Columba Casagrande Hodges, RHS ’37
Columba Frances Casagrande Hodges of Hartford, a Ridgefield native who lived most of her life in New York City, died Friday, Aug. 8, at St. Francis Hospital. She was 83 years old.
Mrs. Hodges was born on Feb. 12, 1920, in Ridgefield, daughter of the late Adolfo and Ulrica Marcucci Casagrande.
She graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1937 and was one of the commencement speakers. After graduation, she moved to New York City where she worked for Best & Company, the clothing store, and for most of her life, lived on Riverside Drive. She married Sydnor Hodges, whom she met in Virginia, in Concord, N.H., in 1946.
“Her life was always focused on her children. They were her greatest joy,” her family said.
Survivors includes one sister, Yola Casagrande of Danbury; two children, Dexter Hodges and his wife Rosa of Barcelona, Spain; Rebecca Ford and her husband Charles of Manchester, N.H.; three grandchildren, Matthew Ford, of Philadelphia, Pa.; Tammy Dalton and her husband John, of Carver, Mass.; and Ilian Hodges of Barcelona; and one great-grandchild, Noah Dalton; as well as several nieces and nephews, including Peter Casagrande of Ridgefield, Kim Louth of Maryland, Diane McElroy and Allen Casagrande of California.
The Rev. Charles Ford of Manchester, N.H., led graveside service at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Ridgefield on Aug. 14.
A mass will be celebrated in her memory this Saturday, Aug. 30, at 4 p.m. in St. Mary’s Church.
The Kane Funeral Home handled arrangements.
Elaine Houck, 76, retired bookkeeper
N. Elaine Houck of Pleasant Valley, N.Y., a former Ridgefielder, died on Thursday, July 3. She was 76 years old and the wife of Lt. Col. Louis T. Houck, USAF (Ret.)
Mrs. Houck was born to John L. and Ella Hurst of Moline, Kans., on Jan. 18, 1927. A longtime resident of Kansas, California, and Connecticut, Mrs. Houck came to Ridgefield in 1973, living on Ramapoo Road, and had been a bookkeeper. She moved to New York in 1995.
She had been previously married to the late Dale L. Maugans and the late Warren A. Houck.
Besides her husband, Mrs. Houck is survived by children Terry G. Maugans, and John and Laurel K. Alksnis; grandchildren and their spouses, Suzanne E. Elliott of Richmond, Va.; Christopher W. Alksnis and Neal Lochrie of San Francisco, Calif.; Elizabeth Elliott Burreson and Robert Burreson of Raleigh, N.C.; Kimberly Maugans-Smith and R.E. Smith of Louisville, Ky.; and Leslie Alksnis Batta and Michael Batta of Fishkill, N.Y.; and three great-grandchildren.
Sharon E. Elliott predeceased her mother in 1993, as did Terry Maugans’ son, Scott Maugans, in 1994.
Services took place July 8 at the Church of St. Stanislaus in Pleasant Valley, N.Y.
Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery on Aug. 18 at 10 a.m.
Ralph Hubert, 79, Realtor, orchestra director
Ralph C. Hubert Jr. of Greenwich, a former Ridgefielder who had been active in real estate and community service here, died Saturday, July 19, in Greenwich Hospital. He was 79 years old and the husband of Frances Alberti Hubert.
A native of Evansville, Ind., Mr. Hubert was born on May 9, 1924, a son of Ralph and Louise Spindler Hubert. He grew up in Indiana, attending the University of Cincinnati and graduated from the University of Evansville. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
Mr. Hubert came to Ridgefield in 1962, moved briefly back to Indiana, and then returned to Ridgefield in 1964, living on Peaceable Street for many years and more recently on Craigmoor Road South.
He had a long career as a plant manager for the Creevy Company, a manufacturer of baby clothing, and once recalled that he had to learn nearly all of the jobs performed by the 120 workers at the plant. At one point, when the plant’s patternmaker quit, he quickly learned that job and worked evenings and weekends making patterns for baby clothing. “I had no choice,” he said, adding that otherwise the plant would close.
In 1977, Mr. Hubert opened the Ridgefield real estate office of Preferred Properties, managing it until his retirement in 1990. He was active in real estate circles, and held many offices in the Ridgefield Board of Realtors, including president in 1985. He was also a director of the Connecticut Association of Realtors, and had been its state multiple listing chairman.
In 1989, the Ridgefield Board of Realtors named Mr. Hubert the “Realtor of the Year” for “his outstanding professional and civic contributions.”
A year later, Mr. Hubert became Connecticut president of the Michael Thomas Corp., a national firm of consultants to small businesses.
Mr. Hubert had been active in the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, serving on its Board of Directors for many years, as the orchestra’s publicity director for three years, and as vice president.
A member of the Ridgefield Lions Club since 1964, Mr. Hubert had been a director for 12 years and the club president in 1969.
He was also active in St. Mary’s Parish and sang in the church choir.
Mr. Hubert moved to Williamsburg, Va., in 1992 and to Greenwich six months ago. In Williamsburg, he sang with the Dukes of Gloucester Street Barbershop Quartet, and was active in the Christopher Wren Association, which promotes education programs for senior citizens.
Mr. Hubert also enjoyed photography — he took many publicity photos for the Ridgefield Orchestra over the years. He also bicycled 15 miles a day.
Besides his wife, Mr. Hubert is survived by two daughters, Jean Resler of San Jose, Calif., and Dr. Nancy Hubert of Birmingham, Ala.; a son, Thomas Hubert of Brookfield; two sisters, Patricia Whitehead of Evansville and Marie Martin of Champaign, Ill.; two brothers, Jerry Hubert of Evansville and Thomas Hubert of Grand Rapids, Mich.; nine stepchildren, five grandchildren, 23 step-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
Services took place Tuesday in St. Mary’s Church, Greenwich.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Den for Grieving Kids, 40 Arch Street, Greenwich, CT 06830.
The Leo P. Gallagher and Son Funeral Home in Greenwich was in charge of arrangements.
Dorothy A. Hyatt, 78, professional dancer
Dorothy A. Hyatt of Silver Spring Road died on Sunday, Aug. 3, at Danbury Hospital. She died due to complications from heart and lung disease and was 78.
Miss Hyatt was born in New York, N.Y., July 21, 1925, a daughter of the late Julius and Catherine Wetzlar. Her mother was a dancer with the original Ziegfeld Follies.
As a child dancer, Miss Hyatt was selected by Michel Foquin for the New York City Ballet. She attended the High School for the Performing Arts and premiered on Broadway in the chorus of the 1943 production of By Jupiter. She went on to dance in Mexican Hayride, Pacific Overtures and did summer stock productions of The Importance of Being Earnest and Dark of the Moon, acting next to the likes of Nanette Fabray, Ray Bolger and June Havoc.
After World War II, she traveled Occupied Europe with a U.S.O. Camp Show troupe of Broadway dancers and Radio City Rockettes performing for the troops.
After living in New York, Switzerland and the Virgin Islands, she settled with her mother in Ridgefield in 1965.
In Ridgefield, she was a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
She is survived by two nieces, Catherine M. Kennedy Castagneto of Silver Spring Road, and Frances Bell of Jupiter, Fla., as well as several grandnieces and grandnephews.
A sister, Catherine H. Kennedy, and two aunts, Margaret Schwartz and Mildred Graves, died earlier.
Funeral services took place on Wednesday at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church with the Rev. Joseph Herring officiating.
Burial followed in Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, N.Y.
There will be no calling hours.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Danbury Hospital Development Fund for Nursing Services, 24 Hospital Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Jean Johnson, 70, former Ridgefielder, August 12
Jean Ann Johnson of 16 Sullivan Farm, New Milford, a former Ridgefielder, died in New Milford Hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 12. She was 70 years old and the wife of Farlin "John" Johnson.
Mrs. Johnson was born Oct. 5, 1932 in New Rochelle, N.Y., the daughter of the late Henry and Elizabeth Jiles Fisher. She was employed in marketing by Atlas Construction Company in Stamford for 20 years before she retired in 1989.
Mrs. Johnson had lived in Ridgefield before moving to New Milford eight years ago. She was active on the board at Sullivan Farm and was a volunteer in the New Milford Hospital Cancer Center for the past five years.
Her family said she had a great love for animals, especially cats. She enjoyed playing bridge, reading, cooking and travel.
Besides her husband of 50 years, Mrs. Johnson is survived by three sons, Tim Johnson and his wife Linda of Norwalk; John Johnson and his wife Jinger of Greensboro, Ga., and Michael Johnson and his wife Terry of Brookfield; and five grandchildren, Brett, Kelly, Kevin, Katie and Shawn.
A memorial service will be announced. Burial will be in Maple Shade Cemetery, Ridgefield, at the convenience of the family.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Regional Cancer Center, 21 Elm Street, New Milford, CT 06776.
Colonial Funeral Home, 87 Park Lane Road, New Milford is in charge of arrangements.
Gert Kaufman, designer, conservationist
Gertrude Kaufman, a former Ridgefielder who spent years here taming developers and highway designers, died on Sunday, Nov. 10, in Carmel, Calif. She was 84 years old.
For more than 15 years, Gert Kaufman served on the Flood and Erosion Control Board, an agency that specialized in controlling how sensitive lands were developed. “You can’t give up,” she once told an interviewer. “I think of Ridgefield as surrounded by dikes against which the developers are pushing all the time. They leak in, unless you keep your finger in. If you get tired and move away for just a minute, you’ve lost.”
Mrs. Kaufman was born Gertrude Hollingsworth on Sept. 4, 1918, in Long Beach, Calif. Her father was co-founder of Glendale Federal Savings Bank and was a direct descendant of Valentine Hollingsworth, who was an early New England settler.
She grew up in Glendale and attended Choiunard Art College where she majored in dress design. She drew Woody Woodpecker cartoons briefly after graduating.
At art school she met Van Kaufman, whom she married in 1940. She worked at MGM studios on dress design and once did a screen test for Warner Brothers.
During the war, Van Kaufman was a member of the First Motion Picture Unit, which produced war-related films, and he got passes on weekends from his adjutant, Ronald Reagan, to visit his wife.
After the war the Kaufmans moved to Ridgefield and lived at 100 Cain’s Hill Road from about 1948 to 1976. “It was love at first sight,” she said in 1975. “The mountains, the valleys, the trickling streams — it was so beautiful, I was awed.”
In the 1950s, she learned that the state planned not only a four-lane highway up the Route 7 valley near her home, but also a flood control project that would take some of her land. However, instead of simply opposing the projects, she studied them and determined how they could be accomplished with the least impact.
For instance, she successfully led a fight to eliminate a planned Super 7 interchange at Florida Hill Road and headed an intertown council that designed an acclaimed “linear park,” complete with a 15-mile-long bikeway, that would accompany the development of the expressway. In the end, the road was never built, but there is still talk today of building the linear park on land the state bought for the highway.
The Norwalk River Flood Control Project, born of the 1955 flood, sparked her interest in flood and erosion control. The state wound up taking more than an acre of the Kaufmans’ land. “We could have chosen to argue the acquisition, but there was no point really,” she said. “They were determined...and we never planned to develop it anyway. It’s not so bad — and we need the project. You’ve got to adjust sometimes, that’s all.”
As a member of Ridgefield’s Flood and Erosion Control Board, later absorbed by the Conservation Commission, Mrs. Kaufman did thousands of hours of research, compiled countless reports and attended endless meetings. “She was a dedicated person when it came to flood and erosion control — things people didn’t talk about much back then,” said conservationist Edith Meffley. She was respected by other agencies, such as planning and zoning, Mrs. Meffley said, but she and her board “also rattled some bones, especially of developers, who felt they were too inhibited by the board.”
The Conservation Commission still has many files Mrs. Kaufman compiled more than 25 years ago. “It’s really valuable research and it’s still being used today,” Mrs. Meffley said.
Like her husband, Mrs. Kaufman was an artist. Forty years ago, the late Karl S. Nash, Press editor and owner of the parent Acorn Press, mentioned in passing that his newspaper needed a logo. “Mom happened to hear him and volunteered,” her son Kris Kaufman recalled. “She drew the acorn that appeared on the papers for many years — for which she was paid $50.”
In 1976, the couple moved to Los Angeles where Mrs. Kaufman attended UCLA and earned a degree in landscape architecture. After her husband died in 1995, she moved to Carmel.
“She always loved Ridgefield,” Kris Kaufman said.
Mrs. Kaufman is survived by her two sons: Eric Kaufman (RHS 1969) of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Kris Kaufman (RHS 1975) and his wife, Diana Kicher Kaufman of Redmond, Wash.; her brother: John Hollingsworth of Los Angeles; and three grandchildren: Alexander, Oliver and Nicole Kaufman.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Open Space Conservation Fund of the Ridgefield Conservation Commission, 66 Prospect Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
Dorothy Knox, 87, nurse, active volunteer, August 15
Dorothy N. Knox of 51 Prospect Street, a retired nurse and longtime Ridgefielder who was well known for helping others, died on Friday, Aug. 15, at Hancock Hall in Danbury. She was 87 years old and the widow of Aiken Knox.
Mrs. Knox was born on Staten Island, N.Y., on Nov. 10, 1915, a daughter of the late Harold and Ethel Hughes Nelson. She graduated from Notre Dame Academy where she was a student for 12 years and was taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame. Many years later, many of her old teachers had retired to the Congregation of Notre Dame motherhouse on West Mountain Road in Ridgefield, and she often visited and assisted them there.
In 1936, Mrs. Knox graduated from United Hospital School of Nursing in Port Chester, N.Y. As a registered nurse, Mrs. Knox did hospital, public health and private duty nursing. She also worked for the North Salem, N.Y., school district as a school nurse teacher.
An area resident since 1937, Mrs. Knox was a member of St. Mary’s Church as well as its Rosary Society and Widows & Widowers Club. She was an associate of the Congregation of Notre Dame, a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, local prayer groups, and the Emmaus and Cursillo groups.
Mrs. Knox became a eucharistic minister in 1978 and brought Communion to many people in local hospitals, nursing homes and to the homebound.
She served on Ridgefield’s Committee for the Handicapped, was a member of the W.W.W. Bridge Club for more than 50 years, belonged to the O.W.L.S., and enjoyed activities at the Senior Center.
"Dorothy will be remembered as a devoted mother, a person who was always there to do a favor for anyone in need and a giving and loyal friend," her family said. "When she was able, she always went out of her way to extend kindnesses to the elderly."
Mrs. Knox is survived by a son, Robert Gary Knox and his wife Andrea of Ridgefield; two daughters, Jane Knox of Ridgefield and Anne Marie French and her husband Christopher of Central Village; four grandchildren, Ryan Knox, Laura Cascioli, Deborah Knox and Holly Maybruck; and a great-granddaughter, Sarah Maybruck. A son, Harold Knox, died before his mother. Her husband died in 1986.
The Rev. David Blanchfield celebrated a Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday morning in St. Mary’s Church. Burial was in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in her name may be made to the International Essential Tremor Foundation, P.O. Box 14005, Lenexa, KS 66285-4005.