Cynthia Hamlin Du Flon, 97
Cynthia Hamlin Du Flon, 97, of 174 St. Johns Road, a Ridgefielder for more than 13 years, died at home Wednesday, Feb. 5. She was 97 years old and the widow of Alexander M. Du Flon, who died in 1949.
Mrs. Du Flon was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., daughter of the late Frederick and Helen Meyers Allen. She lived most of her life on Long Island, working at Avian Inc., retiring at age 70.
In 1989, she moved from Hampton Bays, N.Y. to Ridgefield and lived with her daughter, Cynthia Thompson. For the past two years, she has made her home with her granddaughter, Diane Fossi of Ridgefield.
Mrs. Du Flon is survived by two daughters, Cynthia Thompson of Ridgefield and Jane Thompson of Brookfield. A daughter, Eileen Scallon of Riverhead, N.Y., died in 2002.
Also surviving are 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Church in Ridgefield at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Feb. 10. Burial will be at St. Charles Cemetery in Pinelawn, Long Island, N.Y.
Friends will be received at the Kane Funeral Home, 41 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield on Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association of Ridgefield, 90 East Ridge, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
Howard Fast, 88, best selling author
Howard Fast of Greenwich, a best-selling author who specialized in class-conscious historical novels such as Spartacus, Citizen Tom Paine and Conceived in Liberty, died Wednesday, March 12, at his home. He was 88 years old.
Mr. Fast lived on Florida Hill Road in the 1960s and early 1970s. Among the books he wrote here was The Hessian, a Revolutionary War novel set in and around Ridgefield.
A high-school dropout, Mr. Fast published his first novel in 1933 — before he was 20. In all, he wrote more than 75 books and his worldwide sales topped 80 million copies. Besides dozens of novels, he also penned plays, essays and nonfiction works. He also published mysteries under the pseudonym E.V. Cunningham.
Even though he continued to turn out books when he was well into his 80s — the most recent was the 2000 novel, Greenwich — he also took time to write a regular column in the Greenwich newspaper. Almost all of his writing was done on a 1956 Olympia manual typewriter.
Howard Melvin Fast was born in New York City on Nov. 11, 1914, a son of Barney and Ida Miller Fast. His father was an iron worker and his mother died when he was eight.
In the 1940s, Citizen Tom Paine and The American, a fictionalized biography of Illinois Gov. John Peter Altgeld, became best sellers — but brought him trouble from the House Un-American Activities Committee, which labeled them as communist propaganda. Citizen Tom Paine was banned in high school libraries in New York City.
In 1945, a congressional committee, which investigated communist activities, demanded he identify people who helped build a hospital in France for anti-fascist fighters. A member of the American Communist Party from 1944 to 1957, Mr. Fast refused and after years of legal battles was jailed for contempt.
He spent three months in prison, was blacklisted for years, and his books were taken off library shelves.
Out of this experience he wrote Spartacus, his populist version of the slave revolt in ancient Rome. The novel was rejected by several publishers, many of whom received visits from FBI agents, and Mr. Fast eventually released it himself. It became a success that led to an all-star film version — produced by Kirk Douglas and featuring Douglas, Laurence Olivier and Charles Laughton — in 1960.
While Mr. Fast was the subject of an 1,100-page FBI file in the United States, he was a hero abroad: The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda dedicated verse to him and Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera also expressed their admiration.
Many of his historical novels were set during the American Revolution. Citizen Tom Paine was a sympathetic look at the most militant of the Founding Fathers and Conceived in Liberty honored the rank and file at Valley Forge.
In 1953 he became the only American besides Paul Robeson, a close friend, to win the Stalin International Peace Prize. But Mr. Fast wrote critically about Soviet leader Josef Stalin and left the party after the Soviet Union’s crushing of an uprising in Hungary.
In the memoir Being Red, published in 1990, Mr. Fast wrote: “In the party I found ambition, narrowness and hatred; I also found love and dedication and high courage and integrity — and some of the noblest human beings I have ever known.”
Among his other popular, mostly historical novels were Freedom Road, April Morning, and The Last Frontier. Many of his books were made into movies.
After living in Ridgefield Mr. Fast moved to California, then Greenwich, and in the late 1980s, Redding. He moved back to Greenwich in the early 1990s.
His first wife, Bette, died in 1997 after 57 years of marriage. In 1999, he married Mimi Denis.
Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Jonathan Fast of Cos Cob; a daughter, Rachel BenAvi of Sarasota, Fla.; a stepson, Connor Fast; a brother, Julius Fast of New York; and three grandchildren.
Services were private.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Fellowship of Reconciliation, 521 North Broadway, Nyack, NY 10960, or The Interfaith Alliance, 1331 H Street NW, 11th Floor, Washington, DC 20005.
John Ferraris, 79, World War II Navy veteran, Electrolux designer
John T. Ferraris of 36 Tally Ho Road, a World War II combat veteran and a retired designer who held many patents for his devices, died on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Danbury Hospital. He was 79 years old and husband of Nellie Figliola Ferraris.
A native of Stamford, Mr. Ferraris was born on March 4, 1923, a son of Carlo and Lucrezia Robotti Ferraris. He attended Stamford schools and graduated from J.M. Wright Vocational-Technical School in Stamford.
At the age of 18, Mr. Ferraris joined the U.S. Navy, serving during World War II. His final assignment was aboard the U.S.S. Stafford, a destroyer escort, in the Pacific Theater.
On Jan. 5, 1945, during a sea battle, his ship was struck and nearly sunk by a Japanese kamikaze. The Stafford managed to steam to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, where months of repairs began. On Sept. 15, only five weeks after a third of the city was destroyed by an atomic bomb, the Stafford sailed into Nagasaki Harbor and picked up recently freed American prisoners of war.
Mr. Ferraris had a 48-year career with the Electrolux Corporation of Old Greenwich, where he had been chief draftsman in the engineering department. He held many patents on parts he designed for vacuum cleaners, floor polishers and other machines made by the company.
He retired in 1987 when the company moved to Virginia, and he moved the same year to Ridgefield, after having lived in Stamford all of his life.
Here, Mr. Ferraris became active in the American Legion, Italian American Club and at St. Mary’s. For many years he worked at St. Mary’s annual Fall Festival in September, preparing the food for and operating the fair’s sausage and pepper grinder stand.
He had also regularly participated in reunions of the crew of the Stafford, and some years ago sponsored a gathering of the veterans at Mystic Seaport.
A skilled craftsman, Mr. Ferraris frequently helped family and friends with projects, from building houses and additions, to papering walls. “He always had a project going on,” said his daughter, Lucretia Pannozzo of Ridgefield. “He was very closely connected to his family and always helping out.”
Mr. Ferraris had also been a golfer who had played often at Dlhy Ridge. “That was his biggest passion,” his daughter said.
In Stamford, Mr. Ferraris was a member of the Knights of Columbus and had belonged to St. Clement’s Church.
Besides his wife of 57 years, Mr. Ferraris is survived by a son, John P. Ferraris and his wife Lin of Coppell, Texas; two daughters, Lucretia Pannozzo and her husband Vincent of Ridgefield and Phyllis Ferraris of Washington state; and three grandchildren, Vincent John Pannozzo, Ian P. Ferraris and Alexandra Ferraris.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Tuesday in St. Mary’s Church.
Entombment will take in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Greenwich.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association of Ridgefield, 90 East Ridge, or to the Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance Fund, 6 Catoonah Street, both Ridgefield 06877.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Lewis J. Finch, 86, builder, longtime civic leader
Lewis J. “Bub” Finch of Cannonfield, 520 Main Street, a Ridgefield native who became a major real estate developer and a civic and business leader here, died on Sunday evening, Jan. 26, 2003, at Laurel Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He was 86 years old and the husband of Adelaide “Pat” Newman Finch.
Over his career, Mr. Finch developed some 800 acres in Ridgefield, including such large neighborhoods as Chestnut Hills and Rolling Ridge. He was also active in the civic and religious life of the community, leading such organizations as the library, the boys club, and the Lions.
“As successful as he has been in the business field, Bub has been equally generous in terms of his time, money and talent to make sure Ridgefield became a better place to live,” Ridgefield Old Timers President Tom Belote said in 2001 when that organization gave Mr. Finch its Civic Award.
A Ridgefield native, Mr. Finch was born on July 17, 1916, a son of Harold E. and Alice Harding Finch, both prominent members of the community. His father, a longtime head of the Republican Party here, had been a village businessman, operating United Cigar Store (later “Squash’s” and today Ridgefield Office Supply). His mother established the Green Doors Motel and the Circle Luncheonette, both of which had operated on Route 7 for many years. “Bub” built both the buildings.
Mr. Finch attended Ridgefield schools and graduated in 1935 from Ridgefield High School where he was on the varsity basketball team and was a member of a class of 27 girls and 13 boys. He went on to graduate from the School of Economists in New York City, returning to Ridgefield and his father’s store with ideas learned in business school.
“We’d sell two packs of cigarettes for a quarter,” he described the store in a 1992 interview. “Ice cream cones were five cents for a single scoop, ten cents for a double. You paid four cents for a daily paper. The Sunday paper cost 12. It was a nickel and dime business, but we only paid $50 a month rent!”
When World War II broke out, Mr. Finch got a job in defense work at the asbestos brake plant in Stratford, long before the carcinogenic effects of asbestos were known. So much asbestos was swirling in the air that “sometimes I could hardly see the man working 10 feet away from me,” Mr. Finch recalled.
After the war Mr. Finch became active in the building business, and remained a builder and developer until his retirement in 1975. His developments included Hunter Heights, Colonial Heights, Rolling Hills, Chestnut Hills, and many smaller subdivisions here and in New York state. Finch Lane at Chestnut Hills recalls not the bird, but his family.
While subdividing land, Mr. Finch once calculated, he donated some 200 acres to the town’s open space bank.
Mr. Finch had built and owned several commercial developments, such as the shopping center at 590 Danbury Road, and others on Route 7 and on Grove Street.
He also sold real estate, establishing Lewis J. Finch Real Estate in 1956. The business operated on Main Street for many years.
In 1974, Mr. Finch was a founder and incorporator of Village Bank and Trust Company, which was acquired a few years ago by Webster Bank. He had been chairman of the bank’s board for many years until his retirement at age 70.
Mr. Finch was involved in many community organizations, but among his favorites was the Ridgefield Boys Club, now the Boys and Girls Club. He was a major contributor to the purchase of the five acres where the club now stands, and bought the two paddle tennis courts for the club. He was on the club’s board for many years and had served as its chairman.
Mr. Finch was also a member of the board and a trustee of the Ridgefield Library, and had served as library president from 1985 to 1987.
Like his father, he was a member and a former chairman of the Republican Town Committee.
A longtime member of the Lions Club, he’d held every club office — including president — and had also been a Lions district governor for five years. In 1989, the Lions awarded him their highest commendation, the Melvin Jones Award, for his service.
He served on the town’s first Charter Revision Commission in 1963, and had also been an adviser to town and school building committees.
Mr. Finch was a member of St. Mary’s Church where he served as a past trustee and member of the Finance Committee.
Besides his wife of 63 years, Mr. Finch is survived by a son, Barry N. Finch and his wife Louise of Ridgefield; a daughter, Patti-Lou Schmidt and her husband John of Ridgefield; a sister, Cookie Casagrande and her husband Peter of Summerfield, Fla.; six grandchildren, Heather Finch, Sean Finch, Seth Cashman, Ben Cashman, J. Michael Schmidt and David Schmidt; three great-grandchildren, twins Rogers and Patrick Finch and Taylor Schmidt; and several nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated today, Thursday, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church.
There are no calling hours.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Danbury Hospital Development Fund, 24 Hospital Avenue, Danbury 06810, St. Mary’s Church Building Fund, 55 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield or to the Ridgefield Library, 472 Main Street, Ridgefield 06877.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Alice Finney, former Ridgefielder, active at Jesse Lee
Alice Elaine Marsh Finney, a former Ridgefielder who was active in the Methodist church, died Saturday, Nov. 9, at Rutland Regional Medical Center, Vt. She was 90 years old.
She was born Feb. 19,1912, in Rochester, Vt., the daughter of Robert J. and Harriet (Sawyer) Marsh. She grew up at Harvest Home Farm in Rochester, graduating from Rochester High School in 1930. She worked on the family farm and during World War II, tended a victory garden.
She was married to Ronald D. Finney June 5, 1948 at Harvest Home Farm. After living in New Canaan and Wilton and Randolph, Vt., they settled in Ridgefield in 1956. They lived on Soundview Road.
Mrs. Finney was a member of Jesse Lee Memorial Methodist Church in Ridgefield, and later became a member of the Federated Church of Rochester. During her years in Ridgefield, she was an active member of the Women’s Society of Christian Service and the Rebekah Lodge.
She was interested in genealogy and liked to read (particularly her Bible), sing, discuss religion and politics, and spend time with her family. After the death of her husband in 1990, she moved “back home” to Rochester in 1991, coming to live at the Park House in 1998, where she enjoyed the social life and activities. Prior to her final hospitalization, she lived briefly at Johnson’s Care Home in Hancock.
She is survived by two daughters, Martha F. Slater of Rochester and Thelma Neufeld of New Milford; five grandchildren: Rebecca J. Slater of Central, S.C.; Peter M. Slater of Burlington; Jennifer A. Slater of Rochester; Thomas M. Neufeld of Philadelphia, Pa.; and Rita M. Neufeld of New Milford; a sister, Lillian L. Marsh of Rochester; a niece, Julie-Ann Marsh of Rochester and a number of other nieces, nephews and cousins.
She was predeceased by two brothers, Victor H. Marsh and Laurence J. Marsh.
Services were on Tuesday at the Rochester Federated Church. She will be buried along side her husband today, Thursday, at 1 p.m. in Maplrshade Cemetery.
For those who would like to make memorial donations, the family suggests contributions to the Federated Church of Rochester, P.O. Box 197, Rochester, VT 05767; the Valley Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 131, Rochester, VT 05767; the Park House, 16 Park Row, Box 4, Rochester, VT 05767; or the Rochester Public Library, P.O. Box 256, Rochester, VT 05767.
The Day Funeral Home in Randolph, Vt., is in charge of arrangements.
Charles L. Gagnebin, 28, musician
Charles Lincoln Gagnebin of Casagmo, a musician and student of music, died Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. He was 28 years old.
Since 1990, Mr. Gagnebin had struggled courageously with disabilities that resulted from a cranial aneurysm. Despite these handicaps he successfully completed a year of ‘City Year’ and was an accomplished horseman and assistant in hypotherapy programs. He was able to renew his interest in music with the use of electronic performance assistants, and was pursuing a music degree at SUNY Purchase.
Mr. Gagnebin graduated from the Nashoba Brooks School and the Fenn School of Concord, Mass., where he captained the tennis team and played saxophone in the Fenn marching and jazz bands. He graduated from the Cambridge School of Weston, Mass., and attended the University of Vermont and Landmark College in Putney, Vt.
In Ridgefield, where he had lived for the past few years, he had worked at Hay Day Market while studying at SUNY Purchase.
“He was a friend to many who appreciated his cheerful temperament which saved many a tense moment,” his family said.
He was the son of Charles and Constance Gagnebin of Harvard, Mass., and brother of Rachel Gagnebin of Old Town Alexandria, Va., grandson of Lincoln and Nancy Clark of Chelmsford, Mass., and the late Louis and Charlotte Gagnebin of Cohasset. He is also survived by many aunts, uncles and cousins.
A memorial service will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 1 p.m. at the Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, 207 Main Street. A reception will follow.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Love Lane Special Needs Horseback Riding Program at Love Lane Program Inc., P. O Box 716. Lincoln, MA 01773 or the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, 125 Nashua Street, Boston, MA 02114.