Theophilus A. Blackshear
He was known as the "Mayor of Green Street."
Theophilus A. Blackshear, 80, died Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2001 at Stamford Hospital. He was one of the city's most outspoken citizens and a champion for children, education and minorities, said those who knew him.
He died of respiratory failure, according to his daughter, Barbara S. Washington of Upper Montclair, N.J.
Known affectionately by friends as "T," Mr. Blackshear worked tirelessly to help others and make his West Side neighborhood and the city a better place to live, family and friends said.
"He was a person interested in helping people, and he was interested in the city of Stamford," said S. Beatrice Foreman, a member of the Stamford Board of Education from 1981 to 1990 and its president in 1989. Foreman grew up with Mr. Blackshear on the West Side in the 1930s.
"T was a very friendly, outgoing person," she said. "He was interested in people and he was very unselfish in his acts of trying to do for others."
Foreman said one of Mr. Blackshear's strongest beliefs was that Stamford schools should hire more black teachers and administrators to serve as role models for students.
Mr. Blackshear was born in Albany, N.Y., and lived there until 1929, when at the age of 9 his family moved to 12 Green St. He never moved from the house.
His daughter said he drew a lot of his interest in public service and education from his mother, Cornelia Spears Blackshear, who graduated from what was known as West Virginia State Normal School in the early 1900s.
One of Mr. Blackshear's childhood friends was Andy Robustelli, a Stamford native and member of the Football Hall of Fame who played for the Rams and New York Giants in the 1950s and 1960s.
"He was always working with people, involved with people, and whenever there were organizations that he was in, he was always very, very active . . . particularly with sports," Robustelli said. "He was a very helpful kind of person."
His long residence on the street and neighborhood activism led to his nickname, "Mayor of Green Street."
Mr. Blackshear served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Bronze Star for action behind enemy lines.
"He told me his lieutenant told him to go do something behind enemy lines," his daughter said. "When he got back, his lieutenant didn't believe he had actually gone behind the lines and done it. He essentially called my father a liar, and my father wasn't having any of that. So he took the lieutenant back behind the lines to prove what he had done, and that's how he got the Bronze Star."
Mr. Blackshear attended Hampton University in Virginia in 1938, then returned to Stamford, where he took a job at Pitney Bowes that started out as a one-week temporary assignment in the mail room. He retired from the company 35 years later.
Mr. Blackshear served from 1977 to 1991 on the Stamford Planning Board, helping steer the city through its longest building boom. He also served on the Republican Town Committee, which on March 2, 1997, awarded him the American Way Award, "conferred upon those individuals whose values and ideals uphold the promises of the Republican Party: equal rights, freedom, and richness in diversity."
He was a president of the Stamford Kiwanis Club and served on the boards of directors of the Stamford Child Care Center, the Salvation Army of Stamford, First County Bank and the Neighborhood Housing Association. He was on the advisory board of the Stamford Historical Society. He was a member of the parish of Union Baptist Church on Newfield Avenue for 67 years.
Mr. Blackshear was a member of the State Street Debating Society, a 54-year old fraternal debating organization that awarded him its Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award in 1993 for his continuing service to the community.
"He represented a part of the community with enthusiasm," said Herb Kohn, vice chairman of the debating society. "Everything he did was done in a positive way. He was a team player and although he felt strongly about issues it didn't polarize anybody.
"It always sounds corny, but it's true: He's the kind of guy you can't replace."
Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, a State Street Debating Society member who won the Outstanding Citizen Award last year, said Mr. Blackshear spoke with him on a regular basis, talking about issues, or complementing city employees who did good work.
"He just wanted to be useful and helpful and wanted to be a good guy, from all appearances," Malloy said.
In 1995, Mr. Blackshear was an unsuccessful candidate for the Board of Representatives in District 9, his only run for elected office.
In January 1997, Mr. Blackshear protested the city's neglect of four vacant houses it owned across the street from his house and adjacent to Hart Magnet School. The houses were bought to make way for a large addition to the school, the configuration of which Mr. Blackshear also opposed. The houses became run down, homeless people and drug users began to use them and the properties became dumping grounds.
Mr. Blackshear called on the city to demolish the homes and clean up the neighborhood. His protest drew wide media attention and the city solved the problem. He later withdrew his opposition to the way the city expanded the school.
He spoke frequently with District 10 city Rep. Philip Giordano, who lives a block away from Mr. Blackshear's Green Street home.
"He was always worried about the quality of life in the neighborhood," Giordano said. "He always wanted to be sure that things were going OK. He's going to be missed. He was quite an activist with the city of Stamford. He did a lot of good things and he had a lot of friends."
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, Theophilus A. Blackshear Jr. of Phoenix; and two grandchildren.
His wife, Josephine Blackshear, died Jan. 7, 1995.
Calling hours will be 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, 2001 at Union Baptist Church, 817 Newfield Ave., Stamford.
A funeral service will be at 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15, 2001 at the church.
Thelma Hendley, a lifelong resident of Greenwich, died Thursday, Jan. 11, 2001 at the Tandet Center in Stamford. She was 94.
Jean DiBattista, a Stamford resident, died Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2001 at home. She was 92.
Maurice S. Giordano of Cliffside Park,
N.J., died Friday, Jan. 5 at Passiac Beth Israel Hospital in Passiac, N.J. He was 65.
He died of post-surgical complications, according to his family.
Born Jan. 19, 1935, in Stamford, he was the son of the late Antonio and Maria Gasparini Giordano.
Mr. Giordano graduated from Stamford High School in 1952. He owned and operated several dry-cleaning establishments in Stamford and New Jersey. He was an avid boatsman and owned and trained horses for harness racing in Freehold, N.J. He lived in New Jersey for the past 18 years.
He is survived by his former wife, Elaine Low Giordano of Shelton; a son, Robert A. Giordano of Stamford; four daughters, Barbara M. Cavuoto and Marianne Lutkins, both of Shelton, Laura J. Chrostowski of Darien and Elizabeth Scherer of Hawthorne, N.J.; a sister, Angelina Santoro of Stamford; and eight grandchildren.
He was predeceased by a son, Sandy Giordano.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. today, Jan. 8, 2001 at Sacred Heart Church, 37 Schuyler Ave., Stamford.
Burial will follow in Queen of Peace Cemetery, Rockrimmon Road, Stamford.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, 372 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897.
Alfons Kulowiec, a Stamford resident for 51 years, died Sunday, Jan. 7, 2001 at Stamford Hospital. He was 88.
He died of natural causes, according to his family.
Born Feb. 10, 1912, in Bialystok, Poland, he was a son of the late Vincent and Rozalja Malinowska Kulowiec.
Mr. Kulowiec was an inspector at Pitney Bowes for 25 years, retiring in 1977. He was a member of the company's Oval Club. He served in the Polish army and fought at Monte Casino in World War II.
He was a communicant of Holy Name of Jesus Church and its St. Joseph's Brotherly Aid Society in Stamford.
He is survived by a sister, Romualda Osinska of Poland; and five cousins, Joseph Kulowiec and Walter Kulowiec of Stamford, Edmund Kulowiec of Bridgewater, John Kulowiec of Darien and Emily Symeon of Stamford.
He was predeceased by his wife, Bertha Kondraski Kulowiec; and three sisters, Stefania Kulowiec, Branislawa Kulowiec and Wladyslawa Kulowiec.
Calling hours will be 5 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2001 at the Gerald Bosak Funeral Home, 9 Pulaski St., Stamford.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2001 at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 369 Washington Blvd., Stamford.
Burial will follow in St. John's Cemetery, Darien.
Carolyn F. Otto
Carolyn Feldmann Otto, a Greenwich resident for 52 years, died Sunday, Jan. 7 2001 at home. She was 80.
She died of natural causes, according to her family.
Born April 2, 1920, in New York City, she was a daughter of the late Charles and Charlotte Feldmann.
Mrs. Otto was a communicant of St. Mary's Church in Greenwich.
She is survived by a son, John Otto of Greenwich; three daughters, Carolyn Suzanne Carter, Diane Otto and Karen Otto, all of Greenwich; and five grandchildren.
She was predeceased by her husband, John F. Otto Sr.
Calling hours will be 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2001 at the Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home, 31 Arch St., Greenwich.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2001 at St. Mary's Church, 178 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich.
Burial will follow in Putnam Cemetery
in Greenwich and will be private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the John F. Otto Faculty Fund, Brunswick School, 100 Maher Ave., Greenwich, CT 06830.
Carmela Sposito, a longtime resident of the Bronx, N.Y., died Friday, Jan. 5, 2001 at St. Joseph's Hospital in Yonkers, N.Y. She was 100.
She died of natural causes, her family said.
Born Oct. 14, 1900, in Bone, Algeria, she was the daughter of the late Antoine Mancuso and Cordina Gargiulo Mancuso.
Mrs. Sposito is survived by a son, George Sposito of Darien; a daughter, Yolanda Curcuruto of Commack, N.Y.; a brother, Auguste Mancuso of Marseilles, France; four grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
Besides her parents, Mrs. Sposito was predeceased by her husband, Victor Sposito.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2001 at St. John's Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien. Burial will follow at Spring Grove Cemetery
Calling hours will be 4 to 8 p.m. today, Jan. 8, 2001 at Edward Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien.