Robert H. Wilder, Realtor, tennis star
Robert H. Wilder Sr. of Powderhorn Drive, a Ridgefield resident for 48 years and Ridgefield real estate broker for more than 50 years, died last Friday, Nov. 29. He was 89 years old and was husband of the late Catherine G. Wilder, a longtime Ridgefield teacher.
Robert Harte Wilder Sr. was born on June 16, 1913, the youngest of three sons of Edward and Mary Wilder of West Haven. At an early age, he was both a leader and star athlete. He was president of his senior class and winner of the achievement award for excellence in his senior year. He was co-captain of the West Haven football team and was voted to the all-area football team as running back. Mr. Wilder was also captain of the tennis team (and undefeated in his senior year) and was a winger on the West Haven hockey team.
Mr. Wilder attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with a liberal arts degree.
During World War II Mr. Wilder served in the U.S Navy, achieving the rank of lieutenant commander. He received a special citation from the Secretary of the Navy for his part in expediting the Naval Air Test program during the war.
In 1946, Mr. Wilder moved his wife and young family to Truesdale Lake in South Salem, N.Y., and started a career in Greenwich in real estate and insurance.
Soon after, the lure of having his own business and the tranquility and New England charm of Ridgefield led him to start a real estate business here, Robert H. Wilder Real Estate. He was only the third real estate broker in town at the time.
His first office was above Squash’s Ridgefield News Store on Main Street. In 1968, after 22 years upstairs, he moved downstairs to a ground floor storefront, where Liberta’s is now, and finally to the Grand Union Shopping Center (now CVS). There he and his wife Kay, a Ridgefield High School economics and history teacher for 20 years, operated the business until 1998, when Mrs. Wilder died.
Ridgefield in the late 1950’s was just starting to experience the suburban real estate boom, both corporately and residentially, and Mr. Wilder was involved in many of the largest real estate transactions in the area. Residential sales included the Phillip Wagoner estate on Oreneca Road, the Henry Luce estate, the Zeckendorf estate, Mimosa, Anthony Quinn’s carriage house, the James Doubleday estate, the Marion Anderson Estate in Danbury, the Seth Low Pierrepont Estate and the Olcott Estate (now Casagmo). Major corporate property sales included purchases by Richardson-Merrill, IBM, and Boehringer Ingelheim.
Mr. Wilder was past president and board member of the Ridgefield Board of Realtors, which was at the time a new and rapidly expanding organization. He was also on the Ridgefield Savings Bank board for many years, and served on the Board of Associate Directors of the Union Trust Company, now First Union bank.
“What Bob uniquely acquired and possessed, over his 50-plus year real estate career, was an in-depth knowledge and historical perspective of Ridgefield properties,” said his son, Bob Wilder Jr. “There were stories about every one of these major properties, the owners and previous owners, the buyers, the properties themselves, and the people who built and worked on them that are now lost forever.”
He used his knowledge of real estate and building to serve on the Ridgefield School Building Committee years ago, and on the Selectmen’s Appraisal Committee in the 1970s.
He was also a member and past president of the Ridgefield Rotary Club.
While real estate was his career, tennis was his passion. A longtime member of Silver Spring Country Club, Mr. Wilder, at age 40, renewed a very successful high school tennis career that had been interrupted for 20 years with a war, starting a business and raising a family. Besides his tennis championships at Silver Spring, he toured New England and later traveled to Monaco, Bermuda, Spain, Rome and Baden Baden, Germany, to participate in senior tennis tournaments.
In 1993 at the age of 80, he was ranked first in New England in men’s Singles in the Super Senior Division as well as having a top 15 U.S. national singles ranking among Super Seniors.
He continued to play tennis until August of this year, putting on his tennis shorts one last time in August to “baptize” a new court built by his son. “He always told us he wanted to die on the tennis court but only after he had won the match,” his son said. “He was a very active guy up until two weeks of his death, so I feel he got his wish.”
He is survived by his daughter, Mary Conseur of Stamford, his son, Bob Jr. of New York City and his grandson, Dr. Matthew Townsend, who recently received his Ph.D. from MIT.
A memorial gathering will take place Thursday, Dec. 19, from 4 to 6 at Silver Spring Country Club.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Elinor Wilson, former Ridgefielder, King Neptune cashier
Elinor K. Wilson, 71, of Danbury, formerly of Ridgefield, wife of William G. Wilson, died on Sunday morning, November 3, at the Danbury Hospital.
Mrs. Wilson was born in Weehawken, New Jersey, December 27, 1930, a daughter of the late Robert and Mary (Olsen) Rafferty. She attended New Jersey schools.
An area resident since 1969 coming from New Jersey, Mrs. Wilson resided in Ridgefield from 1969 until 1983 when she moved to Danbury. In early years, Mrs. Wilson was a member of the office staff and cashier at the King Neptune Restaurant in Ridgefield and most recently, a clerk at the CVS Pharmacy, Danbury-Newtown Road, Danbury.
She was a member of St. Joseph’s Church, Danbury.
In addition to her husband of Danbury, she is survived by a daughter, Margaret M. Wilson and her husband David Haber of Danbury, three sons, William G. Wilson, Jr. and his wife Carol Ann of Fairfield, CT, John T. Wilson and his wife Theresa and Thomas G. Wilson and his wife Kim all of Danbury, a brother, Robert Rafferty and two sisters, Marilyn Timony and Dolores Davino all of Manahawkin, NJ, four grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
Friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday at 11AM in St. Joseph’s Church, Danbury.
Interment will be private. There will be no calling hours.
The Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, 9-11 Granville Avenue, Danbury is in charge of arrangements.
Marion Woodlock, 88, former teacher
Marion Reichling Woodlock of Yarmouthport, Mass., a former Ridgefielder who had been a music teacher, died Thursday, Dec. 19. She was 88 years old.
Mrs. Woodlock, who had lived on Lincoln Lane, had taught music at Veterans Park School in the 1960s.
The daughter of the late Dr. John and Lucy L. Cole Reichling, Mrs. Woodlock attended Juilliard School of Music and the Teachers College of Columbia University. She had also taught in Pampa, Texas, and Bennington, Vt.
Mrs. Woodlock had retired to Cape Cod where she was named Harwich Senior Citizen of the Year in 1991. She was a volunteer for the Community Concerts of the Cape Cod Symphony, was a Harwich Hospital aide, and made hats and gloves for the Harwich Family Pantry. She sang with the Chatham Chorale for more than 20 years.
Mrs. Woodlock was a communicant of Holy Trinity Church in Harwich.
She is survived by a daughter, Patricia Woodlock Fisher of Yarmouthport; a stepdaughter, Frances Cooke of Damariscotta, Maine; a stepson, James Woodlock of Woodland Hills, Calif.; a grandson, Timothy K. Fisher of Miami, Fla., and Yarmouthport; and four nieces.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Saturday, Dec. 21, at the St. Pius X Church, South Yarmouth.
Burial was at the Bennington Park Lawn Cemetery, Bennington, Vt.
Memorial donations may be made to Young at Heart, c/o Fisher Family, 626 Main Street, Yarmouthport, MA 02675.
The Hallett Funeral Home, 273 Station Avenue, South Yarmouth, was in charge of arrangements.
Grethe Zbinden, former Ridgefielder
Grethe Anderson Zbinden of Danbury, a native of Denmark and a former Ridgefielder, died unexpectedly at her home Jan. 10. She was 75 years old.
Mrs. Zbinden was born July 4, 1927 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and moved to the United States at a young age. She married Harry Zbinden Sept. 8, 1951 in New Jersey where they lived until the late 1970s when they moved to Ridgefield and later to Danbury. She worked at Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Company in Georgetown in various positions until her retirement in 1995.
In their youth the Zbindens enjoyed fishing and motorcycling. She also loved to cook.
Mrs. Zbinden is survived by her husband. Their their son, Hans, died before her.
A longtime member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Danbury, she served with the Altar Guild for many years.
A memorial service was at Immanuel Lutheran Church, West Street, Danbury on Monday, March 10.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Step of Faith Fund, Immanuel Lutheran Church, 26 West Street, Danbury, CT 06810.
The Szymaszek-Taylor Funeral Home in Meriden was in charge of arrangements.
Kathleen Kennedy, 70, veteran and nurse
Kathleen N. “Kitty” Kennedy of Bridgeport, a nurse and former longtime Ridgefielder, died on Saturday, Feb. 1, at her home. She was 70 years old and the widow of Richard B. Kennedy.
Mrs. Kennedy was born on June 18, 1932 in Barboursville, Va., daughter of the late Raymond and Lorenza Wood Norford. She grew up on a farm in Albemarle County, Va., and graduated from Grace Hospital School of Nursing in Richmond, Va..
Mrs. Kennedy joined the U.S. Navy in 1953 and served two years as a lieutenant, much of her tour at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Great Lakes, Ill.
During her service, she met her husband, a Navy corpsman who was a patient at the hospital. They were married on her birthday, June 18, 1955.
The Kennedys lived in Illinois, New York, Virginia, and New Jersey before moving to Ridgefield in 1967. They had homes here on Barlow Mountain Road and later Scodon Drive. Most recently, Mrs. Kennedy had lived on Branchville Road.
Mrs. Kennedy had worked as a registered nurse at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco and then as a nurse for Dr. Phillip Bonanno, also in Mount Kisco.
For many years, Mrs. Kennedy was an active bowler at the old Ridge Bowl on Danbury Road. She also enjoyed bridge.
“She was a wonderful person who loved her children and loved Connecticut, but home was always Virginia,” said her daughter, Jo Schimke.
Mr. Kennedy died in 1994.
Mrs. Kennedy is survived by three sons, David E. Kennedy of Levittown, N.Y., T. Michael Kennedy of Bridgeport, and Stephen R. Kennedy of Bridgeport; two daughters, Theresa K. Brennan of Woodstock, Ga., and Jo Ellyn K. Schimke of Ridgefield; a brother, Raymond “Dick” Norford of Charlottesville, Va.; a sister Barbara N. Gentry of Charlottesville; nine grandchildren, including Melissa, Nicole, and Wade Schimke of Ridgefield; several nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles.
A brother, A. Durell Norford, died before her.
Services will take place Saturday, Feb. 8, at 1 p.m. at Teague Funeral Home, 2260 Ivy Road, Charlottesville. Interment will be at Holly Memorial Garden in Charlottesville.
Donations may be made to the Connecticut Hospice, 680 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton, CT 06484.
Ann LaDelfa, loved, helped children
Ann J. LaDelfa of Ridgefield, a longtime Ridgefielder and a benefactor of children’s causes, died at her home Saturday, May 24. She was 75 years old and the widow of Philip I. LaDelfa.
Mrs. LaDelfa was born in Rochester, N.Y., on Dec. 2, 1927, a daughter of the late Carlo and Catherine Bartolevich DeBellis. She attended Rochester schools and graduated from Madison High School in Rochester in the Class of 1945.
Mrs. LaDelfa moved to Ridgefield from Yardley, Pa., in 1974. She had been a member of the food service staff at Union Carbide in Danbury, retiring in 1989. She belonged to St. Mary’s Church.
Mrs. LaDelfa was a strong advocate for the needs of children, and among the agencies she aided were Feed the Children World Organization and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Feed the Children recently honored her for her “generous contributions to the cause of the prevention of child hunger and starvation.” The organization said that her contributions for a single year provided more than 4,200 meals for children in need.
“She loved children,” said her daughter, Joanne Motta of Ridgefield. “All of her charities were always focused on children.”
After her own five children grew up, “she lived for her grandchildren,” Mrs. Motta said. “She was the epitome of the word maternal. She was just the greatest mom.”
Years ago, Mrs. LaDelfa enjoyed bowling, ceramics and card playing. More recently, Mrs. Motta said, she liked to go to the movies on Sunday evenings with her friends and to pay “an occasional visit with the tribal Indians at Foxwoods and or the Mohegan Sun.”
Mrs. LaDelfa is survived by two sons, Philip C. LaDelfa and his wife Sharon of New Milford, and Christopher P. LaDelfa and his wife Kristina of Moorestown, N.J.; three daughters, Kathy A. West and her husband Miles of Brownville, N.Y., Joanne M. Motta and her husband Burt and her care-giver, Pamela A. Carpenter, all of Ridgefield; two brothers, Joseph DeBellis and his wife Joyce and Salvatore “Sam” DeBellis and his wife Rita, all of Rochester, N.Y.; 11 grandchildren, Michael LaDelfa, Olivia LaDelfa, Matthew LaDelfa, Grace LaDelfa, Peter LaDelfa, Justin West, Kristen West, Blaise Motta, Carly Motta, Jennifer Carpenter and Nicholas Carpenter; and several nieces and nephews.
Her husband, Philip, died in 1986.
Three brothers, Vincent DeBellis, Anthony DeBellis and John DeBellis, and a sister, Mary Jane D’Andreano, also died before her.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Wednesday in St. Mary’s Church. Burial was in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Feed the Children, P.O. Box 36, Oklahoma City, OK 73101, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, P.O. Box 318, Memphis, TN 38101 or to the Mid-Fairfield County Hospice, P.O. Box 489, Wilton, CT 06897
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Stephen Kertesz, 74, retired engineer
Stephen J. Kertesz of Ridgefield, a retired engineer and a Ridgefielder for more than 40 years, died on Wednesday, June 4, at Mediplex of Danbury. He was 74 years old and the husband of Marie Celine Smith Kertesz
Mr. Kertesz was born in Carteret, N.J., on May 5, 1929, a son of Stephen and Anna Kertesz. When he was a year old, his family moved to Norwalk, where he attended schools and graduated from Norwalk High School in the Class of 1947. He was also a graduate of the Bridgeport School of Engineering.
He served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.
Mr. Kertesz was an electrical engineer with Norwalk Electric Company, retiring in 1993 after 30 years of service. He belonged to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 208.
A resident of Ridgefield for the past 43 years, Mr. Kertesz had been active in the Ridgefield Bowling League, playing at the old Ridge Bowl on Danbury Road. He was also a model airplane hobbyist.
He was a member St. Mary’s Church.
Besides his wife of 43 years, Mr. Kertesz is survived by three daughters, Lori E. Dight of West Redding, Ridgefield Police Sgt. Amy E. Kertesz of Norwalk, and Lynn M. Mullings of Jupiter, Fla; and by four grandchildren, Ryan, Tatyana, and Bridgette Dight, and Matthew Mullings.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Monday in St. Mary’s Church. Interment will be private.
Contributions in his memory may be made to a charity of choice.
The Kane Funeral Homewas in charge of arrangements.