Saturday, March 31, 2012
Native Westporter John M. Bieling Jr., a.k.a. Junior, a plain spoken, garrulous grill man who kept memories of old Westport alive to all who came to Jr.‘s Hot Dog Stand on Riverside Avenue, died Friday at Bridgeport Hospital. He was 80.
Beiling, a Staples High School graduate and a lifelong school sports booster, opened the stand, actually a riverfront sit down restaurant with counter seats and tables, in 1976 with his late wife Carol Digisi Bieling, a Westport teacher.
Prior to opening the restaurant, Bieling, a Korean War veteran, tended bar at Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post down the road. Before that stint, he owned and operated The Jockey Club, a restaurant and bar in Saugatuck.
In 2004, the couple sold the restaurant to Jeff Arciola, a Johnson and Wales graduate, who remodeled the interior and revamped the menu from mostly burgers and hot dogs to offer more salads and healthier fare.
Born April 5, 1931 in Norwalk to the late John and Gertrude (Obrien) Bieling, Bieling grew up to be active in sports, playing football in the early 1950’s for the Advertisers and fast pitch, semi professional softball for the Raybestos Cardinals for which he was inducted into the Connecticut Fast Pitch Softball Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Laurel Athletic Club in Norwalk.
During the Korean war he served in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of sergeant and received the Silver Star and the Combat Infantry Medal. He was a member of the American Legion Frank C. Godfrey Post 12 , as well as the VFW and was a life member of the Society of the Third Infantry Division.
Survivors include one sister, Catherine B. Fratino of Westport, three brothers, Edward F. Bieling of Fairfield,. Gerald T. Bieling of Huntington,. Donald J. Bieling of Norwalk and many nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends in the Harding Funeral Home, 210 Post Road East, on Monday April 2, from 4 to 8 p.m.. All are invited to attend the funeral on Tuesday meeting directly at Assumption Church, 98 Riverside Ave. Westport for a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment with full military honors will follow in Assumption Cemetery on Greens Farms Road.
Those wishing to leave an on line condolence may go to http://www.hardingfuneral.com. Memorial contributions in memory of Bieling may be sent to Staples High School Athletic Dept., c/o Marty Lisevick, Athletic Director, 70 North Ave., Westport, CT 06880.
Posted 03/31/12 at 08:12 PM Permalink
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My deepest sympathy to the family of “Junior” . Who could ever forget Junior. He was an icon of Saugatuck and Westport. Sincerely, Marge Santella