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Monday, March 07, 2011

Elizabeth “Betty” Heider Walker, 83

Elizabeth Heider Walker died on March 4, in Naples, Fla. She was 83.

Born July 18, 1927, in Washington, D.C., she was the daughter of the late Carl Albert Sautter Heider and Irene Augusta Deuterman Heider. 

Betty spent her early years in Prince Georges County, Maryland, and was a graduate of Hood College, Frederick, Md. After college she worked for Mademoiselle Magazine in New York before moving to Westport where she lived for more than 30 years.

In 1987, she moved to Naples with her husband, Robert W. Walker,who preceded her in death in 2006. In Naples, she was an active member of Trinity-by-the-Cove Episcopal Church where she served on the Vestry and was co-chairman of the Naples Antiques Show. 

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Friday, March 04, 2011

June E. Cotton, 88

June E. Cotton, a former Westport resident who lived in Plantation, Fla. since 1971, died March 1. She was 88.

A graduate of Penn State, she was a past president of AAUW, member of Plantation Community Church, Plantation Historical Society, and Friends of the Helen B. Hoffman Plantation Library,

She served on the 25th and 50th anniversary committees for the city, was recognized as Woman of the Year by the organizations in which she participated and had served on their boards. Survived by daughter Carol, second cousin Skip Heath, and many loving friends.

Visitation will be March 6 3-5 p.m. at the T.M. Ralph Plantation Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held March 6 at 1:30 p.m. at the funeral home. Entombment at Hollywood Memorial Gardens. Donations may be made to the Plantation Historical Society , or Friends of the Helen B. Hoffman Library.

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Joseph F. Murray Jr.

Joseph F. Murray Jr., of Chapin, S.C., formerly of Westport, died Feb. 22. He was the husband of Jean Murray.

The son of the late Joseph and Joan Murray, he graduated from Staples High School in l968. He was a co-captain of the school’s l967 FCIAC champion football team and was named its outstanding player.

He was an outdoorsman, and as a young boy, spent time at the Westport Tackle Shop learning about fishing. He was a fly fisherman, hunter, and avid reader and collector of antiquarian books on the subjects.

His entire business career was spent in the outdoors-sporting industry, beginning at Southern Gun and Tackle in Miami and later becoming president and chief executive officer of Ellett Brothers in Chapin, S.C.

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Joan Gail Starr, 71

Joan Gail Starr of Westport died Feb. 25. She was 71.

The wife of Lee Starr, the couple had been married for 50 years. She was born in the Bronx, N.Y., the daughter of Charles and Jean Linett, and moved to Westport in 1978.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a daughter, Jenny Starr; a son, Michael Starr, and two brothers, Ari Starr and Mark Starr.

Services were March 1 at Temple Beth El, Norwalk. Donations in her memory may be made to the Block Island Conservancy and Temple Beth El.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Edward W. Plaut, 86

Edward W. Plaut of Westport, husband of Carol (Stern) Plaut, passed away Feb. 27. He was 86.

Mr. Plaut was born April 6, 1924 in New York City son of the late Ralph and Gertrude (Weill) Plaut and has been a resident of Westport for 57 years.

Prior to retiring, Mr. Plaut was employed in the insurance business for more than 40 years. He attended the University of Florida and was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II.

Following retirement, Mr. Plaut volunteered delivering meals for the Meals on Wheels program in Westport. He also served as mentor in the Bridgeport Public School System.

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Angelina “Angie” Pirro, 85

Angelina “Angie” Pirro of St. Josephs Manor in Trumbull, and wife of the late Andrew J. Pirro, passed away on Feb. 24 in Bridgeport Hospital. He was 85.

Mrs. Pirro was born on Sept, 23, 1925 and is the daughter of the late Nicholas and Anna (Vena) Santella. She is survived by one son, Michael N. Pirro of Norwalk and one daughter, Carol-Ann Gabriel and her husband Steven of East Norwalk. Angie will be greatly missed by her family and friends.

Friends are invited to attend a funeral on Saturday, March 5 at 11 a.m. directly at Assumption Church, 98 Riverside Ave., for a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment will be private.

The Harding Funeral Home is assisting the family with the arrangements. Contributions in memory of Mrs. Pirro may be made to the Assumption Church

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Irving Bronitsky, 94

Irving Bronitsky, a longtime Norwalk resident, died on Feb. 22 in Westport. He was 94.

A native of New London, he is survived by his wife of 70 years, Ann, of Norwalk; his three children, Phyllis Braunstein of Wilton, Iris Wallock of Avon, and Michael Bronitsky of Norwalk; three grandchildren and a great-grandson.

The family held a private graveside service on Feb. 23 in Norwalk.

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Dominick J. Fiorenza

Dominick J. Fiorenza of Westport, husband of Annette (Pagnotti) Fiorenza, passed away Feb. 23 in Norwalk Hospital with his wife and family at his Image
Dominick J. Fiorenza: longtime Westport resident. Contributed photo

Mr. Fiorenza was born in Scranton, Pa., son of Dominick J. and Jennie (Georgetti) Fiorenza and has been a longtime resident of Westport and member of Assumption Church.

Mr. Fiorenza graduated Sacred Heart University with a Bachelors Degree in both finance and marketing. He was an accomplished and talented musician, and for many years led a popular band called the Roulettes, playing many events and private parties.

Mr. Fiorenza was employed for many years at the Perkin-Elmer Corp. in the financial area. He was later chief financial officer/general manager of Reach Marketing in Westport and most recently worked for Benchmark Communities in sales and marketing.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Services Set for Thursday for Fire Chief’s Father

Funeral services are set for Thursday for Harry W. Ackley of Southport, father of Westport Fire Chief Christopher Ackley. He died Friday at the age of Image
Harry W. Ackley pictured with his son, Westport Fire Chief Christopher Ackley, at Ackley’s swearing in ceremony in 2005. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

A Southport resident since 1950, Harry Ackley was a World War II veteran and former president of the Southport Volunteer Fire Department.

A plumber and steamfitter by trade, he was a member of the Master Plumber’s Association and worked for the General Electric Company and as a plumber locally for many years.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Thursday at 10 a.m., meeting directly at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield. Interment with Naval honors will follow at St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford. (See obituary here.)

Posted 12:38 AM
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Harry W. Ackley, 95

Harry W. Ackley of Southport, father of Westport Fire Chief Christopher Ackley and beloved husband of the late Rita (Neupert) Ackley, passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his family on Feb. 18. He was 95. Image
Harry W. Ackley: father of Westport fire chief. Contributed photo

Harry, a member of our country’s “greatest generation,”  was born in Bridgeport, the son of the late Claude and Lucy (Goss) Ackley. As a young man mornings were started by going down to the train tracks with a bucket to collect coal that train engineers would kick off the tops of the coal cart. This coal was used to provide heat for his house and for cooking before the family woke up.

He had been a Southport resident since 1950. Harry drove a bread truck for the A & P grocery store in Fairfield during the 1930s. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy as a steamfitter in a construction battalion in Sicily, Italy, Anzio and North Africa during World War II. He was a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a former president of the Southport Volunteer Fire Department.

He was an honorary member of the Theta Sigma Fraternity at the University of Bridgeport and was a former member of the Fairfield Rotary Club.

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Max Wilk, Author, Music Impresario, Dies at 90

UPDATE (adds additional details, memorial service information) Max Wilk, author, playwright, film and television writer, and music impresario who produced Westport Arts Center jazz and live musical shows for almost 20 years, died Saturday at his Saugatuck Shores home in Westport, his son David said today.  He was Image
Max Wilk addresses a Westport Public Library audience in 2008. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

Many Westporters regarded Wilk as one of the town’s living treasures.  He took delight in regaling his fellow residents with insider tales of show business and the musical world – whether it was a large audience or an acquaintance he met at the deli.

In 2008, he appeared at the Westport Public Library to promote an updated edition of his best known nonfiction work, “They’re Playing Our Song:  Conversations With America’s Classic Songwriters”

When talking about the people he interviewed and had associations with over the years, he said, “I think I should have paid for the privilege of interviewing the people in my book.”  He added: “Stephen Sondheim and I are the only two left who are in my original book.”

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Nicholas J. DeMaria, 86

Nicholas Joseph DeMaria, 86, of Forrest Hills, N.Y. and formerly of Westport, passed away on Feb. 20 at North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.

Mr. DeMaria was born in Westport on March 18, 1924, son of the late Frank and Carrie (Zelembo) DeMaria. He attended Westport schools and later moved to New York and worked as a insurance underwriter until his retirement. He is a U.S. Army veteran of World War II.

Survivors include one brother, Samuel DeMaria, three sisters, Angie Macaluso, Jane Doucette and Gloria Licari, and many nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he was pre-deceased by three brothers, Frank, Joseph and Jack DeMaria and one sister, Nette Reitano.

Friends are invited to attend the funeral on Thursday Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. directly at Assumption Church, 98 Riverside Ave. Interment will follow in Assumption Cemetery, Kings Highway, Westport. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Assumption Church.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

John Edward Searight, 91

John Edward Searight (Ed), of Heritage Village in Southbury, formerly of Westport and Fairfield, died Feb. 16 of natural causes. He was 91.

Born Oct. 12, 1919 in Harrisburg, Pa., he was the son of the late Clarence Lee Searight and the late Amy Davidson Searight. He was raised in Harrisburg, Cincinnati, and Teaneck, N.J. where he graduated from high school.

An accomplished trumpet player, he trained in Manhattan and considered a career as a musician. His band was accompanied on occasion by Frank Sinatra.

In 1942, he graduated from Syracuse University where he was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy from August 1942 to October 1945 as the commanding officer of the USS Andrews, PC606, in the South Pacific.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Beatrice Kalman, 92

Beatrice Kalman, a longtime Westport resident who, with her late husband, ran the Compo Acres Luncheonette, died Feb. 12 in Lauderhill, Fla. She was 92.

Born Sept. 25, 1918, in Hartford, she was the widow of Morris Kalman, mother of David Kalman of Westport, and grandmother of Michael Kalman and Steven Kalman and grandmother of Lily and Abigail Kalman.

She and her husband Morris ran Compo Acres Luncheonette in Westport for more than 20 years. A mainstay and popular eating place, the luncheonette was a meeting place for many for breakfast, lunch and early dinner, enjoying Beatrice’s home-style cooking.

She was buried on Florida on Feb. 14.

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Arthur Levy, Jr., 90

Arthur Levy, Jr., an attorney and a Westport resident since 1954, died in his home on Feb. 18. He was 90.

In 1947, Levy joined the law firm of Friedman and Friedman in Bridgeport. He then practiced law until 2000 as a partner and of counsel to the firm and its successor, Friedman, Newman, Levy & Sheehan.

His calm demeanor provided needed support to his many clients. A quiet man, he excelled at legal research and writing. Even after computer research became the norm, he could still find the dispositive case, “in the books” faster than any attorney with a keyboard.

Born Oct. 24, 1920, he was the son of Arthur and Alice D. Levy. He was raised on the Upper West side of Manhattan and graduated from Townsend Harris High School at the age of 16. He then matriculated at NYU Heights and was admitted to Harvard Law School in 1940.

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