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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Tributes to ‘Mr Westport,’ Allen Raymond

Westporters paid tribute today to Allen A. Raymond, known to many as “Mr. Westport,” who died today at 91.

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Allen Raymond was honored at Green’s Farms Church on his 90th birthday.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lorraine Feliciano for WestportNow.com

First Selectman Jim Marpe released the following statement on the death of his longtime friend:

“With the passing of Allen Raymond, Westport has lost an exceptional member of our community. A vibrant, intelligent, giant of a man, Allen was a close, personal friend of mine but more importantly, Allen was Mr. Westport.  His name will always be remembered alongside the great contributors to our town.

“From his early days as a youngster, when he spent his summers in Westport, Allen knew Westport inside and out. For almost 70 years, his involvement and generous commitment to Westport was unquestioned and steadfast.

“In a column posted just last year, Dan Woog asked the candidates running for selectman which Westport citizen they admired most and three of the four candidates responded with ‘Allen Raymond.’ “He’s served on more boards, advised more town leaders, brokered more good and smart deals, and contributed more to every facet of life — educational, recreational, spiritual — than anyone since the Bedfords.”

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Allen Raymond spoke to the Westport Rotary Club, of which he was a member, in 2010 about growing up in Westport. His retrospective of his life in Westport included memories of visiting the town in the summer with his parents who resided in Buffalo in the winter. He recalled that he said at the time, “When I grow up, I want to live in Westport.” Raymond was presented with a surprise 87th birthday cake. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“In addition to being moderator of the Representative Town Meeting, Allen had, at various times, chaired the Board of Education, Republican Town Committee, Earthplace and the Norwalk Symphony. He served as president of the Westport Historical Society, Westport Library, the Westport Weston Family Y, and for over 50 years he has been president of the Compo Cove Association. For the past decade, he has been the official town historian.

“He was instrumental in the town’s purchase of Longshore. When United Illuminating Company wanted to build a nuclear plant on an island a mile off the coast of Westport, Allen helped lead the opposition to the plan and the town preserved the natural beauty of Cockenoe Island.  In 1967, Life Magazine heralded Westport’s acquisition of Cockenoe as one of the most significant conservation victories in the nation. 

“He was president of the new Westport Public Library during its planning and construction on Jesup Green in 1986. Of course, the Westport Weston Family Y would not be where it is today without Allen’s involvement.  It was more than appropriate that the road leading to the new Mahackeno Y was renamed Allen Raymond Way in January, 2012. 

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Allen Raymond, a former Westport Historical Society president, welcomed guests in 2009 to a Society exhibit—“Presidents, Politicians and Popular Heroes.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com

“I feel blessed to have known such a pioneer and to count him as a friend and mentor. The Town of Westport has been blessed to have had Allen Raymond as one of its leading citizens.”

Former First Selectman Gordon Joseloff issued the following statement:

“Allen Raymond was an iconic Westport figure whose influence on the community will long be remembered.

“I first met him more than 50 years ago as a young reporter for the Westport Town Crier. Westport was a changing town at the time and Allen Raymond was one of those who had long figured out that ours was a very special community.

“As a member of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ of then First Selectman Herb Baldwin, he was instrumental in getting the town to approve the purchase of Longshore Club Park. His accomplishments in the decades that followed only enhanced the town’s attraction to many who settled here.

“Self-effacing and always in good humor, Allen Raymond, with the assistance of his beloved Barbara, lived a life that brought joy to him and the many who crossed his path. Westport, a town he so dearly loved, would not be what it is today without Allen Raymond.

“There is a hole in Westport’s heart today, one that can only be filled by recalling how fortunate we were to have him among us for so many years.”

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Allen Raymond in 2008 led a Westport Historical Society tour of Saugatuck. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

Rob Reeves, president and CEO of the Westport Weston Family Y, sent this email on learning of Raymond’s death:

“I am sorry to share that our beloved and admired Allen Raymond passed away shortly after 4 a.m. this morning. As with everything else he did in his life, he was at peace with this and we all know he’s now with his beloved Barbara. I was at the house this morning and they are all doing well, having had such quality time with him this year that are all thankful for that, as am I.

“The memorial services will be held on Saturday May 17 at 2 p.m. I know every time I drive to our new Y at 14 Allen Raymond Lane, he’ll be in my mind and I’ll enter that lovely new building with a wide smile on my face. To say he’ll be missed is an understatement but I count myself among the many who were blessed to know him, spend time with him, and love him.

“Rest in peace my friend! I thought you’d like to have the photo that is attached (see above) to help make you smile today, and every day, because that is what he wanted us to do! Celebrate life and do something nice for someone every day. He told me that recently and I’ll continue to try and live with that in mind every day.”

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Posted 05/01/14 at 03:05 PM  Permalink



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Allen was also a pillar of the Green’s Farms Church community for decades.  He served in almost every possible capacity, including a stint as Moderator, the title given to the congregation’s lay leader.  During the church’s 300th anniversary celebration in 2011 Allen was a fount of historical information about the early church and town, which of course for many years were one and the same. He was a constant in church on Sunday mornings, second row from the front in the left center section.  His wisdom, generosity, sense of humor and untiring service made him a beloved member of the congregation he loved so much.  He will be sorely missed.

Posted by Diane Parrish on May 01, 2014 at 10:39 PM | #
 

Farewell Al.
A thoughtful, caring man , who gave generously to all he came in contact with. Yes, he will be sorely missed.

Posted by Isabelle Breen on May 02, 2014 at 02:18 AM | #
 

Allen was such a caring, thoughtful man who was devoted to all aspects of Westport - its history, environment, operations, culture, youth and its people.  He and Barbara gave so much to the community they loved.

In the 1960s, his hard work was critical to the survival of the Mid-Fairfield County Youth Museum, now Earthplace.  I know he and his family loved to walk the trails, where Barbara used to give guided trail walks. 

It has been wonderful in recent years to see him receive the public recognition of his work, which will continue to have ongoing effects for so many organizations.

Posted by Julia Mally on May 02, 2014 at 05:54 PM | #