Margaret Paige, retired teacher
Margaret “Peg” Paige of Ridgefield, a retired teacher, died Saturday, April 10, 2004, at Norwalk Hospital, surrounded by all of her family. She was 85 years old.
Born in Minneapolis, Minn., on April 13, 1918, she was the daughter of the late Carl and Cecelia Carlson Johnson.
She graduated from the College of St. Rose and worked as a nursery school and kindergarten teacher in the Albany, N.Y., area. She was a resident of Delmar N.Y., for 14 years and Costa Mesa, Calif., for 25 years. Mrs. Paige had been a music teacher at Harbor Day School in Newport Beach, Calif.
Mrs. Paige was married to the late John W. Paige for 61 years. The couple returned to the East Coast in 1996 to live in Ridgefield and Wilton. They had lived at the Greens at Cannondale for five years.
Mrs. Paige was a gifted pianist who shared her talent with family, friends and as a volunteer. She loved to sew, walk on the beach and spend time with her family.
She is survived by two daughters, Judy Brunstad of Ridgefield and Nancy Carlsson-Paige of Somerville, Mass.; four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 2002.
A memorial service will take place on Saturday, April 17, at 1 p.m. at the Greens at Cannondale, 435 Danbury Road (Route 7) in Wilton.
Instead of flowers contributions in her memory may be made to Notre Dame Convalescent Home, 76 West Rocks Road, Norwalk, CT 06851.
The Collins Funeral Home in Norwalk was in charge of arrangements.
Herschel Ferris, 80, IBM retiree
Herschel Laverne Ferris, a former Ridgefielder who had worked for IBM, died Saturday, April 10, 2004, at his home in Evans, Ga. He was 80 years old.
A native of Jackson County, Mo., “Hersch” Ferris grew up in Missouri and was a decorated World War II fighter pilot, serving in the European theatre.
He had been a contract negotiator for IBM, based in White Plains for many years. He retired in 1976.
The Ferris family lived on Fulling Mill Lane from 1967 until 1976. Mr. Ferris and his wife Georga moved to Evans from Sedona, Ariz., in March 2003. Mrs. Ferris died in February.
Mr. Ferris was a master craftsman, an avid golfer, and an outdoorsman.
He is survived by a daughter, Devon Greenwood and her husband William of Bethel; a son, Daron Ferris and his wife Pamella of Evans, Ga.; two granddaughters, Heather and Kellie Greenwood of Bethel; a grandson David Brown of Greenville, N.C.; and a sister, Nita Johnson of Jupiter, Fla.
Donations in his memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 102454, Atlanta, GA 30368-2454.
Nathan Bruckenthal, killed in action in Iraq
The bombings and bloodshed in Iraq wrenched hearts in Ridgefield this week. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Nathan Bruckenthal, a former Ridgefield volunteer fireman remembered by friends and schoolmates, was killed protecting an oil terminal off the Iraqi coast.
“My entire class, pretty much, was friends with him,” said Christopher Gust of Ridgefield High School’s Class of 1997.
“He was really a good person,” said Mike Gabbianelli, who served with him in the volunteer fire department. “He always tried to help anyone out that he could, no matter what. He’d give any one of us the shirt off his back, no matter what. I never thought this would happen.”
“Very, very sad. I’m still very much in shock right now,” said Brad Blosat, who lived a few doors away on Grandview Drive. He recalled sledding on winter snow days on the neighborhood’s steep hills.
“We’d sled from the time we knew school was going to be canceled,” he said. “We’d shovel each other’s driveways and then we’d sled all day until the sun went down.”
“We went to the junior prom together,” said Wendy Ostendorf. “He was just such a wonderful guy. He had a wonderful laugh and was such a good soul, and we’re all sad.”
Petty Officer Third Class Bruckenthal died from wounds suffered Saturday, April 24, 2004, in an apparent suicide attack on an oil terminal in the Persian Gulf. He was the first U.S. Coast Guardsman to die in battle since the Vietnam War. Two U.S. Navy sailors were also killed in the incident, and four other servicemen were wounded.
Three dhows, small boats often used in the Gulf, pulled near the Al-Basra and Khawr al-Amaya oil terminals, in waters some 100 miles off Iraq's port of Umm Qasr. When approached by teams sent to intercept them, the dhows exploded. The dhow near Khawr al-Amaya flipped over a U.S. Navy interception craft, killing Petty Officer Bruckenthal.
Nathan Bruckenthal “was killed by terrorists Saturday while bravely serving his country in Iraq,” Vice Adm. James D. Hull, the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander, said in a statement. “I sincerely hope that his family and friends can find a little comfort knowing that he died a hero.”
Petty Officer Bruckenthal is among 711 American military personnel counted as having died since the Iraq war began. Of the dead, 530 were killed in action.
He was on his second deployment in Iraq with the Cost Guard. He was a damage control petty officer, serving in Coalition Maritime Interception Operations.
The attack he died in damaged the electrical generators at the Al-Basra Oil Terminal, halting production. The Al-Basra terminal pumps some 700,000 barrels per day of Iraq’s total exports of 1.6 million barrels a day.
Nathan Bruckenthal lived on Grandview Drive with his mother, sister and step-father from 1992 to 1995. Friends recalled that he moved to Ridgefield at the start of seventh grade, and left after his sophomore year of high school when his family moved to Virginia. While at Ridgefield High School he played football, and helped start the boys volleyball team. He graduated from high school in Virginia, participating in high school ROTC there.
After graduation he came back to Ridgefield and lived for a time with his friend Christopher Gust’s family on Rustic Road.
“He kind of moved in for a while, after his senior year,” said JoAnn Gust, Chris’s mother, who now lives in Redding. “He liked it better up here than in Virginia — all his friends were up here.”
“He was just a really good kid, really sweet,” she said. “He’d come in and give you a big bear hug and a kiss. He and Christopher and even my older son, they were like brothers for a while.”
Christopher Gust honored his friend’s memory in a tribute that appears on page 5A of this paper.
“The two of us were more like family. I would even call us brothers,” Mr. Gust wrote. “...I have always envied and looked up to Nathan. He was so courageous and strong. People loved him, listened to him, and followed him.”
“He absolutely had a smile on his face all the time,” said Mr. Blosat. “He was very, very nice to everybody who knew him and everybody who didn’t know him. He was just outgoing, he tried to make friends with everybody — just a great, great guy...
“We played football together, during his high school years, and he and I were actually two of the original people that went to Chip Salvestrini when he was AD over at the high school, and told him we wanted to play volleyball. We were two of the original guys who started that program and we played together for two years.”
“I was ’96, I was a year ahead of him,” said Robert Graziano. “I guess we really started hanging out when he got to high school. What I recall, he’d do anything for anybody.”
Mr. Graziano is a petty officer in the Coast Guard, stationed at Barnegat Light, N.J. His decision to join the Guard was influenced by Mr. Bruckenthal.
“My son joined the Coast Guard following in Nate’s footsteps,” said Stephen Graziano, Rob’s father. “Both came out of high school, tried college and it didn’t really work for them. They both kind of found a home in the Coast Guard.”
“We had talked a lot about it,” Rob Graziano said. “I got a lot of information from him, and pretty much made up my mind, after talking to him, that that’s what I wanted to do.”
It was with Christopher Gust, Rob Graziano and Mike Gabbianelli that Nate Bruckenthal served in the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department.
“He was there with Chris and Rob and my son Mike,” said Volunteer Fire Chief Ed Gabbianelli. “He was over my house all the time. He was good kid, and it’s really sad to lose somebody like that. He was part of the family.
Petty Officer Bruckenthal’s death leaves a family that includes his wife, Pattie of Dania Beach, Fla., who is expecting their first child; his mother, Laurie Bullock, and his sister NoaBeth Bruckenthal, both of Ashburn, Va.; his father, Eric Bruckenthal of Northport, Long Island; stepmother Patricia Bruckenthal and brothers, Matthew and Michael, also of Northport; his grandparents, Rudy and Elaine Bruckenthal of Queens, N.Y.; and a number of uncles, aunts and cousins.
“Nathan Bruckenthal died in the service of his country,” a statement issued by his father said. “He died fulfilling his mission and in anyone’s terms he is a hero. He had always been a hero to our family.”
His father said there are plans to set up charitable funds to benefit Petty Officer Bruckenthal’s wife and yet-to-be-born child.
Friends in Ridgefield had not yet met his wife, but Mike Gabbianelli recalled receiving a letter that told about her.
“None of us have met his wife. We’ve heard a lot about her. I’ve seen pictures of her and everything. I’m sure she’s a nice person,” he said.
“He wrote me a letter in February 2002. I reread that the other night, it was Chris, Rob and I, saying that he was doing good, he was out in Washington at the time, where he was stationed with the Coast Guard. He just said he met somebody and they were getting married, and said, ‘Yeah, you guys are probably carrying on right now, saying another one bites the dust.’ He was supposed to be coming up with his wife this summer, so we could all meet her.”
“It’s really sad that he’s not going to be able to see his child,” said Volunteer Chief Gabbianelli. “It’s really a shame. My sympathies go out to his family. He was just a great kid.”
Friends said Nathan Bruckenthal, whose father is the police chief of Northport, Long Island, was proud and happy to be serving his country.
“I knew when we were growing up together, that was his dream: He wanted to be in the Coast Guard, a firefighter or a police officer,” said Mr. Blosat. “That was his dream, to do exactly what he was doing.”
“I know he was happy he finally found something he wanted to do,” said Mike Gabbianelli. “I know he always wanted to be either a cop or a firefighter. I remember him saying that.”
Mr. Graziano, who had followed Mr. Bruckenthal’s lead in joining the Coast Guard, is the Ridgefield friend who had seen him most recently, shortly before his second deployment to Iraq.
“I kept in touch with him until recently. I just saw him a couple of weeks before he left, in February,” he said. “It was the last time I saw him. He came down, I’m stationed in Long Beach Island, with the Coast Guard, he came down to sit, eat lunch — we talked, and reminisced.”
Mr. Blosat recalled Mr. Bruckenthal as a kid who thrived on competition, whether playing computer games, pick-up basketball, or organized team sports.
“He was just an overall great kid, and he could not be put down,” he said. “If there was a challenge, Nate would definitely rise to the occasion. He was just a great kid. When he was on a team with me, he made us feel like a team.”
Mr. Blosat recalled an incident when the two played on the high school football team that he felt was emblematic of Mr. Bruckenthal’s determination and character.
It was a defensive drill, where players practice breaking through two offensive linemen to tackle a running back.
“Nate, it was his time to do it, and Nate got down in his three-point stance, and didn’t do what the coach wanted him to do. The coach pulled him out and yelled at Nate,” Mr. Blosat said. “Nate got right back in line, pushed the kid who was next in line away. He said ‘It’s my turn to go, I’m going to do this.’ He got down and did the drill, and blew everyone away — did it perfectly. He never gave up.”
Donald R. Gay, 70, was postman here
Donald R. Gay, 70, of New Fairfield, husband of the late Marthe (Guertin) Gay, died on Thursday, December 25, 2003 at Danbury Hospital surrounded by his family.
Mr. Gay was born in South Salem, New York, January 13, 1933, a son of Lewis and Ethel (Eggleston) Gay. He attended Lewisboro schools and graduated from John Jay High School, Katonah, NY.
A US Army veteran of the Korean War, Mr. Gay was a postal worker having been employed at the US Post Office, Ridgefield, for thirty-five years prior to his retirement.
In later years, He was a transporter at Danbury Hospital, a deliveryman for B&L Auto Supply and a clerk at the New Fairfield Food Center.
He was a member and volunteer at St. Edward the Confessor Church, New Fairfield as well as a member of its Knights of Columbus Council.
Three sons, Donald V. Gay and Wayne A. Gay both of Virginia Beach, VA and Brad D. Gay of Waterbury, CT, a daughter, Marlene M. Pettibone and her husband Philip and their three children, Kaitlyn, David and Daniel all of New Milford, three brothers, Robert Gay of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Fred gay of So. Salem, NY and Ralph Gay of Ridgefield, a sister, Evelyn Gannuscio of Terryville, CT and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews survive him.
A son, Roger D. Gay and a brother Francis Gay predeceased him.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday at 10AM in St. Edward the Confessor Church, New Fairfield.
Burial will follow in St. Peter Cemetery, Danbury.
Friends will be received in the Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, 9-11 Granville Avenue, Danbury on Monday from 6PM to 9PM.
Memorials to the Danbury Hospital Development Fund, for Oncology Nursing Professional Development, 24 Hospital Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810 would be greatly appreciated.
Richard Henderson, pilot, writer
Richard “Rich” Henderson of Ridgefield, a longtime Connecticut resident, died Saturday, May 29, 2004. He was 48 years old and the husband for 20 years of Susan Henderson.
Mr. Henderson was raised in Wilton, a son of Don and Joan Henderson, now of Southbury.
He attended Wilton High School and was especially proud of achieving “Eagle Scout” with his two brothers in 1971.
Mr. Henderson earned a private pilot’s license and then a commercial license in 1976. He graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a degree in English in 1980.
He was a writer and had worked for Forecast International/DMS in Newtown and also edited the sweepstakes publication, “Contest Newsletter,” in Bethel.
“Devoted to his family, Rich was incredibly kind, thoughtful, and helpful to all,” his family said. “He was a special ‘Buddy’ to all his nieces and nephews and took great joy in their company, hiking, playing ‘Junior Birdmen,’ refereeing video game marathons, and playing ‘Twenty Questions.’
“His imagination and creativity could keep them entertained for hours. He was a great uncle!”
“His engaging and entertaining personality was always a highlight during frequent family gatherings,” his family added.
Besides his wife and his parents, he is survived by two brothers, Don Henderson Jr. of Greene, Maine, and Bruce Henderson, also of Southbury, and an extended family that included Ethel Bowden, Lester and Erna Selnick, Larry and Diane Selnick and their son Stephen, Hal and Melissa Selnick and their sons Aaron and Mathew, Norma and Ray Ledan and their children, Meghan and Nicholas, Arnold Selnick, Ken Selnick, daughter Alexandra and fiancé, Alfie Peters.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The News Times Campership Fund, 333 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810.
Joseph Tulipani, veteran, native
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Tuesday for Joseph A. Tulipani, a lifelong Ridgefielder who had maintained diaries chronicling four and a half years of service in World War II. Mr. Tulipani died on Wednesday, May 5, 2004, at Danbury Hospital. He was 85 years old and the husband of the late Annie Marconi Tulipani, who died last September.
Mr. Tulipani was born on June 14, 1918, a son of the late Vincent and Evelina Branchini Tulipani, and grew up on the family farm on Nod Road. He was a 1937 graduate of Ridgefield High School.
Mr. Tulipani and his four brothers — Aldo, Albert, Alfred, and John — all served in World War II and all returned to settle in their hometown. Joseph was with a radar station unit in Australia, and in the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines. He survived Japanese bombing attacks, and was with General Douglas MacArthur’s forces in the liberation of the Philippines.
In both New Guinea and Philippines, Mr. Tulipani worked closely with natives. In one of the more unusual coincidences of the war, a Philippine guerilla, pistol drawn, once came upon Joseph’s youngest brother, Aldo, in a jungle. “They recognized him as me,” and let him go, Joseph Tulipani said.
Mr. Tulipani was one of the first Ridgefielders to fight in the war. From the day he entered the Army — April 1, 1941 — until he was discharged on Aug. 25, 1945, Mr. Tulipani kept detailed diaries of what he saw.
“Whatever made me do it, I don’t know,” he told an interviewer in 1974 about beginning his record on induction day. “I had this funny sensation when I got on the bus in Danbury. I sat down and until I got my pencil and pad out, this sensation wouldn’t stop. Somebody was telling me to write.”
And write he did, recording impressions of four and a half years of the war in the Pacific. When his service ended and he was being discharged, he was faced with a dilemma. He had a suitcase full of diaries that were illegal to bring home. “You weren’t allowed to take anything in writing,” he said. “No names and addresses, nothing concerning the unit.”
He could have tried to smuggle them out, risking arrest and a court martial, but he decided to “play honest.” He told the inspecting officer what was in the case. “He said, ‘You know what you’ve got to do with those. You’ve got to throw them in the fire,’” Mr. Tulipani recalled.
The soldier pleaded with the inspector, who would only agreed to turn over the suitcase to the base censors. “I never thought I’d see it again,” Mr. Tulipani said. But six months after he arrived home, the diary-laden suitcase showed up on Mr. Tulipani’s door.
Over the years he supplemented his own writing with research into the war, planning to produce a book of war memoirs. “The story will not been written up as a war story,” he said, “but as an adventure story.”
He never completed the project. The diaries were nearly destroyed in a fire that heavily damaged his home in 2000, but were rescued by firefighters.
Mr. Tulipani was for many years the superintendent of Jack Ward’s Ward Acres Farm on Peaceable Street and had earlier worked on other estates.
He had a long interest in photography, beginning in the 1930s before he left high school. After the war he worked semi-professionally as a photographer. When the original St. Mary’s School was operating in the 1960s, he took many of the class and team pictures.
“Joe was a very good photographer,” said Kay Ables of the Ridgefield Historical Society. He had loaned the society some of his photos from the 1930s through the 1960s for copying and archiving. Among the pictures were shots taken in World War II.
Like his four brothers, Mr. Tulipani was musically inclined. After the war he joined them in a western-style band, the Sagebrush Serenaders, which played at countless square dances in the area.
He was a member of the Italian American Mutual Aid Society, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and of St. Mary’s Church. He was an avid gardener and a fan of the New York Yankees and UConn Women’s Basketball Team.
Mr. Tulipani is survived by two sons, Joseph Vincent Tulipani and James A. Tulipani; a brother, Alfred Tulipani; and a sister Ada Walker, all of Ridgefield; as well as several nieces and nephews.
Three brothers, John, Albert and Aldo, died before him.
Burial with military honors took place in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.