Sunday, February 25, 2024



Ralph V. LaValla, 86

All services for Ralph will be private. Condolences for Ralph’s family may be left on line at Contributions in memory of Ralph in lieu of flowers may be made to Westport PAL 50 Jesup Road Westport, CT 06880 in honor of his son Greg Laval.

Mary E. Ashton, 95

Often known as Aunt Mary, she touched the lives of many and always strived to help others to be true to themselves and realize their potential through positive encouragement.

In 2017, she moved to Westport to be closer to her daughter and family.

She is survived by her three children, Jack Ashton, Rae Ashton, and Mary Grace (Ashton) Gudis, in addition to her son-in-law, Mark Gudis and three grandsons, Gregory, Elliot and Graham Gudis.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Stewart; parents, Frank and Grace Hollandsworth of Longview, Texas, and her granddaughter, Aimee Elizabeth Ashton.

Services were private, and interment will be at the Memory Park Mausoleum in Longview, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to The Dementia Care Program at Nuvance Health, Norwalk Hospital Foundation at 34 Maple St., Norwalk, CT 06856, or 203-852-2216.

Charles J.  Heiser, 87

While retired, he carved out a closing career in Westport real estate with Prudential. He was made a member of the Honors Circle Society and also became an Accredited Buyer Representative. Service before, during and after each sale became his hallmark.

He was a member of the National Association of Broadcasters, the Television/Radio Advertising Club, the National Association of Realtors, the Connecticut Association of Realtors and the Real Estate Buyer Agent Council.

As a community minded man, he was involved in the Good Shepherd House Soup Kitchens, an ardent supporter and fundraiser for Sunshine Kids, and participated in Hospital/Home Visitations to Ailing Patients.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Rose Blake Heiser, Weston and four children:  Jeanne Ann Heiser, East Norwalk, Kenneth C. Heiser (Ken) and his wife Jen, child Marshall Blake of Westport, Linda LaRusso and her husband William LaRusso, Norwalk, and Angela Rose Hare and her husband Timothy Hare, children Charley and Lucy, Shelton.

Chuck enjoyed evenings with Rose at Compo Beach watching the sunset, quality time with his grandkids often cheering them on at sporting events, and time at home tending his lawn with great pride.

He was an avid golfer, a coach to his children and grandchildren, and in his younger years a college baseball player. He was a person of quiet but strong faith, religious in his attendance at church and in his support of Notre Dame football.

Chuck made friends easily and often, always eager to express interest in the lives of others. He was loved by all who knew him, even briefly.    

He would want people to know that he cherished his faith and always strived to be a good son, husband, dad and grandpop. He would say – God bless you, love you, keep the faith and say your prayers.

Funeral services will be private to family Tuesday, July 21 at 10 a.m. at Assumption Church. Guests are welcome to attend the burial immediately following at 11:15 a.m. at Assumption Cemetery - 73 Greens Farms Road, Westport.

In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to:  Assumption Church.

Mark J. Marcus, Former Selectman, 79

Mark Jay Marcus of Westport and Jupiter, Florida, a former Westport selectman and official in local and state Democratic politics, died June 20 at Jupiter Pavilion Hospice Center after a valiant, nearly three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 79. Image
Mark Marcus: public servant. Contributed photo

Born Feb. 3, 1941, in New York City to Milton and Hilda Neuwerth Marcus, Mark’s lifelong interest in American history and government began at a young age. His was a generation that believed in the honor of being called to public service and he aspired to become president of the United States when he grew up.

Mark attended New York City public schools and was a student at the Dwight School when his parents moved the family to Westport in 1957.

After graduating from Staples High School in the class of 1958, he went on to the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where he majored in history and political science and became a campus leader in the Student Senate, which confirmed his future career in government, along with a number of his student government associates of that era.

Thomas P. Leyden, 82

Thomas Patrick Leyden of Westport and Westwood, Massachusetts, died July 11 from complications related to a long-term illness. He was 82. Image
Tom Leyden: longtime Westporteer Contributed photo

Known by many as “Big Red,” Tom leaves behind an adoring family, including his beloved wife of nearly 60 years, Rita Ann (Nuss), and his children, Margaret Mary (Leyden) Holda, of South Easton, Massachusetts, Patricia Marie (Leyden) Paul, of South Grafton, Massachusetts, and Thomas Patrick Leyden, Jr. and his wife, Nicole (Pezzola), of Westwood.

Also by his four granddaughters, Megan Elizabeth Paul, Abigail Marie Paul, Dahlia Anna Leyden, and Olivia Rita Leyden. He is also survived by his sisters-in-law, Dorothy (Nuss) Finnegan, Ellen (Nuss) Illuzzi and Edna (Nuss) Leyden, and brother-in-law, Hon. Thomas Nuss and his wife, Susan Case Nuss. He was a treasured uncle, friend, neighbor, coworker and mentor to countless people who appreciated his unwavering commitment to faith, family, tradition, and fun.

Born in Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre, New York on Dec. 21, 1937, Tom was the third and youngest son of Arthur Francis and Margaret (Long) Leyden. He lived with his brothers, Arthur Francis, Jr. and Lawrence Gerard, and his sister, Margaret Mary, in Rockville Centre before moving to Summit, New Jersey in 1942.

Orlando N. Romeo, 87

Orlando Nicola Romeo of Westport,  husband of the late Domenica Galimi Romeo, died July 11. He was 87. Image
Orlando Romeo: barber Contributed photo

He was was born in Reggio, Calabria, Italy on Sept. 25, 1932, and was the son of the late Carlo and Maria (Veracalli) Romeo. 

Orlando immigrated to America at the age of 16, where he became a master barber for over 65 years and was the proud owner of Romeo’s Barber Shop of Westport/ Norwalk.

He enjoyed going to work each day and interacting with his customers, who were more like family to him.

Michael Donnelly, 75

Michael “Mike” Donnelly of Seymour, Missouri, a former Westport resident, died June 8 during open-heart surgery. He was 75. Image
Mike Donnelly: 1963 Staples grad Contributed photo

He was born Dec. 22, 1944, in Johnson City, Tennessee, to Harry “Irish” and Lucia Donnelly (she was a former editor of the Westport Town Crier). He grew up in Westport, where he graduated from Staples High School in 1963.

Mike lived an extremely varied and interesting life full of learning, hard work and adventures.

A star high school and college athlete, college graduate, trade- school graduate, parent, motorcycle enthusiast, miner, logger, survivalist and farmer, diesel truck mechanic, youth specialist, outdoor and animal lover, family therapist, countless other descriptors and a great friend to many, he was a true “Renaissance man.”

Edward Gollin, 90

Edward Gollin, a former Westport resident, died April 9 at the Golden Hill nursing home in Milford. He was 90. A friend wrote the following obituary:

With stardust still sparkling in his bedroom slippers, beside his bed at the Golden Hill nursing home in Milford on April 9, Edward Gollin joined his 24 compatriots there who succumbed to COVID-19.

He would undoubtedly have preferred final curtain glamorous companions, in keeping with his lifelong Hollywood attachment to stars and stardom style. But final is final.

From his New Jersey childhood, where his mother babysat for her neighbor Mrs. Sinatra, followed by his early days at Fox Studios in Hollywood, when Harold Robbins was merely a superb accountant, he became addicted

Thomas K. Kolbusz, 67

Thomas (Tommy) Karol Kolbusz of Weston, husband of Dr. Lorraine Kolbusz,, died June 11. He was 67. Image
Thomas Kolbusz: developer Contributed photo

A lifelong resident of Fairfield, he moved to Weston 35 years ago.  He was co-vice president of the family business, Kolbusz Building and Land Developing, which did business in Westport. He was a member of the Home Builders Association.  

After retirement, he remained owner and president of Kolbusz Realty.  

His interests included many years of sport and tournament big game fishing in Central America with his father and brother. He participated in government catch and release programs in Central and South America, including the Amazon and Rio Negro.

Sam Brownstein, 90

Sam Brownstein, a former Westport resident, died July 1 at Jewish Senior Services in Bridgeport after a long struggle with dementia. He was 90.

The second child of Thelma and Chaim Brownstein, Sam was born in the coal mining community of Becco, West Virginia and spent his childhood in Charleston.

Sam left Charleston in the late 1940s to attend the University of Missouri, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in broadcast journalism. In between degrees, Sam served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Armed Forces.

After moving to New York City Sam met and married his wife of 59 years, Marilyn Freilicher Brownstein, in 1961. Always an entrepreneur, Sam started his longest running and most successful company, PRO Time Sales, that same year.