Sylvia Asselin, 65, active volunteer
Sylvia C. Asselin of West Lane, who was active in community groups here and in New Hampshire, died on Monday, July 12, 2004, at White Plains (N.Y.) Hospital. She was 65 years old and the wife of Maurice R. Asselin.
Mrs. Asselin was born in Barre, Vt., on Aug. 7, 1938, a daughter of Edicta Valle Cozzi of Barre, and the late Bruno Cozzi.
She attended Vermont schools and graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in home economics.
A resident of Ridgefield for the past 18 years, she had previously lived in St. Cloud, Minn. She was a member of the Caudatowa Garden Club, the Keeler Tavern Museum where she was a volunteer and operated the gift shop, the Ridgefield Hookers rug hooking group, and St. Mary’s Church.
Mrs. Asselin was also active in the Lake Sunapee, N.H., area and had a home at the Granliden Community Association in Sunapee. She was a supporter of the new Abbott Library in Sunapee.
Besides rug hooking, she enjoyed gardening.
Besides her mother and her husband of 44 years, Mrs. Asselin is survived by two sons, Robert M. Asselin and his wife Darlene of Mendham, N.J., and Michael C. Asselin and his wife Cari of Lakeside, Ariz.; a daughter, Margaret A. Woods and her husband Matthew of Maplewood, N.J.; a sister, Klaire Martin and her husband Douglas of Ridgefield; and five granddaughters, Sara, Amanda, Genevieve, Marielle and Mackenna.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Wednesday in St. Mary’s Church.
A Mass of Christian Burial and interment will take place on Saturday in Sunapee.
Memorial donations to the Abbott Library Building & Development Fund, P.O. Box 314, Sunapee, NH 03782-0314 would be appreciated.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Alfred G. Bergen, 46, contractor
Alfred G. Bergen of Southbury, a building contractor and former Ridgefielder, died unexpectedly Friday, May 21, 2004, at Norwalk Hospital. He was 46 years old and the husband of Tamara Bihuniak Bergen.
Mr. Bergen was born Oct. 28, 1957, in Vienna, Austria, son of Jacob and Lillian Dersch Bergen of Ridgefield. He was raised in Vienna where he learned and apprenticed his carpentry trade.
Mr. Bergen was a building contractor who owned Bergen Builders, LLC. He was a member of Walnut Hill Community Church of Bethel and was an avid outdoorsman.
Formerly of Redding and Ridgefield, he and his family moved to Southbury 13 years ago.
Besides his wife of 24 years and his parents, he leaves two daughters, Sophie T. Bergen and Nicole H. Bergen of Southbury; two brothers, Jon Bergen of Vienna and Philip Bergen of Bethel; and two sisters, Marie Kern of Vienna and Lydia Allen of Barrington, R.I.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 19, at 1 p.m. at Walnut Hill Community Church, 156 Walnut Hill Road, Bethel. Arrangements by Carpino Funeral Home, 750 Main Street South, Southbury.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Walnut Hill Community Church for the Bergen Children Trust Fund, 156 Walnut Hill Road, Bethel, CT 06801.
William Boondas, retired businessman, native of Greece
William Boondas of Ridgefield and of Daytona Beach Shores, Fla., a retired businessman, died at his Ridgefield residence on Wednesday morning, April 14, 2004. He was 85 years old, the husband of Christine (Chipouras) Boondas and the father of Jamie Boondas Telegadis of Ridgefield.
Mr. Boondas was born in Pylos, Greece, July 18, 1918, son of the late Stelios and Dionysia (Karabatsos) Boondas. He immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island in 1926, first settling in the Bronx, N.Y. Raised by his father and stepmother, Olga (Kaldis) Boondas, as a result of his mother’s passing when he was a child, he graduated from New York schools, attended New York University.
He was a World War II U.S. Army Air Force veteran having served in the South Pacific.
Mr. Boondas was a businessman and for 30 years owned and operated the William Boondas Ribbon & Floral Supply Co. of Bayside, Queens, N.Y., serving the New York and metropolitan area. He was a past officer of the New York Florist Association. An active member of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Flushing, N.Y., he was also a member of the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association.
“He will always be remembered for his unwavering devotion to his family, was a passionate believer in education, the importance of good communications and human relations between people,” his family said. “He was a strong believer in Greek culture and customs. He loved cars and the joy of traveling with his family.”
Besides his wife of 57 years and daughter Jamie Telegadis and her husband Sam of Ridgefield, he is survived by two other daughters, Denise Boondas of Carriere, Miss., and Stephanie Boondas Flagg and her husband Paul of East Hampton, N.Y., and his grandchildren whom he was very proud of, William, Samantha, Kinara and Melia.
Father Peter Karloutsos led the Rite of Burial on Monday, April 19, in the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Danbury. Burial followed in St. Peter Cemetery, Danbury. Memorial contributions to the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church Building Fund, 30 Clapboard Ridge Road, Danbury, CT 06811 would be appreciated. The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Peter Casagrande, Ridgefield native, WWII veteran, worked 40 years at Ridgefield News
Peter P. Casagrande, a native Ridgefielder who for decades helped run the Ridgefield News Store on Main Street, died Thursday, April 15, 2004 in Summerfield, Fla., where he’d lived in retirement. He was 87, the husband of Katherine A. Casagrande, and the father of four children.
“We’ve always gotten along with everybody,” Mr. Casagrande said in 1992 interview, when he and his wife were leaving Ridgefield and their decades of work at the store known as Squash’s. “Working a job like we had — you’ve got to get along. We never had any trouble. People have been great.”
They moved to Florida, retiring to a house by a golf course. “Ridgefield is as nice as any place you’d want to be,” he said at the time. “We’ve traveled across the country, and New England is as pretty as any place in the country. But we’re getting older so we’d rather get away from the cold weather.”
Mr. Casagrande was born Sept. 17, 1916, a son of Aldo and Emily Casagrande. He grew up on in the house that still stands on the corner of Prospect Street and East Ridge, just above the Italian Club. He graduated from Ridgefield High School at age 16. He served in the World War II with the U.S. Army Transportation Corps, stationed on a ship that delivered men and materiel to ports from Casablanca, Morocco, to Glasgow, Scotland. “I made 20 trips across the Atlantic — in the Army,” he said. “I was in the invasion of North Africa, Italy, France.”
He left the service after the war. “I came out a ‘tech’ sergeant. I was offered masters if I stayed, but I wanted to get out,” he said. Waiting for him back in Ridgefield was Katherine Finch, whose father, Harold Finch, was then the owner of the Ridgefield News Store and soon became Peter Casagrande’s employer. They were married Aug. 12, 1946 at St. Mary’s Church on Catoonah Street, and honeymooned in Quebec. The store changed hands but “Pete and Cookie,” as Mr. and Mrs. Casagrande were known, stayed. He worked full time, she worked part time and seasonally, depending on whether their four kids were in or out of school.
For most his 40-odd years at Ridgefield News and Stationery, Mr. Casagrande worked for Aldo Travaglini, the man who gave his nickname to the store that is still call “Squash’s” with some frequency. Mr. Casagrande would rise early and walk at about 4 a.m. from his house on Greenfield Avenue down Catoonah Street to the store, receiving the newspapers from New York and getting everything ready for a 6 a.m. opening. He was assistant manager, Squash’s second in command. “He ran that store for years, with Squash. They switched weekends,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi, who worked there in his youth. “He was dedicated to the job and knew everyone in the community.” “Just like brothers,” Mr. Travaglini said, describing how he worked with Mr. Casagrande over the years. “Except brothers wouldn’t get along as good.” For many of those years Squash’s had a soda fountain, and was an after-school hangout for the town’s young people. “You didn’t get away with anything, as a kid, because Pete was always watching,” Mr. Marconi said.
In Ridgefield Mr. Casagrande was a member of the Italian American Mutual Aide Society, the Knights of Columbus, the Volunteer Fire Department, the Old Timer’s Club, and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He enjoyed golfing, gardening and traveling. On a couple of occasions Mr. Casagrande and his wife would combine their enjoyment of golf and travel, crossing the country on smaller roads and stopping to golf on courses they came across. “We didn’t have a set itinerary,” Mr. Casagrande said. “If we saw a course we thought we’d like, we’d stop and play.”
Besides his wife, Mr. Casagrande is survived by four children: Paul Casagrande and his wife Terry of Summerfield, Fla.; Mark Casagrande and his friend Roger of Tampa, Fla.; Katherine Davis and her husband Mike of Chatham, Mass.; and Nancy Thompson of Gorham, Maine. He also leaves four grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and several nieces and nephews.
The funeral was Wednesday at the Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services in Lady Lake, Fla., with burial at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Fla. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, the Ridgefield Public Library, the Hospice of Marion County, Fla., or to a charity of choice.
Joseph Cice, social worker, advocate
Joseph Cice, social worker and children’s rights activist, was killed in a car accident May 9, 2004, near Boulevard, Calif. He was 37.
Mr. Cice was born Dec. 18,1966, in Stamford, the third son of Joseph and Evelyn Cice of Ridgefield. He attended Ridgefield public schools and became a memorable student at Ridgefield High School.
“He lit up every room he walked into,” recalls Ridgefield High School . teacher/dean Marc Katz, who worked with Mr. Cice on the annual M.D.A. dance and other activities. “You knew he was special.”
While a student at the high school, Mr. Cice served as a class officer and helped to found G.I.S.T., a student relief organization that eventually raised several hundred thousand dollars to help fight famine in Africa. He graduated in 1985.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Harvard University, Mr. Cice moved to northern California where he worked in the public health field in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco. His experiences working with homeless, abused, and neglected youth there helped shape his later work as a counselor and child advocate.
After moving to San Diego from the Bay Area in the early 1990’s, Mr. Cice earned a master’s degree in social work and health administration at San Diego State University.
Over the next 10 years, Mr. Cice became director of social work for the Lakeside Union School District in suburban San Diego and a prominent child advocate in southern California.
He founded the Lakeside Teen Advisory Board, a collaboration among the clinic, schools, social and law enforcement agencies, teens, and parents, which has become a model for other districts in the region.
He spearheaded the drive for a regional teen center providing after-school social and psychological services to students. The center opened in December 2003.
Mr. Cice also became a prominent public spokesman on issues threatening to youth such as racism, violence and homophobia. He held public workshops after violent incidents in Lakeside and nearby Santee, and insisted on non-violence and racial justice in his work.
“Joseph worked tirelessly to make the community center much more open to kids of all backgrounds,” says Dr. Bronwen Anders, medical director of the facility. “He was absolutely one of a kind.”
“He was one of the most positive and hard-working individuals I have ever encountered,” says Lakeside Union School District Vice-Superintendent Sam Mreshon.
“He touched so many lives that there is no gauge on how many students he has helped through the years.”
At an impromptu memorial service held last week in the Lakeside school district, Mr. Cice’s colleague Marissa McFederies commented, “Joe was the kind of person you liked right away. Especially kids. He really loved and cared about them, and they saw that. They could open up to Joseph like no one else in their lives.”
While his hectic schedule kept him hopping in the East County, he also found time to travel to Russia several times to coordinate and teach Russian agencies the proper way to work with their homeless and dispossessed children. He was working on adopting a Russian child at the time of his death.
Mr. Cice is survived by his parents, Joseph and Evelyn Cice, of Ridgefield; his brother, Christopher, of Brookfield; his brother, Gregory, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. and his aunt, Antoinette Cice, of Ridgefield.
A memorial mass will be held tomorrow, Friday, May 28, at Sacred Heart Church in Georgetown at 1:30. A reception will be held on the church grounds immediately following the mass.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Lakeside Union School District, c/o The Joseph Cice Student Safety and Family Support Fund, P.O. Box 578, Lakeside, CA 92040.
Hans Collischonn, retired teacher
Lt. Col. Hans B. Collischonn of Danbury, who had taught in the Wilton schools for 30 years, died July 20, 2004, in Danbury Hospital. He was 79 years old and the husband of Helen Sterry Collischonn.
Lt. Col. Collischonn was born in Passaic, N.J., on April 12, 1925, a son of Robert and Tina Collischonn. The family lived in Ridgefield during the 1930s and moved to Danbury in the early 1940s.
During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the South Pacific. He later served many years in the Connecticut State Guard and the Army Reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
He and his wife, a Ridgefield native, met at a square dance at the Odd Fellows Hall on Main Street. They were married here April 24, 1948.
After the war, he obtained his degree at Danbury State Teachers College, now WestConn, and his master’s at Columbus University. He taught in Watertown for three years, and went to Wilton in 1953, at first teaching in the junior high. He later taught American history at Wilton High School for many years, retiring in 1983.
He was a Fairfield County sheriff, and was active in Republican politics in Danbury.
Besides his wife, he is survived by six children and a foster son, Christina Stuart of Danbury, Patricia Dayton of Danbury, Robert and Eric Collischonn of Cobbleskill, N.Y., Teresa Jenkins of Danbury, Johanna Bennett of Winchester, N.H., and Richard Van Orsdale of Colorado; 18 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Services took place at the Hull Funeral Home in Danbury on Thursday, July 22.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Regional Hospice, 405 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810.
Mary Connell, homemaker, dancer
Mary F. Connell of 87 Barry Avenue, a homemaker, dancer and longtime Ridgefielder, died on Sunday afternoon, May 9, 2004, at Laurel Ridge Nursing & Skilled Care Center.
She was 81 years old and the widow of Joseph E. Connell, who died in 1981.
Mrs. Connell was born in Springfield, Mass., on Dec. 10, 1922, and grew up in Massachusetts.
A Ridgefielder since 1968, Mrs. Connell enjoyed dance and had performed with Ridgefield’s MacDonald-Pin Dancers annually for more than 30 years.
She was a member of St. Mary’s Church.
Mrs. Connell is survived by two sons, Kevin Connell of Abingdon, Md., and Joseph E. Connell Jr. of Ridgefield; two daughters, Kathleen Teater of Kent and Jean Cobelli and her husband Michael of Ridgefield; and four grandchildren, Joseph M. Connell, Sean Cobelli, Stefano Cobelli, and Dante Cobelli.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday at 10:15 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
The family will receive friends in the Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah Street, on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association, 90 East Ridge or to the Meals on Wheels Program, 25 Gilbert Street.
James Cooper, fought pulmonary fibrosis
James Bracken Cooper, 61, a retired software professional who lived at 49 Lakeside Drive, died on Monday, March 29, at Danbury Hospital as a result of lung disease. The husband of Karen Kröyer Cooper, he was a longtime Newtown resident who moved to Ridgefield in 2002.
He was a 1960 graduate of Newtown High School and Post College. He later served in the Army Signal Corps and was a volunteer fireman with Newtown Hook & Ladder.
He worked in the software industry for almost 30 years, serving companies such as Burroughs, IBM, and Wang until his retirement in 2002.
He was involved in Newtown youth sports, coaching soccer and Little League baseball. He was an avid skier who had worked as a professional ski instructor, and also enjoyed hiking, fishing and the ocean. He was a member of the Fairfield County Fish and Game Protective Association in Monroe and of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
In later years he was active in the fight against pulmonary fibrosis, helping drug companies develop new treatments, counseling others who suffered form the disease, and working to get Connecticut to declare a statewide awareness week.
He will be greatly missed, family and friends said.
Besides his wife he is survived by a brother, David C. Cooper; two sons, Glenn H. Cooper and Scott C. Cooper; a daughter, Suzanne C. Cooper; and step-children Kirsten E. Karlan, Justen A. Annunziato and Taegen M. Annunziato; and a step-grandchild, Leah Grace Karlan.
Calling hours will be today, Thursday, April 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Honan Funeral Home on 58 Main Street, Newtown. The funeral service will be Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the Honan Funeral Home.
Contributions in his memory may be made to The Coalition to Fight Pulmonaray Fibrosis, 1685 Barnham Lane, suite 227, San Jose, Calif., 95118.