Jay Popkins, writer who grew up here
John Reardon “Jay” Popkins, who grew up in Ridgefield in the 1960s and ’70s, died Friday, Jan. 31, while staying with his sister in Massachusetts.
Mr. Popkins, 45, of South Ogden, Utah, had battled manic depression for many years before taking his life in a Brockton, Mass., hotel room. A writer of short and long fiction, he published a novel, randy: my son always, in 1999 under the pen name Ernest Knobbs. He also worked for several years as a technical writer at Autoliv Inc. in Ogden.
Born Feb. 17, 1957, in Greenwich, Mr. Popkins moved with his family to Ridgefield in 1959. He attended St. Mary’s School, East Ridge Junior High and Ridgefield High but graduated from Hamden High School in 1975 after his family moved to that New Haven suburb in his junior year.
He was a 1979 graduate of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English; for summer employment, he lived and worked as a lifeguard at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
During his early years as a writer, he drove a taxi in Honolulu and worked for a computer company and an insurance company in Hartford.
A resident of Utah since 1994, he was an avid skier and hiker. He climbed in or skied the backcountry of many wilderness areas in the country, including Kings Peak in Utah, Mount Whitney in California, and Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
His only daughter, Katharine Costello Popkins, died of sudden infant death syndrome in 1998 at the age of six months. His mother, Ann Miriam Reardon, had died earlier that same year.
He leaves his father, Edward J. Popkins of Winter Park, Fla.; a younger sister, Marcella M. Curry of Dennisport, Mass., and her husband, David Curry; an older brother, Edward J. “Ned” Popkins Jr. of Orlando, Fla., and his wife, Marianne M. Popkins; and three nephews — Taylor E., John F. and Duncan M. Popkins — all of Orlando.
A memorial service will take place Saturday, Feb. 15, at 11 a.m. at Knapp Funeral Home, 267 Greenwich Avenue. Another service will take place in Utah sometime in the spring.
Donations in his memory may be made to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, P.O. Box 79972, Baltimore, MD 21279-0972.
Peter Frederick Pruyn, 73, executive in paper industry
Peter Frederick Pruyn of Danbury Road and formerly of Mimosa Circle, died Wednesday morning, April 2, at Danbury Hospital after a long illness. He was 73.
Born and raised in Glens Falls, N.Y., Mr. Pruyn was the son of the late Samuel and Elizabeth Howard Pruyn and brother of Howard K. Pruyn of Vero Beach, Fla., and the late Samuel Pruyn Jr.
Mr. Pruyn was active in football and track and field at Glens Falls High School and served four years in the Army during the Korean War before graduating from Boston University with a B.S. in business administration. He had a career in the paper industry, holding positions with Fraser Inc., Gould Paper, and Georgia Pacific among others, before starting his own company, Peter Pruyn Sales Inc. (later Dakota Resources).
He was a 37-year resident of Ridgefield. Family members said he possessed a wicked sense of humor and a love of classical music, and could often be seen playing tennis at several clubs around town.
In addition to his brother Howard, Mr. Pruyn is survived by his wife of 45 years, Jane Reith Kennedy Pruyn of Danbury Road, daughter Elizabeth Ann Pruyn of Los Angeles, Calif., and son Peter David Pruyn and grandchildren Emily, Samuel and Thomas Pruyn of North Wales, Pa.
A graveside service and interment of ashes will take place at a later date at Pineview Cemetery in Queensbury, N.Y.
Allen Dale Reedy, pioneer aviator
Allen Dale Reedy, a pioneer commercial aviator and former Ridgefielder, died Saturday, Nov. 16, after a short illness at Hospice House in Concord, N.H.
Born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1912, Mr. Reedy graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma and received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Stanford University in California. He taught high school mathematics for a while in California. In 1938, when he was a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps stationed at March Field, he married Ernestine Paschke Reedy, a newspaper editor in Ontario, Calif.
In 1939, Mr. Reedy went to work for the fledgling airline, Pan American. At that time the airline industry was new, and the crews were breaking new ground in the field of aviation with nearly every trip. Among other “firsts,” Dale Reedy was navigator on the first instrument landing in Mexico City. During WWII, he flew the flying boats, known as Clippers.
The Reedy family moved to Griffith Lane in 1946. Ernestine Reedy was active on the Girl Scout Council and Rural Neighbors as well as other groups in town. Mr. Reedy, also active when not on trips, served on the building committee for Veterans Park School.
Under the tutelage of Ridgefielder Harold “Pinky” Gillum, an internationally known maker of fine bamboo fishing rods, Mr. Reedy learned to make fly rods, which his children and grandchildren have received as gifts.
Their daughters, Susan and Martha, both graduated from Ridgefield High School.
Mr. Reedy took early retirement, and in 1968 moved to Southbury. Later he and his wife moved to Hillsborough, N.H., where they lived more than 30 years and where Mr. Reedy was active with the Conservation Commission and his wife in the garden club. Mrs. Reedy died two years ago.
Survivors include two daughters, Martha Child of Bennington, N.H., and Susan Schnur of Islesboro, Maine; a sister: Lorna Follensbee of Concord, N.H., who lived in Ridgefield in the late 1940’s; five grandchildren: Becky Schnur of Maine, Christopher and Steven Child of New Hampshire, Matthew Child of Virginia, and Michael Schnur of Massachusetts; and six great-granddaughters.
Contributions in his memory may be sent either to Habitat for Humanity International, 121 Habitat Street, Americus, GA 31709, or to The Hillsborough Rescue Squad, P.O Box 7, Hillsborough, NH 03244.
Noel Regney, 80, composer of many hit songs
Noel Regney, a composer who penned one of America’s most popular Christmas carols, died Monday, Nov. 25, in the Putnam Ridge Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Brewster, N.Y. The former Ridgefielder was 80 years old and the husband of Susan Petrie Spiegel-Regney.
In 1962, Mr. Regney and his first wife, Gloria Shayne, wrote “Do You Hear What I Hear?” which has been recorded by dozens of artists, including Bing Crosby and Perry Como, and has become one of the most often-played modern carols. The song had been commissioned to fill the flip side of a single that was expected to be a hit.
“This is my chance to write a Christmas song for myself,” Mr. Regney later recalled thinking at the time. “I had thought I’d never write a Christmas song: Christmas had become so commercial. But this was the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the studio, the producer was listening to the radio to see if we had been obliterated.
“Walking home to my apartment on East 52nd Street, I saw two mothers with their babies in strollers. The babies were looking at each other and smiling, and all of a sudden, my mood was extraordinary.”
He sat down, wrote the lyrics and handed them to his wife, who wrote the tune. “Noel wrote a beautiful song and I did the music,” Gloria Shayne said in 1999. “We couldn’t sing it through; it broke us up.”
The flip-side deal fell through, but another record company decided to make the song, performed by Harry Simeone Choral, a lead recording. A quarter of a million copies were released just after Thanksgiving 1962, and sold out within a week. A year later, Bing Crosby did a version, and for many years and under various artists, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” sold more than one million copies a year.
A charming man with a deep voice whose accent reflected his native land, Noel Regney was born in Strasbourg, France, on Aug. 19, 1920, a son of the late Xavier and Bertha Saur Schlinger. He studied at the university and the conservatory in Strasbourg, at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and at the Conservatoire National de Paris.
During World War II, he was a fighter in the French underground and with Allied Forces.
Mr. Regney began his career as musical director of the Indochinese Service of Radio France from 1948 to 1950 and also worked as director of the Lido nightclub in Paris.
In 1951, he left France job to take a world tour as musical director for French singer Lucienne Boyer. He had had, he said in a 1981 interview, “a very romantic love affair with a society lady and it went sour. I liked the idea of going away from the scene of my broken heart.”
That year he settled in New York City and started working for early television shows as an arranger, composer and conductor. He created radio jingles and soon began writing songs with Ms. Shayne. Among their hits were “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” “Sweet Little Darlin’,” “Goodbye Cruel World,” and “What’s the Use of Crying,” sung by such artists as Jo Stafford, Eddie Fisher, James Darren, Bobbie Vinton, Danny Kaye, Doris Day, and even Marlene Dietrich. Many were top sellers, but none had the success of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” which has appeared on more than 120 albums and in versions ranging from jazz and new age to funk and reggae.
The Regneys also did two other Christmas songs, still sung today: “I Sing Noel” and “Three Wise Men, Three.”
Noel and Gloria Regney moved to High Ridge in 1969. After their divorce a few years later, Ms. Shayne moved to Stamford while Mr. Regney remained here, frequently performing and speaking before community groups and at fund-raisers.
He also turned to more serious writing. In 1971, his “Slovenly Peter,” a concert suite based on an old German folk tale, had its world premiere in a concert at East Ridge Middle School, sung by Metropolitan Opera baritone John Reardon.
In 1975, he wrote the five-part cantata, “I Believe in Life.”
“Writing it,” he said in 1977, “was like coming back to my first love. I began to think this would be my musical testament, something lasting.”
Mr. Regney continued to live and perform in Ridgefield until the early 1980s, often singing and playing at the piano at The Elms Inn. He enjoyed working with children, and would frequently visit the schools — and sometimes appeared in holiday concerts.
He had also lived in South Salem, Bethel, and most recently, Danbury.
Besides his wife, Mr. Regney is survived by two sons: Matthieu Regney of Bethel and Paul Regney of Bangkok; a daughter, Gabrielle Regney of the Bronx, N.Y.; a stepdaughter, Patricia Spiegel if Danbury; a brother, Francis Schlinger of Alsace, France; and a sister, Anne Marie Schlinger of Alsace: and two grandchildren, Aidan and Gareth.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, Dec. 2, at St. Mary’s Church in Ridgefield. Burial will take place in France.
Friends will be received in the Kane Funeral Home, 41 Catoonah Street, on Saturday from 6 to 9 and Sunday from 2 to 5.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Make A Wish Foundation, 940 White Plains Road, Trumbull, CT 06611.
Martha Salzman, 67, harpsichordist
Martha Zepp Salzman, a longtime Ridgefielder and a harpsichordist who was one of the early members of the Ridgefield Symphony, died Jan. 9 in Tucson, Ariz. She was 67 and wife of Joseph Salzman.
Mrs. Salzman was born in Chicago, Ill., on April 26, 1934, daughter of Louise and Rudolph Zepp. She grew up in the Chicago area and graduated from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where she was a George Eastman Honorary Scholar. She received a master’s degree in music at the University of Illinois, where she taught oboe for two years.
She married Joseph Salzman in 1958 and a year later the couple moved to Ridgefield where she began raising a family.
Mrs. Salzman was one of the first members of the Ridgefield Symphonette, now the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, and was an early board member.
When she began her performing career here, she played the oboe with the orchestra and was also an accomplished pianist. In the late 1970s, however, Mrs. Salzman discovered her fondness for the harpsichord.
“I had only tinkered with it a couple of times, when a friend invited me to play his,” she told a reporter in 1979. “I’d never had any forethought about it, but when I started playing it, I just fell tremendously in love with it. After five months, I gave up the piano completely and switched to the harpsichord.”
Mrs. Salzman studied under Albert Fuller in New York and with Igor Kipnis, the noted harpsichordist, who lived in Redding and who once commented that Mrs. Salzman played “extremely musically.”
By 1979 she had begun performing throughout the area, both in solo concerts and with orchestras, on a harpsichord that had been custom made for her in Boston. She frequently performed as the harpsichord accompanist for Thomas Stacy, English horn soloist for the New York Philharmonic.
One of the high points of her career was performing in 1985 at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, a center for early music, where Handel had performed more than 200 years earlier.
She herself specialized in music of the Baroque period.
“I get a real joy out of making a piece live,” she once said. “For me, music is sort of a haven, and it’s made me so very happy. Music heightens the ordinary existence of everyday living — it takes us away from the turmoil of the world and brings a bit of peace and beauty into our lives.”
For many years Mrs. Salzman taught piano here, and had hundreds of students.
In 1992, the Salzmans retired to Tucson, where she became active in and president of the Arizona Early Music Society. She performed widely on the harpsichord in Arizona.
Besides her husband, Mrs. Salzman is survived by three children, Mark Salzman of Glendale, Calif., Erich Salzman of Tucson; and Rachel Salzman of Bethel, owner of the Ridgefield Tile Shop on Main Street; and by two grandchildren, Ava Salzman of Glendale and Isabela Oprea of Bethel.
A memorial service will take place in the spring in Tuscon.
Contributions in her memory may be made to The Arizona Early Music Society, 2937 E. Beverly Drive, Tucson, AZ 85716.
Ines T. Carboni, former Riudgefielder
Ines T. Carboni of New Milford, a former Ridgefielder, died in her sleep Wednesday, Dec. 18, in New Milford Hospital. She was 90 years old and the widow of John P. Carboni of Ridgefield, who died in 1993.
Mrs. Carboni was born Jan. 8, 1912, in Ridgefield, the daughter of late Allegrina and Alberto Servadio. She attended Ridgefield schools and had lived many years on Greenfield Avenue.
Her family said, “She was a devoted and loving person who dedicated her life to her family.”
Mrs. Carboni is survived by her son: Paul A. Carboni and his wife, Grace, and her granddaughter, Juliana, of New Milford; another son: Vincent and his wife, Peggy, and two granddaughters, Lisa and Kristen of Maine; also, two other granddaughters, Heidi of Georgia and Nicola of Germany; seven great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
The Rev. Michael J. Moran and Father Fred Langlois will lead a memorial service celebrating her life today, Thursday, Jan. 16, at 11 a.m. at the First Congregational Church of New Milford.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the New Milford Visiting Nurses, 68 Park Lane, New Milford, CT 06776.
Virginia Caponera, active at St. Mary’s
Virginia Ann Caponera of Port Charlotte, Fla., a former longtime Ridgefielder, died Friday, Jan. 24. She was 79 and the wife of Vincent G. Caponera, a Ridgefield native and a retired teacher of the Ridgefield schools.
Mrs. Caponera was born in Hartford, a daughter of Norman B. Little and Esther Schaeffer, and was a Mayflower descendant. She attended schools in Wethersfield.
Mrs. Caponera, who lived for many years on Parley Road, was active in St. Mary’s Church where she was a member of the Rosary Society. She also belonged to the Third Order of Franciscans, was once active in the Ridgefield Cub Scouts, and was an amateur artist.
She and her husband were married in 1942 and she had lived in Ridgefield until August 1983 when the couple retired to Port Charlotte.
Besides her husband, she is survived by six children: Vincent N. Caponera of Ridgefield, David Caponera of Cape Coral, Fla., Michael Caponera of Bethel, Peter Caponera of Port Charlotte, Mary Caponera of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Lynn Caponera of Ridgefield; three sisters: Priscilla Cyr of Balloville, Katherine Pelletier of Fort Kent, Maine, and Joan Bragdon of Bloomfield; 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
A Memorial Mass was celebrated Wednesday at San Pedro Catholic Church in North Port, Fla.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Hospice of Southwest Florida, 5955 Rand Boulevard, Sarasota, FL 34238, or to ROAR (the Ridgefield animal welfare organization), at Box 43, Ridgefield CT 06877
Kays-Ponger Funeral Home in Port Charlotte is in charge of arrangements.