Michael Jancin, athlete, RHS ’78
Michael Robert Jancin, a longtime Ridgefielder who had been a champion runner, died Friday, Nov. 21, at Laurel Ridge Health Care Center from a brain tumor. He was 43 years old.
Mr. Jancin was born Aug. 30, 1960, one of three sons of Pauline Fleming Jancin and Donald J. Jancin.
He had lived in Bel Air, Md., Rivervale, N.J., and Nanuet, N.Y., before coming to Ridgefield in 1976. He was member of the Ridgefield Boys and Girls Club.
Mr. Jancin graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1978 and Central Connecticut State University in 1982.
Mr. Jancin was a fixture on each school’s track team specializing in long-distance running. After college he won several regional road race marathons including the Ridgefield Boys Club Marathon, in which he established a new race record. His photograph running in a 1978 race appeared in the Old Ridgefield column several weeks ago.
Mr. Jancin was a department manager at the Sports Authority in Danbury. He also worked at ShopRite in Brookfield.
His hobbies included reading, basketball, sports trivia and following the Baltimore Orioles.
Besides his parents, Mr. Jancin is survived by a brother Jack Jancin and sister-in-law, Michele Kennedy Jancin of Ridgefield; a brother, Jamie Jancin and sister-in-law Jean Sidgmore Jancin of Leesburg, Va.; two uncles and an aunt, Reg Fleming of Evergreen, Colo. and Phillip and Donna Fleming of Long Grove, Ill.
“Michael’s pride and joy were his young nieces and nephews Kyrie-Ann, Krysta, Patrick, Shelby, Samme and DJ Jancin,” said his family.
Services were private and burial was in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Ridgefield Boys and Girls Club, 41 Governor Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Kane Funeral Home.
Seth Lawrence, 84, patron of music, ABC
Seth Lawrence, a longtime supporter of music, the arts and other causes in town, died Monday, Nov. 24, at Yale New Haven Hospital after a brief illness. He was 84, and had been married for 62 years to Aline Greenberg Lawrence.
“They met when they were 16, they got married when they were 20, so there’s no sides of the family — it’s all one,” said Barbara Lawrence, one of the couple’s two daughters.
Mr. Lawrence’s greatest joy was having friends and entertaining them — “just having company,” according to his wife.
“He was just a very friendly man, that was the main thing about him,” she said.
“He was just so generous and liked to have this world of people around him,” his daughter, Barbara, said. “If he was happy, he wanted you to be happy.”
Mr. Lawrence grew up in Brooklyn, the son of Ida and Harold Lawrence. He went to New York University’s Heights Campus in the Bronx.
He owned a plastic laminating business in Long Island City, and the Lawrences had an apartment in New York as well as a home in Ridgefield until about 12 years ago, when they replaced the apartment in the city with a winter place in Florida.
The Lawrences enjoyed what was originally a summer home on Saw Mill Hill Road in Ridgefield since 1950.
“He built all the furniture, in the beginning, for our first little summer house,” Mrs. Lawrence said.
“We spent a great deal of time in Ridgefield, always ... He was interested in everything in town.”
Mr. Lawrence was a lover of classical music and a great supporter of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, dating back to its founding as The Ridgefield Symphonette by Mr. and Mrs. George Leeman. He served for the last several years on the symphony’s board, and had been a supporter of the orchestra’s youth concert.
“I know that some of his happiest moments recently were this fall, helping with the RSO Youth Competition,” said Jeanne Cook, a longtime member of the symphony board. He’d been out listening to the winners of the symphony’s youth competition on Oct. 26, the night before he went to the hospital, she said.
Ms. Cook also recalled Mr. Lawrence’s enjoyment of conducting the orchestra as it played the Radetsky March by Johann Strauss Sr. three years ago, when he won the bidding in the symphony’s golden baton fund-raiser.
“He was so thrilled to conduct the orchestra,” she said.
Mr. Lawrence was an active supporter of the library, the Keeler Tavern including its Sunday chamber music series, and he also supported the summer concerts in Ballard Park.
He supported the library and A Better Chance in Ridgefield — the “ABC house,” which gives talented minority students from city schools a home in town so they may attend Ridgefield High School.
“He was a major supporter of both ABC and the RSO,” said Christine Lodewick. “Such a lovely person, such a gracious ambassador of all good things.”
First Selectman Rudy Marconi said he’d known Mr. Lawrence a long time.
“My dad worked for him — he’s just been around forever,” Mr. Marconi said.
“He’s been a great supporter of the arts in town, of open space, and has been a great resident of the Town of Ridgefield,” Mr. Marconi said. “...just a very nice man, a genuine nice person.”
Mr. Lawrence had also loved tennis, playing for many years at The Ridgefield Tennis Club on Copps Hill Road.
Besides his wife he is survived by two daughters and their husbands, Barbara Lawrence and Allen Laskin of Somerset, N.J., and Lori Lawrence and Don Wixon in East Greenbush, N.Y.; a grandchild, Eva Kate Wixon of East Greenbush; two brothers, Karl Lipsky of Great Barrington, Mass., and David Lawrence of Queens, N.Y.; a sister- and brother-in-law, Adrienne and George Orlan of Ridgefield, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Another brother, Daniel Lipsky, died before Mr. Lawrence.
Services will be held today, Wednesday, Nov. 26, at noon in Temple Shearith Israel on Peaceable Street.
The family will welcome friends Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 8.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, PO Box 289, Ridgefield 06877, or A Better Chance of Ridgefield, PC Box 1044, Ridgefield 06877.
Iris McCleery, active in community
Iris M. McCleery of 323 Main Street, who had long been active in community work here, died at her home on Sunday, Oct. 26.
Mrs. McCleery was born in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and immigrated with her husband, Derek S. McCleery, to America in 1953. The couple celebrated 52 years of marriage on Sept. 22.
The McCleerys lived in Ridgefield since 1967, at first at Twin Ridge, later on Nod Road and finally on Main Street.
Mrs. McCleery had been active in many community organizations. She had been president of The Ridgefield Thrift Shop, and was a vestry member of St. Stephen’s Church and president of its Altar Guild.
Mrs. McCleery was a member of the Caudatowa Garden Club and worked on many Community Center projects, with her favorite being the Christmas Tree Festival.
She owned and operated The Total Look Salon in Ridgefield for many years, and had also served as a justice of the peace.
Besides her husband, Mrs. McCleery is survived by son Michael McCleery, and daughters Sharron Lavatori, Siobhan Santini, and Stephanie Heering; and by eight grandchildren, Jeff Lavatori, Brandon, Michael and Morgan Santini, and Robbie, Alex, Kyle, and Connor Heering.
Services will take place today, Thursday, at 11 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Church.
The family has requested that rather than flowers, contributions be made to the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association at 90 East Ridge Road.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Anna Pankosky, 90, needleworker
Anna Pankosky of Ridgefield, an accomplished needleworker who created countless quilts and other handiworks over her lifetime, died Sunday, Aug. 24, in Laurel Ridgefield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was 90 years old and the widow of Charles T. Pankosky.
A native of Taunton, Mass., Mrs. Pankosky was born on June 28, 1913, a daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Robeck Pytel. She lived most of her life in Greenwich where she raised her family and where she worked in the upholstery business with her husband, who died in 1968.
She had lived in Ridgefield for 15 years, the last five at the Prospect Ridge Congregate Housing, where she was known for her sense of humor and had many friends.
Mrs. Pankosky used her talents at sewing to create quilts, knitted hats and mittens, and clothing for family and friends. Affectionately known as “Nana,” she had 11 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren and had created baby quilts for each one — as well as for the children and grandchildren of many friends.
“She was a serious quilter — and a serious giver,” said her daughter, Carol Grasso of Ridgefield. She would often work on quilts and other crafted items for fund-raisers in Greenwich and at St. Mary’s Church, where she was a member of the Ladies Sewing Group.
Mrs. Pankosky also created literally hundreds of Barbie Doll clothes for two generations of her family as well as for the children of friends. She knitted hundreds of hats and mittens as gifts and also made many articles of clothing for her children as they were growing up.
“We’re all sewers because of her,” Mrs. Grasso said of herself and her two sisters.
“She also gave us a sense of humor,” Mrs. Grasso said.
Besides needlework, Mrs. Pankosky enjoyed hooking rugs, painting in oils, and working puzzles. “She was a ferocious reader,” Mrs. Grasso added.
Mrs. Pankosky’s survivors include her three daughters, Carol Grasso and her husband Jack of Ridgefield; Betty Morton and her husband Michael of Columbus, Ohio, formerly of Ridgefield; and Barbara Pankosky of Vernon; a son, Charles “Chuck” Pankosky and his wife Joan of Greenwich; a sister, Blanche Tillinghast of Vero Beach, Fla.; and her 11 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.
A sister, Helen DeMilia, died before her.
The Rev. Msgr. Roger Watts, formerly of St. Mary’s and a longtime family friend, will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial on Friday, Aug. 29, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church here.
Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, 399 North Street, Greenwich, at 3 p.m.
Friends may call at the Bouton Funeral Home, 31 West Church Street, in Georgetown today, Thursday, Aug. 28, from 5 to 8.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut Inc., 405 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810.
Monica Ustie, Ridgefield native
Mary Monica McManus Ustie of Danbury, a former Ridgefielder, died Saturday, Nov. 29, after a long illness. She was 85 years old and the widow of Daniel T. Ustie, who died in 1976.
Mrs. Ustie was born on Aug. 6, 1918, in Ridgefield, a daughter of Peter A. and Mary Connolly McManus, and graduated from Ridgefield High School in the Class of 1937.
Mrs. Ustie had worked as a hairdresser and had also worked at Barden’s in New Milford.
She is survived by a daughter, Kathleen Ustie of New Milford, two sons, Peter A. Ustie of Danbury and Daniel T. Ustie; two grandsons; and a brother, Fred McManus of Whitestone, Va.;
A sister, Jeannette Jones of Ridgefield, and three brothers, James J. McManus of Ridgefield, Richard McManus of Madison, and Joseph W. McManus of Ridgefield, died before her.
Graveside services will take place Friday at 1 p.m. in Section 13 of St. Peter Cemetery in Danbury.
There are no calling hours.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Suzanne Verdery, widow of headmaster
Suzanne Aldrich Verdery, a former Ridgefielder who was the widow of a longtime headmaster of The Wooster School, died Nov. 20 in her home in Camden, Maine. She was 83 years old.
Mrs. Verdery was born on Nov. 8, 1920 in Fall River, Mass., the daughter of The Right Rev. Donald B. Aldrich and Frances Learned Aldrich. She graduated from Wellesley College with a bachelor’s degree in history and married The Rev. John D. Verdery in 1942.
Mr. Verdery, who died in 1985, had been the headmaster of The Wooster School in Danbury from 1943 until 1976. The Verderys lived on Ridgebury Road for many years.
“A voluptuary whose passion for good food, wine, merriment and the grace of laughter, she was an exemplar of what it means to live well on earth,” her family said.
“Few women are as liberated from the bounds of their sex, the restrictions of motherhood, the etiquette of table and parlor, the confusions of the church, and the will of God as Suzanne Verdery was,” her family said. “And few — men or women — are as specifically proud of their sex, mindful of their parenthood, devoted to the common sense of courtesy, meaningful in their worship and obedient to The Word as she was.”
Mrs. Verdery is survived by her four children: Joan, Daniel, Donald and Benjamin; and six grandchildren, Amanda, Sara, James, John, Mitsuko and Ashton.
A burial service will take place at the Dennis Village Cemetery, Dennis, Mass., Monday, Dec. 29.
A memorial service will be held at the James Marshall Chapel, Wooster School, Danbury, Saturday, March 27, 2004.
Donations in her memory may be may be made to PALS, P.O. Box 309, Camden, ME 04843 or to The John D. Verdery Library at The Wooster School, Ridgebury Road, Danbury, CT 06810.