Dr. Robert Jacobs, 62, chemistry teacher, human rights advocate
Dr. Robert Jacobs of Ridgefield died on June 16, 2004 at the age of 62.
Born in Queens, N.Y., he moved to Ridgefield in 1970 after completing his doctorate in chemistry at St. Johns University.
Known to his students as “Dr. J,” he had taught chemistry at Wilton High School for 34 years. His philosophy of education and his desire to change things for the better earned him recognition far beyond Wilton’s borders and his Web site, chemistrycoach.com, continues to challenge students, parents and teachers worldwide, family members said.
Dr. Jacobs coached the girls varsity tennis team and led the squad to several state championships. He was also a faculty adviser to Amnesty International and the Gay Straight Alliance, where he worked with students to further human rights both domestically and abroad.
Among his other passions were classical music, opera, foreign films, the University of Pennsylvania basketball team, Latin dancing, and his family.
He was described as a “generous, intense, loving man who will missed immensely by his family and friends.”
Remembrances in Dr. Jacobs’ name may be made to Amnesty International or the Gay Straight Alliance.
Bob Jewell, police officer, fireman
Robert George Jewell of Ridgefield, who had been both a policeman and a firefighter in New York City, died at his home on Monday, July 5, after a battle with cancer. He was 63 years old and the husband of Frances Shiels Jewell.
According to his family, “he passed in the company of those who loved him.”
Bob Jewell was born Feb. 12, 1941 in the Bronx, N.Y., and was raised in the island community of City Island.
“It was growing up on City Island that he developed a deep appreciation and affinity for the sea, whether it be boating, fishing or enjoying its bounty, especially clams and softshell crab,” said his son, Robert Jewell.
He attended Mount Saint Michael’s in the Bronx, graduating in 1959. It was at a school dance that he met Fran, his wife of 39 years, who lived in nearby Parkchester and attended Saint Helena’s. They married in 1964 and lived in Parkchester until moving to Ridgefield in 1969. They also spent their summers in Long Beach, N.Y., where they owned a summer home.
“Bob loved nothing more than a day on the beach with his family, strolling the boardwalk with his wife, or just sitting on his porch,” his son said.
Mr. Jewell was a veteran of the “Fighting 69th” Infantry Division of the New York Army National Guard. He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Mr. Jewell served the City of New York for many years, working for both the New York City Police Department and Fire Department. He began his career as a police officer, first in the 25th Precinct in Harlem, where he walked a beat during the civil unrest of the early 1960’s, and, later, in the 47th Precinct in the Bronx.
He later became a firefighter, and was first assigned to Engine 71, a few blocks from Yankee Stadium, “where he helped try to stop the South Bronx from burning down in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s,” his son said.
Mr. Jewell was subsequently assigned to Ladder 50 on Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx, where he shared a firehouse with his wife’s brother, Ray.
He retired as a fire marshal, having served as an arson investigator, first with the Major Case Squad and, later, as a founding member of the special “Red Cap” task force.
Mr. Jewell was also a “devoted family man who coached Little League teams in Ridgefield for each of his three sons,” son Robert Jewell said. “He loved spending time with his boys, be it fishing, fixing cars or bikes or just throwing a ball around — he was the consummate dad. He always put family first and all else second.
Besides his wife, Mr. Jewell is survived by his three sons and their families: Robert, his wife Brenda and their three sons, Robert, Connor and Hunter, of Ridgefield; Michael, his wife Eileen and their two sons, Matthew and Michael, of Bethel; and Scott, his wife Lisa, their daughter, Alana, and their son, Gavin, of Middlebury.
Services will take place today, Thursday, July 8, at 10:15 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, 6 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Miller Johnson, active in community
Miller Allen Johnson of 167 Haviland Road, who had been a Ridgefielder for nearly 40 years, died May 31, 2004, at the Pope John Paul II Center for Health Care in Danbury. He was the husband of Alice Backer Johnson, who died in 2000, and was 79 years old.
Mr. Johnson had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for the last 15 years.
Mr. Johnson was born in Sayre, Pa., on May 13 1925. He grew up just over the state border in Waverly, N.Y., where he met his future wife, whom he married in 1946.
Mr. Johnson attended Syracuse University, graduated from Parks Air College in St. Louis, Mo., and served in the Navy during World War II.
After working for American Airlines he joined Emery Air Freight and moved to Ridgefield when Emery relocated its worldwide headquarters to Wilton in 1965. After leaving Emery in 1979 he was the director of systems and procedures at Air Express International in Stamford until his retirement.
Mr. Johnson was active in the Republican Party, served as a justice of the peace, and was involved in many community activities. He had been actively involved in efforts to approve building the “new” Ridgefield High School in 1968.
“Despite his strong opinions about the issues that confronted Ridgefield as it grew, he was known as a person who was always genial and gracious to everyone, including those who might oppose his views,” his family said. “He is remembered by family and friends alike for his sense of humor and sunny disposition.”
Surviving are his sister, Dr. Carol Eagle of New York, N.Y.; his two daughters, Judith Maguire of Stafford, N H., and Betsy O’Connor of Arlington, Va.; his two sons, Jason Johnson of Ridgefield and David Johnson of Falls Church, Va.; and five grandchildren.
A private funeral service will be held on June 19 in Waverly.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of the Ridgefield Library, 472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
Arthur Kessler, owner of Yarnbee
Arthur Kessler, who co-owned The Yarnbee on Main Street after a 20-year chemical engineering career in which he built refineries around the world, died Thursday, April 29, 2004, at Norwalk Hospital. He was 77, and died of complications of Parkinson’s disease. The husband of Sara Kessler for 54 years, he had lived on Manor Road in Ridgefield since 1961.
“He was basically a very honest, straightforward person. He would speak his mind, and he loved his family,” said his wife.
Born April 16, 1927, in Boston, the youngest of three children of Rebecca and Louis Kessler, Jewish immigrants from Russia, he grew up in the Mattapan section of Boston and graduated from Boston Latin High School.
He joined the U.S. Navy and served in the south Pacific in World War II, and returned to attend Northeastern University in Boston on the G.I. Bill, graduating in 1949 with a degree in chemical engineering.
He married Sara Tanger of Winthrop, Mass., on March 12, 1950. They lived in Newark, Del., where he worked for DuPont.
In 1958 he moved his family, by then including two young sons, to The Hague, The Netherlands, where he was one of three engineers overseeing the design and construction of a huge off-shore oil refinery in Rotterdam for Exxon.
The family moved to Ridgefield in 1961, building a home off Manor Road. They lived for a year in Germany in 1966-67, as Mr. Kessler oversaw the renovation of a large refinery there.
After returning to Ridgefield he commuted frequently to Europe, coming home on weekends, rather than repeatedly move his family while negotiating contracts to build liquid natural gas plants in Spain, Libya and Italy.
Retiring from chemical engineering, he opened a needlecraft store, The Yarnbee, with Mrs. Kessler. The shop thrived on Main Street from 1971 to 1987.
“He designed and painted needlework canvases,” said Mrs. Kessler. “He also made some of the large exhibition pieces in the store.”
Some of his needlework was exhibited in a show in a local bank in 1975.
The Kesslers also traveled to Asia, going to Hong Kong and Thailand to buy oriental needlecraft and other goods for sale in the store.
After retiring from his second career as a small business owner, Mr. Kessler began helping others start new business ventures as a volunteer with SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives. He was an early member of the Danbury chapter, and founded its banking committee, which worked with local banks to provide loans for small businesses. He was SCORE’s vice-chairman from 1995 to 1997.
“Tennis, he loved tennis,” said his son Leonard.
It was a lifelong enthusiasm. He started playing as a youngster in Mattapan, where there was a court across the street from his house, and he played into his late ’60s, gathering with friends for doubles at the court of Dr. Bob Dann.
He had an active retirement, becoming an accomplished cook with a specialty in Chinese dishes, hand-painting wallpaper in his home, and taking courses in subjects that ranged from world religions to global economics to yoga at the Lifetime Learners Institute at Norwalk Community College.
The possessor of a lively mind with wide-ranging interests, he loved to discuss the world and debate politics. He was interested in Asian art and culture, and loved music, from classical to the blues, but especially jazz such as Billie Holiday.
Besides his wife he is survived by two sons and their families: Garry Kessler of Westboro, Mass., and his wife Anne, Leonard Kessler of Westtown, N.Y. and his wife Julia. Grandchildren include Sharon and Eileen Kessler of Westboro, Mass. and Noah, Casey and Jazmine Langlitz of Westtown, N.Y. He has one great-grandchild, Jaden Cunningham.
Friends are invited to join the family in celebrating his life on Saturday, May 8, from 2 to 4 at their home at 53 Manor Road.
Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association of Ridgefield, 90 East Ridge Road, Ridgefield, or the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department’s Ambulance Fund, 6 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield.
The Bouton Funeral Home in Georgetown is handling arrangements.
Margaret Kiley, longtime resident, theatre volunteer
Margaret Mary Bohan Kiley died Tuesday, April 20, 2004 in Florence, S.C., after an illness. She was 77.
She was born in Cambridge, Mass., a daughter of the late Michael and Susan Hensen Bohan. She was the widow of William Robert Kiley. A longtime resident of Ridgefield, she had been a resident of Florence since 1979. She was an active member of St. Ann’s Catholic Church. She was also a volunteer at the Florence Little Theatre and a cuddler at McLeod Regional Medical Center.
Survivors include two daughters, Susan Hric of Vorhees, N.J., and Cathy Rothweiler of Boulder, Colo.; three sons, Robert Kiley, David Kiley, and Timothy Kiley, all of Danbury; a brother, Jack Bohan of Cambridge, Mass.; and nine grandchildren.
A memorial service is taking place today in Florence. Memorial contributions may be made to the Covenant House, 460 West 41st Street, New York, NY 10036.
Shirley F. Lazarus, 72, Ridgefielder’s mother
Shirley F. Lazarus, 72, mother of Lorraine Lazarus-Morley of Ridgefield, died on Monday morning, July 26, 2004 at her Ridgefield home.
She was the wife of G. Leonard Lazarus.
Funeral services and burial will take place on Wednesday, 2pm in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Glendale, NY with Cantor Deborah Kotchko of Temple Shearith Israel, Ridgefield, officiating.
A period of mourning will be observed at the Lazarus-Morley residence on Thursday from 11AM to 8PM.
The Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield is in charge of arrangements.
Carmela M. Legan, homemaker
Carmela M. Legan of Ridgefield, a homemaker and Ridgefielder for 45 years, died on Sunday evening, June 13, 2004, at Danbury Hospital. She was 76 years old and widow of Joseph C. Legan,
Mrs. Legan was born in Stamford, June 22, 1927, a daughter of the late Joseph and Vita Telesco Santarsiero. She attended Stamford schools and graduated from Sacred Heart Academy.
In 1959, Mrs. Legan moved from Stamford to Ridgefield. She was a homemaker and enjoyed cooking, especially homemade raviolis and pastas.
She was a member of St. Mary’s Church and of its Prayer Chain.
Mrs. Legan is survived by seven sons, John J. and his wife Ritva, Edward R. and his wife Judy, and William, all of New Milford; Robert J. and his wife Rita of Waxhaw, N.C.; Anthony P. and his wife Leslie of Danbury; Joseph R. and his wife Sally, and Michael, both of Ridgefield; two daughters, Ann V. Senko and her husband Joe of Wingate, N.C., and Maureen E. Hulse and her husband Alfred Jr. of New Milford; 13 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
Her husband died in 1975. A brother Victor Santarsiero also died before her.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday at 10:15 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association, 90 East Ridge or to the Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance Fund, 6 Catoonah Street, both of Ridgefield, CT 06877 or to the American Diabetes Association, 300 Research Parkway, Meriden, CT 06450.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Michael Manning, 65,husband, father
Michael James Manning, a Ridgefielder for 34 years and the owner of the manufacturers’ representative firm Manning & Associates, died suddenly Saturday, May 15. He was 65, the husband of former First Selectwoman Sue Manning, the father of three children, and an enthusiastic grandfather.
Mr. Manning was born in 1939 in Harrisburg, Pa., son of Jane and the late William Manning. He graduated from DePauw University in Indiana, where he met his future wife. He was also a veteran of the U.S. Army.
The Mannings moved to Ridgefield in July 1970, buying and restoring an old carriage house at 1 Main Street. In the mid-1970s they moved to the 1893 classical revival house on East Ridge that has been their home for 30 years. Restoring the house was one of Mr. Manning’s long-term projects, and he also enjoyed antiquing expeditions to furnish it.
Mr. Manning was an active member of the community and served over the years on the Republican Town Committee and on the board of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. “He took an interest in a wide variety of subjects, and was never at a loss for an opinion,” his family said. “If you were with him, you were never a stranger for long.”
He was an avid tennis player and a sports enthusiast, and enjoyed all of life’s pleasures including a fine meal, good wine, and his extensive and whimsical accumulation of pig collectibles.
In the 12 years his wife Sue was Ridgefield first selectwoman, Mr. Manning took a wry pleasure in his role as the town’s first husband, staying on the sidelines and often entertaining those nearby at political events with a stance of grumpy irony toward proceedings. But behind that, he was a proud and supportive husband to the town’s highest office holder.
“Being there for her in that role was a very big part of his life,” said his family. In recent years, he relished another role. “He really enjoyed being a grandfather — the kids jumping on him and reading with him.”
Besides his wife and his mother, Jane Manning of San Marcos Calif., he is survived by three children and their families: Michael J. Manning Jr. and his wife Daina correct Manning, of Redondo Beach, Calif.; Betsy Manning Martindale and her husband Wight Martindale of Darien; David Bradley Manning and his fiancée Sarah Ainsworth of New York City. He leaves three grandchildren, Stella, Pia and Teagan Martindale of Darien, as well as two brothers, a sister, and a large extended family.
Friends are invited to join the family for a celebration of his life on Saturday, May 22, from 3 to 6 at their home at 56 East Ridge. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be sent to the Michael Manning Memorial Fund, c/o the Ridgefield Rotary, P.O. Box 41, Ridgefield, CT 06877.