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Obituaries

Obituaries

Monday, September 29, 2014

Nancy C. Mason, 90

Nancy Cartledge Mason, a lifelong resident of Westport and recently of Fox Hill Village in Westwood, Mass, died Sept. 23. She was 90.

Born in 1923, she was raised in Westchester County, N.Y., and attended St. Lawrence University. She married to Edgar J. Donaldson in 1945, and they had two children, Peter and Ann, who survive them.

Nancy was an avid golfer and she loved sailing and travel. In 1990, she married her second husband, Norman Mason, also of Westport, and they enjoyed many trips throughout the world together.

She was active in her community, volunteering for many worthwhile causes, including the Westport Garden Club, the library, Norwalk Hospital and others. She was adventurous, quick witted and fun-loving. She cherished her many friendships both in Westport and Westwood.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Shirley W. Land, 96

UPDATE (adds memorial service details) Shirley Wolfson Land, formerly of Westport, died July 13 in Pittsboro, N.C., where she had been living for the last six years. She was 96.

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Shirley W. Land:  active volunteer in Westport. Contributed photo

The wife of the late Alexander Land, she was the youngest of six children born in Chicago to CJ and Sabina Wolfson.

She attended the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana and graduated in 1939 with honors from the school of journalism. Post college she worked in New York City for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and at ad agency Kenyon & Eckhardt.

But the best thing to happen to her in New York was meeting her future husband, Alex, the love of her life. They had a whirlwind romance that continued for more than 60 years, a mutual adoration for each other evident throughout their life together, her family said.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

John Buchta, 73

John “Jack” Buchta of Shelton died Sept. 26 at Bridgeport Hospital. He was 73.

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John Buchta: headed Westport printing company.  Contributed photo

Born in Norwalk to the late Frederick and Elizabeth (Hogan) Buchta, he was the proprietor of Klein’s Printing Company of Westport for more than 30 years.

He was also a member of the Printing Industry of Connecticujt and a former member of the Sunrise Rotary Club in Westport. His favorite pastime was spending time with his family and vacationing on Cape Cod.

He is survived by his wife Rosemary (Pedwano) Buchta of Shelton; two devoted daughters Karen Martin and her husband Edward of Cheshire and Jennifer Meyers and her husband Steven of Oxford; his twin brother James Buchta and his wife Concetta of Norwalk; his sister Frances Manere and her husband Robert of Weston; four cherished grandchildren Steven, Amanda, Adriana and Kayla Meyers and several nieces and nephews.

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Ann Brannigan, 84

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Ann Brannigan: Broadway performer. Contributed photo

Ann Brannigan of Westport died Sept. 23. She was 84.

She was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. and graduated high school at the age of 15 to move to New York City along with her mother and grandmother to pursue a career in dance and musical theater.

She worked uninterrupted for more than 15 years dancing and performing on Broadway in such classics as “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Brigadoon,” and countless others including an early career stint as a Radio City Music Hall Rockette. 

After a very successful Broadway run, she transitioned her talent to a newly emerging forum, television where she was a regular for years on such memorable shows as “Your Show of Shows” and “The Jimmy Durante Show.”

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stephen M. Lessler, 92

Stephen Marvin Lessler of Fairfield, a former employee of Mitchells of Westport, died Sept. 23. He was 92.

A Fairfield resident for more than 65 years, he was the son of Philip and Ruth Lessler of New York.

He was the proprietor of Steven’s Clothes and the Outlet Men’s Store, longtime men’s retail clothing stores in Bridgeport and later in Fairfield. He also worked at Rodney’s Men Store in Bridgeport at the start of his career and at Nadelson’s and at Ed Mitchell’s of Westport at the end of his career.

He served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. He was a founding and lifelong member of Congregation Beth El in Fairfield.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Gregory R. LaValla, 51

Gregory R. LaValla, a longtime Westport resident, died Sept. 23 in Norwalk Hospital. He was 51.

WestportNow.com Image
Greg LaValla congratulates a player. Contributed photo

Born in Stamford on Dec, 27, 1962, he was the son of Ralph and Judith (Schneider) LaValla.

He played Westport PAL football until he attended Staples where he was a wrestler and graduated in 1980. He was a proud volunteer of the Westport PAL and has coached PAL football for 22 years and PAL basketball for five years.

He was on the board of directors of PAL football and was a part of Minuteman Race, the Special Olympics, PAL fireworks and he worked the PAL booth at the Westport Italian Festival for many years in Westport.

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Ruth G. Roth, 76

Ruth Geraldine (Gerry) Roth of Westport died Sept. 20. She was 76.

She was born to the late Gerald and Marie Schaffer Dec. 10, 1937, in Tell City, Ind. She graduated from Mt. Vernon High School 1956 where she was a member of the National Honor Society. She married the love of her life, Donald Roth in 1957.

At the age of 40, she earned a double degree in history and English literature while raising three children.

An avid reader and student of life, she loved to travel and learn about the world around her and was happiest when surrounded by her family,

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Marjorie J. Potter, 89

UPDATE Marjorie J. Potter of Lincoln, Mass., a former Westport resident, died Aug. 4 after a long battle with cancer. She was 89.

She was born in the Bronx, N,Y., and received a mathematics degree from Swarthmore College.  She and her husband Edwin raised their four children in St. James, N.Y. and then in Westport, where they lived for 40 years. 

She was an active member of both the First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, N.Y. and Saugatuck Congregational Church of Westport.

She was known for her selfless service to her community and church, her stand on issues of social justice, and her presence along with her husband in the English, contra, Scottish, folk, and square dance communities as a teacher and participant.

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Robert J. Driscoll, 82

Robert “Bob” J. Driscoll of Westport died Sept. 19. He was 82.

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Robert Driscoll: lifelong Westporter. Contributed photo

Born in Westport, the son of Daniel and Helen (Boland) Driscoll, he was a lifelong Westport resident. A graduate of Staples High School Class of 1949, he attended Clark University and was a partner with Driscoll & Sweeney and an associate at Ring’s End Lumber.

He served in the Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War as a second lieutenant. He was a lifetime member of the Coleytown Volunteer Fire Deptartment., an usher at Assumption Church, a football coach for P.A.L. and was honored by the Sportsmen Association of Westport.

A devoted family man, he attended many sporting events of his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed spending time at Compo Beach and vacationing in Vermont and Main.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Michael A. Gilbertie, 74, Former RTM Member

WestportNow.com Image
Michael “Mickey” A. Gilbertie, a three-term member of the Westport Representative Town Meeting (RTM) and longtime advocate of reducing town spending, died Friday at his Westport home. He was 74. (See obituary here) From 1969 to 1978, he was co-owner of Westport Taxi and in 1991 won a court suit after claiming the town forced the company out of business with introduction of its “Maxytaxy” service. In 2002, the RTM (with Gilbertie recusing himself) approved payment of $1,050,000 in final settlement. Gilbertie failed in petition drive attempts in 2002 and 2003 to cut town expenditures. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 12:25 PM
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Michael A. Gilbertie, 74

Michael Angelo Gilbertie of Westport died Sept. 19 at his home. He was 74.

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Michael A. Gilbertie: native Westporter. Contributed photo

He was born in Westport, the son of the late Lillian and John S. Gilbertie, Sr. 

He was a former co-owner of Westport Taxi, a member of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) for three terms (1999-03, 2005-07),  former president of the Westport Lions Club, an avid golfer and a longtime member of the Assumption Church, both as a choir member and an usher.

In addition to his wife, Beatrix DeFreese Gilbertie, he is also survived by his son Brian and daughter-in-law Cinzia of Reading, Mass., daughter Linda and son-in-law Tom Grace of Fairfield, stepdaughter Yvette DeFreese and step son-in-law Maurice Pluijmen of the Netherlands, stepson Jonathan DeFreese and stepdaughter-in-law Corey of Brookline, Mass..; five grandchildren, T.J., Billy, Ginevra, Alexandra and Charlotte, a brother, Anthony Gilbertie, and sister-in-law, Diane Gilbertie, of Westport, and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. 

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Armin A. Walker, 84

Armin A. Walker of Cos Cob, a former employee of the The Clam Box and Stauffer Chemical in Westport, died Sept. 13. He was 84.

Born in Erstfeld, Switzerland on Dec. 29, 1929, He was the son of Joachim and Frieda Bissig Walker.

After graduating from trade school as a pastry chef in Aarau, he moved to countries vast and varied. From Switzerland, he emigrated to Sweden, Venezuela and, ultimately, the United States, where he spread root along the banks of the Mill Pond.

As a pastry chef and cook, he worked in many places including J.J. Cassone’s Bakery, The Clam Box, Lou Singer’s Steakhouse, Stauffer Chemical Company in Westport, Nestlé in White Plains, St. Moritz Bakery, and the Greenwich Senior Center as head chef.

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Eva Popowich, 91

Eva Popowich of Westport died Sept. 15. She was 91.

A lifelong resident of Westport, she was the daughter of the late Bazil and Katie Popowich.

She is survived by her brothers Basil Popowich of Westport, William Popowich of Fairfield, and 11 nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by one brother Stephen Popowich. At her request and her family’s, all services will be private.

Posted 08:55 AM
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Phyllis J. Ohanian, 101

Phyllis Jane (Brown) Ohanian of Newton, Mass., a former Westport resident, died Sept. 10. She was 101.

WestportNow.com Image
Phyllis Ohanian: organist, teacher. Contributed photo

A piano teacher, accompanist and church organist, she spent many years at the Saugatuck Congregational Church in Westport and later worked as a teacher and school librarian in the Westport schools. She also wrote several books of children’s songs, of which the best known is “God’s Wonderful World” (1954).

She was the wife of the late John Ohanian, mother of Donald Cary Freeman of Heath, Mass., John David Ohanian of Newton, and Philip Andrew Ohanian of Bath, Maine.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete.

Posted 02:25 PM
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

James R. Conant, 60

James Rand Conant of Brookfield, a former Westport resident, died Sept. 13 after a long battle with ALS. He was 60.

WestportNow.com Image
James Conant: grew up in Westport. Contributed photo

Son of the late Barton C. and June K. Conant, he was born Sept. 14, 1953. He grew up in Westport and went on to study electrical engineering at Princeton University, graduating magna cum laude in 1975 with a B.S.E.E. degree. He graduated from UCLA in 1977 with an M.S.E.E. degree.

Through a career that spanned three corporations, he worked on radar seekerhead analysis and design, programmable signal processing systems for passive sonar, and software development and research, and came to hold two U.S. patents.

Active in the local community, his volunteer efforts included coaching Math Counts at Whisconier Middle School in Brookfield, youth hockey, and soccer, and working for Citizens for a Better Brookfield, Friends of the Lake, and ALS-ETF (Emergency Treatment Fund). In addition, he was an avid ice hockey player, water skier, and stock market investor, and was an excellent trumpet player in his college years.

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