Joseph Salvestrini, earned Purple Heart
Joseph J. Salvestrini, a Ridgefield native who won a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in World War II, died Monday, Nov. 20, at his home in Lompoc, Calif.
He was 82 years old.
Mr. Salvestrini was born April 26, 1918, in Ridgefield, a son of Albert and Alegrina Monte Salvestrini.
He grew up and attended schools here.
He served in the U.S. Army’s 740th Battalion during World War II from April 1942 to November 1945.
He was awarded the Purple Heart during combat in Germany and the Bronze Star for bravery for repairing tanks under fire.
After the war, he worked as a private estate superintendent in North Salem, N.Y. for 30 years.
The gardens he maintained won numerous awards from the Garden Society in New York.
He later lived in Florida before moving to Lompoc in 1988.
Mr. Salvestrini was an avid collector of clocks and antiques and belonged to the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.
He was a past board member of the Valley of the Flowers Half Century Club and was a member of American Legion Bill Proud Post 211.
Survivors include his wife, Brita Salvestrini of Lompoc; a son Joseph P. Salvestrini of Brewster, N.Y.; a daughter, JoAnn Marie Clark of San Diego; sisters Lena Frattini of Ridgefield and Mary Sartini of Brooklyn, N.Y.; three brothers, Aldo and Raymond Salvestrini, both of Ridgefield, and Dante Salvestrini of Springhill, Fla.; two grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Contributions may be made to Hospice Partners of the Central Coast, 285 South Street, Suite I, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.
Aldo Salvestrini, lifelong Ridgefielder
Aldo Salvestrini, who lived in Ridgefield nearly all of his 93 years, died on Friday morning, Feb. 8, at Hancock Hall, Danbury.
Mr. Salvestrini, a son of the late Albert and Allegrina Monti Salvestrini, was born on Christmas Day in 1908 in a home on Sunset Lane that still belongs to the Salvestrini family. He attended Ridgefield schools.
Mr. Salvestrini worked for many years in the maintenance division of the former Ivan Sorvall Company of Newtown, now a division of E.I. DuPont de Nemours.
He retired about 25 years ago.
Mr. Salvestrini, who lived at 144 Ramapoo Road for many years, had been married to Marie Mei Salvestrini, who died in 1990.
They would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 1991.
Mr. Salvestrini was a founding member of the Italian American Mutual Aid Society of Ridgefield and belonged St. Mary’s Church.
He is survived by two daughters: Irene Falcinelli of Ridgefield and Barbara Waldron of Danbury; two sons: Richard Salvestrini of Margate, Fla., and James Salvestrini of Kernsville, N.C.; two sisters: Lena Frattini of Ridgefield and Mary Sartini of Brooklyn, N.Y.; two brothers: Dante Salvestrini of Florida and Raymond Salvestrini of Ridgefield; 14 grandchildren, including Evo Falcinelli of Ridgefield; 15 great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.
Four brothers — Armando, Anthony, Leno, and Joseph — died before him.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Tuesday in St. Mary’s Church. Burial followed in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in Mr. Salvestrini’s memory may be made to the Hancock Hall Resident’s Recreational Fund, 31 Staples Street, Danbury, CT 06810.
Michele Scaglia, 85, Ridgefield native
Michele Scaglia of Stamford, a Ridgefield native, died Christmas Day at Courtland Gardens Convalescent Home in Stamford.
He was 85 years old and the husband of the late Sarah Bianco Scaglia.
Mr. Scaglia was born on Dec. 10, 1915, a son of Michele and Flora Mead Scaglia whose homestead was on Danbury Road.
A self-employed landscaper, Mr. Scaglia had lived in New Canaan for many years.
He served in the Army during World War II and was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Survivors include a son, Michael Scaglia of Norwalk; two daughters, Barbara Robles of Norwalk and Phyllis LeBlanc of New Canaan; a sister, Lillian Stevens of Wallingford; five grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
A graveside service will take place this morning, Thursday, at 10 a.m. in the Lakeview Cemetery, New Canaan.
The Hoyt Funeral Home in New Canaan is in charge of arrangements.
Esther Sloan, 94, started teaching at 17
Esther Sloan of 72 Nutmeg Ridge, who began her teaching career as a teenager in a one-room Kansas schoolhouse and ended it as a college department chairman, died Friday, Dec. 29, at Hancock Hall in Danbury.
She was 94 years old, had been a Ridgefielder for more than 25 years, and was a founder of the OWLS senior citizens group.
Mrs. Sloan was only 17 years old and fresh out of high school when she began teaching in Kansas.
After a year, she went to college, gaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees and continued to teach, interrupting her career in the 1930s and 40s to raise a family.
A native of Huron, Ohio, Mrs. Sloan was born on Jan. 30, 1906, the daughter of the Rev. Daniel H. Mergler and Laura Painter Mergler.
Her father was a Presbyterian minister and she had grown up in towns in Ohio and Indiana before her father took an assignment in Kansas.
After graduating from high school, she began teaching in 1923.
After a year of instructing in a one-room schoolhouse, she entered the College of Emporia in Kansas, graduating in 1928 and then teaching in Kansas schools.
She earned her master’s degree from the University of Kansas in 1933.
Soon after, she married Herbert L. Sloan and left teaching to raise a family.
After her husband’s death in 1947, she returned to her profession, working first at home correcting and grading correspondence course material for the College of Emporia.
By 1954, she was teaching English full time at the College of Emporia, now Emporia State University.
She retired in 1971 as chairman of the Humanities Division.
Mrs. Sloan then spent eight months in Korea as a volunteer staff member at Keimyurg University, which is operated by the Presbyterian Church.
In 1972, she moved to Ridgefield to live with her son, Lewis W. Sloan and his wife, Mary.
She became active in education circles here, serving as a substitute teacher in the school system, instructing adult education courses in English as a second language, and tutoring East Ridge Junior High School students.
She was active in the American Association of University Women in Ridgefield, the Retired Citizens Volunteer Program, and in 1973 helped found the OWLS, the Older Wiser Livelier Set, one of the region’s most active organizations for senior citizens. She helped write the OWLS’ constitution and was its program director during its first two years.
Mrs. Sloan was also a forceful voice in support of the Ridgefield Library.
“Senior citizens find the library not only a source for leisure activity, but they rely on it for present knowledge,” she wrote in 1980, backing an effort to expand the building.
“They use it to find recipes for the new diet the doctor has ordered, to read about places they plan to visit, to learn new handcraft ideas, to find material for the programs they are giving.
This list illustrates my own recent uses of the library. It can be extended easily.”
In Ridgefield, Mrs. Sloan was active in the Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, and was especially interested in the welfare of the elderly of the congregation.
“She would always make sure they had rides to church,” said Lewis Sloan, her son.
“She always wanted to be helpful,” Mr. Sloan said. Back when his mother was a professor in Kansas, she was for many years the adviser to foreign-born students on campus, especially those from Cuba and Korea. “She would help them not only with the language, but with their personal lives,” he said.
Mrs. Sloan enjoyed traveling and often joined the OWLS on journeys in the region. It was while on a trip to Alaska in 1983 that she suffered a stroke that subsequently limited her ability to participate in many of the volunteer programs she had enjoyed serving.
In 1980, at the age of 74, Mrs. Sloan was selected one of Connecticut’s participants in the Senior Intern Program in Washington, D.C., and spent five days observing the federal government in action under the sponsorship of U.S Senator Lowell P. Weicker. “We met Senator Weicker,” she told The Press in an interview, “and I asked him, ‘Are you contemplating running for governor?’ He answered, ‘We have an excellent governor now.’ ” That was Ella P. Grasso, who left office one month later and died shortly thereafter of cancer. Ten years later Senator Weicker ran, successfully, for governor.
Besides her son and daughter-in-law, Mrs. Sloan is survived by a daughter, Elizabeth S. Low and her husband, Robert, of Richmond, Vt.; and by five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Two brothers, Charles D. Mergler and Dr. Phillipp Mergler, died before her.
A memorial service will take place in the spring. Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery, Emporia, Kans.
There are no calling hours.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, 207 Main Street, Ridgefield CT 06877, or to a charity of one’s choice.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Elliott Sossei Jr., art teacher
Elliott Joseph Sossei Jr., a retired art teacher with Broadview Junior High and Rogers Park Middle schools in Danbury, died Monday, Oct. 30, in Louisville, Ky.
He was 59.
A former resident of Ridgefield and Bethel, he was a former member of the Bethel Art League and a member of Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church in Louisville.
He is survived by his wife, the former Rebecca Miller; two daughters, Mia and Tiffani Sossei; a son Joseph Sossei, all of Louisville; his mother, Nellie Sossei, a sister, Helen Hyde, both of Austin, Texas; and three brothers, William Sossei of Bethel, Edward Sossei of Bethlehem and James Sossei of Coconut Creek, Fla.
Funeral services are Friday at 1 p.m. at Pearson Funeral Home, Louisville.
Memorials may go to the American Cancer Society or to the Juvenile Diabetes Association.
Nellie Sossei, artist, painted Rockwell
Nellie Mae Sossei of Round Rock, Texas, an artist whose portrait of Norman Rockwell hangs in a Rockwell museum, died Saturday, Dec. 9. A former Ridgefielder, she was 87 years old and the widow of Dr. Elliott Joseph Sossei.
Mrs. Sossei was born in Missouri, a daughter of James and Beulah Pflum. After her marriage to Dr. Sossei, she moved to New York City area, then to Ridgefield for 15 years. In later years she lived in Florida. Dr. Sossei had practiced osteopathy in Astoria, Long Island, for 40 years.
After raising her family, Mrs. Sossei became known for her self-taught artistic abilities in various media — oils, pastels, watercolor, scratch art, and ceramics. She was commissioned to paint a portrait of Norman Rockwell, which hangs in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Rutland, Vt.
“Over the years, her family and relatives, friends and buyers reaped the benefit of her artistic works,” said a family member.
Since her husband, a doctor of osteopathy, died in December 1996, she lived with her daughter Mary Helen Hyde and her husband in Round Rock.
Survivors include her three sons, James Sossei, William Sossei and his wife Anne, and Edward Sossei and his wife Sally; her daughter Mary Helen Hyde and her husband Bob; and daughter-in-law Becky Sossei; and their families consisting of 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; two sisters, June Wright and Mary Ann Scalisi; a brother, Warren and wife Charlotte and their family.
Her oldest son, Elliott Joseph Sossei Jr., died before her as did a sister, Ruby Lee Fagan and a brother, James William Pflum.
Services were Wednesday at Beck Funeral Home, 15709 Ranch Road 620, Austin, Texas 78717. Burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bethel, on Saturday.
Donations may be made to Alzheimer’s or Hospice, Vista Care, Austin, Texas.
Alice Swanson, secretary, homemaker, lived here 54 years
Alice McCoy Swanson of 111 Soundview Road, a Ridgefielder for more than a half century, died Wednesday, Nov. 15, at her home.
She was 85 years old and the wife of the late Ernest G. Swanson.
Although she grew up a Wiltonian, Mrs. Swanson was a 1932 graduate of Ridgefield High School.
She had lived on the Henderson farm in northern Wilton, a town that had no high school back then, and came to Ridgefield for her education.
She was born in Larchmont, N.Y. on March 9, 1915, a daughter of the late John and Elizabeth Glennon McCoy.
She attended Huntington, N.Y., schools until she moved with her family to Wilton in 1926. She attended Wilton and Ridgefield schools, and after graduating from Ridgefield High School, attended Merrill’s Business School of Norwalk.
In the 1940s Mrs. Swanson was private secretary to Margaret Rudkin, the founder and president of Pepperidge Farm Bakery in Norwalk.
Alice McCoy met Ernest Swanson, a carpenter, on a blind date in the early 1940s, shortly before he went off to serve in the war.
When he returned three years later, the two were married and he set about building their family home, one of the first houses to go up on Soundview Avenue.
“It was paid for the day they moved in,” said her daughter, Glenny Montanari of Ridgefield.
Mrs. Swanson was a homemaker most of her life and enjoyed her grandchildren, all of whom are Ridgefielders.
For many years, she played cards with the groups that gathered each week at the Community Center.
She also enjoyed feeding and watching birds.
Mrs. Swanson was a member of St. Mary’s Church.
Besides her daughter, Mrs. Swanson is survived by a son, Robert Swanson; a sister, Elizabeth McCoy of Ridgefield; four grandchildren, Hillary and Erica Swanson, Kelsey and Courtney Montanari.
A brother, Lawrence McCoy and a sister, Helen McCoy, predeceased her.
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated on Saturday, Nov. 18, in St. Mary’s Church.
Burial followed in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Kane Funeral Home, 41 Catoonah Street, handled arrangements.
Contributions in Mrs. Swanson’s memory may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association, 90 East Ridge or to the Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance Fund, 6 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.