Lester Wiggins, 75, operated TV store in Ridgefield
Lester Allen Wiggins of Faith, N.C., who operated a television store in Ridgefield for many years, died Saturday, Sept. 2, at his home. He was 75 years old and the husband of Arline Taylor Wiggins.
A native of Forsyth County, N.C., Mr. Wiggins was born on March 19, 1925, a son of the late Burnie H. and Ollie Elizabeth Spaugh Wiggins. He attended Forsyth County schools.
Mr. Wiggins moved his family to and built a home on Olmstead Road in Redding in the late 1950s, and his children attended Redding public schools. He was part owner and manager of Ridgefield Television from the mid-1960s until 1984.
Since then he had lived in Faith where he was a member of Faith Lutheran Church and Faith American Legion Post 327, for which he had helped organize the Legion graveside service team. He was also a member of the Overseas Masonic Lodge 40 and had received his 50-year pin. He had retired as a bus driver for the Salisbury transit department.
Survivors include his wife, whom he married Oct. 18, 1947; a son, Richard Allen Wiggins of Jacksonville, Fla.; daughter Susan W. Masten of Granite Quarry, N.C.; a brother William Richard Wiggins of Sanford, Fla.; a sister, Bernice Alene Gryner of Winston-Salem, N.C.; half brother Rabron Wiggins of Indianapolis, Ind.; stepmother Annie Kunje of Winston-Salem; and two grandchildren. A son, James Allen Wiggins, died Oct. 19, 1987.
Services took place Wednesday, Sept. 6, at Faith Lutheran Church. Burial was at the church cemetery, with military rites by Faith American Legion Post.
Contributions in his memory may be made to Faith Lutheran Church, Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 669, Faith, NC 28041.
Lynda Wiggins, former teacher who loved Ridgefield
Lynda Anne Kennedy Wiggins of 224 North Salem Road, a former teacher for whom Ridgefield was “God’s country,” died Saturday, Aug. 19, at Danbury Hospital. She was 55 years old.
Ms. Wiggins had lived here in the 1960s and early 1970s, then moved to Minnesota. When she returned to Connecticut some years ago, she lived in New Fairfield and Newtown until she could find the right place here. That happened two years ago.
“She was always in love with Ridgefield,” said her daughter, Christine Wiggins of Seneca, S.C. “She always wanted to come back. ‘Ridgefield is God’s country,’ she would always say.”
A native of Tulsa, Okla., Ms. Wiggins was born on Nov. 17, 1944, the daughter of Geraldine Kennedy of Ridgefield and the late Rev. William T. Kennedy, who was a minister in New Fairfield. She grew up in Rye, N.Y., and graduated from the University of Bridgeport. She also held a master’s degree in business administration from the Ancell School of Business at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
From 1968 to 1973, while living in Ridgefield, she taught social studies at Wilton High School. She retired from teaching to raise a family. “She was very family oriented,” said Ms. Wiggins.
The Wigginses lived in Fergus Falls, Minn., for 12 years before moving back to Connecticut. She rented here briefly before moving to New Fairfield, then Newtown.
Her interests included politics and she was active as the adviser for the Young Republicans Club at Ridgefield High School in the 1980s. She also worked for several GOP candidates. “She loved history and she loved politics,” her daughter said.
“She was fabulous at sewing,” Ms. Wiggins said, noting that when she and her brother were young, their mother made most of their clothing.
Ms. Wiggins was active in the First Congregational Church and in its Saturday evening series of contemporary services. “She was very religious,” said her daughter.
She also enjoyed reading, especially books on history and politics.
Besides her daughter and mother, Ms. Wiggins is survived by a son, John Samuel Wiggins of New York City and a brother, Thomas Kennedy of Mora, Minn. Charles Wiggins, her former husband, also survives her.
The Rev. Dale Rosenberger will conduct a memorial service today, Thursday, at 4 p.m. at the First Congregational Church.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Datahr, 135 Old State Road, Brookfield, CT 06804.
Vernon Welsh, 92, owned historic houses here
Vernon M. Welsh of Old Lyme, an executive with General Dymamics who once owned two of Ridgefield’s oldest houses, died at his home on Monday, Sept. 4. He was 92 years old and the husband of the late Glenna M. Welsh, a Ridgefield historian.
The Welshes came to Ridgefield in the 1950s, buying the Keeler Tavern on Main Street, which they worked on restoring. In 1961, they moved to the “Hauley House” at the corner of Main Street and Branchville Road, believed to be the town’s oldest house, dating from 1713.
Mrs. Welsh wrote the book, The Proprietors of Ridgefield, in 1976. She died not long after it was published, and Mr. Welsh moved to Old Lyme more than 20 years ago.
He served as chairman on the Old Lyme Historic District Commission and his home on Lyme Street is on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District Property. He also was past vice president of the Library Board in Old Lyme.
Mr. Welsh had been vice president of communications at General Dynamics and was one of three editors of Dynamic America, a history of General Dynamics Corporation. He also was a consultant for CEIR and Boeing Corporation before he retired.
He graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1931.
Mr. Welsh was an avid reader and writer, well versed in literature, politics, religion, and world events and “was a committed member of his community, maintaining his interest in historic preservation,” said a family spokesman.
He also restored the Cranberry Cottage, a summer home in Chatham, Mass., which the family enjoyed for many years.
“He had a keen and loving interest in his large family, his friends and associates and their activities,” said the family spokesman.
Mr. Welsh is survived by his wife Marcia Welsh of Old Lyme; a daughter Jane Hamlin of Austin, Texas; a son Michael Welsh of Helena, Mont.; a daughter Suzy Nickerson of Chatham, Mass.; a son Mathew Welsh of Alexandria, Va.; nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Services will be private. Donations may be made in his name to a charity of one’s choice.
Katie E. Thorne, Ridgefield native, longtime Norwalker
Catherine “Katie” E. Thorne, a Ridgefield native, died Oct. 13 at the home of her daughter on Woodview Drive, Brookfield. She was 81 years old.
Born in Ridgefield on Nov. 27, 1918, a daughter of the late Michael and Flora E. Meade Scaglia, she was educated in Ridgefield schools and settled with her husband, the late Charles W. Thorne, in Norwalk, where she lived most of her life.
She was employed as a machine operator for Beiersdorf Manufacturing Company in Norwalk.
Mrs. Thorne attended the Grace Christian Fellowship and the First Assembly of God in Newtown and Brookfield.
Besides her daughter, Jean Carpenter and her husband, John, she is survived by her son, Charles Thorne Jr., of Pampa, Texas; grandchildren, David, Gary, John and Carol Carpenter, Alex and Wayne Kozak and Tania Thorne; a great-grandson Gary Carpenter Jr.; a brother, Michael Scaglia of Ridgefield and a sister, Lillian Stevens of Redding; and several nieces and nephews. Her daughter, Charlotte Kozak, died before her.
The Rev. Barry Fredericks of the Grace Christian Fellowship led graveside services at Riverside Cemetery, Norwalk on Tuesday.
Kenneth Thalberg, 61, active in temple
Kenneth B. Thalberg of Prospect Street died Tuesday, Oct. 17, after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61 years old.
Born Sept. 24, 1939, he grew up in New Haven and lived there and in Woodbridge for many years. He was a graduate of Quinnipiac College. He was an active member of B’nai Jacob Synagogue in Woodbridge, holding numerous positions over the years, including president of the Men’s Club, Committee Chairman of The High Holiday Ushers, and as a board member of the temple. Before his illness he held a sales position with Grolier Publishing in Danbury.
He is survived by his daughter Debbie Thalberg of Stamford; a son and daughter-in-law, David and Marisa Thalberg of New York City; sister Marjorie Sydney of West Haven; and his beloved companion of many years, Sheila Pearl of Ridgefield.
He loved his family and valued his many friendships, including Sheila’s two daughters and sons-in-law, Jamie Pearl and Misu Zaharia of Rowayton, and Jill and Rich Farrell, and their son Kaleb, of Burlington, Vt.
A service will be held Thursday, Oct. 19, at 1 p.m. at B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge.
Contributions may be made to The American Cancer Society or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Richard Tango, headed graphics firm
Richard M. Tango of 62E Heritage Village, Southbury, a retired graphics company president and former Ridgefielder, died Saturday, Oct. 7, in Southbury after an extended illness. He was 70 years old and the husband of Marjorie A. O’Hara Tango.
Mr. Tango was born in New York City on Sept. 13, 1930, a son of the late Anthony and Grace Taddonia Tango. He received his bachelor’s degree from Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa., and served with the Air National Guard during the Korean Conflict.
A longtime employee with Vernon Graphics in Elmsford, N.Y., Mr. Tango served as president for 17 years. He was a former member of the Board of Directors of Halliburton Corp. of Dallas. Mr. Tango most recently worked for Baymont Inc. of Tampa, Fla., stationed in Singapore.
Mr. Tango moved here from Pennsylvania in 1969, living on Pocconock Trail. The Tangos left in 1988 and spent four years in Singapore until he retired to Southbury in 1995.
He was a member of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists.
Besides his wife, survivors include two sons, Richard R. Tango and his wife, Ginny, and Todd M. Tango and his wife, Cathy, all of Ridgefield; two brothers, Leonard Tango of Smithtown, N.Y., and Robert Tango of Orlando, Fla.; two sisters, Geraldine Albano of Carmel, N.Y., and Elaine Trainor of Mahopac, N.Y.; and five grandchildren, Caitlin, Lauren, Molly, Connor and Lilly Tango, all of Ridgefield.
Mr. Tango was predeceased by a daughter, Wendy Ann, in May 1984.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Wednesday at St. Mary’s Church. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in Mr. Tango’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association of Fairfield Country, 607 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851-1758.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Ed Sarath, spiritual seeker, author
Edward Noah Sarath, a spiritual seeker who completed college at age 72 and then wrote two books, died Oct. 7 at home on Lakeside Drive, surrounded by his family — Florence, his wife of 50 years, seven children, and eight grandchildren.
“He was a social and spiritual visionary, and displayed a deep conversance with Eastern and Western thought in his life, work and interactions,” wrote his son, Ed, in a biography passed out at services that drew well over 100 people to Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church Tuesday. “He was a longtime and devoted practitioner of transcendental meditation, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Brahmananda Saraswati.”
Tuesday’s services blended Christian worship with remembrances and tributes by family members and friends, and music — a Chopin piano piece, and jazz on flugelhorn. His son Ed, a jazz musician, had been playing for him at the time of his death, which was anticipated after a year-long battle with cancer.
Born March 7, 1922, he grew up in Depression-era New York. He was attracted to Communism as a young man, and though he lost faith in it he retained a lifelong interest in causes of social justice. Later, he was mildly politically active, often participating in caucuses of Ridgefield’s Democratic Party.
In World War II he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in North Africa and Italy. After the war he worked a variety of jobs and at a General Motors plant met his wife, Florence. They were married in 1950 and moved to Ridgefield in 1957. He drove a bread truck, studied electronics and built a career in that field. He was with Data Control Systems of Danbury as a technical writer.
After retirement in 1987 he went to Western Connecticut State University and at age 72 received his bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy. He began graduate studies and worked as a teaching assistant as WestConn, but left to pursue writing.
His first book, An Awakening Soul, the Practical Nature of Spiritual Growth, recounts his spiritual journey, which began when a son introduced a skeptical father to transcendental meditation. “...My son came home from college immersed in a program of Eastern meditation promising inner bliss, world peace and expanded consciousness,” he wrote. “...I remember listening to a lecture at dinner one evening, not hearing a word, but thinking over and over again ‘God! Now what?’ ”
After a shaky start he found the rewards of meditation and ventured into two decades of spiritual growth, eventually becoming a Siddah, a practitioner of advanced meditative techniques. He attained a detachment from many of life’s small trials, though he did not lose his lifelong intellectual hunger, his love of family and friends, or his lively humor.
“I am acutely aware of the present with no attachment to the past or sense of the future,” he wrote. “I watch this future unfold as I watch myself unfold. But in a strange way, the past also changes in the process. Not the events of the past, nor the facts of life. But what they mean and why they occurred take on a deeper meaning and reveal patterns that enliven the transcendent experience of the order and intelligence of the world.”
His second book, The Mark of the Galilean, is a historical novel set in Jewish Palestine 2,000 years ago — “a place,” he wrote, that produced “a man and a teaching that established God’s love, compassion and peace as the highest goals of Western civilization.”
He wrote, “It was a tiny populace in the scheme of the world and one born out of the slave pits of Egypt. But through the love, guidance and promise of their God they were raised up to a mighty nation and given the land on which they resided and from which they were fated to be cast out. Their God was just but demanding, perhaps patient even more than that, for over and over they remembered their covenant with Him and were raised up, and over and over they forgot it and were cast down; despite it all God kept them a people, His people.”
Besides his wife, Mr. Sarath is survived by seven children and their spouses: Carol Sarath and husband Karl Lohmann, Edward Sarath and wife Joan Harris, Maria Ragucci and husband Fred Ragucci, David Sarath and wife Jane Sarath, Patrice Sarath and husband Ben Van Dyke, James Sarath and Steven Sarath. He also leaves eight grandchildren.
Speakers at the service remembered Mr. Sarath’s gentle, love-warmed wisdom. His son wrote: “His radiant smile and concern for others, which characterized his life through his very last days, will be remembered by all who knew him.”
Contributions in his memory may be made to Healing the Children, PO Box 129, New Milford 06776.
Walter G. Ryba, business school dean, RHS Class of 1959
Walter G. Ryba Jr. of 105 New Street, dean of the School of Business and professor of business law at Fairfield University, died on Thursday evening, Aug. 17, at Danbury Hospital after being stricken ill at his home. He was 59.
Dr. Ryba grew up in Ridgefield, was president of the Class of 1959 at Ridgefield High School, and was married for nearly 40 years to his high school sweetheart, the former Geraldine Pannozzo.
He had been business school dean since 1998 and had made many changes in the school's operation. However, he continued to teach at least one course a year to maintain close contact with the students. "His door was always open to students and faculty," said his wife. "As a result, he brought home a lot of work. He used to stay up till 1 o'clock in the morning doing work. But he loved it, he absolutely loved it. And he had so many plans."
Dr. Ryba (pronounced Ree-ba) was born in Stamford on April 13, 1941, a son of the late Walter G. and Mildred Hayes Ryba. His family moved here when he was a boy, and he was active in sports programs. Besides being class president at the high school, Dr. Ryba was also co-captain of the baseball, football and basketball teams.
He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1963, later attended Trinity College in Hartford where he received a master's degree in economics in 1971, and then graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1975 with a doctor of law degree.
Dr. Ryba began teaching at Fairfield University in 1982. He specialized in business law and regulation and strategic planning for regulation and new businesses. His work focused on antitrust regulated environments and international regulation, and his research appeared in many professional journals.
In the past three years, Dr. Ryba oversaw major advances in Fairfield's School of Business, including the school's final approval of accreditation and its move to the former campus Conference Center, which was completely renovated to accommodate the school's expanding programs.
Under his leadership, the university added concentrations to the MBA in e-business and health care management, introduced a master's in management of technology -- offered jointly with the School of Engineering -- and joined a consortium of Jesuit universities offering an MBA program at Peking University in China. He opened sites for MBA courses in Greenwich and Stamford and this summer had announced jointly with America's Community Bankers the addition of the "Executive MBA in Community Banking," the first of its kind in the nation.
"He was a pleasure to work with," said Dr. Orin Grossman, academic vice president of the university. "Walt Ryba was honest, straightforward and always used good judgment. His contributions to Fairfield University and particularly the School of Business will have a lasting impact. "
Dr. Ryba was a member of the American and Connecticut Bar Associations, the Bar Association Section on Antitrust, and the American Economics Association.
For 23 years, he had lived in Lyme, where he also maintained a small legal practice in addition to teaching. He was also active in the Lyme community, and served on the local Zoning Board of Appeals.
When he became acting dean in 1997 and dean a year later, the commute between Fairfield and Lyme, added to the long hours, prompted in 1998 the Rybas to return to their old hometown. "It was a very long commute -- sometimes it would take him three hours going home," Mrs. Ryba said.
For relaxation, he enjoy traveling and vacationing with family, and was a rock and roll music aficionado who particularly enjoyed Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fleetwood Mac, and Buddy Holly (he saw productions of "Buddy" in London and on several stages in the United States). "He also loved anything by Kurt Weill," said Geraldine Ryba. The couple's own song was Weill's "September Song."
Dr. Ryba was also an ardent supporter of both Fairfield and Dartmouth football -- he had played for Dartmouth for a year before an injury ended his career.
Others interests included architecture, World War II history and geography.
Besides his wife, Dr. Ryba is survived by a brother, Michael Ryba of Old Greenwich, and his wife Rosemary; his mother-in-law, Mary Pannozzo of Ridgefield; a brother in law, Vincent Pannozzo of Ridgefield and his wife, Lucretia; two nephews, Michael Ryba and Vincent John Pannozzo, as well as an aunt and several cousins.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will take place at the Chapel of Fairfield University in early September.
Contributions in his memory may be made to Fairfield University School of Business, Fairfield, CT 06430; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755; Tiger Hollow-2000, P.O. Box 372, or to the Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance Fund, 6 Catoonah Street, both of Ridgefield, CT 06877; or to a charity of one's choice.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.