Ruth D. Johnson, worked for VNA
Ruth Duryea Johnson, a 55-year resident of Ridgefield, died on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2004, at Laurel Ridge Health Care Center after a long illness. She was 82 years old and the wife of J. Lawrence Johnson, a native of Georgetown.
Mrs. Johnson was born in Lewisboro, N.Y., on July 25, 1922, a daughter of the late Seth and Sarah Mead Duryea and attended school in New Canaan.
Before her retirement at the age of 79 years, Mrs. Johnson was employed at the Visiting Nurse Association of Ridgefield and was recognized for her many years of loyal service.
She was a member and past Worthy Matron of the Order of Eastern Star, Mamanasco Chapter #72 in Ridgefield and later became a member of Stellar Chapter #55, Order of Eastern Star in Danbury.
“Ruth enjoyed life, and especially cherished the times she attended dances with her husband and the opportunities to travel cross country and go on cruises together,” her family said. “She will be greatly missed and remembered for her compassion and strong will for life.”
Besides her husband of 63 years, Mrs. Johnson is survived by her two children: Eric L. Johnson and his wife, Eileen, and Ruthie L. Hoggard and her husband, William, all of Danbury; four grandchildren, Wayne Johnson and his wife, Debbie of New Milford, Laura Morrissey and her husband, Dan, of Warren, Julie Pace of Waterbury and Sheila Stewart and her husband, William, of Honesdale, Pa.; nine great-grandchildren, Andrea, David, Jasmine, Selena, Joscelynne, Julia, Patrick, Kevin and William. Two brothers, Seth Duryea of Vista, N.Y., and Arthur Scott of New Canaan died before her.
Services were held on Monday, Nov. 15, at the Bouton Funeral Home in Georgetown. Burial followed in Maple Shade Cemetery, Ridgefield.
Ellen F.J. Kane, 102, homemaker
Ellen Felice Johnson “Mimi” Kane, a homemaker with an eye for a wise investment, died on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2004, at her home in Ridgefield. She was 102 years old.
Mrs. Kane was born March 16, 1902 in Brookhaven, Miss., a daughter of Dr. J.H. and Katherine McGrath Johnson.
She grew up in Brookhaven, but egged on by an older cousin to expand her horizons before settling down, she received permission to become the companion to a recently widowed family friend living in New York’s Chatham Hotel. There she began a life-long love affair with “The Big Apple” while being chauffeured to and from the cultural offerings of Broadway and Carnegie Hall.
Through a mutual friend, Ms. Johnson met a young journalist, Sherwin Kane, whose Depression-era marriage proposal was accepted and their wedding took place on what Mrs. Kane always described as “the coldest day that ever was.”
The couple moved through an assortment of Manhattan and Queens apartments before settling in Elmhurst, Queens, in 1942, having added sons Sherwin and Stephen to the fold.
Mentored by an elderly widow friend and a younger cousin, Mrs. Kane developed a cautious yet keen instinct for equity investing. While barely aware of this activity Mr. Kane was fully aware of Mrs. Kane’s money-managing ability. Thus, she was able to fund her portfolio by “pinching off the grocery money,” as she liked to describe it. Nonetheless, her family said, “Mrs. Kane’s culinary talents were first rate.”
Beyond retirement age in a time when pension plans were a rarity, Mr. Kane was astounded to learn what his wife had wrought with her methodical investing strategy. Until his death in 1975, the couple enjoyed car-traveling the country and visiting a North Carolina farm — now a National Historical Site — on Mrs. Kane’s side of the family.
With neighborhood changes and the passing of many friends, Mrs. Kane settled into Ridgefield’s Casagmo in 1989 first as a tenant, later on as a first-time mortgagee at the age of 95.
In April 2000, she suffered a second serious stroke, which left her unable to resume her life in her beloved apartment where she had been surrounded by a lifetime accumulation of personal and sentimental treasures. Her pride and joy was her piano. Though untrained musically, she played by ear. “If you could sing, hum or whistle it,” said her Ridgefield son, Sherwin, “given a few minutes, she could play it with gusto.” With or without an audience, she could entertain herself for hours and knew the words and music to hundreds of songs.
Mrs. Kane had a remarkable memory and upon making a new friend, would always warn, “Don’t ever tell me anything you don’t want me to remember.” Even years later, she could repeat almost verbatim that earlier conversation.
Whether next door or across the country, Mrs. Kane would drop everything to tend to a friend or relative in need, for however long she was needed, her son said. “She was a born caregiver with boundless energy and good cheer.”
Mr. Kane told of checking on his mother at her Casagmo home and finding “anyone from two to 92, there on a pop-in visit, or for tea or lunch or even an out-of-towner there for the day or overnight. She loved people and had a magnetic quality that attracted any and every age.”
“A wonderful wife, mother and human being has left the planet,” he said.
Besides sons Sherwin and Stephen of Ashland, Ore., other survivors include grandchildren Candi Doyle of Ashland, Sugar Me Jia of Newbury Park, Calif., Paul Kane of New York City, Sharen Danaher of Blauvelt, N.Y., Chris Kane of Ridgefield, five great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews including Phyllis Spearman and Joan Peyton of Brookhaven, Miss., and Jere Clark of Hattiesburg, Miss.
Services will take place in Brookhaven on Sept. 9 at St. Francis of Assisi Church.
Memorial contributions may be made to Johnson Farm Project, Education Foundation of Henderson County Public Schools, 414 Fourth Avenue West, Hendersonville, NC 28739.
Adaline Laughlin, the ‘Egg Lady’
G. Adaline Baker Laughlin of Manchester, a professional artist and craftsperson noted for her Ukrainian Easter eggs, died Monday, Oct. 25, 2004, at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, after a three-year battle with cancer. She was 67 years old and the wife of Bruce Laughlin.
While the former Ridgefielder’s work in pewter hollowware and glass jewelry has been displayed and sold nationally, she was best known in Connecticut for her Ukrainian egg decorating and managing her own annual holiday show, Open Studio.
Known as “Addi,” Mrs. Laughlin was born in New Rochelle, N.Y., on March 25, 1937, a daughter of Reginald Perkins Baker and Gertrude Barker Baker, both art teachers.
She graduated from high school in Eastchester, N.Y., in 1955. She attended MacMurray College in Illinois and was a graduate of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., with degrees in graphic arts and advertising design.
Mrs. Laughlin lived in Ridgefield from 1969 to 1979. She was a member of Ridgebury Congregational Church and ran its professional art show for many years. She was a founding member of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists and its president.
For eight years she was president of the Society of Connecticut Craftsmen. She taught many classes in the area, including at the Brookfield Craft Center and Putnam Arts Council.
She was a professional pewtersmith and glass artist, but she was best known throughout Connecticut as the “Egg Lady.” Her interest in the craft began in Ridgefield, when she studied the art of wax resist Ukrainian egg decorating from a friend, Maria Kruelski, in 1972. She would spend the next 32 years creating beautiful works of art and teaching thousands of students young and old. Her last workshops for children were at Washington School in Manchester where her son was working.
Her egg creations have been featured in newspapers, magazines and on television. Because she was not Ukrainian herself, she often referred to her eggs as “Scots-English-Irish Ukrainian eggs.” Her designs were traditional, as well as of her own creation.
In 2001, she completed an ornament for the White House after being asked by the Connecticut governor and First Lady Laura Bush to represent Connecticut. The ornament is a miniature Connecticut landmark and will continue to hang there every Christmas time.
Mrs. Laughlin, whose family roots were in Manchester, was a member of the Manchester Historical Society and had set up its original museum store and gallery. Representing professional Connecticut craftspeople, she organized the display of their works at the Old State House gift shop in Hartford and on the holiday tree at the Governor’s Mansion for many years. For 17 years she volunteered at the Buttolph Williams historical home in Wethersfield.
She and her family summered on Great Diamond Island, Portland, Maine, for 43 years.
Mrs. Laughlin is survived by a son, Robert Laughlin; a daughter, Catherine Bruce Laughlin and her husband R. Bruce Laughlin; two brothers-in-law, Fredric and Stuart Laughlin, both of Portland; and a nephew.
“Addi ... leaves behind many friends that were more like family,” her family said. “Everyone remembers the twinkle in her eyes, the friendly smile and the unending encouragement that she gave friends, family members and people she just met.
There are no calling hours. Burial will be private and at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of a funeral friends and relatives have been invited to gather at the family homestead at 310 Hackmatack Street in Manchester for a celebration of life on Sunday, May 1, 2005.
For online memorials and tributes, visit www.holmes-watkinsfuneralhomes.com.
Mrs. Laughlin ran a holiday gallery of fine crafts from her art studio for 23 years. Her children have decided to run Open Studio this year as a memorial to their mother. Besides the other artists, their mother’s work will be on display. A percentage of the sales will set up a trust in their mother’s name to benefit the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation and a student art scholarship. Details will be available with the Open Studio at the family home beginning on Nov. 26 at 10 a.m. and will continue every weekend until Christmas.
Leonard Lazarus, aerospace engineer
G. Leonard Lazarus of Ridgefield, a retired aerospace engineer, died on Sunday evening, Nov. 14, 2004, at Danbury Hospital. He was 82 years old and the husband of Shirley Unger Lazarus, who died in July.
Mr. Lazarus was born in the Bronx, N.Y., March 19, 1922, son of Irving and Fay Swartz Lazarus. He attended New York schools, had been a World War II U.S. Army Air Force veteran, and was a retired engineer of the aerospace industry.
He is survived by a daughter, Lorraine Lazarus-Morley of Ridgefield, a son Marty Lazarus of Buffalo Grove, Ind., and four grandchildren.
Rabbi Jon Haddon and Cantor Deborah Katchko of Temple Shearith Israel in Ridgefield led services on Wednesday in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Glendale, N.Y.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the National Fragile X Foundation, P.O. Box 190488, San Francisco, CA 94119-0488.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Peter Lorenzini, built many homes
Peter Paul Lorenzini of Fort Pierce, Fla., a former Ridgefielder who built many homes in town during the 1950s and 1960s, died on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2004, of heart failure after many years of battling heart disease. He was 88 years old.
Mr. Lorenzini was born in 1916 in Mahopac, N.Y., where he grew up and lived as a young man. He came to Ridgefield around 1940 and after doing defense industry work in Bridgeport during World War II, went into the home-building business.
Mr. Lorenzini subdivided and built the Soundview Road neighborhood, and also built many houses on Split Level Road and at Eight Lakes. At Lake Mamanasco, he developed Loren Lane, which is named for his family.
He was a lifelong member of the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department.
Mr. Lorenzini had been active in bowling leagues, winning many trophies here and in Florida. At one time he held a top series record at Bowlerama in Danbury.
In 1970, he and his wife, Emma Montanari Lorenzini, retired to Fort Pierce. Emma Lorenzini died in 1984, and Mr. Lorenzini married his current wife, Marie, in 1990.
In Florida, Mr. Lorenzini enjoyed golf and was a member of the Men’s Billiards group of Spanish Lakes Country Club in Fort Pierce.
Besides his wife, Marie, Mr. Lorenzini is survived by his four children, Marie Waldron of Montgomery Village, Md., Richard Lorenzini of Ridgefield, Joseph Lorenzini of Arroyo Grande, Calif., and Nancy Wyatt of Los Olivos, Calif.; a brother, Dino Lorenzini of Mahopac, N.Y.; 14 grandchildren, Richard P. Lorenzini, Jill Lorenzini, Sarah Lorenzini, Kristi Lorenzini, twins Kasey and Karly Lorenzini, all of Ridgefield, Lorraine Lorenzini of Philadelphia, Pa., John Lorenzini of Manchester, Laurel Lorenzini of Spokane, Wash., Eric Lorenzini of Los Angeles, Calif., Michael Lorenzini of Brooklyn, N.Y., Heather Waldron of Wethersfield, Hilary Waldron of Arlington, Va.; and David Peck of Southbury, Mass.; six great grandchildren, Daniel Peck, Sarah Peck, and Anne Marie, Richard, Domenic, and Gino Lorenzini; five step grandchildren and five step great-grandchildren.
His daughter, Diane, died in 1981, and his sisters Rose and Lena also died before him.
A graveside service for friends and family will take place at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Ridgefield on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 11:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the American Heart Association, 3375 20th Street, Suite 100, Vero Beach, FL 32960.
Leon Najman, engineer, volunteer
Leon Najman of Ridgefield, a retired engineer who was active in the community, died on Friday morning, Nov. 19, 2004, at his home. He was 71 years old and the husband of Irma Gleissner Najman.
A native of Paris, France, Mr. Najman was born on July 30, 1933 and immigrated to Canada at the age of 12. He attended Canadian schools and graduated from McGill University in Montreal with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He later earned a master’s degree at the University of Connecticut.
Mr. Najman moved to the United States in 1960, first settling in Norwalk and then moving to a new house in Ridgefield in 1963.
His career included working as an electrical engineer with the Sperry Corporation at its Norwalk and Danbury facilities. In 1973, he joined Gordon Engineering of Brookfield, serving for many years as vice president for sales and manufacturing and also as an officer in the company. He retired in 2000.
Active in the Ridgefield community, Mr. Najman was a member of the Reading for the Blind Program at the Ridgefield Library and served as its treasurer for many years. He was a member of the Meals on Wheels program, was a volunteer driver for the Visiting Nurse Association, and belonged to Founders Hall senior center.
He also followed town government and politics, and over the past 40 years penned scores of letters to the editors of The Press, commenting on issues ranging from education and taxes to zoning and open space. Some years ago, he served on a school site study committee.
He enjoyed walking, and joined daily in walks with the Wolfpit Running Club.
Besides his wife of 44 years, Mr. Najman is survived by a daughter, Suzanne H. Najman of Danbury; a son, Dr. David M. Najman of Lake Forest, Ill.; a brother, Bernard Najman; and a sister, Suzanne Agasee, both of Toronto, Canada; and two grandchildren, Natassia and Etienne.
A granddaughter, Tatiana, died before him.
A Celebration of Life Service took place on Tuesday in the Kane Funeral Home.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Wooster School, Ridgebury Road, Danbury, CT 06810 or to Make A Wish Foundation of Connecticut, 940 White Plains Road, Trumbull, CT 06611.
Gussie Nazzaro, longtime resident
Augustus “Gussie” Nazzaro, a former longtime Ridgefielder, died Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004, in Charlotte, N.C. He was 86 years old.
Mr. Nazzaro worked for Gilbert & Bennett wire mill in Georgetown for more than 30 years. During World War II, he served in the United States Army.
Mr. Nazzaro served Sacred Heart Catholic Church as an usher for many years. He was an avid gardener who loved his vegetables and flowers.
His family said, “Gussie was a loving father who worked tirelessly to support his family.”
Mr. Nazzaro is survived by three children: John Nazzaro of Fargo, N.D., Nancy Chase and husband, Jeff, of Matthews, N.C., and Mary Griffin and husband, Tom, of Algonquin, Ill.; two brothers: William Nazzaro of Norwalk and Louis Nazzaro and wife, Serena, of Redding; a sister-in-law, Dee Nazzaro of Wilton; and several nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his close friend, Irene Janiga of Charlotte.
A memorial Mass was celebrated Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Georgetown.
Burial followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Ridgefield.
Memorial donations may be made to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, P.O. Box 388, Georgetown, CT 06829.
Bouton Funeral Home handled the local arrangements.