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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Edna J. Yergin, Former RTM Secretary, Dies at 81

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Edna J. Yergin: Recorded RTM history for 18 years. (Pictured at retirement party) WN file photo
UPDATE Edna J. Yergin, secretary to Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) for almost two decades until her retirement in 2002, died Wednesday at her Westport home after a lengthy illness. She was 81.

Yergin was the sixth secretary of Westport’s legislative body and her 18 and a half years beginning in 1983 made her the longest to serve in that position. In the RTM’s 60-year history, only four members have served longer than Yergin’s tenure as secretary.

In a commendation read at Yergin’s last meeting on June 4, 2002, First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell noted that during her time serving the RTM, she had missed only three meetings.

“Assuming an average of 14 meetings per year, Edna has recorded and transcribed approximately 262 sets of minutes—an incredible number,” Farrell said.

Gordon F. Joseloff, now First Selectman who was RTM Moderator when Yergin retired, said at the time: “Edna’s dedication to our town is praiseworthy, and her commitment to detail, accuracy, and timeliness is remarkable.

“She has devoted numerous hours to insure that the RTM minutes are factual, thereby assuring a part of Westport’s history is preserved.  We are very grateful to Edna for her tireless effort and hard work on behalf of our community.”

Yergin, who worked for many years in the Probate Court office at Town Hall and who was noted for her legendary baking skills, told her last meeting that she was “truly overwhelmed” by the honors bestowed on her.

“I do not want to leave tonight without telling the members, from the very first meeting on Sept. 6, 1983, through all the years to tonight, of the very deep respect I have had for all of you,” she said.

Yergin said she wished that all the citizens of Westport would come to at least one meeting to see the members’ thoughtfulness, devotion and the conscientiousness with which they addressed every agenda item. 

“You are a remarkable group of citizens,” she said. “A little piece of my heart will always be with the RTM.”

She told them that on the next meeting date she would have mixed feelings.

“Half of me will say ‘hooray, I do not have to go to work tonight,’ and the other half will say ‘what is that stranger doing in my chair?’”

Yergin was a resident of Westport for 52 years.

Born Feb. 5, 1927, in New York City daughter of the late William and Hermia (Stephens) Jachens, she moved to Westport in 1957.

After leaving her RTM post, she continued part time as the archivist for the Westport Probate Court, retiring in 2006.

She was very involved over the years in the Saugatuck Congregational Church, where she served as Deacon Emeritus, and was also a former member of the choir, and the Woman’s Fellowship Memorial Committee.

She loved to bake and was well known for her decorated cakes which she contributed to many special occasions of her friends and neighbors.

Her love of animals meant delivery of home-baked dog biscuits to friends with dogs at Christmas time.

She also enjoyed needlepoint and crocheting and was responsible for the needlepoint kneelers and chair covers in the sanctuary of the Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Survivors include three daughters, Amy L.Y. Day of Westport, Meg Yergin of Mamaroneck, N.Y., Beth Abbott and her husband William of Madison; one son, James A. Yergin and his wife Karen of Warrenton, Va., and eight grandchildren.

Friends are invited to attend a memorial service Saturday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. in the Saugatuck Congregational Church, 245 Post Road East. Interment in Evergreen Cemetery will be private.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Saugatuck Congregational Church Endowment Fund.


Posted 01/29/09 at 05:15 PM  Permalink


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With the death of Edna Yergin, Westport has lost another one of its irreplacable treasures.  She will be missed by all of us who knew her.  My sympathy to her entire family.

A. Beasley, M.D.

Posted by Albert S. Beasley, M.D. on January 29, 2009 at 10:57 PM | #

I had the honor of working with Edna on the RTM from 1995 until her retirement. She was hardworking, patient (with those who were succinct and those who were not), and devoted. She showed tremendous respect for the process and little frustration. She had a sweet soul…a wonderful person…who gave much and took little…Those who worked with her appreciate the
trememdous legacy she left the town with the accurate historical preservation of the RTM minutes…My heart goes out to her family…as I know the loss will be tremendous…I only hope the blessing of having had such a wonderful mom will help ease the sorrow.

Posted by Lisa S Rome on January 30, 2009 at 02:02 AM | #

Since 1949 the best history of Westport resides in the RTM minutes. They are a very inclusive 25-30
pages that cover the debate. No one page “action
minutes” for the RTM—everything was there. She was a large part of my life in my 12 years on the RTM. Edna Yergin very graciously gave of herself to the Town of Westport.

Posted by Wally Meyer on January 30, 2009 at 03:46 PM | #