Sunday, November 18, 2007
Martha Kostyra, Martha Stewart’s Mother, Dies at 93
Martha Stewart and “Big Martha.” File photoMartha Kostyra, the mother of Martha Stewart who lived in her daughter’s Westport home for a time and frequently visited the Westport Weston Family Y for aquatic exercise classes, died Friday in Norwalk Hospital. She was 93.
Kostyra, a Weston resident since 1986, was often credited by her daughter with teaching her everything she knew about cooking and housekeeping.
The Polish family recipes of “Big Martha,” as she was affectionately called, despite her diminutive stature, were the earliest inspiration for the woman who would turn a small Westport catering operation into an international business empire.
Stewart broke the news of her mother’s death on her Web site blog, asking fans to post memories.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Barry McCabe, Navy War Vet, Community Activist, Dies at 83
Barry McCabe: honored as parade grand marshal in 2005. Contributed photoBarry McCabe, a longtime Westport resident and dedicated community volunteer with a distinguished military record as a World War II Navy Frogman, died Wednesday. He was 83.
McCabe, who was active in many community groups including the Westport Weston Y’s Men, served as the grand marshal of Westport’s Memorial Day parade in 2005.
McCabe began his military career with enlistment in the Navy’s V-12 officer training program in July 1943. He was commissioned an Ensign at Columbia University in October 1944.
Just prior to his commissioning, he volunteered for Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), precursor of today’s Navy SEALs. After training at Fort Pierce, Fla, and Maui, Hawaii, he joined UDT 21 in the Pacific as assistant platoon leader.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Mitch Kurman, Camp Safety Advocate, Dies at 86
Mitch Kurman, a longtime attendee at Westport Town Hall brown bag lunches and an advocate of reforming summer camp safety laws following the death of his son in a 1965 canoe accident, has died. He was 86.
His family said he died Monday in Seattle, where Kurman, a onetime furniture salesman, and his wife, Betty had moved to a year ago. They had been Westport residents more than 40 years.
Kurman’s 15-year-old son David died during a canoe trip in Maine sponsored by the Rochester, N.Y., YMCA. His canoe was in white water when it became swamped. The family said the boy did not have a life jacket and the group was using canoes with flat hulls designed for lakes and not rivers
Kurman was instrumental in passing safety laws in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and several other states. He served on Connecticut’s Camp Safety Advisory Board.
Monday, September 24, 2007
News 12 Sportscaster Bill Gonillo Dies at 44
Bill Gonillo, the sports director at News 12 Connecticut and familiar face at Westport sporting events for more than a decade, was found dead Sunday in his Woodbridge home, the station said. He was 44.
Bill Gonillo: familiar face at Westport sporting events. File photo
No cause of death was announced. The New Haven Register said Gonillo was a diabetic and has suffered from bouts of diabetic shock in the past. Gonillo had been sports director at News 12 for the past 12 years.
Prior to taking his job with News 12, Gonillo had worked at WELI-AM in New Haven and was Yale football play-by-play announcer in the mid-90s.
He had also worked as sports anchor on WVIT-30 and was a pregame and postgame host for Hartford Whalers hockey and Boston Celtics basketball on WTWS-TV in New London and WTXX in Waterbury. Gonillo was a graduate of the University of Hartford.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Actress Brett Somers Dies in Westport Home at 83
Brett Somers at a Westport Historical Society exhibit in November 2003 in front of a picture of herself upper right. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo ©WestportNow.com Brett Somers, an actress and comedienne best known for her years as a panelist on “The Match Game,” has died at her Westport home of stomach and colon cancer, her son said today. She was 83.
Somers’ son, Adam Klugman, said she died Saturday at her Willow Walk home near Staples High School.
She married actor Jack Klugman, star of the television shows “Quincy” and “The Odd Couple,” in 1953. The two separated in 1974, but never divorced. Somers appeared on several episodes of “The Odd Couple,” playing the ex-wife of Klugman’s character.
Later in her career, she appeared in a cabaret show, “An Evening with Brett Somers.”
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Longtime Westporter Lorna B. Christophersen Dies at 76
Lorna B. Christophersen, a former member of Westport’s Board of Education and Representative Town Meeting (RTM), died today in a Wilton health care center, a funeral home spokesman said. She was 76.
Christophersen served on the RTM twice—from 1971 to 1977 and from 1982 to 1995, making her among the longest serving members on the legislative body. She was on the Board of Education from 1977 to 1981.
A longtime member of the Republican Town Committee, Christophersen was often brash and outspoken in her quest to make Westport a better place to live.
A memorial service will be held at noon Saturday at Westport Town Hall, according to the Harding Funeral Home.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Thomas Danbury, Former Westporter, Dies at 71
Thomas Danbury, a former Westporter who served on the Representative Town Meeting for several terms in the 1970s, died July 11 in Kansas City, Mo., his family said. He was 71.
Since 1992, Danbury had lived in Kilauea, Hawaii, and Venice, Fla. Memorial services were held July 14 in Kansas City, where his mother-in-law lives.
Danbury was born on April 29, 1936, in King City, Mo., where he grew up. He received a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and did post-graduate studies there, and at Michigan State in communications research.
He married Rosalie A. John in 1959 in Grandview, Mo. In 1977, Danbury founded Survey Sampling, Inc. in Westport with Beverly Weiman. Now based in Fairfield, with offices worldwide, SSI was the first commercial sampling company. Danbury was considered a pioneer in his field. He retired in 1992.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Westporter Hy Zaret, Tin Pan Alley Lyricist, Dies at 99
Westporter Hy Zaret, one of the last of the Tin Pan Alley lyricists, whose most indelible work was the oft-recorded 1955 hit “Unchained Melody,” died Monday at his Saugatuck Shores home, The New York Times said today. He was 99.
Hy Zaret: Wrote “Unchained Melody” lyrics.File photo
His son, Robert, announced the death, the newspaper said. Zaret would have turned 100 on Aug. 21.
Zaret liked to tell about the time the composer Alex North called him to say he had written a song for a movie and needed words, the Times said.
Zaret replied that he was busy painting his house. But he found time to write the lyrics for “Unchained Melody.” The movie itself, “Unchained,” a low-budget prison film, turned out to be a lot less memorable than the song.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Anna Videler, Co-founder of Videler Photography, Dies at 75
Longtime Westport resident Anna Videler, founder with her late husband Cornelis J. Videler of Videler Photography in Westport, died Thursday at Connecticut Hospice in Branford. She was 75.
Anna Videler: Westport resident 50 years. Contributed photo
Born in Amsterdam, Holland, she was the daughter of the late Johann and Anna Maria (Hammers) Hennen and has been a resident of Westport for 50 years.
She and her husband emigrated to the United States in 1957 where they settled in Westport and founded Videler Photography.
First and foremost in her life was her love for her family, especially her grandchildren. She adored the outdoors and gardening, and her treasurered dogs, Lexus and Lucy, her family said.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Gene Takahashi, IBM Exec and Korean War Vet, Dies at 79
Longtime Westporter Gene Takahashi, a former IBM executive and Korean War veteran profiled by the late author David Halberstam in his forthcoming book on the war, died Tuesday night at his Westport home after a lengthy illness. He was 79.
Gene Takahashi: “a genuine war hero.” File photo
Takahashi was a strong supporter of the Westport Public Library and was key in getting the Pulitzer Prize-winning author to accept an invitation to be honored at the library’s May 27 “Booked for the Evening” fund-raiser. The event will now be a tribute to Halberstam.
“Some two years ago I went out to Westport, Conn., to interview Gene Takahashi for a book I was writing about the Korean War,” Halbertstam wrote in a Forbes magazine article a month before his April 23 death in a California car crash. (See WestportNow April 23, 2007)
“There were, it soon struck me, two Gene Takahashis, the first the former IBM executive, quiet and exceptionally modest, the model citizen of a prosperous Connecticut suburb; and then another Gene Takahashi, someone whom almost none of his neighbors knew anything about.”
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Longtime Westporter Robert J. Ellwanger Dies at 77
Robert J. Ellwanger, a longtime Westport resident and businessman, died Monday at his home in Naples, Fla., his family said today. He was 77.
The husband of Margaret W. Ellwanger, he was born in Queens, N.Y., on April 19, 1930, to the late John and Daisy Ellwanger.
Ellwanger graduated from Bayside High School and the Pohs Institute of Insurance & Real Estate.
He moved to Westport in 1973 from Fairfield, where he had been employed by Real Estate Insurance Management. He founded Ellwanger Insurance Consultants at 12 Avery Place before moving the business to 180 Post Road East.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Longtime Westporter Barbara Raymond Dies at 83
Barbara Butler Raymond, a longtime Westporter active with the Westport Historical Society and other local organizations, died Thursday night at her home of cancer. She was 83.
Barbara Raymond: made history come alive. Dave Matlow/WN file photo
Barbara and her husband Allen, the town’s official historian, often led walking and bus tours of Westport and surrounding areas. With their extensive knowledge of Westport people and events, they brought history alive for many who had little knowledge of the area’s rich colonial history.
The Raymonds also have been active members of Earthplace, The Nature Discovery Center, the Green’s Farms Congregational Church, and other local organizations.
Barbara Raymond was one of the founders 51 years ago and an original director of the Westport Young Woman’s League.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Longtime Westporter Gloria Hunter Dies at 79
Gloria Hunter, a longtime Westporter who worked as a journalist, teacher, author and columnist and taught reading and college test preparation skills to countless area students, died Sunday at her Westport home. She was 79.
Gloria Hunter: Westport resident since 1965. Contributed photo
Hunter had struggled valiantly to maintain a normal life with family and friends and in her community as she waged her battle against cancer, according to Thomas Hunter, her husband of 56 years.
Hunter was known to many Westporters for her “As I See It” column in the weekly Westport Minuteman newspaper for the last 13 years. Her last column, “Teaser Titles,” was completed just before her death.
Born in Chicago, Hunter was the daughter of the late Eleanore Kline and David Waldron Hunter. She spent her early married life in Ann Arbor, Mich., Summit, N.J., and Cleveland, Ohio before making Westport the permanent family home in 1965.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Former Westporter Ellen Hanley, Broadway Star, Dies at 80
Former Westporter Ellen Hanley, 80, a stage actress best known for playing Fiorello LaGuardia’s first wife in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Fiorello!” in 1959, died of a stroke Monday at Norwalk Hospital after a long battle with cancer, her family said.
Hanley was honored last October at a Westport Town Hall ceremony with an award from the Westport Arts Advisory Committee.
Born May 15, 1926, in Lorain, Ohio, Hanley made her Broadway debut in “Annie Get Your Gun,” starring Ethel Merman, in 1946. The following year she appeared as Clothilde Pfefferkorn in “Barefoot Boy With Cheek,” a zany collegiate musical featuring Nancy Walker and Red Buttons.
In the 1952 revue “Two’s Company,” which starred Bette Davis, Hanley introduced the Vernon Duke-Ogden Nash song “Roundabout.”
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Longtime Westporter Peter J. Petropoulos Dies at 80
Peter J. Petropoulos, chair of the Westport Weston Health District, died Feb. 2 at his home after a lengthy illness. He was 80.
Petropoulos, who had lived in Westport for 43 years, was a member of the Y’s Men of Westport Weston and a founding member of the “Compo Beach Bunch.”
He worked for Uniroyal Inc. for more than 20 years, retiring in 1987 as vice president of marketing.
Born July 5, 1926 in Newport, R.I., Petropoulos was the son of the late John and Olga Petropoulos. He was a 1950 graduate of Brown University where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity.
Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport