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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ellen B. Zunick, 64

Ellen B. Zunick of Trumbull, an employee of the Westport school system, died Oct. 19 at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. She was 64.

She was born in Boston., a daughter of the late Leon and Charlotte Steiff, and was a longtime member of Congregation B’nai Torah of Trumbull. She was a paraprofessional with the Kings Highway Elementary School in Westport, and was a teacher with the Hebrew School at Congregation B’nai Torah.

She is survived by her husband, Robert Zunick, her children, Michael Zunick and his wife Amanda of Hawthorne, N.J., Jonathan Zunick and his wife Thea of Hoboken, N.J., and by her sister, Ronda Sirot and her husband Jerold of Peabody, Mass.; also by her grandchildren, Caleb and Sarah. She was predeceased by her sister, Sharon Steiff.

Funeral services will take place on Friday, Oct.. 21 at 11 a.m. at the Abraham L. Green and Son Funeral Home 88 Beach Road, Fairfield, with interment following at B’nai Torah Cemetery on Reid Street in Fairfield. Shiva will be observed at the Zunick residence in Trumbull on Saturday evening. Memorial contributions may be made to Congregation B’nai Torah 5700 Main Street, Trumbull, CT 06611.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lincoln Center Memorial Service for Noah Witke Image
A memorial service for Westport actor Noah Witke was held today at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Fellow former Staples High School Player Max Stampa-Brown remembered his close friend in front of hundreds of Witke’s friends, family and colleagues. Witke, 25, a 2009 Staples graduate, died Sunday in a fall from his Harlem rooftop (see WestportNow Oct. 17, 2016). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Actress Cecilia Hart Jones, 68 Image
Cecilia Hart Jones, wife of actor James Earl Jones, died Oct. 16 after a year of battling ovarian cancer. She was 68. She is pictured with actor Paxton Whitehead when they played husband and wife roles in the Westport Country Playhouse 2015 production of the Alan Ayckbourn comedy “Bedroom Farce.” Whitehead and Hart said they have played stage roles of husband and wife five times in four plays over the years. Hart met her real husband while working on the TV series “Paris” in 1979. She appeared twice on Broadway; in “Dirty Linen” in 1977 and played Desdemona to Jones’ Othello in 1982. In addition to her husband, their son, Flynn, and her brothers James A. V. Hart and William F. Hart III, survive her. Donations may be made in Cecilia’s name to: The Actors Fund or Hudson Valley Hospice (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Anita Alic, 74

Anita Alic of Ludlow, Vt., a former Westport resident, died Oct. 8 at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. She was 74. Image
Anita Alic: gardener. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Born in Chicago in 1942, she grew up in many places, mostly in Texas although no trace of Texas remained in her accent, and graduated in 1964 from Northwestern University with a BA in art history. She met husband Jim at Northwestern and they married in December of their senior year.

After a couple of years in Chicago, they moved to Birmingham, Mich, where children Michael and Amanda were born. In 1970, they moved to Westport, where they lived for most of the next 30-plus years.

Starting with a condo at Okemo in 1977, Anita and Jim fell in love with Vermont and built a home in Ludlow in the late 1980s, planning to eventually retire there. They finally made the move in 2002.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Lewis J. Burke, Jr., 85

Lewis Joseph Burke, Jr. of Trumbull, a former member of the Westport Community Band, died Oct. 13. He was 85.

The husband of Elizabeth Jean Wargo Burke was born and raised in Bridgeport, son of the late Lewis Burke Sr. and Ella Kovacs Burke, He had lived in Fairfield for 48 years before moving to Trumbull two years ago.

He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and later worked at the Bullard Company, Nash Engineering, and finally for Stop & Shop of Westport after his retirement.

He was a longtime member of the First United Church of Christ of Bridgeport and was the bass soloist in the church choir. He also played the trumpet and played with the Westport Community Band for 12 years.

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Gary Singer, 86

Gary Singer of Bradenton Fla, a former Weston resident who was co-founder of the Westport Community Theatre, died Oct. 15. He was 86. Image
Gary Singer: co-founder Westport Community Theatre. Contributed photo

He was born Nov. 27, 1929 in Norwalk. He was the son of Benn Singer and the former Sylvia Shilepsky, who, with her brother Maurice, opened Shilepsky’s clothing store on Westport’s Main Street.

A graduate of Norwalk High School and the University of Bridgeport, he was a proud veteran of the Korean Conflict.

His career in advertising – both with major New York agencies, as well as leading his own company – was augmented by his dedication to volunteer community and civic service.

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Staples Grad Dies in Fall From NYC Apartment Building Image
Noah Witke as he appeared in 2009 Staples Players’s “12 Angry Men.” Contributed photo

UPDATE Noah Witke, a 2009 Staples High School graduate, died Sunday in a fall from his Manhattan apartment building, the New York Daily News reported.

The 25-year-old actor who died after falling from the roof of his Harlem building had forgotten his keys at work and was trying to climb onto the fire escape to get in when he lost his balance and fell, police said, according to the newspaper.

“Witke had gone out to a party for the closing of the New York Film Festival with fellow actors and co-workers Saturday night, but forgot his keys and bag at Lincoln Center, where he was working for the cinematic celebration, police and friends said,” the Daily News reported.

It quoted witnesses as telling investigators Witke left a bar after having a few drinks around 4 a.m.

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Ernest K. Gazdik, 65

Ernest Kenneth Gazdik of Westport died Oct. 3. He was 65. Image
Ernest Gazdik: truck driver. Contributed photo

He was born on June 25, 1951 in Bridgeport, the son of the late Julius and Margaret Gazdik and brother Julius (Gus) Gazdik of Fairfield.

He attended Andrew Ward High School and was a truck driver for over 30 years.

He is survived by three daughters, Michele Convertito and her husband Dave Convertito of Oxford, Melissa Gazdik and her fiancé Mark Alves of Shelton, and Maria Gazdik of Stratford; also by three grandchildren, Lia, Sofia and Julianna Convertito along with several nieces nephews and great friends.

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Jane Gay, 94

Dorothy Jane Burns Gay of Florida, a former Westport resident, died Oct. 1. She was 94. Image
Dorothy Jane Burns Gay: former Westporter Contributed photo

Born Aug. 8, 1922 in Endicott, N.Y. to Ester Mae Wilson and Leland Ralph Burns, she was a graduate of Union-Endicott High School class of 1940.

In New York City, she pursued a modeling career, met and married her World World War II veteran husband, Samuel A. Gay in 1946, who worked on Wall Street his entire career.

She was a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, a wonderfully talented and creative homemaker, and supportive church member. After retirement, Jane joined her husband in becoming a full time missionary.

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Lois Dawers, 96

Lois Samuel (Cosden) Dawers of Piedmont, Calif, a former Westport resident, died April 20. She was 96. Image
Lois Dawers: former Westporter. Contributed photo

Born Sept. 27, 1919, she was a native of San Francisco, and 47-year resident of Piedmont. She was the daughter of Jacob (Jake) and Anna Samuel, and younger sister of Edna Samuel (DeRoy) Liebman. Bright, gifted, courageous and giving, she enriched the lives of others throughout her life.

An artist since childhood, she created many beautiful, meaningful paintings, both large and small. At Presidio Jr. High School, she was student body president and valedictorian.

After high school, she attended the San Francisco School of Fine Art (now the San Francisco Art Institute), where she won awards, and practiced commercial art. In 1940, on a trip to New York City with her mother and favorite aunt (Gussie), she was introduced at a dinner party to her future mother-in-law (Blanche Cohn), who quickly arranged for her son, William (Bill) Edward Cosden, to meet her.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Russell L. Brenneman, Pioneering Environmentalist, 88

Russell L. Brenneman of Westport, an environmental lawyer, teacher, and activist, died Oct. 10 at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. He was 88. Image
Russ Brenneman was honored in June in Westport for his environmental work. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

He was a pioneering member of the environmental movement, in which he was active for over half a century. 

From the movement’s infancy in the 1960s until his death, he devoted countless hours to the conservation and management of forests and open land, the control of air and water pollution, and the development of environmental and energy policy.

He was born Aug. 15, 1928 in Springfield, Ill. to Russell L. Brenneman, Sr., a banker, and Anita Seeds Brenneman, both of Columbus, Ohio.  He was raised mostly in Tucson, Ariz., and Columbus.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Helen L. Gordon, 96

Helen L. Gordon of Ridgefield, a former Westport resident, died Oct. 8 at Danbury Hospital. She was 96.

The wife of the late John W. Gordon was born in New Sharon, Maine on April 4, 1920,  the daughter of the late William and Marjorie (Reynolds) Haase.

She was a longtime resident of Westport before moving to Ridgefield eight years ago.

She worked for many companies over the course of several years including Pepperidge Farms, Famous Artists School and MBI.

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Saturday, October 08, 2016

Elizabeth R. Metsos, 82

Elizabeth Rigea Metsos of Westport died Oct. 7. She was 82. Image
Elizabeth Metsos: accomplished artist. Contributed photo

Born and raised in Bridgeport, daughter of the late Dimitrie and Athena Adam Rigea, she moved to Westport and lived here for more than 20 years. She worked for the Ally Industries Co. of Bridgeport for more than 25 years until her retirement.

She was a very outgoing and friendly person, she enjoyed cooking for family and friends, she was an accomplished artist creating oil paintings and especially loved world travel.

She will be fondly remembered as a wonderful sister and friend who lived life to the fullest. She will be greatly missed.

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Friday, October 07, 2016

Linda K. Ducruet, 61

Linda Koury Ducruet of Fairfield, a former Westport resident, died Sept. 28 at home. She was 61. Image
Linda Ducruet: executive recruiter. Contributed photo

She will be remembered for her luminous intellect, flair for language, irrepressible sense of humor and effortless entertaining.

Her legacy lives on through friends and family for whom Linda was a beloved advocate and confidante.

She graduated from Greens Farms Academy in 1973 and Smith College in 1977.

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Thursday, October 06, 2016

Alice V. Goodman, 89

Alice V. Goodman of Westport died Oct 2. She was 89. Image
Alice Goodman: fashion designer.  Contributed photo

She was born Feb. 21, 1927 to the late Jules and Louise Florent van der Becq of Manage, Belgium, where she grew up during World War II.

Her entire family and village were used as human shields by the French Army in a forced march for six weeks as the army retreated through Belgium at the start of the war.

Following this six-week period, the German Army caught up with the French Army and took her and her family and others, loading them on to trucks, which they thought were on their way to the concentration camps, despite being Catholic. Instead, they were returned to Manage and instructed to return to their homes.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Sean K. Romano, 41

UPDATE (adds services) Sean Kelly Romano of Indeo, Calif., a former Westport resident, died Sept. 18. He was 41. Image
Sean Romano: golf was his passion.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

He was born in Norwalk on April 27, 1975, the son of Patricia (Kelly) Romano and the late Joseph “Bo” Romano. He attended Assumption School in Westport, Fairfield County Day School, and Staples High School.

He graduated from Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island. Having grown up at Longshore, it easy to tell why golf became his passion in life.

His passion became his career leading him to Florida and eventually California where he was general manager at the Indian Palms Country Club and Resort.

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Ronald A. Grasso, 75

Ronald Allen Grosso of Westport died Oct. 2. He was 75. Image
Ronald Grasso: fashion industry executive.  Contributed photo

Born Aug. 17, 1940 in Baltimore, he was the son of Silvis Grosso and Bertha Hightowitz. Hw discovered his true passion within the fashion industry while working at the Hecht Company and pursued his dream by moving to New York City in 1968, where he had a long and successful career developing and producing outerwear products for many prominent companies.

Fond of saying, “I traveled the world,” he spent his early 30s shopping the world’s fashion capitals for the latest trends. He had a gift for predicting trends. In 1975, he joined Utex Fashion Group as sales manager where he worked until he retired in 2012.

In 1992, he moved to Westport with his wife and oldest daughter. Soon after, his second daughter and son were born. Throughout his life he often mentioned how his children were three of the best things that happened to him.

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Saturday, October 01, 2016

Carolyn Hughes, 72

Carolyn Hughes of Westport died Sept. 30. She was 72. Image
Carolyn Hughes: loved to entertain. Contributed photo

The wife of, Neil Gerhardt was born in New Rochelle, N.Y to William and Mary Hess. The oldest of five children she was proud of her Catholic education. She attended Blessed Sacrament, Mother Elizabeth Seton, Good Counsel College in White Planes N.Y., and received a master’s in English from Iona College.

She was known to everyone as “Billie,’  a nickname given to her because as a child she looked like her father. She was the first person in her family to receive a college degree and felt education was important. Both of her children graduated from excellent colleges.

She loved to entertain, throw parties and made a special event out of every holiday with her creative touches including making her Thanksgiving guests dress as either a pilgrim or indian. She was proud of being Italian and accentuated her dialogue with Italian phrases.

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Richard G. Bryan, 78

Richard G. Bryan of Seattle, a former Westport resident, died Sept. 27. He was 78.

He was born near Philadelphia PA and lived in Cincinnati, Franklin Lakes N.J., and Westport before moving to the Seattle area in 1993 and retiring to Whidbey Island in 2002.

He graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1960 and earned an MBA from the University of Cincinnati in 1966.

His career was spent in marketing, sales, and general management. He held executive positions with Procter & Gamble, the American Cyanamid Company, AT&T Wireless, and most recently with the Marketwave Corporation (now part of Accrue Software Inc.) in Seattle.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Joan Mahoney

Joan Carroll Mahoney of Naples, Fla., a former Westport resident, died Sept. 22. Image
Joan Mahoney: former Westporter. Contributed photo

She was born in Fall River, Mass. Most recently she was a resident of Aston Gardens in Naples after living in Marco Island, Fla. for 23 years. Prior to that, she lived in Westport.

She graduated from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.  A loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend too many, she always smiling, known to see the good in everyone and loved being around her family and friends.

She married Daniel A. Mahoney Jr. in August 1949 in Fall River. They were married for 61 years before his death in May 2010.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

James T. Hurley, 84

James Thomas Hurley, 84, of Concord, Mass., formerly of Westport, died Sept. 26 at Emerson Hospital in Concord.  He was 84. Image
James Hurley: GE executive. Contributed photo

The husband of the late Patricia Anne (McKenna) Hurley was born in Glen Cove, N.Y. on Jan. 28, 1932, the son of the late John Thomas and Della Josephine Hurley. 

He received a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University in New York and a master’s degree from Fairfield University. He also served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

He spent the majority of his career working for General Electric Corp. He worked in multiple roles in various GE locations including San Jose, Calif., Frankfurt, Germany, Schenectady, N.Y., and Stamford. 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Leona E. Feeney, 97

Leona E. Feeney of Needham, Mass., a former Westport resident, died Sept. 24 at Care One Nursing Home in Northampton. She was 97.

She was born Feb. 21, 1919, in St Albans, Vt., ,the daughter of the late Yves and Bessie Enizan. After graduating from Bellows Free Academy in 1936, she moved to Westport where she met and married Charles “Charlie” Feeney in 1938.

A self-taught bookkeeper, she was employed at Greenberg’s Department Store in Westport for 25 years and then as an office manager for a local dentist for an additional 15 years.

Known by friends and family as Lee, she resided in Westport until after the death of her husband in 1975 and moved to Needham. She continued to work in the retail business at Calverts in Needham until she retired at the age of 80.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mike Kulich, 29

Mike Kulich, a 2004 Staples High School graduate who became a top executive in the adult entertainment industry, died late Friday or early Saturday, Adult Video News (AVN) reported. He was 29. Image
MIke Kulich: 2004 Staples grad. File photo

It quoted longtime friend Rob Russell as saying that he found Kulich’s body at around 9 p.m. Saturday in his Los Angeles living room after his fiancée, Erin Clark, called Russell concerned that she had not been able to reach Kulich in about a day.

Clark and Kulich were scheduled to be married next month, and Russell was to serve as Kulich’s best man, AVN said.

“An official cause of death has not been issued, but Russell said Clark had suspected that Kulich was having a drug relapse,” the report said.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jack Rotman, 92

Jack Rotman, a longtime Westport resident, died Sept. 20 in Fairfield. He was 92. Image
Jack Rotman: longtime Westporter. Contributed photo

He was born Jan. 24, 1924 in Providence, R.I. to Abraham and Gertrude Rotman two minutes after his twin brother, Stanley.

He graduated from Hope High School and Brown University.As an Army lieutenant in World War II, he served in Japan and the Philippines.

For many years, he was president of Industrial Marking Supply, a distribution company he founded. He was an avid tennis player and loved to travel.

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Keith R. Verges, 55

Keith Robert Verges of Dallas, Texas, a former Westport resident, died Sept. 12. He was 55. Image
Keith Verges: attorney, physicist. LinkedIn photo

He was born Feb. 7, 1961 in Norman, Okla., grew up in the Northeast and graduated from Staples High School in Westport. In just three years of attendance, he earned three bachelor of science degrees from Southern Methodist University in mathematics, chemistry and physics, becoming the first recipient of the school’s Frank C. McDonald Memorial Award in Physics in 1981.

He went on to earn his master’s degree in applied physics from Princeton University. During this time, he worked as a project physicist at Teledyne-Geotech and spent a cold summer as part of a team installing the first seismic station on the continent of Antarctica in 1985 on a government contract for which he was awarded the Antarctica Service Medal from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Also during this time, he met his future bride Laurie, who joined him on his many adventures in life. Though he loved his work in physics, he felt the need to change course and decided to end his studies towards his Ph. D and return to SMU to pursue a law degree.

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Julia E. Juhasz, 77

Julia E. Juhasz of Manchester Center, Vt., a former Westport resident, died Sept. 20 at Equinox Terrace assisted living facility in Manchester Center. She was 77.

She was born in Szeged, Hungary on May 12, 1939, the daughter of the late Janos Koncz and Julia Koncz, and attended local schools. She came to the United States in 1956 and ultimately settled in Westport.

She worked as a quality control engineer in Connecticut for many years. She started her career at Norden Systems, followed by running an automotive business with her late husband Alex Juhasz. She finally retired from DataComm Management Sciences.

She enjoyed gardening, carpentry, skiing and spending time with her family.

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Thomas Ikeda, 92

Thomas Ikeda of Sarasota, Fla., a former Westport resident, died Sept. 9 after a long illness. He was 92. Image
Thomas Ikeda: worked for Norden Systems. Contributed photo

Born in California and educated in Japan, he returned to the United States after the war and graduated from Columbia University with a M.Sc. in electrical engineering. He married Akiko in December 1954, and they were active members of the church and community in Westport.

He retired after a 36-year career with Norden Systems, and eventually he and Akiko divided time between Westport and Sarasota.

A man of few words, Thomas conveyed his love to his family and friends through his actions and steadfastness. He was an avid bridge player, audiophile, photographer and sports fan.

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Kenneth J. Grant, 65

Kenneth J. Grant of Bethel, a former Westport resident, died Sept. 19 in Redding. He was 65.

Born Jan. 18, 1951 in Westport, he was the son of the late Edward and Rita (Cullen) Grant.

He was a fourth generation Westporter and lived in town for more than 30 years and then moved to Fairfield, where he lived for 30 years and has resided in Bethel for the last five years.

He retired from West Tech Security, where he worked for more than 30 years as an alarm tech and more recently worked for Meadow Ridge Assisted Living in Redding, where he was a driver for the residents.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Christian M. Bernegger, 56

Christian Martin Bernegger of South Norwalk, a former Westport resident, died Sept. 17 at Norwalk Hospital.  He was 56.

He was born in Jackson Heights, N.Y. on Feb. 12, 1960 to Loretta and Max Bernegger. He was raised in Westport and graduated Staples High School in 1978.  He earned a bachelor of science degree from Tulane University in 1982.

He was an oil trader who worked in Hamburg, Germany. He then moved to London to open and run an office for his father’s company, First National Crude Oil, based in Norwalk. He moved back to the United States in 1986 to help his father run First National Crude Oil.

He excelled in athletics in his youth and as an adult was an excellent chef who was passionate about preparing meals for family and friends.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Eugene R. Bayliss, 89

Eugene (Gene) Ransom Bayliss of Milford, a former Westport resident and Broadway director and choreographer active with George Weigle in Staples High School productions in the 1970s and ‘80s, died Sept. 15 at Chandler Hall Hospice Pavilion, Newtown, Pa., from the effects of Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s dementia. He was 89. Image
Gene Bayiss: director, choreographer. Contributed photo

He was the last remaining of 11 children, born on March 28, 1927 to John and Catherine Bayliss in Birmingham, Ala. Together with his wife of 56 years, Madeline Deasy Bayliss, he was the proud dad to six children, granddad to 15 grandchildren and great-granddad to four great-grandchildren.

These families are: Randy (partner Deidre) and children Elizabeth, Christopher and Gregory; Madeline (partner Tom) and children Douglas (wife Kyoko) and Meredith; Philip (MD), wife Peggy and children Cathryn Marsala (husband Jaime and children Jack and Maggie), Ashley Markey (husband Casey and children Taylor and Ryan) and Philip (wife Amy); Maura White, husband Jim and son Casey; David, and children Allison (deceased), Christine, James and Ryan; and Stephen, wife Elissa and children Declan and Kendall.

Gene had his eyes on Broadway even before he left Birmingham for the Northwestern University’s School of Communication Speech and Theater program. He and Lola Mae Jones Coates graced the floor of the Steeple Arts Academy of Dance in Birmingham.

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