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.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
William Backalenick , 94
William “Bill” Backalenick of Bridgeport, a former Westport resident, died June 7. He was 94.
William Backalenick: 45-year Westport resident. Contributed photo
A Brooklyn-born graphic artist, he was for many years chairman of the board of Comart-Aniforms, a New York City marketing and graphic design agency. He co-founded the company in 1951 with his longtime friend and colleague Daniel Cassel.
A Westport resident for 45 years, he loved the visual arts, music and theater, and was known for his compassion, quick wit, and propensity for practical jokes. With his open, accepting outlook, he connected to people of all types and backgrounds, collecting a parade of friends throughout life.
He is survived by his wife Irene, his children Paul, Lynn, Lisa and Kim, and his grandchildren Ethan, Alex, and Kai.
Gladys F. Jacobson, 85
Gladys Gochberg Jacobson of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. died June 12. She was 85.
She was born Jan. 13, 1930 in Brooklyn, N.Y. to Moe and Ruth Gochberg. After growing up in Stamford, she graduated from the University of Connecticut and went on to receive her master’s degree in education at University of Bridgeport.
Raising her family in Norwalk, she had a successful career in teaching in Wilton, where she received many accolades including the State of Connecticut’s first Teacher of Excellence award.
She was the first female president of Temple Shalom in Norwalk, Birchwood Country Club in Westport, and Eastpointe Country Club Palm Beach Gardens.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Elias Z. Djimas, 77
Elias Z. Djimas of New Haven died June 12 at home. He was 77.
He was born Aug. 12, 1937 in Albany, N,Y., the son of the late Zacharias and Annoula Djimas. He has been a resident at a New Haven assisted living facility for the last four years and prior to that he was a resident in the Tampa Bay area of Florida for 39 years.
He was a a U.S. Army veteran, serving as a lieutenant. He was former owner of the Diplomat Hotel on Longboat Key, Fla. He also served as a former chairman of the Lions Club. While in Florida, he was also an avid golfer, fisherman and boater.
Survivors includes one son; Zachary Djimas and his wife Eileen Murray and their two sons, Devon and Dylan of Westport, and one daughter, Alana Brayboy of Rochester Hills, Mich. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sister; Matina Gratale.
Marguerite A. Cody, 97
Marguerite Alta (Peg) Cody of Bridgeport, a former Westport resident, died at home. She was 97.
She was born in Bridgeport on May 20, 1918 to the late Lydia L. & Percy L. Clark. She graduated from Bassick Junior High School, Roger Ludlowe High School, and Syracuse University where she was an interior design major.
After moving from Stratfield to Westport in 1960, she became a member of the Westport Woman’s Club. She earned many blue ribbons and state federation awards for her handmade crafts. In 2009, The Westport Garden Club voted her as an honorary member in appreciation for her years of service.
Her book plate design was selected for the Pi Beta Phi Children’s Library at Yale University. She loved the medium of watercolors to create paintings. Peg also enjoyed crafts, creating table center pieces, napkin rings, and Christmas trees for the Woman’s Club and Pi Phi’s along with making and painting ceramics.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Beverly Hightower, 72
Beverly Hightower of Westport, a former teacher in the Westport school system and wife of fellow Westport educator Glenn Hightower, died June 8. She was 72. She had been a Westport resident for more than 45 years.
Beverly Hightower: former Westport teacher. Contributed photo
She was born Beverly Lyn Bailey on Feb. 20, 1943 in Topeka, Kansas to Arthur E. Bailey and Helen (Chatska) Bailey. She graduated in the top of her Topeka High School class in 1961 and attended Washburn University in Topeka on full academic scholarship.
She was president of her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, sang with the Washburn Belles, cheered with the Ichabod Cheerleaders and graduated magna cum laude in 1965. She married Glenn, a handsome teacher from Oklahoma, and after graduate school, together they moved to Westport to begin working in the Westport Public Schools.
Gifted with children, she taught kindergarten and first grade including time at Kings Highway Elementary School and also ran the Mother’s Day Out Cooperative.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Marguerite “Marge” Walmark of Fairfield died June 8 at the Jewish Home, Fairfield. She was 84.
Born Sept. 21, 1930 in Norwalk, she graduated New Haven State Teachers College magna cum laude, majoring in early childhood education. She taught kindergarten through third grade in the Norwalk Public Schools.
She taught Saturday School at Temple Israel, Westport, and was a licensed real estate agent for Englander Real Estate, William Raveis and William Pitt, each of Westport.
Upon retirement from real estate, she volunteered at Fox Run Elementary School in Norwalk.
Memorial Service Set for William P. Raines, 87
William P. Raines: former RTM deputy moderator. Contributed photo
A memorial service celebrating the life of William P. Raines, a former deputy moderator of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM), will be held Sunday, June 28 at 4 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 41 Easton Road.
Raines, husband of Miriam F. Raines and father of R. David, Douglas, and Judith Raines, died May 2 at age 87. (See WestportNow May 6, 2015) A U.S. Army veteran of World War II, he had a private burial in Fairfield with military honors.
The son of Clyde and Nelle Raines, he was raised in Dormont, Pa., graduating from Dormont High School in 1944. He earned dual degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, a B.A. in 1949 and a M.Litt in 1954.
Following a career in advertising and public relations at Koppers Co. in Pittsburgh, he relocated to Connecticut in 1965, where he served as a vice president for three Fortune 500 companies—Johns Manville, Union Pacific and GAF.
Friday, June 05, 2015
Venora Ellis, ‘Shattered Racial Barriers’ in Westport, 96
Venora Ellis, a former Westporter honored as a “trailblazer” in 2009 by Westport’s TEAM Committee (the acronym means Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism), died May 23 in Pennsylvania. She was 96. A native of Mississippi, she moved to Westport in 1942, a pioneering black woman in the almost entirely white town. A regular visitor to former First Selectman Diane Farrell’s brown bag lunches (above), she was cited by TEAM as having “challenged traditional social mores and shattered racial barriers by action and example” It added: “For much of her last 40 years in Westport, she and her late husband Leroy were also instrumental in attracting a number of citizens of color to live in Westport.” (See obituary here) WestportNow.com photo
Venora Ellis, 96
Venora Ellis, a former Westporter who was cited by Westport’s TEAM Committee (Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism) for challenging social mores and shattering racial barriers in Westport during her 68 years here, died May 23 in Doylestown, Pa. She was 96.
Venora Ellis: pioneering black woman. WN photo
She was born in Yazoo City, Miss. on March 27, 1919 to John and Irene Witherspoon. She graduated from Tougaloo College in 1942 with a degree in home economics.
She first arrived in Westport in 1938, initially working as a “mother’s helper” while in college at the suggestion of a dean at Tougaloo College who told her there was work here. Four years later, with help of a scholarship to Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, she moved to Westport permanently.
She opened a business making draperies, bedspreads, and slip covers for Westporters, work that brought her in touch with many who may not have had a chance to interact with a black businesswoman here.
Thursday, June 04, 2015
Vincent N. Franco, 87
Vincent N. Franco of Southport, formerly of Westport and Plymouth, Mass., died May 25 at home. He was 87.
He was born Dec. 21, 1927 in New York City, son of Vito and Carmella Franco.
The son of immigrant parents from Italy, he grew up in New York City during the Great Depression. Those early years instilled a strong work ethic that would remain key to his character throughout his life. Working his way through high school, he wanted to pursue an education and become a university professor.
Accepted into Columbia University, he attended classes there but left the university to enlist in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. He was a member of the 437th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Otis Air Force Base where he flew the F-94C Starfire under the command of Chappie James.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Mary E. Hynes, 93
Mary Elizabeth Hynes of Westport died May 30 in Norwalk Hospital. She was 93.
Mary Hynes 49-year Westport resident. Contributed photo
The wife of the late Commander USN (ret.) Edward J. Hynes was born March 27, 1922 in Providence, R.I. and was the daughter of the late Patrick J. and Mary H. McManus.
She was a resident of Westport for 49 years and retired as the assistant treasurer from the Bigelow Tea Company in Fairfield at age 90.
She enjoyed playing bridge, Scrabble, and global traveling. She was a member of the Women’s Club of Weston and former secretary of the Western Connecticut Retired Officers Association.
Tuesday, June 02, 2015
Otto O. Weibel, 91
Otto O. Weibel of Westport died June 1 at Norwalk Hospital. He was 91.
Otto O. Weibel: Westport resident 49 years. Contributed photo
Born in Dietikon, Switzerland on Aug. 20, 1923, he was the son of the late Robert and Sophie Weibel. He has been a Westport resident for 49 years.
He was a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program, a member of the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston, an avid skier, and gardener.
When he first came to the United States in 1947, he became a lifetime member of the New York City Mannerchor, and Swiss-American Club.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Arthur W. Ruff, 92
Arthur W. Ruff of Gilbert, Ariz., a former Westport resident, died May 15 due to a stroke. He was 92.
Born in Westport in 1923, he moved with his parents and sisters to San Diego in 1941. He served in World War II as a navigator in the Army Air Corps flying out of England on 30 missions over Europe, for which he was awarded the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Accompanied by his then wife, Olive, and with the support of the GI Bill, he received bachelor’s degrees in geology and mining engineering and in years later, a doctorate in mining engineering from Colorado School of Mines, and a master’s in geology from the University of Arizona.
His interest in seeing the world took him to management positions in mining in Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Liberia, and Nigeria. When he relocated back to the United States in 1995 he maintained his keen interest as an amateur herpetologist by creating and patenting a computer program for identifying snakes.
Doris ‘Bunni’ Singer, 82
Doris “Bunni” Singer of University Park, Fla., formerly o f Westport and Weston, and New York City, died May 22, at Tarpon Point Nursing Home, Sarasota. She was 82.
The following was written on the day of her death by her son Barry, with an addendum by her son Tim.
‘My mother Bunni Singer, age 82, died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, May 22, 2015, in Sarasota, Florida, after a long struggle with respiratory illness. To all of us who knew her, she was a most amazing and remarkable woman.
Bunni was loving, devoted, and inspirational as mother to Tim and me, as grandmother to Benn and Chloe, as mother in-law to Betsy and Augusta, and as wife and life partner to Gary. She was an intensely loyal friend to many, and a friendly and interested ‘second mom’ to many friends of ours. She was intelligent, creative, inventive, a passionate believer in justice and human rights, and a great lover of nature.
Friday, May 29, 2015
A Gold’s Delicatessen Tribute
Customers at Gold’s Delicatessen, 421 Post Road East, today were greeted at the cash register with a photo of Kenneth F. Spigarolo, Sr. of Fairfield, manager of the iconic eatery for 40 years before his retirement, who died Tuesday at age 91. Gold’s opened in 1958 and Spigarolo started there in 1962. Current owner Jim Eclk is behind the counter.(See obituary here) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com