Monday, May 29, 2017
Sports writing legend Frank Deford, a longtime former Westporter, died Sunday at his Key West, Florida home. He was 78. He had been treated recently for pneumonia, said his wife, Carol Deford, who said she did not know the exact cause of death. DeFord is pictured giving a talk last June at the Westport Library. He was a 39-year Westport resident before moving to Manhattan in June 2013. He was the author of 19 books, an NPR “Morning Edition” commentator, and the man the San Francisco Chronicle dubbed “the Sinatra of sportswriting.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
Former Westporter Frank Deford, who died Sunday at age 78, was honored by the Westport Arts Advisory Committee in 2010. The legendary sportswriter was a 39-year Westport resident before moving to Manhattan in June 2013. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
By James Lomuscio
He didn’t arrive in a convertible, a sash across his breast and waving to cheering crowds. But Memorial Day Grand Marshall Ed Vebell, 96, held the overflow crowd riveted today in the Westport Town Hall auditorium.
Even though the parade had been canceled because of rain, and some felt cheated as the sun peaked in through the high, arched windows, Vebell did something few, if any, grand marshals have done.
He had attendees cheering for more of his stories as the artist-illustrator, Olympic fencer and town resident since 1953 turned European theater raconteur.
From his wheelchair, the man whose artistic, on-the-scene talents had brought to life the Nuremberg trials with pen and ink illustrations now at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Vebell proved his skill as a storyteller, too.
Scenes from today’s Westport Town Hall Memorial Day ceremony. Dave Matlow and Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com and WestportNow.com photos
Here is the text of First Selectman Jim Marpe’s address today at the Town Hall Memorial Day ceremony.
Good morning. It is an honor and privilege to be here today. First, I must salute the great gentleman we all love to call Mr. Parade, Bill Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council.
Bill has orchestrated this special event for the last 47 years, in a true demonstration of love and commitment to his town and country. And thank you to everyone who has a role in making this great parade and these ceremonies happen.
In just a few moments, we will hear from this year’s Grand Marshal, Edward Vebell. Ed is a World War II Veteran who joined the Air Force in 1942.
He was a member of the 904th Camouflage Unit and was dropped behind enemy lines to sketch enemy equipment and positions.
Westporter Ann Beers was among veterans taking part in today’s Westport Town Hall Memorial Day ceremony. Not only did she mark Memorial Day, but she also celebrated her 93rd birthday. Beers served in the Navy as a pharmacist’s mate during World War II, (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Ed Vebell, 96, grand marshal of this year’s Memorial Day parade, received a standing ovation from attendees at the Town Hall Memorial Day ceremony after the parade was canceled because of inclement weather. Vebell recounted his experiences during World War II and his work as the only artist allowed to cover the 1945, post-war Nuremberg, Germany war trials, which prosecuted members of the Nazi leadership. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com
It was standing room only today for the Westport Memorial Day ceremony at Town Hall. The one-hour event was substituted for the annual Memorial Day parade, which was canceled because of rain. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
A young guest at today’s Westport Memorial Day ceremony at Town Hall pays close attention to the speeches. The standing room only crowd included many young people as well as veterans and others. It was the second successive year the parade was canceled because of inclement weather. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Among youngsters attending today’s Westport Memorial Day ceremony at Town Hall were Girl Scouts and Long Lots Elementary School fifth grade students (l-r) Alyssa Lee, 10, Nina Lauterbach, 11, Lindsey Price, 10, and Paige Miller, 11. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
By James Lomuscio
Unlike last Memorial Day when he spoke via satellite from Afghanistan to his fellow firefighters, Westport Firefighter James Branson, a medic in the Naval Reserve, gave today’s address back home.
His words at the Fire Department’s memorial service at Fire Headquarters were sobering, fitting for a rainy day in which the parade had been canceled, the unofficial start of summer postponed.
Branson spoke about the 400,000 graves in Arlington National Cemetery, the 1.8 million service members killed since 1775, and the 52,000 wounded since Sept. 11, 2001, “physical and emotional wounds.”
“Today is for those who never came home and for those who brought the war home with them,” he said referencing those who “lost the final battle to suicide.”
Scenes from today’s Westport Fire Department Memorial Day ceremony. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com and WestportNow.com photos
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe today honored retired firefighter Denis Duffy with a commendation on his appearance at his 50th Fire Department Memorial Day ceremony. He was among a number of firefighters recognized for their service at the annual ceremony. “I miss hanging out with the guys and hope to see you next year,” said Duffy. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Despite cancellation of the Memorial Day parade, the Westport Fire Department Memorial Day observance went ahead as scheduled today. Town and fire leaders paid tribute to those who have given their lives in service to Westport and their country and thanked the 11 firefighters who are retiring from the department this year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
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