Joanne Lesko Gindek, 66, designer
Joanne Lesko Gindek, a marketing designer in the cosmetics industry, died at her home in Ridgefield on Monday, Feb. 17. She was 66 years old.
Ms. Gindek was born in Danbury, the daughter of George M. Lesko, an Army captain in World War II, and Zillah Ellis Lesko, a childrenÕs book illustrator. She was educated at the Pratt Institute in New York City.
"Joanne was regarded as one of the most influential, talented, and creative individuals in the cosmetics industry," said her family. "In four decades, working in her own firm and with industry giants, she created over 150 cosmetic packaging, merchandising and advertising designs that set the pace in beauty, elegance and glamor for the industry. In her work, as in her private life, Joanne radiated restraint and strength. She was at her best under a crunch with a defiant resolve to make things happen, no matter what.
"Her style was timeless, her charm without blemish, and her grace under pressure was unassailable. She faced down the diagnosis of cancer with her usual style and composure.
"The true measure of a woman is not the wealth she leaves behind, but the richness of the memories she gave to others. In that respect, Joanne was the most successful woman we know."
Ms. Gindek is survived by her companion, Leslie Rowe, as well as family and friends.
Services will take place at the Hull Funeral Home, 60 Division Street, Danbury, on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 10:30 a.m. Burial will follow in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport.
Friends will be received on Friday evening from 7 to 9 at the Hull Funeral Home.
John F. Haight, 82, former police chief
John F. Haight Jr., who headed the Ridgefield police for 10 years and has been called the town’s first career policeman, died Oct. 30 in Brewster, Mass. He was 82 years old.
Over a period of 30 years, Chief Haight rose from constable to chief and saw the police force grow from three to 30 officers. “He was one of the moving forces to get us from the town hall basement to where we are now,” said Police Chief Richard Ligi.
A native of Newburgh, N.Y., John Haight was born on April 7, 1920, a son of John F. and Gertrude K. Haight. He moved to Ridgefield as a child, attending classes in the old Titicus Schoolhouse, now the American Legion Hall, and graduating in 1938 from Ridgefield High School. There, he met his future wife, Marion Alice Roberts, and the two were married on June 12, 1942. Mrs. Haight died in 1998.
During World War II, Chief Haight served in the U.S. Army’s Fourth Armored Regiment under General Patton, landing in Europe shortly after D-Day and receiving the Bronze Star for heroism.
One of his first jobs after the war was as an usher at the old Ridgefield Playhouse movie theater, now the Webster Bank building on Prospect Street. He also worked for the U.S. Post Office, driving bags of mail from the office on Main Street to meet the train in Branchville.
In 1947, he was hired as a policeman — then called a constable — joining Charles Wade Walker and James Brady in policing the town under the command of the first selectman and operating out of a 70-square-foot office in the town hall. “In those days, we patrolled in our own cars,” the chief once recalled. “We had no car, no radio, no equipment, no nothing.” The town bought its first patrol car around 1950.
In 1955, the town created a formal police department, with James Brady as chief, and John Haight was among the first officers. Ten years later, Chief Haight took command of the 10-person department, serving until his retirement in 1977 after 30 years on the job — a tenure only one or two others have attained with the police force.
During his nearly 12 years as chief, the department grew threefold to 30 officers, added a detective bureau, and moved from a few rooms in the town hall basement into its new quarters on East Ridge. “In all humility, I believe I have turned over a police department to my successor of which you, the community, will be proud,” he said at his testimonial in 1977. Some 250 people attended that farewell party. “It is amazing that a man with a name like Haight can represent so much love,” emcee Paul Baker said at the time.
“He was always fair with his people and always concerned with their welfare,” said Chief Ligi, who was hired as a clerk by Chief Haight in 1967.
Only three members who served under Chief Haight remain in today’s force of 39 officers: Chief Ligi, Lt. Paul Benevelli, and Patrolman F. Walter Schreiber.
Chief Haight’s first home here was on Washington Avenue, but in the early 1970s he built a new house at the north end of Lake Mamanasco. After his retirement, he moved to South Orleans on Cape Cod, but returned periodically for visits and to host testimonials — after he stepped down as chief, he became a celebrated toastmaster, enjoyed for his wry wit. One of the last formal affairs he attended was a retirement banquet for Thomas Rotunda, who had succeeded him as chief.
He enjoyed golf, fishing and photography.
Chief Haight is survived by three sons: John F. Haight III of Seffner, Fla., Richard T. Haight of Southbury, and Robert L. Haight of Boca Raton, Fla., and by four grandchildren.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Church here on Friday, Nov. 22, at 10:30. Burial is private.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association of Ridgefield, 90 East Ridge, Ridgefield CT 06877.
Eleanor Heinzelman, retired secretary
Eleanor Habicht Heinzelman of 149 Haviland Road, a retired secretary who had been a Ridgefielder nearly 40 years, died on Friday morning, Feb. 7, at Laurel Ridge Nursing & Rehabilitation Center on Danbury Road. She was 82 years old and the widow John H. Heinzelman.
Mrs. Heinzelman was born in Norwalk on Dec. 7, 1920, a daughter of George and Elizabeth Duey Habicht. She attended Norwalk schools and graduated from Norwalk High School in 1937.
The Heinzelmans moved from Norwalk to Haviland Road in 1964. Mrs. Heinzelman was a secretary at Norco of Ridgefield for more than 25 years, retiring seven years ago. Before that, she had worked for Voltarc Tubes in Norwalk and Fairfield.
She was a member of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, where she had been active in the Ladies Aid and had years ago been the typist for the church bulletin.
For relaxation, Mrs. Heinzelman enjoyed reading and embroidery.
Surviving are two daughters, Sheryle E. Heinzelman of Ridgefield and Gayle Eisenbraun and her husband Stephen of Wall, S.D.; and three grandchildren, Travis Eisenbraun and his wife Beth of Sioux Falls, S.D., Todd Eisenbraun of Wall, and Tyler Eisenbraun and his friend Wendi of Watertown, S.D.
Her husband died in 1976.
Pastor Julia Haspel-Schoenfeld conducted services Wednesday, Feb. 12, in St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church. Burial was in Riverside Cemetery, Norwalk.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 6 Ivy Hill Road, Ridgefield CT 06877
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Mary Alice Jennings, 92, psychiatric social worker
Mary Alice Jennings, 92, died Saturday, November 2, 2002 at Hancock Hall, Danbury.
Mrs. Jennings was born in New Castle, Indiana, February 23, 1910, the daughter of Dr. Walter C. and Margaret (Crowe) Van Nuys. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Class of 1932, she earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work at Simmons College in Boston. She worked as a psychiatric social worker in Worcester, Massachusetts, Washington, DC and Indianapolis, Indiana prior to marrying Joe N. Shidler in 1941 and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Widowed in 1959, she married Harry E. Jennings in 1960. Mr. Jennings died in 1994 at which time she moved to Congregate Housing in Ridgefield to be near her family. Mrs. Jennings will be remembered there for her delightful disposition, sprightly sense of humor and constant visits by her grandchildren.
Mrs. Jennings is survived by two daughters, Jacqueline McBride and her husband Robert of Ridgefield, CT and Mary Jo Ardis and her husband David of Fort Walton Beach, FL, six grandchildren, Allison Ardis Araya and David G. Ardis, II of Reno, NV, Amy McBride Baskin of Portland, OR, Maureen McBride of New York, NY, Matthew McBride and Benjamin McBride both of Ridgefield, CT and a great grandson, Noah Baskin.
Two brothers, Walter Van Nuys and John Van Nuys and a granddaughter, Sally McBride predeceased Mrs. Jennings.
Private graveside services will take place in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Ridgefield.
There will be no calling hours.
Friends are asked to plant a tree or flowers, anywhere, in her memory.
The Kane Funeral Home 41 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield is in charge of arrangements.
Kathleen Ilse Kearney, volunteer
Kathleen Ilse Kearney of Greenville, S.C., a former Ridgefielder, died Friday, Feb. 28, at her home. She was 54 years old and the wife of Bill Kearney.
Born on Jan. 27, 1949 in New York City, Mrs. Kearney was a daughter of the late Basil and Ilse Medwid. A homemaker, she had lived on Bob Hill Road from 1978 to 1993 and belonged to St. Elizabeth Seton Church. She had also been a volunteer at St. Stephen’s Nursery School.
In Greenville, Mrs. Kearney was a volunteer at the PTA at Oakview Elementary, Riverdale Middle and J. L. Mann High schools.
Mrs. Kearney was also an active member of St. Mary Magdaline Catholic Church in Greenville.
Besides her husband of 28 years, Mrs. Kearney is survived by two sons, Scott and Brian Kearney of Greenville; a brother, Robert Medwid of Massachusetts; and a sister, Irene Medwid of New Jersey.
A brother, Billy Medwid, died before her.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Tuesday at St. Mary Magdaline Catholic Church. Burial was in Graceland East Memorial Park.
Contributions in her memory may be made to St. Francis Hospice, 414-A Pettigru Street, Greenville, SC 29601.
The Mackey Mortuary was in charge of arrangements.
Peggy Kinnaird, aided many children
Margaret Evelyn Thompson Kinnaird, a longtime Ridgefielder who had served in many volunteer capacities, died at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2003. She was 88 years old.
Mrs. Kinnaird and her husband Dick lived on Peaceable Hill Road for 35 years before moving to Oak Point in Trenton, Maine, in 1982. They moved to a retirement community in Blue Hill, Maine, in 1997.
Born in Minneapolis, Minn., she was the daughter of the late Harwood Grant and Madge Stewart Thompson.
“Peggy’s greatest contribution to the town was the creation of the Ridgefield Scholarship Group in 1969,” said her son, Rob. While treasurer of The Thrift Shop, she realized there were 30 independent scholarships at Ridgefield High School. Her idea was to create a clearinghouse for all applications and awards.
Mrs. Kinnaird and her close friend Daphne McLachlan, guidance counselor Tony Chiodo and Principal Harold Healy spent a year creating the Scholarship Committee to form a liaison between students and donors. She and Jo Fainer were on the evaluation team for another 11 years. Ms. Fainer continues to this day leading The Ridgefield Scholarship Group Inc.
In the 1950’s, Mrs. Kinnaird was treasurer of Children’s Services of Connecticut, a counseling center for needy children and the precursor of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. Described as a quietly generous woman who practiced what she preached, she brought twin 14-year-old girls, Grace and Lucy Arcotta, into her family as foster children in 1954. She and her husband reared them as their own, sent them to college and saw them through life.
As an active member of St. Stephen’s, she was on the search committee in 1949 that brought the Rev. Aaron Manderbach to town. She served on the Altar Guild for 30 years and established the Permanent Flower Memorial Fund. She also taught and served on the Rector’s Education and Planning Committee.
After their retirement to Maine, Mrs. Kinnaird joined the Board of Zoning Appeals and Church of Our Father in Hulls Cove.
She was a volunteer for more than 20 years, past age 87, at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth. “In recent years, she discovered there were benefits with this job,” her son said. “Her security pass at the hospital allowed her to pursue her physician into the cafeteria to discuss her own health. Access to the cafeteria allowed her to add to her very extensive collection of her favorite food: chocolate chip cookies made fresh in the hospital kitchen.”
Mrs. Kinnaird received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s in education from Northwestern University where she met her future husband. She was the student secretary at Northwestern for the Episcopal Church and became chaplain’s assistant at the Episcopal Student House and Chapel at the University of Wisconsin. She and her husband were married in the chapel in 1944. They moved to Stamford for three years where she was treasurer for the League of Women Voters before buying a house in Ridgefield in 1947.
Mr. Kinnaird died in 2001.
Mrs. Kinnaird is survived by two sons, Robert Alexander Kinnaird of Ridgefield and Richard Farrell Kinnaird of Bethesda, Md.; and four grandchildren, Emily Marshall and Lance Alexander Kinnaird of Ridgefield, and Katherine Marie and Richard Alexander Kinnaird of Bethesda. A sister, Cynthia Thompson, and two foster daughters, Lucy Arcotta Truglia and Grace Arcotta, died before her.
A memorial service will take place Saturday, March 8, at 2 p.m. at the Church of Our Father, Hulls Cove, Maine. A service in Ridgefield will be announced.
Instead of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to The Ridgefield Scholarship Group Inc., PO Box 823, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
Herbert Knortz, retired ITT executive
Herbert C. Knortz of Manor Road, a retired financial executive and former board member at International Telephone and Telegraph, died on Friday morning, Feb. 21, in a fire that destroyed his home. Mr. Knortz was 81 years old. His wife, Lorraine, died in 1998.
Mr. Knortz was born March 31, 1921 in Brooklyn, N.Y., a son of John W. and Elizabeth Ann Grotyohann Knortz. He was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School there in 1937.
While holding full-time positions, he completed his college education at night, receiving a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from St. John’s University and a master’s in accountancy and finance from New York University. He also completed his classroom work toward a Ph.D. degree. Mr. Knortz became a CPA in 1950.
After he returned from World War II, he began his career at the Brooklyn Trust Company in the Personal Trust Department. He later held positions at Price Waterhouse and Company, Lever Brothers Company, Crown Cork & Seal, Royal McBee and Mack Truck.
In 1961, he joined International Telephone & Telegraph. He retired in 1986 as comptroller and executive vice president and a member of the Board of Directors.
He was also a member of various accounting societies, including the American Institute of CPA’s, the National Association of Accountants, the Institute of Management Accounting where he was on the Board of Regents, and the International Association of Financial Executives. He was a frequent contributor to the Financial Accounting Standards Board. He was often a panelist and speaker at national conventions. He was a member of Delta Mu Delta and Beta Gamma Sigma honorary societies.
St. John’s University honored Mr. Knortz in 1977 with an honorary doctorate degree of commercial science. The university cited his “outstanding accomplishments and professional contributions to business and the field of accountancy.” During his career and after his retirement he continued as a member of various Board of Directors. Additionally, he organized an ITT retirees club often providing discussion topics for the meetings. He took great personal enjoyment through his accomplishments and success that he achieved during his career.
In Ridgefield, he, along with partner Tina Jennings, founded the Cortina Shop.
He married Lorraine Marion Kraut on Aug. 12, 1949. Mr. and Mrs. Knortz moved to Manor Road in 1956 from West Hartford while he was working for Mack Truck.
He was a voracious reader and had an extensive collection of books. He was an accomplished bridge player and a member of the American Contract Bridge League. He taught bridge at the Ridgefield Community Center. In the mid 1960’s, he took up tennis and was an enthusiastic player. Tracking his sets played each year, he proudly reported that he played more than 500 sets each year during the last 30 years. He was an active and longtime member of the Armonk Tennis Club.
After retiring he took on an extensive genealogy project tracing family roots back through Ellis Island, ship manifests, census records and centuries-old church records from Germany. Much of the initial research for this project was done with the help of the Ridgefield Library.
Mr. Knortz is survived by his children, Steven H. Knortz of Ridgefield, Elizabeth A. Knortz of Philadelphia, Pa., and David C. Knortz of East Granby; a brother, Walter of Vincentown, N.J.; and eight grandchildren.
Private funeral services took place in the Kane Funeral Home.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Ridgefield Library Association, 472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.