on the 3rd floor of Beacon Hall. It’s open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (until 7 p.m. on Thursday).

Next Monday (May 9, 7 p.m.) there’s a special viewing and talk on the art and science of astrophotography. Right after, there’s guided use of telescopes and moon viewing in the Housatonic Community College courtyard.

Families are welcome. To reserve a seat, click here.

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Thursday is forecast to be beautiful. Which means it’s perfect for a drive-in movie.

The Remarkable Theater screens “The Hangover” with Bradley Cooper, at the Imperial Avenue lot. Tailgating begins a half-hour earlier than usual, at 6:30 p.m.; the film is at 8.

The next day (Friday, May 6) is Family Night: “Dumbo.” The length — 1 hour, 4 minutes — is perfect for young kids.

Saturday (May 7) is Mothers Day Eve. Celebrate with “Mermaids.” starring Cher and Winona Ryder — the cult mother-daughter classic.

Click here for tickets and more information.

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June is LGBTQ Pride Month. June 3 is the day it will be celebrated in Westport schools.

Westport Pride — the townwide organization — is offering “Don’t Hide Your Pride” shirts for the month, and the day. The ones with the WPS logo are fundraisers for the  fundraise for the Westport Public Schools Pride Coalition, which includes Staples High, and Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools.

Click here to order. The deadline is May 10. Shirts can be picked up at Nice Threads in Westport on June 1.

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Nashville trio South for Winter headlines the Unitarian Church’s Voices Café this Saturday (May 7, 8 p.m., in-person and livestream).

South for Winter blends acoustic duets with folk and bluesy ballads, combining cello, guitar, mandolin and harmonies in what’s been called “a genre-bending ‘impeccable sound.'”

Voices Café and South for Winter share a commitment to social justice. A portion of the concert proceeds benefit community organizations under the Unitarian Church in Westport’s social justice programs, including anti-racism, identity and equity, immigration and refugee efforts, and projects serving under-resourced communities.

Groups of 4 or more can reserve table space. General admission is $25 per person; livestream tickets are also available. For more information and tickets, click here.

South for Winter

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Nature can be brutal. This crab learned that the hard way the other day at Compo Beach. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” food-chain photo comes courtesy of Nancy Lally, who saw similar scenes all along the shore.

(Photo/Nancy Lally)

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And finally … Naomi Judd — with Wynonna, the older half of the famed mother-daughter country music duo the Judds — died Saturday hear Nashville. She was 76.

Naomi’s other daughter, actress Ashley Judd, said, “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness.”

The Judds had 14 Number 1 hits. They racked up 9 Country Music Association Awards. and 5 Grammys. Click here for a full obituary.

Roundup: Ducks, Ospreys, Kindness …

The Great Duck Race returns this year. But — just as ducks migrate — so does the popular Westport Sunrise Rotary fundraiser.

From 2008 to ’19, thousands of yellow ducks bobbed in the Saugatuck River. COVID forced it into a virtual format the past 2 years.

On July 9, the Great Duck Race will be run as a giant water sluice on Jesup Green. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1), the Rotarians will see how it works as a duck race track. AJ Penna is providing a truck and front loader. Water comes from the Westport Fire Department.

Everyone is invited to watch tomorrow. “Ducks” in full costume will pose for photos.

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Also on Jesup Green: The Westport Library Book Sale.

It opened yesterday, with the usual packed crowd. It continues today (Saturday, April 30) until 5 p.m. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1, noon to 5 p.m.) all items are half price. On Monday (May 2, 9 a.m. to noon), fill a bag for $5, or purchase individual items for half-price.

The Westport Library Book Sale yesterday. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Kindness is always on the Porch menu. Everyone feels comfortable at the Cross Highway café.

Tomorrow through May 15, they’re running a “Kids Kindness Contest.” Everyone in grades K-12 is invited to share a story of how they are kind to friends, strangers or within the community.

The K-2nd grade and 3rd-5th grade winners each earn an ice cream social with 9 friends. The middle and high school winners each get a fun lunch with 3 friends.

Forms are available at the Porch, or by clicking here.

The Porch is always “kind” of cool and great.

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Want to surprise the woman in your life the day before Mothers Day?

Take her to “Supper & Soul” next Saturday (May 7).

It’s a great event, with lots of reasons she’ll be thrilled. The 8 p.m. concert — remember live concerts? — features Cris Jacobs. He’s back in Westport, after a searing show at the 2018 Blues Views & BBQ Festival. The opening act is Gnorm.

The show is at the Westport Library, where the new, state-of-the-art sound system will blow you away.

Tickets ($90) include a 3-course dinner at a downtown restaurant (6 p.m.; list below), including tax and tip (though drinks are on you). $40 concert-only tickets are available too.

Participating restaurants include:

  • 190 Main
  • Amis
  • Arezzo
  • Basso
  • Capuli
  • De Tapas
  • Don Memo
  • Manna Toast
  • Spotted Horse
  • Wafu
  • Walrus Alley

And … after the show, your ticket is good for happy hour pricing on drinks at any of the participating restaurant. Try a different one than dinner!

Click here for tickets and more information. Click below to see Cris Jacobs. The event is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, and the Westport Library.

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There may be no free lunch. But there was a free sapling giveaway yesterday.

Dozens of Westporters took advantage of the Arbor Day gift at Town Hall, courtesy of the Tree Board.

Residents Robert Sohmer and Debbie Fisher showed up — then offered to help. They’re shown in the photo below, as Tree Board members Alice Ely and Monica Buesser prep saplings.

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Speaking of nature: Recent reports of the Fresh Market ospreys’ demise are premature.

Carolyn Doan reports: “All is well with the pair. They are incubating now, which means they sit very low in the nest and are impossible to see.

“They are really a really strong pair, and are co-parenting. They give each other breaks while one is in the incubating position. They call out to each other when one needs a break or is hungry.

“Yesterday I watched the female sit at the top of a dead tree behind Terrain. and preen herself for 45 minutes. After faint calls from the nest, she went back. Then the male popped up. He went to a nearby perch and preened.

“The ospreys returned a week early this year, so chicks may come sooner than usual.”

A Fresh Market osprey, yesterday afternoon. (Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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Remember the Yarn Bomber? In the darkest days of the pandemic, she brightened the town with her late-night creations.

Molly Alger was not the Yarn Bomber. But — responding to an “06880” offer — she took “secret” lessons, via FaceTime.

The actual Bomber left yarn on Molly’s porch in the middle of the night. Molly  created 2 bombs for her own trees, and 2 for friends.

She also did one for the Senior Center. I lasted through 2 winters and one summer, since November 2020. But it was looking a little ragged.

Now — just in time for spring — Molly has created a new Senior Center yarn bomb.

The pandemic has eased. But the Yarn Bomber — and her protégé — live on.

The Senior Center’s new yarn bomb.

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29 Staples High School students and 6 adults returned recently from 10 days in Spain. It was the first overseas trip for a large group in a decade.

The packed itinerary included visits to Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Madrid and Barcelona. Highlights included Alhambra, scavenger hunts in cities, an olive farm, guided city tours, a flamenco lesson and show, the Prado Museum, a churro breakfast and cooking class, Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, a Good Friday religious procession, and the first women’s soccer match ever played at Camp Nou — with a crowd of 91,000.

Future trips planned by Staples’ World Language Department include Germany next spring, and a February journey to Panama focusing on STEM topics.

Cheering for the Barcelona women’s team at Camp Nou.

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Staples High School’s boys basketball team will have a new look next year.

Head coach Colin Devine is stepping down, to pursue administrative positions. In 15 years at the helm, he built the Wreckers into an FCIAC contender.

Coach Colin Devine (far left) and members of the 2018 Staples High School boys basketball team took the #ALSPepperChallenge.

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Services have been announced for Charlie Capalbo. The former Fairfield Ludlowe High hockey player battled 4 cancers before succumbing last week, one month before his 24th birthday. He is the grandson of Westporters Richard Epstein and Ina Chadwick; his mother Jennifer Wilde Capalbo is a Staples High grad.

Charlie’s wake is Wednesday, May 4 (2 to 8 p.m., Penfield Pavilion, 323 Fairfield Beach Road, Fairfield). A funeral mass is set for Thursday, May 5 (10 a.m., St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield). Burial will be private.

Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo.

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Today’s New York Times carries one of its most harrowing stories ever on the war in Ukraine. It begins:

 The wind carried the smell of death across the street. The body of the dead man, burned, mutilated and barely recognizable, was taken from the refrigerator and laid on a metal gurney. The coroner smoked a cigarette and unzipped the black bag.

It was a beautiful spring day. There had been no shelling that morning. And Oksana Pokhodenko, 34, gasped, blinking, at the charred corpse. That was not her brother, she told herself, that was not Oleksandr. That was barely a human.

Her brother lived once. The family patriarch for 20 years since their father died, he called his sister every day after the war started as he fled with his family to a village, Husarivka, wedged between rolling wheat fields. He kept calling — “Hello, Little One. We’re good. How are you?” — but never mentioned that the Russians had overrun the village where he was hiding.

Ms. Pokhodenko, in black jeans, a black jacket and barely laced sneakers, struggled to keep looking at the body. Her brother had taught her how to ride a bike and had loved to watch cartoons for hours with his son. To his sister, he was a “stone wall.” This was a charred husk. Half of the man’s skull was gone, and his chest cavity was splayed open.

The photos are as chilling as the writing. They’re all by Tyler Hicks, the 1988 Staples High School graduate and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Click here for the full story, and Tyler’s images.

Some of Tyler Hicks’ latest photos, illustrating atrocities in committed in Ukraine. (Photos/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

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“Westport … Naturally” waves goodbye to April (and hello to May!) with this gorgeous image from the Library Riverwalk:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … on this day in 1803, the US purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. We spent $15 million — and more than doubled the size of our nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roundup: Iain And Linda Bruce, Hotel Marcel, Bayberry Bridge …

Dozens of Iain and Linda Bruce’s many friends, colleagues and fellow civic volunteers gathered at the Westport Library last night to say thanks and farewell.

After 33 years in Westport — and countless contributions in all areas of town life, from the Westport Weston Family Y and Library to music, schools, religion and RTM — the couple are moving at the end of this week.

They head to York, Maine where they’ve had a second home for years. They’ll jump right into community activities there (and Iain will pursue a master’s in history at his alma mater, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario).

Iain and Linda have made Westport a much better place. Our loss is Maine’s gain. Thank you both. And of course, we look forward to seeing you whenever you want to head south.

Iain Bruce — always proud of his Scottish heritage — wore a kilt at last night’s event. His wife Linda shared the stage, as both made very brief remarks. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Every I-95 driver knows the former Armstrong Rubber/Pirelli headquarters in New Haven. That’s Marcel Breuer’s 1960s-era concrete box on the left as you head north, just before the I-91 merge.

It was vacant for quite a while. But 3 years ago, Westport architect/developer Bruce Becker bought the Brutalist building.

After extensive renovations, this spring he’ll open the Hotel Marcel. The 165-room boutique hotel runs generates and manages all its own power, thanks to solar panels, storage batteries and state-of-the-art energy-saving technologies.

It’s called the first zero-net-energy hotel in the U.S.

Connecticut Magazine has published an in-depth, fascinating story on Becker, and the hotel.

It quotes architect Duo Dickinson: “Bruce Becker is changing architecture more than any other practitioner in New England and perhaps America.”

The story notes: “a structure created a half-century ago by an innovative designer (Marcel Breuer) is returned to vibrant life by another innovative designer bent on changing the way we think about energy, built environments and our future.” Click here for the full story. And click here for an “06880” on Becker’s zero-energy Westport home. (Hat tip: Dennis Jackson)

PS: One more Westport connection: Saugatuck’s LANDTECH is the Hotel Marcel’s site/civil engineer.

Bruce Becker, in front of his new Hotel Marcel. (Photo/Ned Gerard for Connecticut Magazine)

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They’re not big news. But a couple of agenda items for the next Parks & Recreation Commission meeting (Wednesday, April 27, 7:30 p.m., Zoom) seem interesting.

Commissioners will be asked to disband the Levitt Pavilion sub-committee. The agenda says: “As part of her review of the Town’s various sub-committees, the First Selectwoman has decided that she would like the Levitt Pavilion committee to report directly to her office. In order to do so, the sub-committee of the Parks and Recreation Commission must be disbanded.”

More impactful may be a proposed moratorium on bench donations.

According to the agenda: “Many of our beach and park facilities are over-saturated with memorial benches. Staff are presently reviewing the current policy while we also work to create standards that will be used going forward for any new installations.

“Until we have more detailed information that we can provide to the Commission, we request a moratorium be placed on all new bench requests until further notice.”

Click here for the full agenda, and meeting information.

Compo Beach memorial benches (Photo/Anne Ziff)

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The Bayberry Lane Bridge over the Aspetuck River will be closed for construction. The project starts Thursday, and is slated to run through November 30 (fingers crossed)

So that means — according to the sign below — Bayberry Lane #2 is closed.

There’s just one problem. There is no road called “Bayberry Lane #2.”

In fact, there’s not any road in Westport ending in “#2.”

Or probably anywhere else in the country. (Hat tip: Bill Dedman)

(Photo/Bill Dedman)

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Yesterday’s post-Easter and pre-Arbor Day festivities at Jesup Green included egg hunting and a tree giveaway.

Bartlett Tree Experts donated red maple saplings. Westport Tree Board members handled the rest.

Westport Tree Board members on the left are Dave Lowrie and Dick Stein. Ed Picard is on the right.

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lotsa lotsa kids egg hunting!  Here’s a pic of some interested neighbors acquiring a red maple sapling, donated by Bartlett Tree Co.  (sorry didn’t know the pic was being taken so didn’t get their names.)   Tree board members left to right are;  yours truly, Dick Stein and Ed Picard far right

Congratulations and thanks to the Westport Police Department, Westport Womans Club, Sunrise Rotary and Homes with Hope, for collaborating on yesterday’s food drive at Stop & Shop.

Thanks too to all who donated, to support the Gillespie Center food pantry, and Westport Human Services.

Volunteers at yesterday’s food drive. From left: Marty Berger, Paul Keblish, Anna Rycenga, Rob Hauck, Andy Berman, Tom Lowrie, Joe Watson.

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Can there be anything more natural than the tides?

Jonathan Prager contributes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo: timeless tides, and their aftermath at Compo Beach.

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

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And finally … in honor of the photo above:

 

Roundup: Ambulance, Chickens, Girls Who Code …

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It’s hard to believe, but Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service — the men and women who save lives, patch wounds and do everything in between — have to fund raise for nearly all their needs.

From ambulances to Band-Aids, they depend on all of us.

The Westport Woman’s Club is helping, big-time. Yesterday, Westport’s 115-year-old civic organization made it official: They’re providing $300,000 for a new ambulance.

Half the funds come from the club itself. The other half comes from a member’s anonymous contribution.

That’s just part of the WWC’s good works. They recently awarded $39,000 to Fairfield County non-profits. Soon, they’ll grant $36,000 in scholarships to Staples High School seniors.

WVEMS thanks the WWC. And every Westporter should join “06880” in thanking both import life-saving, and life-changing, groups.

Police, town, EMS and Westport Woman’s Club officials, with a $300,000 check. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Media personality David Briggs has interviewed some heavy hitters in his career.

But, he says, actor/filmmaker/director/martial artist/studio head Michael Jai White was “the most inspirational person” he’s ever talked with.

The InstagramLive interview is deep and intriguing (see below). And you can see — and listen to — White live and in person tomorrow.

He kicks off the 2nd day of the Westport Library’s VersoFest — a music-and-media extravaganza modeled on South by Southwest — with an 11 a.m. keynote address. It’s free, as are nearly all the events starting today.

Click here for a full schedule and more details — including 3 big concerts.

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Bwwaack, bwwaack!

Wakeman Town Farm is crowing about its “egg-cellent” 3-session series: an introduction to raising chickens responsibly at home.

Whether you attend just one, two or all three of the sessions, you’ll  have a chance to bring home 2 Farm-raised chicks, along with a handy starter pack, (feeder, waterer, wood shavings, and 5-pound bag of organic feed).

Instructors include WTF staff and “local chicken experts.”

Session 1 (April 26, 7 p.m., $40): “Introduction and Starting Your Flock” covers how chickens can enrich your life; positive environmental impacts; chicken facts and anatomy; starting a flock, dos and don’ts and more.

Session 2 (May 17, 7 p.m., $55): “Coop, Habitat, Environment and Basic Needs” includes housing and spacing issues, free range pros and cons, local zoning, and creating a happy, stress-free environment.

Session 3 (June 21, 7 p.m., $55): “Products, Maintaining Your Flock, Behavior and Physical Health” offers product recommendations, plus coop maintenance and advice on physical behavior and disease.

Click here to register, and for more information.

Wakeman Town Farm’s mobile chicken coop.

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Westport Sunrise Rotary’s contribution of $5,000 to the only coding school for girls in Afghanistan has gone a long way.

It helped ensure that 160 females ages 15 to 24 had access to computers — including 12 laptops purchased through the grant — in class and at home during COVID lockdowns, then following the rise of the Taliban when the school was closed.

Twenty girls and women have already received remote jobs, ranging from design and animation to website development. They have earned $10,000 — an enormous sum in that impoverished country.

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Zoe Brown is a go-getter.

Since graduating from Staples High School in 2015, and the University of Southern California, she’s been a producer’s assistant on “Love, Victor” and
“Euphoria.” Season 2. Zoe now works for the president of the K Period Media production company.

In her free time she produced a short web series (“LolaMay”) and a short film (“Great White Lies”). In 2020 Zoe co-founded the Mental Health Content Collective.

(Oh, yeah — she’s also been a tutor, restaurant hostess, communications intern for the Two Oh Three lifestyle brand, babysitter, Challah Connection worker, jewelry designer helper, and started a greeting card/poster business).

Now Zoe has joined a few other young creative-types to produce a play.

“Get It Together” is a woman-led comedy/drama about 2 alienated kids finding a sad, imperfect, real romance at the most confusing time of their lives: stuck between home and the rest of the world.

Since premiering at Boston College in 2018, the play has won awards at the NYC Indie and Denver Fringe Festivals.

Zoe and her crew are raising funds to pay for the crew, set, props, marketing and LA’s Zephyr Theater. To help with a tax-deductible contribution, click here.

Zoe Brown

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Westport artist/author/illustrator Elaine Clayton as she discusses those topics (and more) as she celebrates her newest book, “The Way of the Empath: How Compassion, Empathy and Intuition Can Heal Your World.”

The in-person and virtual event is set for the Westport Library on April 20 (7 p.m.).

Her book mentions fellow Westport artist/author Miggs Burroughs’ book “What If?” Clayton says his art “shifts people and communities into a place of compassion.”

No prior experience is needed — just curiosity, and a willingness to be open and have fun. Click here to register, and for more information.

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Nancy (Roach) Tanzer — a longtime social studies teacher at Bedford Middle and Staples High Schools — died March 29 in Marshfield, Massachusetts. She was 92, and suffered from congestive heart failure.

She grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Nancy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania in 1952. She played lacrosse there, and was one of the few women enrolled in business classes.

She began her career in advertising and public relations, where she met her first husband, Duane Roach. After starting a family, Nancy earned a master’s degree in education at Fairfield University and became a history teacher.

Throughout her 20-year career in Westport, she impacted the lives of students in the classroom, and through ski trips and outdoor backpacking adventures. She spent her summers racing sailboats on Long Island Sound. When her children were in college, Nancy became a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician.

Nancy enjoyed the peacefulness of Vermont, and had a vacation/retirement home built there. During a sabbatical year from teaching, she lived in her Vermont home and earned a second master’s degree at Dartmouth College. While there she met Henry Tanzer, who shared her love of the Vermont lifestyle.

After retiring to Vermont with Henry, Nancy volunteered reenacting historical events at Billings Farm and Museum, and giving presentations at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

She enjoyed playing bridge, was president of the garden club, and an active member and trustee of the senior center.

She skied at Killington and Okemo well into her 70s. Her love of travel brought her to 36 countries, and she saw 5 of the 7 wonders of the modern world.

Nancy was predeceased by Duane Roach and Henry Tanzer. She is survived by her daughter Deborah (Jeff) Lasala of Scituate, Massachusetts; son Jeff (Susan) Roach of St. Charles, Missouri; her granddaughter Mary (Jake) Genthon and her husband Jake of Ballwin, Missouri, and the Tanzer and Benjamin families of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Nancy was passionate about the work of Doctors without Borders, the World Wildlife Fund, and St. Jude’s children’s hospital. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to any of those causes.

Nancy Tanzer

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Are you a chicken person (see story above) or a turkey person (read on!).

Dianne Behrmann has had 12 turkeys in her Partrick Road back yard. She thinks they live in the nearby wetlands.

“They came running down the driveway one morning, had breakfast and left,” she says.

She took this photo for our “Westport … Naturally” feature, adding: “This is the first time I saw the males all puffed up and making lots of noise. Many gobbles!”

(Photo/Dianne Behrmann)

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And finally … Francisco González, a founding member of Los Lobos, died recently. He was 68, and had been diagnosed with cancer.

The group blended “rock-and-roll and R&B, surf music and soul, mariachi and música norteña, punk rock and country,” their website says. NPR called it “Chicano hippies playing mariachi music.” Click here for a full obituary.

For Westporter, Ukrainian War Is Personal

Many Americans became aware of Ukraine only recently. We’d heard the name for years — usually as “the Ukraine” —  but knew little about its remarkable history, culture or people.

We’re learning quickly. Just as Ken Bernhard did, a few years ago.

A former state legislator (now running again), and a volunteer working hands-on with a long list of local and international organizations, his day job is attorney.

Ken Bernhard

In 2005 he was invited to join the Center for International Legal Studies. One of the non-profit’s goals is to spread understanding of legal principles around the globe.

After a week-long course at its Salzburg, Austria headquarters, Bernhard headed off every year to a new country. Latvia, India, Mongolia — wherever he was, he explored the land, taught, and learned.

Three years ago, Bernhard traveled to Ukraine. After a 12-hour train ride from Kyiv (the country is nearly as large as Texas), he was warmly welcomed in Berdyansk, on the Sea of Azov, a northern extension of the Black Sea.

He knew little about Ukraine before he went. But he was captivated by the museums and architecture of Kyiv, and the friendliness of the people he met everywhere.

His Berdyansk University law students were “terrific,” Bernhard says. “They were very engaged. They had a real desire to become effective advocates for the rule of law.”

Berdyansk University

They acknowledged their nation’s “endemic corruption,” he says. And they had “a palpable desire” to change it. Their enthusiasm inspired him.

“We don’t fully appreciate in this country what we have,” Bernhard notes. “Our concerns here are minor, compared to what people endure there, and in other places around the world.”

When he returned to Westport, Bernhard — a Sunrise Rotary Club member — wanted to do more. At his urging, the Sunrise Rotary and noontime Rotary Club joined in raising funds to construct a moot courtroom in Berdyansk. It was another way for students to learn courtroom skills.

Ken Bernhard (left) with students in Berdyansk, Ukraine. They hold a Connecticut state flag.

The news from Ukraine has become very personal. He fears for the professor he worked most closely with, and who became a good friend, along with his former students.

Bernhard — who helped found The Syria Fund, a non-profit providing education, medical supplies, household goods and food to families living in dire, desperate areas — draws parallels between that nation, Ukraine, and other trouble spots around the world.

“People are the same all over. They worry about putting food on the table, getting their car repaired, educating their kids. They are normal, productive people, wanting to live a decent life.

“Suddenly they are uprooted. I can’t imagine having to grab luggage and flee, before a missile strikes. Americans don’t have any sense of what that’s like.”

Ukrainians, Bernhard says, “had worthy aspirations, which they thought were achievable. The last few days have quashed that.”

He waits for the next update from his professor friend in Berdyansk. And he worries about the 40 million people who want to live free and in peace, in a land now under siege.

A bombed-out apartment building in Kyiv. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for The New York Times)

Roundup: Super Bowl Raffle, Electric Cars, Convos & Kids …

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No, you won’t get busted for taking part in your office Super Bowl pool.

But Westport’s Sunrise Rotary Club is sponsoring a legal, fully documented one.

And the payout is great: $1,000 for being assigned the randomly generated winning score box; $500 for winning each of the first 3 quarters.

After the 50% payout, all proceeds support the group’s many charities. Tickets will be sold through the morning of the number drawing (2 days before the Super Bowl). The drawing is set for Friday, February 11 (10 a.m., Westport Library). Participants (18 and older) will be notified by email of their numbers.

If the first 100 squares are sold, the Rotary Club may add other grids.

Click here for more information. Click here to purchase a square.

*Trick question. There are no “ups” in football. Only downs.

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Want to buy an electric vehicle, but clueless about them?

Try “Electric Vehicles: Pros & Cons.”

On Monday (February 7, 7 p.m.), Wakeman Town Farm sponsors a talk by Brady Kresch and Analiese Mione, of the EV Club of CT.

They’ll describe different types of electric vehicles, how to charge the battery, and the climate effects of an EV.

You don’t even have to drive your old gas-powered car there. This is an online event. Click here to register.

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With temperatures in the 40s today, the ice is melting.

But on Tuesday, Jonathan Rosenoer spotted some ice rescue training at Compo Beach’s Ned Dimes Marina. He sent this photo:

(Photo/Jonathan Rosenoer)

I asked who conducted the training.

“Sorry,” he replied. “It was too cold to ask.”

Thanks to whoever is out there — keeping us safe, as we stay warm.

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“Cocktails and Conversation” return to MoCA on Thursdays — starting today.

The events run from 6 to 7 p.m. They include expert speakers, views of current exhibitions, and a chance to purchase custom cocktails. The events are free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested. Click here for links.

Tonight (Thursday, February 3): Co-curator Kathleen Motes Bennewitz. She’ll be joined by “ThingsILove203,” with their range of high-end fashion and home acessories.

February 17: “An In-Depth Discussion on Tom Wesselmann” with Huffa Frobes-Cross, Tom Wesselmann catalogue raisonné project manager at the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, New York and Paris.

February 24: “Ekphrastic Writing Workshop” with Diane Meyer Lowman, Westport poet laureate

March 3: “WestPAC Teaching Gallery Talk” with WestPAC Director of Education and Learning Gallery curator Ive Covaci, and Cecily Anderson, Westport Public Schools educator

March 10: “WestportREADS Book Discussion.”

Diane Meyer Lowman will be at MoCA on February 24.

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“Family Festivities Shows” return soon to the Westport Country Playhouse.

The famed theater presents 2 performances of “Rosie Revere, Engineer & Friends” on Sunday, March 13 (1 and 4 p.m.).

The 60-minute show — aimed at youngsters in grades K to 4 — features Rosie, Iggy Peck and Ada Twist, as they bring their passions and curiosity to stage in a musical spotlighting the STEM curriculum.

The Playhouse says: “Based on the books by Andrea Beaty, it might just inspire bright kids to pursue their dreams,” Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Last weekend’s storm is now just a memory. But Jamie Walsh captured this robin at rest, preserving its color and beauty for “Westport … Naturally” readers.

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

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And finally … Hargus “Pig” Robbins died last week, at 84.

You may not have heard of him — I sure hadn’t — but he was a noted Nashville session pianist. He was also blind, having lost his sight at age 3 in a knife accident.

Beginning in 1959, Pig worked with George Jones, Patsy ClineLoretta LynnConway TwittyKenny Rogers and Tammy Wynette. He also played on Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, and with Neil Young, Shania Twain, John Hartford, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Ween.

Click here for a full obituary. (Hat tip: Michael Taylor)

Ken Bernhard Seeks Return To Hartford — This Time, As A Democrat

Ken Bernhard spent 8 years representing Westport in Connecticut’s General Assembly. He rose to assistant minority leader.

Now Bernhard — who was was also 3rd selectman from 1987 to ’89, then served on the Zoning Board of Appeals — wants to return to Hartford.

He’s running for Will Haskell’s 26th District State Senate seat. The legislator is heading to law school, not running for a 3rd term.

And Bernhard — who spent his entire political life as a Republican — is doing it as a Democrat.

Ken Bernhard (Photo/Dave Matlow)

The longtime Westporter and civic volunteer — he’s been a board member of the Westport Library, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Norwalk Human Services Council, Earthplace, Westport Historical Society, Levitt Pavilion, Aspetuck Land Trust, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, and Connecticut League of Conservation Voters — told “06880”:

I was disappointed to learn that Will Haskell is planning to vacate his senate seat, but I admire him for his decision to attend law school and to focus on his future.

Having received the news about Will’s decision, I felt a sense of responsibility to ensure that the 26th District will continue to be well represented, and that it will remain a part of the Democratic Party caucus. I would consider it a privilege to represent our community in Hartford once again, this time as a Democratic state senator.

As an experienced legislator, I understand the political process and how it works in Hartford. If elected, I would be ready to represent the district effectively on day one. Additionally, I am available to devote my full time and attention to this important work.

When I served as Westport’s State Representative in the role of assistant minority leader, I was recognized as a moderate-to-liberal legislator who advocated for a woman’s right to choose, promoted the protection of the environment, voted for sensible gun control legislation, and supported voting rights. My record in public and private life embodies those values and I am eager to take on a more active role in advancing them in Hartford and around the nation.

Our republic is under assault. Every day we see this happening in Washington, DC and throughout the United States. We cannot allow it to happen here in Connecticut.

There is much work to be done at the state capitol to address the ongoing threat and ravages of climate change, to ensure that the state’s fiscal house is in order, to improve our transportation infrastructure, to guard against racial injustice, and to enhance community “safety nets.” I want to make certain that the interests of our Fairfield County communities are not overlooked in Hartford.

I believe my record will attract the support of moderate and conservative-leaning Democrats, like-minded Republicans and unaffiliated voters, all of whom want and deserve a state senator who will exercise good judgment, common sense and work hard to get things done. That’s why I am announcing my candidacy for State Senator from the 26th District.

I look forward to meeting with the voters and to have a dialogue about Connecticut’s future. In a couple of weeks, I will be registering my campaign with the State and will shortly create a web page where we can engage. Thank you in advance.

In addition to his Westport activities, Bernhard helped found the Syria Fund, which provides support and education to refugees in Jordan. He’s deeply involved with the Tree of Life Orphanage in Haiti, which educates and feeds over 200 children, while creating jobs for adults.

He organizes shoe collection drives for Soles4Souls, shipping thousands of shoes to children around the world. He and his wife Alice have also raised 7 guide dogs.

Other potential candidates in the 26th district — which has been newly redrawn, eliminating Bethel but adding a bit of Stamford — are considering runs too.

Through Westport’s 2 Rotary Clubs, Ken Bernhard — who once taught law in Ukraine — has been involved in efforts to reform legal education there. In 2018, he posed (left) with law students and a professor, and the Connecticut state flag.

Roundup: Bob Le Rose, Barbara Pearson-Rac, Movies …

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In 2012 Bob LeRose — founder of 2 Westport favorites, Bobby Q’s restaurant and the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival — was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer. He was given 2 years to live.

Over the next 10 years Bob endured numerous surgeries and countless treatments. He also opened new restaurants in Norwalk and Greenwich,  continued to produce the Labor Day festival, and helped his wife Kelley raise 2 daughters.

But the disease has persisted. Bob needs physical and occupational therapy nearly every day, to regain his strength so he can get to the hospital for blood transfusions and immunotherapy. He also needs a special bed and wheelchair. Many other expenses are mounting too.

Nearly a decade of medical bills have taken a toll on the self-employed restauranteur. Bob’s many friends — all of whom have been touched by his generosity — are giving back.

A GoFundMe page has already raised over $100,000. Even more will be needed. Click here for more information, and to contribute. (Hat tip: Audrey Rabinowitz)

Bob Le Rose, with his wife Kelley and daughters.

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“06880” paid tribute to Barbara Pearson-Rac yesterday. She died Tuesday, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 75 years old.

Her official obituary notes that the Brooklyn native was inspired to serve her community because of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. She chaired Make a Difference Day for over 25 years, was president of the board of First Night Westport Weston, and vice president of the board of the Breast Cancer Survival Center.

She was also an author, writing a series of mystery novels featuring the character Diana Jeffries.

Barbara is survived by her husband Frank, daughter Sara, son-in-law Steve, grandsons Simon and Gabriel, sister Carol, brother-in-law Steve, nieces Amy and Erica, many cousins, and all the lives she touched through her community outreach and writing.

Her funeral is set for today (Beth Israel Cemetery, Woodbridge, New Jersey, 11 a.m.). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Barbara Pearson-Rac

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The Remarkable Theater calendar continues to be filled with remarkable — or at least, very entertaining — films.

Here’s what’s ahead:

  • Monday, August 9: “Mamma Mia!” (8:30 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, August 11: Scream” (9:15 p.m.)
  • Monday, August 16: “Coco” (7:45 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, August 18; “Get Out” (9:15 p.m.)
  • Monday, August 23: “Stand By Me” (7:45 p.m.).

Click here for tickets and more information.

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MoCA’s fall benefit has something for everyone.

“The Art of Jazz” includes live music by Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, a live auction led by TV personality Dave Briggs, a silent auction, and entertainment by DJ Mo.

It’s Saturday, September 18 (7 p.m.) at the museum. For tickets and more information, click here.

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Sunny the Duck is popping up all over town. Yesterday he loomed over the Saugatuck River.

(Photo/Susan Lloyd)

The iconic waterfowl advertises Westport Sunrise Rotary’s annual Great Duck Race (actually, this year a raffle on August 6).

The fundraiser helps support a host of charitable efforts. There are 8 prizes, including a $5,000 Visa gift card. Click here for details and tickets.

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Speaking of animals:

On Tuesday Olaf and Elsa, domestic white rabbits, were abandoned outside Wakeman Farm. A call to Westport Animal Control brought the assistance of Westport Animal Shelter Advocates.

Always-helpful Schulhof Animal Hospital stepped up to board the pair until an adopter or rabbit rescue organization is found. WASA purchased new rabbit bins for their comfort, and will fund their visit to a “rabbit vet specialist.”

Click here to donate to the cause. Interested adopters should call Westport Animal Control (203-341-5076) or WASA (203-557-0361).

Olaf the rabbit.

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Bob Meadows — director of the Westport Observatory — has just returned from the 85th Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers (“the world’s oldest amateur star party”).

He’ll offer a report on August 17 (8 p.m., Rolnick Observatory, 182 Bayberry Lane). The public is invite. For more information, click here.

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Last week’s torrential rain did not deter crowds at Quidley & Company’s show.

There was art, cuisine (catered by OKO, the restaurant next door at the gallery), and good conversation.

Cynthia Melchiorri created this collage to celebrate the event.

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Speaking of art: Not everyone at Wilton’s Sunrise Assisted Living can get out and enjoy it. So Westporter Jane Hutchison is bringing it to them.

Next Wednesday (August 11, 4 to 6 p.m.), she’s arranged a show. Artists include Westport’s Nina Bentley, Mercedes Arenberg, and various local photographers.

As at any art show, wine will be served.

One of Nina Bentley’s typewriter works.

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Haskins Preserve is Westport’s somewhat-hidden-in-plain-sight gem on Green Acre Lane. You can read about it here — and see Rachel Markus’ great “Westport … Naturally” photo below:

(Photo/Rachel Markus)

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As the setting sun broke through the clouds on Tuesday, after years of 2nd and 3rd place finishes, the Longshore Men’s 60+ tennis team clinched 1st place in their division of the Fairfield County Tennis League with a tense 6-4,4-6, 6-4 win over second place Milbrook. It was the very last match of the season.

(Photo/Matthew Levine)

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And finally … on this date in 1888,  Bertha Benz drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back. It is considered the first long distance automobile trip in history.

Roundup: Low Bridge, Levitt, Lightning Bug …

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One question should be asked at every truck rental place in the country: “What do you do when you see the Saugatuck Avenue railroad underpass in Westport? A) Find an alternate route. B) Plow straight ahead and destroy our truck.”

That might avoid some — but, human beings being who they are, probably not all — of the regular shearings we see on just south of I-95 Exit 17. Yesterday was typical.

So were the inevitable traffic tie-ups. (Hat tip: Dan Vener) 

(Photo/Josh Stein)

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Billy & the Showmen brought their powerful sound to the Levitt Pavilion last night. It was their 4th appearance there, to the delight of their many local fans.

This week’s Levitt lineup: Treehouse Comedy (Tuesday); LucyKalantori & the Jazz Cats (Wednesday); Barboletta: A Tribute to Santana (Thursday); Paul Beaubrum (Friday); Rita Harvey: A Tribute to Linda Ronstadt (Saturday).

Click here for times and (free) ticket details.

Billy & the Showmen (Photo/JC Martin)

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A band holes up in a rented house in upstate New York. They rehearse and record an album there. Fame ensues.

Sounds like The Band? It also applies to Lightning Bug. Well, the first 2 parts, anyway. Fame may be right around the corner.

Their 3rd album — “A Color of the Sky” — got good press in Newsweek recently. The story includes quotes from guitarist Kevin Copeland, a 2010 Staples High School graduate.

Describing the Catskills house, he says: “It was really cozy, and I feel like we were all much closer together than we would be in a studio and also it was snowing the whole time. [It] definitely seeped into the record.”

Copeland calls the group’s music “more like classical music or film scoring, that’s what it feels like. Sheryl Crow is a big inspiration. I laugh when I say it, but I’m serious. I think she effortlessly blends these sort of super-catchy melodies with country and rock in a way that I feel like no one ever does.”

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Iain Bruce)

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Sunny the Duck is back.

He (she? it?) bobs in the Saugatuck Congregational Church parking lot. The smaller version of the enormous yellow bird advertises Westport Sunrise Rotary’s 12th annual Duck Race

it’s different than the previous ones. To avoid big crowds, there’s no actual race. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on dry land August 6.

But the prizes are Duck Race-worthy: one $5,000 Visa gift card; one $2,000 Visa gift card, and 6 $500 Visa gift cards. Money raised helps fund the Sunrise Rotary’s many excellent charitable programs.

Tickets are $25 each. Click here to purchase.

(Photo/Mike Hibbard)

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Today’s forecast is for showers and thunderstorms before 2 p.m., then cloudy.

So njoy Wendy Levy’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, taken earlier this summer.

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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The story about Kevin Copeland’s band’s Catskills house (above) got me thinking about The Band.

What a great few time those “Big Pink” months must have been.

Of course, in Westport it would have been torn down years ago.