Wanda Bassett, 85, Cub Scout pioneer
Wanda H. “Kit” Bassett of West Lane, who helped start Ridgefield Little League and pioneered Cub Scouting here, died Sunday, July 20, in Jensen Beach, Fla., her part-time home. She was 85 years old and the wife of Charles Bassett.
Mrs. Bassett was born Aug. 6, 1917, on a farm in LaPorte, Ind. She went to LaPorte schools and graduated in 1934 from LaPorte Business College. She then went to work at the college, teaching courses in shorthand, typing and title searching.
In 1940, she married her childhood sweetheart. She and Charles Bassett had grown up on adjoining farms in LaPorte.
“I taught her how to ride a bicycle when she was 10 years old,” Mr. Bassett recalled this week.
Mr. Bassett’s job as a Pan American World Airlines pilot eventually took them to Long Island in the 1940s, but their desire to live in more rural surroundings led them to Ridgefield. In 1950, when the town had only 4,500 people, they bought a barn on farmland along lower West Lane, near the New York line, and converted it into a home. Sixteen years later, they moved to a new house they built on the property.
Mrs. Bassett was a pioneer in providing programs for young people. In 1954, she and Altero “Chick” Ciuccoli joined William W. Allen in helping to start the Ridgefield Little League. Around the same time, she gained permission from the Boy Scouts of America to establish Ridgefield’s first Cub Scout group, Pack 47.
She was also active in Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, and was well known for working the “Green Thumb” plant stand at the church’s annual Yankee Peddler Fair.
Mrs. Bassett was a skilled gardener, specializing in African violets and geraniums. She also liked watching and feeding the birds. She was accomplished at needlework, including quilting, sewing, knitting, and crocheting, as well as hooking rugs.
Years ago, she was an active bowler, playing at first in the lanes in the basement of the Congregational Church House on West Lane and later bowling with the women’s league at RidgeBowl.
Mrs. Bassett enjoyed traveling. “She traveled the world over during her lifetime,” her husband said, “but she always considered Ridgefield her sacred home.”
“Kit had an infectious personality that won her many friends over the years,” Mr. Bassett added.
Besides her husband of 63 years, Mrs. Bassett is survived by three sons, Gregory Bassett of Osborn, Maine, Douglas Bassett of Wichita, Kans., and Dennis Bassett of White City, Fla.; a sister, Bernece Simcox of LaPorte; four grandchildren, Anastasia Ruiz, Sharron Bassett, Hilary Bassett, and Lisa Beckham; and two great-grandchildren, Oliva Ruiz and Jesse Beckham.
The Rev. Bill Pfohl will lead a memorial service on Thursday, Aug. 21, at 11 a.m. at Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the church, 207 Main Street, Ridgefield 06877.
Owen H. Becker, 65, IBM manager
Owen H. Becker of East Hampton, a retired IBM manager and former Ridgefielder, died on Monday, Sept. 29, in St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford. He was 65 years old and the husband of Margaret "Peggy" Hartmann Becker.
A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Mr. Becker was the son of Harry and Alice Godard Becker. He attended Syracuse schools and graduated from Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., with a bachelor's degree in psychology.
Mr. Becker had been with IBM for 29 years, working in human resources and personnel administration, and retiring as site services manager in Essex Junction, Vt. The family had lived on Indian Cave Road here during the 1980s and until Mr. Becker was transferred to Burlington, Vt., in 1991.
In 1995, Mr. Becker joined Bank North Group of Burlington, serving as executive vice president for administration. He was also chairman of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce from 1997 to 1998 and served on many business and community boards in Chittenden County, Vt.
While in Ridgefield, he coached youth soccer and sang in St. Mary's Choir.
Besides his wife, Mr. Becker is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Janine Becker of Trumbull; a son, Christopher Becker of Bridgeport; a daughter and son-in-law, Susan B. and Thomas Meotti of Glastonbury; a sister, Carol Jane Wilsey of Kendall, N.Y.; and six grandchildren, Alysse, Rachel and Jack Meotti of Glastonbury, and Julianne, Jennifer and Olivia Becker of Trumbull.
A procession will form at the Glastonbury Funeral Home, 450 New London Turnpike, on Friday, Oct. 3, at 9:15 a.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 in St. Paul's Church, Main Street, Glastonbury.
Burial will follow in Green Cemetery, Glastonbury.
Friends may call the Glastonbury Funeral Home on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Support-A-Student Scholarship Program, attention DiDi Brush, Champlain College, 163 South Willard Street, PO Box 670, Burlington, VT 05401-0670. Please put "SAS" on memo part of the check.
Visit www.mem.com for an everlasting memorial tribute.
Sam Chakalos, 86, former Ridgefielder
Sam G. Chakalos of Clearwater, Fla., a former Ridgefielder, died on Friday, Sept. 26. He was 86.
Mr. Chakalos was a native of Canton, Ohio. He lived at 74 Hunter Lane in Ridgefield from 1972 until 1984 and moved to the Tampa area in 1989 from Greenwich.
He was a member of the St. John Greek Orthodox Church and a veteran of World War II, serving in the United States Army.
Mr. Chakalos is survived by his wife, Angeline A. Chakalos; two daughters, Teena Connaughton of Cedartown, Ga., and Demi Elliott of Tampa; a son, Dean Chakalos of Atlanta, Ga.; three grandchildren; a brother, James Chakalos, and nephew James Chakalos Jr., both of Staten Island, N.Y.
The Rev Konstantinos Kostaris celebrated a funeral mass on Wednesday, Oct. 1, at St. John Greek Orthodox Church, 2418 Swann Avenue, Tampa. Burial followed at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Fla.
The family gathered with friends Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the Blount & Curry-MacDill Chapel, 605 MacDill Avenue, Tampa, Fla., with a Trisagion Service.
Contributions may be made to Hospice Florida Suncoast, 300 East Bay Drive, Largo, FL 33770 or Westchester Garden, 3301 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater, FL 33761.
Lawrence Conlin, 22-year Ridgefielder
Lawrence F. Conlin of North Valley Road, a retired IBM employee and longtime Ridgefielder, died on Monday, Sept. 29, as a result of a car accident on Route 7 in Danbury. He was 71 years old and the husband of Suzanne Perrotta Conlin.
A native of Jersey City, N.J., Mr. Conlin was born on July 30, 1932 to Edward and Helen Conlin. He grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., the eldest of eight children, and was a graduate and active alumnus of St. Michael's High School there. He attended Brooklyn College before serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. He later graduated from St. John's University in Brooklyn.
Mr. Conlin had worked as a business planning manager at IBM for 27 years, retiring in December 1989. He and his wife met at IBM in North Tarrytown, N.Y., and were married in 1981 in Katonah.
After retiring from IBM, Mr. Conlin worked for several years during tax season for H&R Block in Ridgefield, where he was an enrolled agent. During tax season he volunteered for the IRS to help senior citizens with their tax returns, both in Ridgefield and in Danbury.
In Ridgefield, where he had lived for 22 years, Mr. Conlin was active in the Ridgefield Men’s Club and at Founder’s Hall.
He is a former member of Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee and belonged to Sacred Heart Church in Georgetown.
He enjoyed reading, doing crossword puzzles and gardening.
"Larry was a good friend, a good neighbor, a great dad, and an even better 'Gramps,' and a wonderful, wonderful husband," his family said. "He will be greatly missed by all of us."
Besides his wife, Mr. Conlin is survived by five children and two stepchildren: Rose Conlin of Ossining, N.Y., Lawrence H. Conlin of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., William G. Conlin of Somers, N.Y., Nancy Joyce of Purdys, N.Y., Ellen Cardello of Tarrytown, N.Y., Mark V. Mansa of Bethel, and Christopher J. Mansa of Mahopac, N.Y.; 12 grandchildren, Ryan, Christina and Alexa Mansa, Victoria and Mark Mansa, Kelly, Dana, and Emma Conlin, Billy and Kaila Conlin, and Brian and Mackenzie Joyce; two brothers, Edward J. Conlin of Montclair, N.J., and Richard T. Conlin of Rockland City, N.Y.; and two sisters, Margaret M. Jones of West Orange, N.J., and Joan E. Fowler of Largo, Fla.
Three brothers died before him: Daniel J. Conlin of Chicago, the Rev. Robert J. Conlin of Tampa, Fla., and the Rev. Raymond E. Conlin of Clifton, N.J.
Father Joseph Joachim, pastor, will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial on Friday, Oct. 3, at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church, Church Street, Georgetown.
Friends may call at the Bouton Funeral Home, West Church Street, in Georgetown on Thursday from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9.
Contributions in his memory may be made to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021; Congregation of Notre Dame, 223 West Mountain Road, Ridgefield 06877; or Sacred Heart Church, Church Street, Georgetown 06829.
Joan J. Cooney, home health aide
Joan J. Cooney of 25 Gilbert Street, a longtime Ridgefielder, died at Danbury Hospital on Tuesday, May 20. She was 72 years old
Mrs. Cooney was born in New York City April 29,1931, daughter of the late Paul and Catherine (Patinka) Mole.
She was educated in New York and later moved to Ridgefield, living on Harvey Road. She worked as a home health aide for the Care Tenders of Danbury, and was an avid reader and an active contributor to many charities.
Mrs. Cooney is survived by four children, Dorian Stonier, of Seymour; Cathlin Licarie of Danbury; Alison Macllvain of Trumbull, and Kerri Walsh of Danbury; nine grandchildren, Blaze and Duane Stonier, Joy Goncalvis, T.J. and Tommy Walsh, Michael Licarie, Kyle Macllvain, Tucker Walsh, and Alysse Walsh; a great-granddaughter, Joscelyn Walsh; and a brother, Fred Schnaufer of Stratford.
A son, Blaze Walsh, died before her.
Memorial services took place on Saturday at the Green Funeral Home in Danbury.
Contributions in her memory may be made to a charity of one’s choice.
Teresa Keeler, 97, longtime resident
Teresa V. Sfondrini Keeler of Ridgefield, a former restaurateur and 67-year Ridgefielder, died on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Harborside Healthcare-Glen Hill, Danbury. She was 97 years old and the widow of Joseph F. Keeler.
Mrs. Keeler was born on June 8, 1906, in Katonah, N.Y., a daughter of Joseph and Josephine Merusi Sfondrini. She grew up and attended schools in Katonah and South Salem, N.Y.
When she was a young woman, Mrs. Keeler went to work as a telephone operator for the village of South Salem. She later did tours in Bedford Village, Brewster and other hamlets until, with the arrival of semi-automated equipment, she lost her job.
Her mother had been an inkeeper on Spring Street in South Salem, and in the 1930s, Mrs. Keeler, still single, joined Margaret Mullen of Ridgefield in establishing the Tea House on Route 35 in Cross River. The restaurant was situated in a building now housing a fishing supply shop and, in fact, catered to many of the men who came up from New York to fish on the reservoirs.
It was also popular with many of the weathly in the area, who’d stop by for her sandwiches and pie. “My mother was an excellent cook,” said Christine Mitchell of New Fairfield. “She was famous for her lemon meringue pies.”
Teresa and Joseph Keeler were married in 1936 and soon after she left the Tea House to raise a family. However, she would often help out at the Hayloft on Route 35 in South Salem, a popular restaurant started by her brothers Art, Alfred and Fred Sfondrini. She baked many of the pies the restaurant served.
In the 1950s, Mrs. Keeler joined the Ridgefield school lunch staff, working 18 years at Veterans Park and Farmingville schools at a time when the school lunches were all made from scratch. She retired around 1974.
She and her husband, who died in 1975, built their own home on Barry Avenue. “She was very proud of her house,” Mrs. Mitchell said. “She was meticulous about caring for the house and the yard.”
At the age of 89, she fell and broke her hip while chopping down a tree on her property. “She was an active and independent lady,” her daughter said.
Mrs. Keeler was a founding member of the OWLS senior citizen group, and belonged to St. Mary’s Church.
Besides her daughter Christine and son-in-law James Mitchell of New Fairfield, Mrs. Keeler is survived by a daughter-in-law, Kathryn Brady Keeler of Franklin, Mass; a sister, Mary S. Sullivan of Ridgefield; five grandchildren, Sharon Keeler and her husband Mark Ruckstahl of Franklin, Mass., Charlene Keeler of Amston, Joseph Keeler of Ridgefield, Sheri Mitchell of Danbury, and David Mitchell of Waialua, Hawaii; and by several nieces and nephews.
A son, Arthur J. Keeler, two sisters, Naomi Marshall and Evelyn Casagrande, and three brothers, Frederick Sfondrini, Alfred Sfondrini and Arthur Sfondrini, died before her.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Wednesday in St. Mary's Church. Burial followed in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association, 90 East Ridge, Ridgefield 06877.
The Kane Funeral Home, 41 Catoonah Street, is in charge of arrangements.
Joseph Ledney, active in Little League
Joseph M. Ledney of Danbury, a hazardous material specialist and a former Ridgefielder, died on Tuesday, May 20, at Danbury Hospital. He was 65 years old and the husband of Jean Enright Ledney.
Mr. Ledney was born in Windber, Pa., on March 27, 1938, a son of the late Charles and Susan Stredney Ledney. He attended Pennsylvania schools and graduated from Windber High School.
He later attended the Pratt & Whitney School and Norwalk Community College. He was a peacetime veteran of the U.S. Army.
Mr. Ledney was an environmental construction service engineer, specializing in hazardous waste cleanups, and worked for the ABM Engineering Company of New York.
The Ledneys lived on Knollwood Drive from 1971 until 1984 when they moved to Brewster. They had lived in Danbury for four years.
While here, Mr. Ledney was active in Ridgefield Little League and had served as an assistant coach.
For relaxation, he enjoy travel, sports and computers. “He was heavily into computers,” said his wife, Jean. “He had a lot of online friends, and he repaired computers for family and friends.”
Besides his wife of 34 years, Mr. Ledney is survived by two sons, Paul J. Ledney and his wife Meredith of Middlebury, and Chad M. Ledney and his wife Paula of Coxsackie, N.Y.; two grandsons, Matthew Lee Ledney and James Mazzucca Ledney; and many nieces and nephews.
Five brothers — George, Paul, Charles, John and Nicholas — died before him.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday at 10 a.m. in St. Anthony's Maronite Catholic Church, 17 Granville Avenue, Danbury.
Interment will be private.
Friends will be received in the Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, 9-11 Granville Avenue, Danbury on Thursday from 5 to 8.
Contributions in his memory may be made to Praxair Cancer Center, Danbury Hospital, 24 Hospital Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810.