Monday, April 15, 2024



William ‘Billy’ Hess Jr., 52

William Hess Jr., of Trumbull, a fixture at Joey’s by the Shore at Westport’s Compo Beach, where he worked for more than three decades, died July 22. He was 52. Image
Billy Hess: a fixture at Joey’s at Compo. Contributed photo

A loving father, devoted husband, and known to friends as “Billy,” he was a quintessential jack of all trades.  Although he was a home improvement contractor by trade, many knew him from Joey’s.

With his ear-to-ear smile and helping hands, Billy touched everyone he met.  He was a volunteer extraordinaire, including for many years with Trumbull High School marching band and color guard.

More than anything else, being a father to his daughters made Billy’s life full.

Jean F. Beck, 79

Jean F. (Smith or “Smitty”) Beck of Westport died July 16 at home after battling pulmonary fibrosis. She was 79. Image
Jean Beck: “Witty, candid.” Contributed photo

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 30, 1938, she will be remembered by her family as a witty, candid, and spirited mother and grandmother, who loved to read, play Scrabble, walk on the beach, play and watch tennis, travel to distant lands, and belt out Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” at every Christmas gathering.

Her daughters, Christine, Kathleen and Sue, share her love of thunderstorms and will find comfort that she is now one of the angels bowling strikes in heaven.

Jean’s grandchildren, Chelsea, Robbie, Christopher, Sophia, Ruby and Griffin, will remember her always as the giver of candy, hugs, kisses, and the occasional non-parent-approved toy.

Inge Lange van Gelder, 94

Inge Lange van Gelder of Redding, a former Westport resident, died June 11 due to cardiac complications. She was 94. Image
Inge Lange van Gelder: Westport resident 63 years. Contributed photo

Born in Asperg, Germany, May 10, 1924, she was a Westport resident for 63 years.

She attended St. Christopher boarding school in Dobbs Ferry, New York and graduated from Croton-on-Hudson High School in 1940. She then attended the Art Students League in New York City where she developed a life-long interest in theater, especially the works of Shakespeare.

Initially employed as an executive secretary, she later became the assistant to Prof. Alan Lewis, director of the Shakespeare Institute, professor at the graduate school of the University of Bridgeport and author of “The Contemporary Theater” and “American Plays and Playwrights.”

Shirley C. Reynolds, 89

Shirley C. Reynolds, a former Westport resident, died July 17. She was 89.

She was born to Freda and George Cook on Oct. 18, 1928 in Wheeling, West Virginia. Following graduation from Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, with a degree in elementary education, she moved to St. Clair Township near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to teach second grade.

It was there she met her husband to be Bill, and was soon married. She became an Air Force wife, living in Alaska and later Dover, Delaware.

After their service days, they moved to Mount Lebanon near Pittsburgh where Bill was an airline pilot with United Airlines.

Neil Hardy Memorial Service on Sunday

A memorial service for Neil O. Hardy, an award-winning medical illustrator, will be held on Sunday, July 22 at 1 p.m. at the Westport Center for Senior Activities, 21 Imperial Ave.

Hardy, a 51-year resident of Westport, died June 3 at the Wilton Meadows Rehabilitation and Health Care Center after a brief illness. He was 88.

(See obituary HERE.)

Ray Katz, 89

Ray (Kriger) Katz of Westport died July 17 from complications of heart failure. She was 89. Image
Westporter since 1978. Contributed photo

She was born in Rokiskis, Lithuania on March 10, 1929, the daughter of the late Philip Kriger (Pesach Tsvi Kruk) and Riva (Kavalsky) Kriger.

In 1931 Ray immigrated with her family to Cape Town, South Africa. While studying law at the University of Cape Town she was elected to the Students Representative Council (SRC), became treasurer of the Law Society, and was elected Head Woman Student.

She was a founder and chairperson of the university’s Liberal Party. Ray was on the Executive of the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) which oversaw the rights of students and worked towards including black students, who were excluded from membership under the Nationalist apartheid government.

Francis Patrick ‘P.J.’ Mitchell, 70

Francis Patrick “P.J.” Mitchell died July 10 at Norwalk Hospital following a long illness. He was 70.

Born on Nov. 24, 1947 in Bronx, New York, he was son of Eileen Mallon and Frank Mitchell. 

After graduating high school, he pursued a number of interests, including surfing, music, writing, and painting.

P.J. was known for his beautiful oil paintings of seascapes and lighthouses, as well as abstract paintings. Innately talented and artistic, P.J. was self-taught in the disciplines he excelled at.

A. Van. H. Bernhard Celebration of Life Set for July 21 Image
Van Bernhard: longtime Westporter. Contributed photo

A Celebration of Life for A. Van. H. Bernhard will be held on Saturday, July 21 at 11 a.m. at the Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road.

All are welcome to join the family as it remembers Van and his extraordinary life.

Arnold Van Hoven Bernhard of Westport died March 7. He was 83. (See obituary HERE.)

Nadine Mayer, 84

Nadine Byrne Mayer, a former Westport resident, died April 28 after a battle with cancer. She was 84. Image
Nadine Mayer: 1952 Staples grad. Contributed photo

Born in Richmond, Virginia to William Callaghan and Alice (Farrar) Byrne, she attended boarding schools and transferred to Staples High School from the New York High School for Performing Arts her senior year.

A promising ballet dancer until sidelined by an accident, she danced with the burgeoning New York City Ballet under George Balanchine.

After graduating Staples class of 1952 and Southern Seminary College, she was recruited by famed impresario Sol Hurok, credited with popularizing ballet in the U.S., to squire visiting Russian dancers around New York.