William Morrison, Marine, naturalist
William Millar Morrison of Redding, a Marine veteran who was a naturalist and humanitarian, died unexpectedly on Sunday, Nov. 12, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport. He was 74 years old and had formerly lived in Ridgefield and Wilton.
Mr. Morrison was born in Abington, Pa. on Dec. 10, 1925, son of William Millar Morrison and Janet Bowman Morrison. As a senior in high school, he volunteered for service in the Marine Corps. He graduated from Cornell University after completing the Navy’s Officer Training Program at Notre Dame. He served in active duty as a second lieutenant in the Korean War with the 10th Artillery Regiment of the Second Division, where he spent six months with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean as commander of the artillery contingent of a reinforced infantry battalion. A shipmate and friend fondly remembers Mr. Morrison’s record player as “the vehicle by which he discovered the virtues of the Rossini overtures.” He attained the rank of captain before the end of the Korean War.
After resigning his commission at the end of the war, Mr. Morrison returned to Philadelphia and resumed his studies toward a master’s degree in English. “He emulated Samuel Johnson’s understanding of the English language, striving throughout his life to express himself with accuracy, wit and beauty,” said family and friends.
While continuing his studies and working, he also served as a Big Brother to youth in Philadelphia. Later, when living in Connecticut, through his church he visited homebound victims of MS and other illnesses. He also served as president of the board of directors of the Amos House in Danbury.
Mr. Morrison lived in Wilton in the 1960s and, after a period in Atlanta, Ga., moved to a pre-Revolutionary house on Silver Spring Road in Ridgefield, where he lived many years.
His affinity for music was instrumental in his contribution to the Recorded Music Selection Committee of the Wilton Library where he was described as having “a unique talent and unerring sense of the needs of all the patrons who value the library’s collection as a cherished resource.”
Mr. Morrison worked for many years for the Atlantic Richfield Corp. In Connecticut, he was employed by Commercial Heating in Stratford until his retirement in August of this year.
He was a conservationist, and naturalist whose understanding of the circle of life ranged from the delicate butterfly to invasive plant species, and birds of prey. His avocation was watching hawks at Derby Hill in Syracuse, N.Y., where he regularly spent a week during spring migration observing birds of prey in flight. The northern harrier was his favorite bird, the hollyhock his favorite flower, his family said.
“He will be remembered as a genteel humanitarian scholar, patriot, feminist, and naturalist,” said family and friends. “His kindness and generosity touched many lives. He will be missed.”
Mr. Morrison is survived by two daughters, Isis Janet Morrison of Redding and Elizabeth Ann Morrison of Cambridge, Mass.; his sister, Janet Morrison Gold, and her husband Jim of West Cornwall; and several nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind a puppy, Suzie Q.
His wife, Madeleine Crosby Morrison, died in 1991.
A memorial service will be held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Main Street in Ridgefield on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 1:30 p.m.
Contributions in his memory may be made to The Sterling Nature Center, P.O. Box 216, Sterling, NY 13156, where a new hawk watching area will be dedicated to him, or to Derby Hill Bird Observatory, Onondaga Audubon Society, 124 Lewis Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13224.
Florence Myers, 25-year resident
Florence H. Myers, 82, of 439 Danbury Road, Wilton, formerly of Ridgefield, died on Wednesday morning, Dec. 13, at Norwalk Hospital.
She was the wife of the late Paul M. Myers.
Mrs. Myers was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., March 19, 1918, a daughter of the late Andrew and Hannah (Beier) Lehmone. She attended New York schools and was an accountant for the Teacher’s Retirement System for the City of New York.
A resident of Ridgefield for 25 years before moving to Wilton, she lived first on High Ridge Avenue and in later years at Ballard Green.
Mrs. Myers was a member of the Ridgefield OWLS.
Her survivors include a son, Paul L. Myers and his wife, Elizabeth of Ridgefield, two grandchildren, Andrew Myers and Christine Wrampe, and a great-granddaughter, Emily Myers.
Graveside funeral services and burial will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. in the Maple Grove Cemetery, Kew Gardens, N.Y.
There will be no calling hours.
Contributions in Mrs. Myers’ memory may be made to the Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance Fund, 6 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
Marylyn Nast, mother, store owner
Marylyn C. Nast, a homemaker and mother who owned the Main Street women’s shop Pappagallo in the late 70s, died Tuesday, Oct. 31, at Glen Hill in Danbury after an extended illness. She was 64, lived at 132 Main Street, Danbury, and had previously lived in Ridgefield for 17 years.
“She lived for her kids,” said her son, Christian A. Nast III of Danbury.
Mrs. Nast was born in Jersey City, N.J., on July 12, 1936, a daughter of the late Chester and Mary Gargiulo Anthony.
She lived in Ridgefield from 1963 to 1980, first on Cobbler’s Lane and then on King Lane.
“Her kids, that’s it,” said her son, Christian. “She was a housewife. She was a mother.”
She entered the retail business after her children were grown, he said. She opened Pappagallo, selling stylish women’s clothing, about 1975, and operated it until about 1980. Then she had a consignment shop for a short time.
She later worked as a real estate agent in Danbury, first at William Raveis and then at Robert Kovacs Real Estate.
She had lived in Danbury since 1980, her son said.
Besides her son, survivors include one son; two daughters, Debra A. Nast and Pamela Davis, both of Redding; one brother, A.P. Anthony of Dallas, Texas, and three grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church, Ridgefield. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
There are no calling hours.
Contributions in Mrs. Nast’s memory may be made to Danbury Hospital Development Fund, 24 Hospital Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810 or to Ann’s Place, Home of I Can, Suite 201, 1 Padanaram Road, Danbury, CT 06811.
Kane Funeral Home, 41 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield is in charge of arrangements.
Nancy Peterson, former Ridgefielder
Nancy Peterson of Richmond, Va., a former Ridgefielder, died Thursday, Nov. 9, after a long illness.
Mrs. Peterson had lived on Barrack Hill Road for five years before moving to Richmond last year.
Survivors include her three children: Kira, 28, Christopher, 23, and Amanda, 21.
A memorial service will take place Saturday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. at the South Salem Presbyterian Church in Lewisboro, N.Y.
Mary Piasta, motor vehicles manager
Mary Catherine Keeler Piasta of 54 West Branchville Road, former manager of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles office in Danbury, died Sunday, Nov. 19, at Danbury Hospital. She was 93 years old and the widow of Stanley F. Piasta.
Mrs. Piasta was born on Barry Avenue on Dec. 3, 1906, a daughter of Bernard F. and Mary “Molly” Scanlon Keeler. She grew up here and attended Ridgefield schools.
Mrs. Piasta worked for the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles for 41 years, retiring in the early 1970s as the manager of the Danbury office at the south end of Main Street.
“She got special license plates for a lot of people in Ridgefield,” recalled her niece, Christine Keeler Mitchell of New Fairfield. Mrs. Piasta’s own plate was K4.
Like her husband, who was a police commissioner and deputy sheriff, Mrs. Piasta was active in local Democratic politics. “She loved a good campaign and a good political debate,” said Mrs. Mitchell.
Mrs. Piasta was one of the oldest and earliest members of the OWLS, the local senior citizens organization.
Both she and her husband were animal lovers, and she left behind her pet dog, Sheba.
Besides Mrs. Mitchell, Mrs. Piasta is survived by another niece, Janet Piasta Levchuk of Glen Head, N.Y., and nephews Bernard, William and Robert Keeler, all of Danbury.
A memorial mass will be celebrated Friday, Nov. 24, at 10 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
There are no calling hours.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance Fund, 6 Catoonah Street.
The Green Funeral Home in Danbury is in charge of arrangements.
Connie I. Pirri, artist and nurse
Connie Interlandi Pirri, 90, of Stamford, an artist and nurse who lived in Ridgefield for 11 years, died on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Stamford Hospital..
Mrs. Pirri, who was 90, was the widow of Lt. Joseph R. Pirri Sr., who had been commander of the State Police Troop A barracks in Ridgefield in the late 1960s.
Mrs. Pirri was born in Stamford, Oct. 20, 1910, the daughter of the late Michael and Anna Sabtina Pirri.
Although she lived most of her life in Stamford, Mrs. Pirri and her husband had a home on Governor Street from 1954 until 1965. While here, she had worked as a cook at the Holy Ghost Fathers Novitiate on nearby Prospect Ridge and was a member of St. Mary’s Church.
A professional artist, she specialized in painting landscapes. She had also been a homemaker and a registered licensed nurse practitioner.
Survivors include a son Joseph R. Pirri Jr. of Stamford; five sisters Henrietta Crocco, Sara Arcano, Angela Pirre, Anne Carlucci, and Gloria Kapteina, all of Stamford; four brothers, Joseph Interlandi and Raymond Interlandi Sr., both of Stamford, Salvo Interlandi of Hollywood, Fla., and Sebastian Interlandi of Bridgeport; three grandchildren, Michael Pirri, Gulie Pirri and Lorese Pirri, all of Stamford.
Lt. Pirri died in 1991. Her son Van Michael Pirri, three sisters, Mary Conca, Clara Interlandi and Clorinne Pace, and a brother, Michael Interlandi, also died before her.
Services took place Tuesday at the Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home and Crematory, 104 Myrtle Avenue, Stamford. Entombment followed at St. John Mausoleum, Darien.
Frances S. Prino, 86, a good neighbor
Frances S. Prino of 15 Round Lake Road, a 40-year Ridgefielder who spent much of her life helping others, died Monday, Nov. 27, at Wilton Meadows. She was 86 years old and the widow of Bruno Prino.
A native of northern Italy, Mrs. Prino was born on Sept. 18, 1914 in the town of Retorbido, a daugher of Edoardo and Maria Pedrazzani Spiotti. She emigrated to the United States a year later, settling in New York where she attended schools and lived for many years.
In the mid-1950s, her husband, a carpenter, began building a summer and vacation home on Round Lake Road in Ridgefield. After he died suddenly in 1956, friends and family members took over the project, driving up to Ridgefield weekends to work in their spare time over three years to complete the house. In 1959, Mrs. Prino learned how to drive a car and moved from the city to her new home on Round Lake Road.
Over the years Mrs. Prino became well-known for her efforts to help others. "She was a true neighbor," said her daughter, Francine A. Fischer of Ridgefield. "Anyone who ever came in contact with found her very giving. She dedicated her whole life to helping people."
For instance, for many years, she helped a housebound couple who lived in the neighborhood, shopping and cooking for them. A longtime member of the OWLS, she often gave rides to members who were no longer able to drive. "She devoted her life to her family and friends," Mrs. Fischer said. "She was a very warm and giving person."
Besides her daughter and her son-in-law, Hans Fischer, Mrs. Prino is survived by a son, Thomas Prino of Ridgefield, and four grandchildren: Joshua and Jessica Fischer, and Brandon and Travis Prino, all of Ridgefield. Two brothers, Frank Spiotti and Arthur Spiotti, died before her.
Graveside services will take place in St. Raymond's Cemetery, the Bronx, at the convenience of the family. Contributions in Mrs. Prino's memory may be made to the Alzheimer's Association of Fairfield County, 607 Main Avenue, Norwalk CT 06851-1758. The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Mary Russell, 92, who helped many people
Mary M. Russell of 311 Wilton Road East, a former hat designer who spent much of her life helping others, died Friday, Jan. 5, at Hartford Hospital. She was 92 years old and widow of Charles Russell.
A modest woman who often worked behind the scenes, Mrs. Russell sent countless aid packages to her war-torn native Poland, sheltered many stranded travelers during World War II, and thought nothing of driving a large truck across washed-out roads to deliver relief supplies to flood victims in the 1950s.
Mrs. Russell was born in Poland, a daughter of Julia and Vincent Koniuta. Her birthday was April 14, 1908, five days before Easter, and her parents named her Mary Magdelena in honor of the saint associated with the season.
She came came to America as a small child with her parents who first settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., and later moved to Monessen, Pa., where Mrs. Russell attended schools. After high school, she went to New York where she was a student of fashion studies, concentrating on hat design, at the Parsons School of Design. In 1933, she was in partnership operating a millinery shop on Madison Avenue. In 1935, she designed and created a special hat for the then First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt.
Mrs. Russell sold her business in 1937 and moved to Ridgefield where she met and married Charles Russell. Mr. Russell, a native of Hungary, died in 1989 at the age of 99.
Her charitable work and volunteerism was quietly done, especially during World War II as a member of the local chapter of the Red Cross. She was also one of the many plane spotters.
During the war, Mrs. Russell enrolled in a practical nurse program at the Bridgeport Hospital and spent many hours as a volunteer nurse’s aide at both the Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals. During the scrap metal drives for the war effort, she drove her husband’s truck, delivering to the receiving post in Bridgeport many loads of scrap metal — among them the eavy, iron fence which was donated by the Gaylord Thomas Estate on Main Street.
“Her home was always open to those in need,” said her daughter, Irene Weck of Ridgefield. Often in the war years when the Greyhound Bus stopped in Ridgefield, young ‘war brides’ on their way to join their husband-soldiers in camps in the New England area mistakenly got off the bus and were stranded in town, Ms. Weck said. They were invited to Mrs. Russell’s house for a hot dinner, shower and a soft bed for the night. “When I’d come home from work, I’d never know who I’d find in the house.”
Throughout the war, Mrs. Russell sent packages of supplies to her native Poland through the Red Cross.
Mrs. Russell continued her volunteer efforts over the years through work with the Sunshine Society, which aided shut-ins, and with the Thrift Shop when it was located on Main Street. She was also a member of the Grange and St. Mary’s Rosary Society.
In 1941, Mrs. Russell was one of the chaperones of the senior class on the last of what had been annual graduation trips to Washington, D.C.
During the floods that destroyed many towns in the Naugatuck River Valley in the 1950s, Mrs. Russell collected relief supplies here and, using one of her husband’s large trucks, drove them to towns along the river. “Some of those roads were impassable, but my mom, she just drove right through,” Ms. Weck said.
Mrs. Russell’s hobbies included gardening, antique collecting, writing songs and poetry — a sample of her poetry follows this obituary. Because of her association with the Easter season, Mrs. Russell had a lifelong interest in the elaborate, multicolored Easter eggs of her native Poland. Her decorated egg collection included ones she made herself, ones created by family years earlier in Poland, and antiques from Poland and other nations.
She loved to travel and over the years she visited her beloved Poland, other European countries and Israel.
Besides her daughter, Mrs. Russell is survived by a sister, Josephine DeLuga, also of Ridgefield. Her sister, Helen Latkanich, died in May 2000.
The Rev. Patrick Mooney, parochial vicar, will celebrate a Memorial Mass of Christian Burial on Monday, Jan.15, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church. Her remains will be placed in the crypt of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, next to those of her husband.
There are no calling hours.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Pope John Paul II Center for Healthcare, 33 Lincoln Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810 or to the American Heart Association, 5 Brookside Drive, Wallingford, CT 06492.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.