Tuesday, February 18, 2014
H. James Leavy, 83
H. James Leavy, of Westport died Feb. 10. He was 83.
Born on May 29, 1930, in New York, N.Y., he was the son of entrepreneur Samuel Leavy and social columnist Lena L. Leavy, and brother to predeceased Gerald Leavy, who passed away in 2012.
Too young to enlist during World War II but greatly motivated to serve his country, he accelerated his studies by graduating from the Milford Academy one year early and matriculated to George Washington University.
Upon graduation, he quickly enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant. He was stationed and fought in Korea during the first years of the Korean Conflict and was later stationed in Tokyo and Hawaii.
He was a proud veteran who always extolled the greatness of America and its promise of freedom and democracy around the world, his family said.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Lucy L. Draves, 73
Lucy L. Draves of Fairfield, a former Westport resident and wife of Donald D. Draves, died Feb. 12 at Bridgeport Hospital. She was 73.
Born April 2, 1940 in Norwalk, she was the daughter of the late John A. and Jane Cooper Lees. She has been a Fairfield resident for 51 years and previously had resided in Westport. She attended Roanoke College and graduated from the University of Bridgeport. She was former member of the Junior Women’s Club of Fairfield.
Survivors in addition to her husband include one son, John D. Draves and his wife Roberta of Homer, Alaska, one daughter, Elizabeth Jardine and her husband Patrick of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., one brother, John C. Lees and two grandchildren Jonathan and Samantha Draves.
Services and interment will be private and at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions may be made to a favorite charity. To leave an online condolence, visit http://www.hardingfuneral.com.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Roy Dickinson, 85, Had a Passion for Local History
By James Lomuscio
UPDATE (adds service details) Friends today described longtime Westporter Roy M. Dickinson, who died of heart failure at 85 Friday in Chester, as a prime mover of the Westport Historical Society (WHS), a Westport Library booster, Y’s Men member, and a low key, gray eminence with a knack for convincing others to volunteer.
Roy Dickinson: active community volunteer. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
“Roy would be very interested in all kinds of activities that would be for the betterment of the town, but he was low key about it,” said Wally Woods, who first met Dickinson in 1996.
Woods now lives in Westbrook, “one town over from Clinton,” where Dickinson and his wife Betsy bought a house in 2010.
Denise Woods, Wally’s wife, said that the Dickinsons also purchased an apartment in Chester at a retirement community known as Chester Village West “after Roy’s health started to decline.”
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Comedian Sid Caesar Dies at 91
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
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, February 05, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport