George R. Young, retired engineer
George R. Young, an engineer who had lived and worked in Ridgefield years ago, died Wednesday, June 11, in Bethel. He was 84 years old and husband of the late Jane Kellogg Young.
Born and raised in Newtown, Mr. Young spent most of his adult years living in Ridgefield and Bethel.
Mr. Young was employed by Electro-Mechanical Research in Ridgefield from 1946 until 1958. He then spent the next 21 years at Data Control Systems & Co. of Danbury.
In 1979 he became process control engineer for Times Fiber Communications until his retirement. In 1984 he worked as a consultant for Universal Photonix and Company
Survivors include his daughters, Bonnie Geithner of Acton, Mass., and Meg Glahn of Bethel; six grandchildren, David, Susan, Robert and Brian Glahn, and Dieter and Emil Geithner; and seven great-grandchildren, Joshua, Christopher, Janzen, Jenna, Amanda, Ashley and Chase.
Friends are invited to attend a memorial service Monday, June 30, at 11 a.m. in St. James Church, West Street, Danbury. The Rev. Laura Ahrens will be officiating.
Burial will be private.
Instead of flowers, contributions may be made in Mr. Young’s memory to Bethel Visiting Nurse Association, 1 School Street, Bethel, CT 06801 or the Bethel Fire Department Memorial Fund, 36-38 South Street, Bethel, CT 06801.
Arrangements were handled by County Cremation Service, 36 South Pine Creek Road, Fairfield.
Philomena Mecozzi Ziem, Branchville native
Philomena L. Ziem of Bethel, a Branchville native, died on Saturday, May 3, at Danbury Hospital. Ms. Ziem, 89, was the wife of the late Herman Ziem.
Mrs. Ziem was born in Branchville on Aug. 6, 1913, a daughter of the late Joseph and Bertina DiGiovanni Mecozzi.
Before moving to Bethel, she was a longtime Georgetowner and parishioner of Sacred Heart Church.
Mrs. Ziem was a caterer who worked many area towns. An active volunteer at Sacred Heart, she carried her catering skills to church functions.
Later, when she moved to Bethel, she became a parishioner of St. Mary Church and continued being an active volunteer there. She was a founding member of the Bethel Chapter of AARP and, in 1992, she was named hospitality chair and Woman of the Year.
Mrs. Ziem is survived by her son, Arnold H. Ziem of Weston; two brothers, Albert Mecozzi of Wilton and Dominick Mecozzi of Redding; a sister, Rose Strout of Wilton; three grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. A son, Raymond F. Ziem, died before her.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Wednesday at the Church of St. Mary in Bethel. Burial was private.
Memorial contributions in her name may be made to the Kidney Foundation of Connecticut, 920 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06107.
The Bethel Funeral Home, 215 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, handled the arrangements.
Sidney Scott, 78, longtime mailman, fireman, descended from town founders
Sidney Burr Scott of Ridgefield, a longtime mailman who served more than 60 years as a volunteer fireman here, died on Friday, July 25, at Danbury Hospital. He was 78 years old and the husband of Connie Miller Scott.
Mr. Scott was a direct descendant of David Scott, who came to Ridgefield in 1712 as one of the town’s first settlers and who built the “Scott House” that’s now headquarters of the Ridgefield Historical Society. David Scott’s descendants established farms on North Salem Road near Lake Mamanasco, an area that later became known as Scott’s Ridge and then Scotland District.
Mr. Scott was born just to the south in the Titicus District on Feb. 12, 1925, a son of Edward P. and Clara L. Burr Scott. His great grandfather, Col. Hiram K. Scott, and grandfather, George G. Scott, were prominent Ridgefielders who each served as town clerk and as probate judge. His father was a painting contractor who was active in the community, including the fire department.
Mr. Scott grew up on Bailey Avenue and attended Ridgefield schools. While he was still a student, World War II broke out and many firemen went off to war or to work in defense industries. To help fill in for the lost manpower, he became a “junior fireman” at the age of 17.
“When we were in the old high school and the whistle blew, everyone ran out to fight the fire,” Mr. Scott recalled in a 1984 interview when he was honored for his many years of service with the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department.
After graduation he entered the U.S. Army Air Force, serving as a gunner aboard bombers that flew from Italy to attack targets in Germany late in the war. Mr. Scott, who attained the rank of staff sergeant, had many reminiscences of the war, but none so poignant as the story of how he was on a mission over Germany when a fellow gunner, weary of his position in a certain turret, asked to change places with Mr. Scott. Soon after they switched, the other man was shot dead by enemy fire.
Shortly after he returned home in 1946, Mr. Scott was asked to fill in two weeks for a postal letter carrier who was ill.
“It’s been a long two weeks,” he said at his retirement from the post office 34 years later.
When he began as a mailman, the post office was on Main Street where Addessi’s is now, most people in town got two deliveries a day, and many of the roads were still dirt. “The service was better then,” he said in 1980. “We were more friendly with the people — things were less rushed.”
After his retirement, Mr. Scott joined Perkin-Elmer as a mechanical draftsman, a trade he had learned years earlier at Henry Abbott Technical School in Danbury. He later took over the mailroom at the Ridgefield plant on Route 7. He retired in 1993.
At the firehouse, Mr. Scott started out as a firefighter right after the war. He fought many of the major fires here in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. “You never knew what was going to happen,” he said. “You had to be a little adventuresome to be a fireman.”
For the last 27 years, he was captain of the fire police, the volunteers who provide traffic control around fires, accident scenes and other emergencies. He was responding to calls until just a few weeks ago.
“He was invaluable to us,” said Walter K. Wieland, a fellow fire policeman and a longtime friend. “He knew every road,” information useful in setting up roadblocks and detours.
Thanks to his 34 years as a mail carrier and his lifelong residency, Mr. Wieland added, “he knew virtually every person in town — even if they didn’t know him.”
“He was probably the calmest person I’ve ever met,” Mr. Wieland added. “Nothing ever rattled him. And he didn’t have a bad word about anyone.”
Mr. Scott was active in many other aspects of the community. He co-owned and operated the Mapleshade Cemetery, where he also served as sexton. He was a member of the Jerusalem Lodge of Masons, and was a past master. He belonged to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, where he had served as a commander.
Mr. Scott had also been a vestryman at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
He also belonged to the Connecticut Fire Police Association and the Westchester-Putnam-Dutchess Fire Police Association.
In 2001, Mr. Scott was among a group of Ridgefielders honored by Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz for public service to the community.
Besides his wife of 51 years, Mr. Scott is survived by a son, Russell L. Scott; a sister, Dorothy Stefanelli and her husband Robert, all of Ridgefield; and several nieces and nephews.
Two brothers, Edward Scott and James Scott, died before him.
The Rev. Dr. Aaron Manderbach led services on Tuesday in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
Burial was in Mapleshade Cemetery.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, 6 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield, 06877.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Loretta S. Ahrens, former Ridgefielder
Loretta “Peg” Stenhouse Ahrens of Weems, Va. died Monday, July 21. She was 79 years old and the widow of Alfred Herman Ahrens.
Mrs. Ahrens was a graduate of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque with a pre-law degree and Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. with a paralegal degree.
Mrs. Ahrens lived on Ascot Lane from 1978 until 1986. Her husband, who died on Jan. 9 this year, had been a Navy commander and was an engineer for General Dynamics and Ebasco. As a military daughter and wife, she lived in many parts of the world.
She was a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church when she lived here.
Mrs. Ahrens was a member of Grace Episcopal Church, Kilmarnock, Va. and a life member of the Foundation for Historic Christ Church, Irvington, Va.
Surviving are a son, William Carl Ahrens of Nashua, N.H.; two daughters, Ann Ahrens Spargo of Rochester, N.Y. and Amy Hayes Ahrens of East Windsor; two grandchildren, Emily Ahrens and Collin Ahrens.
The Rev. Hugh C. White III led services Friday, July 25 at Grace Episcopal Church, Kilmarnock. Burial was at Historic Christ Church Burying Ground, Irvington.
Contributions in her memory may be made to RGH Oncology Developmental Council, Swift-Walker Fund, P.O. Box 588, Kilmarnock, VA 22482; to Grace Episcopal Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 1059, Kilmarnock, VA 22482; or American Diabetes Association, Virginia Affiliate, Inc., 1290 Seminole Trail, Suite #2, Charlottesville, VA 22901.
James Blackwell, 72, Newsweek editor, school board member
James M. Blackwell IV of Old South Salem Road, a former Newsweek editor who served on the Board of Education during some of its most tumultuous years, died Monday, May 12. He was 72 years old and the husband of Anne Stires Blackwell.
At Newsweek, Mr. Blackwell was involved in the coverage of some of the major stories of the 20th Century, including the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. As a school board member, he was involved in equally large stories on a local level, ranging from the famous “book burning” controversy that gained national attention to shutting down schools because of dwindling enrollments.
A native of New York City, James Madison Blackwell IV was born on Feb. 5, 1931, a son of the late James M. III and Betsy Talbot Blackwell. His father was a lawyer, but it was his mother, a former Ridgefielder, who inspired his career in magazines: She had been editor of Mademoiselle for 35 years.
Mr. Blackwell grew up in New York City, graduated from Hebron Academy in Maine, and from Harvard University in 1952.
The same year, during the Korean War, he entered the U.S. Army and wound up a drill sergeant in Mississippi. “He kept begging to be sent to Korea, but they wouldn’t send him because he was too good a drill sergeant,” Anne Blackwell said.
After the war, he went to work in the business department of Conde Nast, the magazine publishing company. Though his future wife worked for Vogue, a Conde Nast publication, the two met while working on a political campaign for a New York City councilman. They were married in 1963.
Mr. Blackwell joined Newsweek that year, starting in the production department and becoming a senior editor in 1971. When he retired in 1985, he was editorial operations director and senior editor.
For the next 10 years, he operated Blackwell Consulting, which specialized in publishing technology. He retired in 1995.
The Blackwells moved to Ridgefield in 1969, living at first on Silver Spring Lane and in 1973 acquiring their early 18th Century home on Old South Salem Road.
Mr. Blackwell once said that “in order to make a difference in anything, whether it be education, politics, the price of food or whatever, one must not only be willing to become involved, one must be involved.”
The former drill sergeant was outspoken in his opposition to the Vietnam War, switching from being a Republican to a Democrat “when he found we were all being lied to about Vietnam,” his wife said. After attending an early 1970s lecture by Daniel Ellsberg, a classmate at Harvard who leaked the “Pentagon Papers” to The New York Times and others, he wound up being investigated by the FBI and Secret Service. “He considered it a great honor to be on Dick Nixon’s enemies list,” Anne Blackwell said.
In Ridgefield, Mr. Blackwell headed the Ninth Grade Placement Committee which in 1971 recommended moving the ninth grade from the junior high to the high school, a configuration still used today. Two years later, he ran successfully for the Board of Education, serving six years during one of the most contentious periods in the history of the schools. National attention was twice drawn to the town and efforts of parents and some board members to ban the use of several books, such as Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice, as supplemental reading in high school elective courses. They were efforts he vociferously opposed before and while he was on the board. It was also a period when the board had fierce annual budget battles and decided to close the nearly new Barlow Mountain School because enrollments had fallen so much.
He was also on the board that hired Dr. Elliott Landon, the 37-year-old school superintendent largely credited with vastly improving the education climate in the schools and in the town in the late 1970s and the1980s.
Nonetheless Mr. Blackwell found it ironic when, at his last meeting as a school board member in 1979, a parent stood up and began expressing his outrage at a book he found being used in the high school.
Mr. Blackwell asked what the book was.
“Catcher in the Rye,” the man said.
“Jesus Christ, here we go again!” Mr. Blackwell exclaimed.
Nothing became of the complaint.
For relaxation, Mr. Blackwell enjoyed tennis and travel. He had a summer and weekend home on Nantucket, and had for 50 years regularly visited Bermuda, where he was a member of the Coral Beach Club.
He belonged to the Silver Spring Country Club and the Harvard Club in New York City. In the early 1960s, he had been president of the Association of Publication Production Managers. In the 1990s, he became vice president of the board of directors of Nantucket Magazine.
Mr. Blackwell continued to follow world and local affairs closely. “He was a news nut up till the day he died,” Mrs. Blackwell said. In 1991, he wrote a letter about the Gulf War, observing that “journalists trying to learn and convey what is really happening are being condemned as being unsupportive of our troops and as helping the enemy and, therefore, disloyal.” But, he warned, a free and inquisitive press is vital, especially in times of war. “Military lying during the Vietnam War was so habitual that the White House routinely intercepted reports from Newsweek’s reporters in Vietnam and read them before we got them in New York, because our reports were far more accurate and timely than those they received from the military.”
Besides his wife, Mr. Blackwell is survived by three children, Stephen Hardwick Blackwell of Knoxville, Tenn., a professor of Russian and Russian literature, and his wife, Aleka; Hillary Van Cott Blackwell Abrams of Bethel, a nurse, and her husband Paul; and Carolyn Talbot Blackwell of Philadelphia, an urban planner; a grandson, Timothy George Blackwell of Knoxville; a sister, Barbara B. Hird of Warwick, R.I.; and several nieces and nephews.
Services will take place Friday, May 16, at 3 p.m. in the First Congregational Church.
A memorial celebration of his life will take place Friday at 4 p.m. at Silver Spring Country Club.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, 57 Prospect Street, Nantucket, MA 02554, or the Alzheimer’s Association, Southwestern Regional Office, 607 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Joan Boggs, legal assistant, volunteer
Joan E. Boggs, a legal assistant who had lived in Ridgefield for 27 years, died Monday, May 5, at Danbury Hospital. She was 60 years old and the wife of Joseph R. Boggs.
A native of North Easton, Mass., Mrs. Boggs was born on Oct. 7, 1942, a daughter of Dorothy Keith Berry of North Easton and the late Dexter Berry. She had worked as a legal assistant with a Stamford law firm.
Mrs. Boggs was a member of the Ridgefield Graveyard Committee, a group that has been restoring the old cemeteries in town. She had also been active with Literacy Volunteers in Danbury, teaching English to the foreign-born.
An avid reader, Mrs. Boggs especially enjoyed 16th Century English history
Besides her husband of 36 years and her mother, Mrs. Boggs is survived by two daughters, Victoria Boggs of New York City and Stephanie Boggs of Tucson, Ariz., and a brother, Paul Berry of North Easton.
A memorial service will take place Friday, May 9, at 8 p.m. in the Bouton Funeral Home, 31 West Church Street, Georgetown. Interment will be private.
Friends may call at the funeral home on Friday from 7 to 8.