Saturday, April 20, 2024


Shirley W. Land, 96

UPDATE (adds memorial service details) Shirley Wolfson Land, formerly of Westport, died July 13 in Pittsboro, N.C., where she had been living for the last six years. She was 96. Image
Shirley W. Land:  active volunteer in Westport. Contributed photo

The wife of the late Alexander Land, she was the youngest of six children born in Chicago to CJ and Sabina Wolfson.

She attended the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana and graduated in 1939 with honors from the school of journalism. Post college she worked in New York City for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and at ad agency Kenyon & Eckhardt.

But the best thing to happen to her in New York was meeting her future husband, Alex, the love of her life. They had a whirlwind romance that continued for more than 60 years, a mutual adoration for each other evident throughout their life together, her family said.

Like many women of her generation, she took time off from paid work to raise her three children. For Shirley, this did not mean not working, however.  During the time she lived in Westport (1961-2008), she was passionate about, deeply involved in, and chaired several organizations in and around Westport.

Those who knew her were uniformly astonished by her unflagging energy and enthusiasm. She felt it was important to give back to her community and she knew how to get things done, with style and humor. She was genuinely curious about the world around her and was a lifelong learner—voraciously reading, attending lectures, concerts, theater and dance performances.

Shirley loved people, and was known for her grace and generosity as a hostess. Together with her husband, Alex, she opened her home to others frequently, considering anyone she met a friend. She was at ease with new people, drawing them out and connecting them with others she knew.

She was great fun to be with and hungrily took in what life had to offer, challenging herself to learn French, take dance classes, learn tennis at age 50, and travel far and wide. 

As she met new people, Shirley continued to maintain friendships from early childhood on.  he was great at remembering birthdays, anniversaries and other important milestones, making those in her circle feel treasured.  Many in her group of family and friends considered her their bright spot or special someone.

She is survived by her three children: Carol (Barry Slobin) of Chapel Hill, N.C.; James of Bridgeport, Alix (Barry Netzley) of Portland, Ore.; two grandchildren: Chandra Hardy of Gainesborough, Fla., and Noah Slobin of Atlanta, Ga., and two great grandchildren. In addition she will be missed by numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Westport Library with a gathering immediately following at the Westport Center for Senior Activities, 21 Imperial Ave.

Contributions to honor Shirley’s memory may be made to the Westport Library, one of her great passions, either online, or to 20 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880.

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