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Obituaries

Obituaries

WestportNow publishes obituaries without charge. Funeral homes or individuals may submit obituaries to . Photos in jpeg format may be submitted to the same address. Obituaries should indicate full name of deceased, date and place of death, age, and connection to Westport. Please provide a name, telephone number, and email address for verification. WestportNow reserves the right to edit obituaries to conform to our editorial style.

Harding Funderal Home, Westport, CT

Friday, February 14, 2014

Georgiana H. Daskais, 82

Georgiana Susan Homer Daskais of Ventura, Calif., a former Westport resident, died Feb. 7 after a two-year bout with dementia. She was 82.

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Georgiana Daskais: spent childhood in Westport. Contributed photo

She was born in New York City on Aug. 19, 1931, to Sidney Homer, Jr., and Marion Symmes Homer. Her father wrote the scholarly “A History of Interest Rates” and several books on bond markets. Her paternal grandparents were the Metropolitan Opera contralto Louise Homer and the composer Sidney Homer, Sr.

Her childhood was spent in Manhattan and Westport. She graduated from Friends Seminary in Manhattan in 1949, from Smith College in 1953, and from Chicago Kent law school, now part of Illinois Institute of Technology, in 1975.

She moved to Washington, D.C, in the mid 1950s, and worked as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1957, she married Nicholas Hudson Holt, an Episcopal priest. Georgie and Nick lived in South Kent, Conn., and Manhattan, and moved to Chicago in 1968. They divorced in 1972.

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Posted 09:04 PM
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Lorna M. Leekley, 96

Lorna McCartney Leekley of Appleton, Wisc., a former Westport resident, died Feb. 12. She was 96.

She was born on July 19, 1917, the daughter of the late Samuel Jay McCartney and Lulu Weber McCartney.

Formerly of Narberth, Pa., and Westport, she resided in Appleton for more than 50 years. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1939 with a degree in early childhood education and later founded the Five Day Nursery School in Appleton where she was a teacher for many years.

She was a longtime member of the Fortnightly and Clio Book Clubs. She also volunteered at the Red Cross and Appleton Memorial Hospital.

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Posted 08:55 PM
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Comedian Sid Caesar Dies at 91

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Comedian Sid Caesar, who co-starred with Westport’s Imogene Coca on television’s classic “Your Show of Shows” in the 1950s and performed at the Westport Country Playhouse, has died, friends said today. He was 91. Coca, known for her saucer eyes and fluttering lashes, lived in seclusion in her later years as she suffered the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. She died in her Westport home in 2001 at age 92. File photo

Posted 08:55 PM
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M. Peter Keane, 103

By James Lomuscio

M. Peter Keane of Westport, who died at 103 on Friday, Feb. 7,  has been described as an artist who loved music and film, someone who went from recording bird songs at Cornell to filming iconic scenes in “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone With the Wind” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”

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M. Peter Keane: science studied his family’s longevity. Contributed photo

Keane was also “the baby of the family,” his wife, Elisabeth Keane, said today, one of four siblings whose longevity has been the subject of scientific study.

Keane’s older sister was Helen Faith Keane Reichert of Westport and New York City. She died in 2011 at the age of 109 “just a few weeks shy of her 110th birthday on Nov. 11,” Elisabeth said. (See WestportNow Sept. 27, 2011)

Keane’s older brother Irving Kahn “is 108 and still doing well,” she added. Irving recently stepped down as chairman of Kahn Bros., a New York City investment firm. Unlike his siblings, children of Polish-Jewish immigrants, Irving never changed his family name.

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Posted 03:47 AM
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dale M. Cihi, 60

Dale Michael Cihi of Norwalk, a well known figure in the television and video production industry, died Feb. 2. He was 60.

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Dale Cihi: left mark on video industry. Contributed photo

Born Jan. 11, 1954, the son of Robert Cihi and Nancy Reith, he was the second of four sons. He was a clever kid, full of energy and always up to something, his family said,—an adventurer, an entertainer, an inventor, a camp counselor, a Boy Scout.  His childhood was full of shenanigans, pyrotechnics, music, pets, and highly sophisticated practical jokes. In many ways, Dale was Peter Pan -– he never grew up.

Dale graduated from Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, N.Y. in 1972 and pursued his artistic passions at SUNY Purchase where he earned a BFA in Film in 1977.  There he met the love of his life, Kathy Whitten, his “ballerina” of Larchmont, N.Y. On a rainy summer afternoon in 1981, Dale and Kathy were married.

In 1982, they settled in Norwalk in a beautiful cobbler’s house from the 1700s which became their home for over 30 years.

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Posted 07:58 PM
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Sarah M. D’Amico, 103

Sarah M. D’Amico of Westport, wife of the late Joseph A. D’Amico, died Feb. 10 at home. She was 103.

She was the daughter of the late Frank and Marie Angela Tatto. She and her husband owned and operated D’Amico’s Groceries in Norwalk until their retirement in 1987 when they moved to Westport.

She is survived by her children Jeannine Scianna (John), Marie Satta (Vincent), Michael D’Amico (Bacilia); her eight grandchildren; 11 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. She was also predeceased by her brother Salvatore Tatto and two infant sisters.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Assumption, 98 Riverside Ave., with burial to follow at Riverside Cemetery in Norwalk.  Her family will receive friends at the Magner Funeral Home, 12 Mott Ave., Norwalk on Friday, Feb. 14 from 4 - 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be made to The Church of the Assumption.

Posted 07:01 PM
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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Jack Berry, Longtime Westport Scoutmaster, Dies at 71

UPDATE (adds services, obituary)  John J. “Jack” Berry Jr., a longtime Westport Boy Scout leader, died Saturday at The Connecticut Hospice in Branford after battling pancreatic cancer, the Troop 36 Leadership Committee announced today on its Facebook page. He was 71.

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Jack Berry: his troop excelled at producing Eagle Scouts. Contributed photo

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Scoutmaster Emeritus Jack Berry,” the committee said. “Jack died Saturday morning and not coincidentally on the 104th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.”

Friends may call on Thursday, Feb. 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Lesko Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post Road, Fairfield, with a Mass of Christian Burial Friday, Feb. 14, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Luke Parish, 84 Long Lots Road, Westport, with burial to follow at Oak Lawn Cemetery, 1530 Bronson Road, Fairfield. There will be a reception to follow at St. Luke Church Hall.

Last June, Troop 36 inducted three Eagle Scouts at a Court of Honor ceremony at the Church of the Assumption in Westport. They were the last to achieve Eagle Scout status under the leadership of Berry, who retired a short time earlier due to ill health.

He had been Troop 36 Scoutmaster since 1984. His troop was known for inducting more Eagle Scouts than any other in Connecticut.
______

The family provided the following obituary:

Jack Berry, longtime Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 36 in Westport, passed away Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. He was a devoted husband, loving father, and inspirational leader to generations of boys in Westport, the Connecticut Yankee Council, and Scouting contingents around the world.

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Posted 09:45 PM
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Barbara A. Switzer, 88

Barbara A. Switzer, a former Westport resident, died Feb. 7 at her granddaughter’s home in Wilder, Vt. She was 88.

She was born Sept. 21, 1925 in Weston, the daughter of Charles and Barbara (Burr) Newell. She grew up in Westport, where she attended Staples High School.

She worked for a short time at Woolworth’s Five & Dime in Norwalk before she married William Switzer on May 21, 1948. They first made their home in Weston and then later in Westport before they bought a home in Fairfield, where they live all their married lives.

She worked as a child care provider at the local YMCA in Fairfield. William died July 30, 1997.

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Posted 12:38 PM
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Thursday, February 06, 2014

William J. Wittnebert, 88

William J. Wittnebert, a former Westport resident, died Jan.19 in Pinehurst, N.C. He was 88.

Son of the late Julia LaCerra and Lester Wittnebert, he was born an only child on Dec. 31, 1925 in Jersey City, N.J.

He graduated from Bordentown Military Institute college prep, with his sights set on West Point. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and subsequently attended Princeton University where he played football.

Mary Ellen West from Westfield, N.J. caught his eye. They married and raised two girls in Westport where he started his own firm, Fastec Inc., and enjoyed a successful career as a manufacturers rep.

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Posted 04:55 AM
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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Robert E. Zwilling, Sr., 92

Robert E. Zwilling, Sr. of Norwalk, a former teacher and administrator in the Westport school system, died Feb. 4 in Norwalk Hospital. He was 92.

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Robert Zwilling: retired from Westport school system. Contributed photo

The husband of the late Florence “Ruth” Verhulst Zwilling, he was born on July 31, 1921 in Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of the late Arthur and Laura Zwilling. He grew up in Valley Stream, N.Y.

He attended New York and Columbia Universities and was employed as a chemist in New York City. During World War II, her served in the U.S. Army Chemical Warfare Service in Africa and Italy.

After the war, he went back to school at Hofstra and New York Teachers College. He worked for many years in the Westport public school system, as a teacher and an administrator.

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Posted 06:24 PM
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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Gloria R. Valeski, 95

Gloria R. Valeski, a lifelong Westport resident and wife of the late Joseph E. Valeski Jr., died Feb. 3 in Norwalk Hospital. She was 95.

She was born Jan. 30, 1919 in Norwalk, the daughter of the late Frederick and Della (Harrison) Reichert.

She has been a lifelong member of Assumption Church in Westport where she was also a member of the Catholic Daughters Court Assumption. She also volunteered for the Birth Tight in Norwalk, Norwalk Hospital, Woman’s Board of Westport, and the Treasure House in Norwalk.

Survivors include one son, J. Mark Valeski of North Miami, Fla., one granddaughter, Kimberly Pelham, and one great granddaughter, Marissa Pelham. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by one daughter; Susan Fiaschetti.

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Posted 10:55 PM
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Friday, January 31, 2014

Phyllis P. Dobyns, 79

Phyllis Parent Dobyns, a former Westport resident where she worked many years at Save the Children, died Jan. 22 in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 79.

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Phyllis Dobyns: Save the Children veteran. Contributed photo

Born Dec 27, 1934 in Indiana, she moved with her family to Southern California in 1945, where she attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, and where she met her husband of 60 years, Frank Dobyns.

Initially making Santa Barbara home, they had two children, Shelley in 1957 and Peter in 1960. In 1965 the family moved to Mexico where Frank and Phyllis worked for Save the Children Federation and a year later they moved to Westport, where Save the Children headquarters is located. The Dobyns lived and worked 30 years in Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

She was passionate about her family, her work and a life of adventure, her family said.

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Posted 08:08 PM
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Della Maia Thomson, 89

Della Maria Thomson (nee Noble), a former Westport resident, died Jan. 28 at Toronto East General Hospital. She was 89.

She will always be remembered as an artist and free spirit, her family said. She loved to travel with her husband Alan and for many years lived in Westport, only to return to Jackson’s Point, Ontario upon retirement to live by the water once again.

She was the wife of the late Alan Glendenning Thomson (2009), mother of Carole Lee Henrikson (Bruce), Melissa Bennett (Jeff), Melanie Clark (Tim) and Julie Thomson (Philip Mancuso). She was the grandmother of Mara, Alana, Davin, Vanessa, Katrina, Cole, Leanna, Dylan, Isabel, Lindsey, Jason and Lauren and two great-grandchildren Kaitlyn and Ryan.

She is remembered by her brother John (Margaret) and many nieces, nephews and extended family and friends. Predeceased by her father, Dr. Charles T. Noble, her mother, Margaret Elizabeth Stewart, sisters Martha, Ann, Elizabeth, Nora, Mary, and brother, Stewart. If you wish to make a donation in memory of Della, please consider the Alzheimer Society.

Posted 06:48 PM
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Robert H. Hirsch, 88

Robert Henry Hirsch of Sarasota, Fla., a former Westport resident who owned the Brooks Hirsch clothing stores in Fairfield County, died Jan. 27. He was 88.

He was born to the late Clarence and Ruth Hirsch, May 29, 1925, in Kansas City, Mo. He graduated from Pembroke Country Day School in 1941 and received a B.S. degree in engineering from the University of California Berkeley in 1944, graduating early to serve in the Navy in World War II. He married the late Pamela Hirsch in 1987, and they lived together in Westport and New York City before relocating to Sarasota in 1992.

He was a businessman and owned a chain of women’s clothing stores in Fairfield County, Brooks Hirsch until he retired in 1992. The Westport Brooks Hirsch was located at 403 Post Road East, now home to Olympia Sports.

He was passionate about making a difference in the lives of his customers, employees and their families. He also served on the board of Westport Bank & Trust Co. and Fairfield University.  He was active with several local charities and foundations including The Nature Center of Westport and The Van Wezel Center of Sarasota.

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Posted 09:02 PM
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Katherine M. Cianciullo, 86

Katherine M. Cianciullo of Westport died on Jan. 25 in Branford of complications from a long-term illness. She was 86.

She was the daughter of the late Pasqual Fratino and Rose Valiante. She was the wife of Nicholas Cianciullo for 60 years and mother to John Cianciullo of Westport and daughter Patt Cianciullo of Atlanta, Ga.

She was predeceased by her older brother John Fratino and is survived by her sister Phyllis Ragosa of Port St Lucie, Fla. She is also survived by daughter-in-law Maggie Lopez as well as many nieces and nephews including grandnieces and grandnephews from both the Fratino and Cianciullo families.

Hours of visitation for friends and family will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 28 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Collins Funeral Home, 92 East Ave., Norwalk. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday,  Jan. 29 at 10 a.m. at St Luke Catholic Church, 84 Long Lots Road, Westport. Interment will follow in Assumption Cemetery on Greens Farm Road. In lieu of flowers, donations made in Katherine’s memory may be made to St Luke Church, 84 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT, 06880.

Posted 04:14 PM
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