Rosanna Pesce, 93, seamstress
Rosanna Pesce of 4 Barry Avenue, a retired seamstress who was active in St. Mary’s Church, died at her home on Friday, Oct. 29, 2004. She was 93 years old and the wife of the late Frank Pesce.
Mrs. Pesce was born in Givita, Province of Calabria, Italy, on Sept. 15, 1911, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gaetano Mirabelli. She emigrated to America at the age of 23, first settling in New York City, then in Westchester County and later in Suffolk County on Long Island.
Mrs. Pesce moved to Ridgefield 15 years ago from Port Jefferson, Long Island.
She was a retired seamstress with the International Ladies Garment Union.
Mrs. Pesce was a daily communicant of St. Mary’s Church, a participant in the Family Rosary and Adoration Chapel.
“She was a very loving and saintly woman,” said a friend and fellow parishioner. “She was very generous with her time and with her family and her close friends.”
She enjoyed sewing and baking.
Mrs. Pesce is survived by two sons, Thomas Pesce and his wife Elly of Ridgefield and Pat Pesce of Palm Bay, Fla.; two sisters, Olga and Antoinette of Italy; four grandchildren, Frank Pesce, Tamara Douglas, Jeanette Campo and Thomas Pesce Jr.; three great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Tuesday in St. Mary’s Church. Burial followed in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in her memory may be made to St. Mary’s Parish Development Fund, 55 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
Ray Phelan, 86, Ridgefield native
C. Ray Phelan, a longtime Ridgefielder, died Sunday, Nov. 21, 2004, in the South Bay Manor in Wakefield, R.I. He was 86 years old and the husband of the late Yolanda P. Salvia Phelan.
Born in Ridgefield on July 18, 1918, Mr. Phelan was a son of the late Grover and Harriet (Bouton) Phelan, and grew up on North Salem Road. His family had been residents of Ridgefield since the mid-1700s. He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the Army as a second lieutenant.
A self-employed salesman, supplying Mac Tools tools to many automobile service centers in the area, Mr. Phelan started selling from the trunk of his car as a young entrepreneur and became one of the most respected men in his field. He was honored by the company upon his retirement some years ago.
Mr. Phelan served on the Zoning Commission and Building Committee for the Ridgebury golf course.
In the 1950s, he and his wife bought property in Charlestown, R.I., for use as a summer place, and they later retired to Rhode Island, living in Charlestown and South Kingstown. Mrs. Phelan died in 2001. They had been married for 59 years.
Mr. Phelan is survived by four sons: Ray Phelan of Green Hill, R.I., Robert Phelan of Coventry, Conn., Richard Phelan of Charlestown, R.I. and Tom Phelan of Wakefield, R.I.; a daughter, Faith P. LaBossiere of Charlestown; and 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
He was the brother of the late Harry and Marion Phelan and Elsie Schilt and grandfather of the late William E. Phelan.
Services will be held in the Forbes Funeral Home, 28 Columbia Street, Wakefield, on Saturday, Nov. 27, at 1 p.m.
Visiting hours will be held on Saturday from noon to 1 in the Forbes Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Coventry Scholarship Foundation Trust, William E. & Louise H. Phelan Fund, 78 Ripley Hill Road, Coventry, RI 02638.
Thelma Robertson, active volunteer
Thelma Alene Robertson of Ridgefield, whose charitable and community work included founding a Compassionate Friends chapter, died Monday, Nov. 8, 2004, at Laurel Ridge Health Care Center after a recent battle with breast cancer. She was 81 years old and the wife of James D. Robertson.
Mrs. Robertson was born on Sept. 24, 1923, in Lacey Springs, Ala., daughter of the late Hobart and Maude Brown Beshears. She graduated from Arab High School in Arab, Ala., and attended Athens College (now a university), in Athens, Ala., receiving an associate’s degree.
Before her marriage, Mrs. Robertson worked as a clerk for the Navy Department in Washington, D.C. It was in Washington that she met her future husband, a career Air Force officer.
After their marriage in Tulsa, Okla., on July 1, 1952, Mrs. Robertson accompanied her husband during the remainder of his career, traveling to Taiwan, Hawaii, and various assignments in the States.
While living in South Dakota, she was active as a Gray Lady in a hospital in Spearfish, S.D. Three children were born in different locations while she was accompanying her husband on his assignments.
The Robertsons moved to Ridgefield in 1968. They celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2002 with a party, thrown by their children at Ethan Allen Inn in Danbury.
Mrs. Robertson was formerly an active member of The Nutmeg Quilters. She had created many pillows and quilts for charity and her family.
She was a member of Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Ridgefield and for many years ran the “White Elephant” booth for the Yankee Peddler Fair and helped in pie making. She was an avid gardener and enjoyed the outdoors.
After the death of her son Jeffery in 1985, Mrs. Robertson looked for a way to work through her grief. She started the local chapter of Compassionate Friends, traveling to Stamford once a week for meetings.
“Jim and Thelma enjoyed traveling around the world and recently took a trip to Scotland where she sprained her ankle but didn’t let that stop her from seeing the sights,” the family said.
In 1997, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her family said she handled the disease “joyfully ... often blaming little mistakes she made laughing saying, ‘I don’t know Ñ it’s Mister Alzheimer’s.’ ”
Besides her husband, Mrs. Robertson is survived by a son, Kenneth and his wife Andrea, of Stamford; a daughter Gail and her husband Carl Slay of Ridgefield; three step-grandchildren, Kelly, James, and Kenneth Slay, all of Cheshire; and five nephews and a niece, all of Lacey Springs.
Besides her son, Jeffery, three siblings died before her: two brothers Ñ Jack, killed in World War II, and Joe Ñ and a sister, Sarah.
The celebration of her life will be held Friday at 2 in the Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist 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 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.
The family would like to thank the staff of the Laurel Ridge Health Care Center “for the kind care given to our mother, especially to angel Nurse Elizabeth Smith.”
Contributions in her memory may be made to Jesse Lee United Methodist Church, 207 Main Street, Ridgefield 06877; Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter, 96 Oak Street, Hartford, CT 06106; or the American Cancer Society 372 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897-2523.
Frank Schmitt, retired from AT&T
Frank L. Schmitt of Ridgefield, a longtime employee of AT&T, died on Friday, Nov. 12, 2004, at Wilton Meadows. He was 82 years old and the husband of Collette Schmitt.
Mr. Schmitt was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., and during World War II, served in the U.S. Army with the 812th Signal Corps, spending four years in Italy and Africa.
After a career of 38 years in the AT&T systems, he retired in 1978 from AT&T Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, N.J.
Besides his wife, Mr. Schmitt is survived by two daughters, MaryLou March and her husband, Andrew, of Ridgefield and Elizabeth Ann Vyce and her husband, Bryan, of Castle Rock, Colo.; two sons, William Schmitt and his wife, Joy, of New York City and Paul Schmitt of Woodstock, Ga.; six grandchildren, Ben and Jane Schmitt of Tucson, Ariz., Lindsay and Whitney March of Ridgefield and Michael and James Schmitt of Greenville, S.C.; and a brother, Richard Schmitt of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Kane Funeral Home in Ridgefield is in charge of arrangements.
There will be no calling hours.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association of Ridgefield, 90 East Ridge, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
Allen Shafer, 85, former town official
Allen Osborne Shafer, a former chairman of the Board of Education who was descended from one of the town’s earliest families, died Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004, at Danbury Hospital. He was 85 years old and the husband of Jamie Ogle Shafer.
Mr. Shafer was born in Morristown, N.J., on June 5, 1919, son of Francis Hazen and Dorothy Whiting Osborne Shafer. When he was a boy, his family moved to Armore, Pa., after his father took a post as a teacher of Latin at the Haverford School.
Mr. Shafer graduated from Haverford in 1937 and after three years working for Drexel & Company, he enlisted in the National Guard in 1940. After the war broke out, he transferred to the Army Air Force, was commissioned, but color blindness prevented him from becoming a pilot. He served as a supply officer at remote air bases in the Aleutians and was discharged in 1945 with the rank of captain.
After the war and taking advantage of the GI Bill, he entered the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1948 with a degree in economics.
Mr. Shafer’s career in financial management included positions with Johnson & Johnson and American Cyanamid. By the 1960s, he was controller for domestic operations at Eagle Pencil Company, a division of Berol Corporation in Danbury.
After his retirement from Berol, he became associated with Connecticut Land Company, a real estate firm descended from the old Outpost Nurseries operation here. He specialized in investment properties.
The Shafers came to Ridgefield in 1958, living at first on Bennett’s Farm Road. In 1962, Mr. Shafer and his wife acquired and restored the 1730 home of Joseph Osborne, one of Mr. Shafer’s collateral ancestors and one of the first settlers of the Flat Rock area of town. In the 1970s, the Shafers moved a 19th Century barn from Rockland County, N.Y., and had it rebuilt and restored on their Wilton Road West property.
A Republican, Mr. Shafer was long active in the political and civic life of the community. From 1963 to 1969, he served as a member of the Board of Education, and for the last two years was its chairman. In the 1970s, he became a member of the Board of Finance.
He served for many years on the Ridgefield Library Board of Directors, and was also a member of a commission that looked into new locations for the town’s main firehouse.
Over the years he worked for political candidates and closely followed town issues, often penning letters to the editors and sometimes speaking at town meetings.
Mr. Shafer’s interests ranged from history, travel, and music to making investments and building stone walls. However, most of all, said his wife, “he was really a family guy.” She said he considered bringing up children a serious responsibility. “This was not a laissez-faire family,” she said. “Our children were raised.”
Though Mr. Shafer had been a school board chairman, he and his wife eventually became disenchanted with the public schools and moved their children to private schools. “Without hesitation, I can say this decision was a godsend for me,” his son Tom Shafer said this week. “I required the structure that my father and mother believed the public schools lacked.”
Mr. Shafer’s interest in history led him to travel widely. He was particularly interested in ancient Rome and Greece, and had visited archaeological sites in Mediterranean Europe, Asia and Africa. “He was absolutely in awe of their technical capabilities,” Jamie Shafer said.
Mr. Shafer also enjoyed working outdoors on their 26-acre homestead. As Tom Shafer described it, “Evenings and weekends, well into his 60s, he would work on the family property, cutting much of the four acres of lawn, clearing brush, and cutting and stacking firewood. The most evident testament of his physical labors is a rock wall which frames a few hundred feet of the property along the main road. He supplied all of the rock from our land, moving it himself with crowbar, wheelbarrow and a small John Deere tractor.”
Allen and Jamie Shafer had met in the early 1950s through one of Allen’s cousins. On April 4, they marked their 50th wedding anniversary.
Besides his wife, Mr. Shafer is survived by two sons, Thomas Ogle Shafer of Seattle, Wash., and Nathan Bentley Shafer of Denver, Colo.; a daughter, Sarah S. Alcorn of Raleigh, N.C.; a sister, Dorothy Shafer Speer Niebank of Gainesville, Ga.; and five grandchildren, Rebecca, Francis and Christopher Alcorn, and Paige Bridget and Alexei Allen Shafer.
A son, Francis Hazen Shafer II, died in 1968.
The Rev. John B. Giuliani of the Benedictine Grange in Redding will lead services Friday at 7 p.m. in the Kane Funeral home
Friends may call on Friday from 5 to 7 in the funeral home.
Burial will be in Montrose, Pa.
Contributions in his memory may be made to Quest for Peace, c/o Dr. Wulfran Polonius, treasurer, 336 Ridgebury Road, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
Msgr. Benedict Tighe, served at St. Mary’s
Msgr. Benedict F. Tighe of Westport, who served at St. Mary’s Church from 1970 to 1975, died Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004 at Norwalk Hospital after a heart attack.
Msgr. Tighe, who was 77, had been pastor at St. Leo Church in Stamford for 24 years before retiring in April 2003 and had also served at St. Peter Church in Danbury and as spiritual director of the Permanent Diaconate Program of the Bridgeport Diocese. While at St. Leo, he was territorial vicar of Vicariate 1, a member of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and served on the College of Consultors.
Msgr. Tighe was born Francis James Tighe on March 31, 1927 in Cambridge, Mass., son of the late Thomas Francis Tighe and Mary Ellen Grady Tighe. He graduated from Boston College with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and taught at St. Anselm School in New Hampshire, which was run by the Benedictine Order.
At 24, he joined the Benedictines, living and studying at Mount Savior Monastery in Elmira, N.Y., and later at the Collegio di San Anselmo in Rome. He was ordained as a priest of the Benedictine Order on July 25, 1959 and took the name Benedict.
Granted a sabbatical in 1966, he traveled to Rome and Germany and served as a chaplain at two U.S. Army bases. He decided to leave the monastic life for a parish-based ministry in the United States and served in Ridgefield before being incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport. He was named prelate of honor to Pope John Paul II in 1991, acquiring the title of monsignor. After resigning his pastorate at St. Leo, he moved to Our Lady of Assumption parish in Westport as a resident priest.
He is survived by three sisters.
Bishop William Lori will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Leo Church in Stamford on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m. Burial will follow in Long Ridge Union Cemetery in North Stamford.
Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home & Crematory, 104 Myrtle Avenue in Stamford, handled arrangements.
Richard G. Turner, 85, machinist
Richard G. Turner of 40 Williams Street, Danbury, a machinist and former Ridgefielder, died on Friday, Sept. 10, 2004, at Laurel Ridge Nursing and Skilled Care Center on Route 7. He was 85 years old.
Mr. Turner was born in Springfield, Mass., on Feb. 12, 1919, a son of George and Ruby Huggens Turner. He grew up in Stamford and graduated from Stamford High School. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
In his early years Mr. Turner was an automobile mechanic. Later he became a machinist for Pitney-Bowes Corporation and for Norco Industries on Route 7. From 1972 to 1984, he was head custodian at the Redding Elementary School and in recent years worked at Stop & Shop on Mill Plain Road, Danbury.
He moved from Stamford to Lakeside Drive at the Ridgefield Lakes in 1958 and had lived there until moving to Danbury in 1980.
He was an avid golfer, enjoyed baseball and basketball, and was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Mr. Turner is survived by a daughter, Frances A. Prest of Danbury; two sons, Ron Turner of Danbury and Richard Turner of Missoula, Mont.; a brother, Kenneth Turner of Zellwood, Fla.; two sisters, Florence Krause of Hamden and Phyllis Powell of Florida; three grandchildren, Robert, Bryan and Elizabeth, who affectionately called their grandfather “Poppy”; and several nieces and nephews.
A brother, Alfred Turner, died in World War II.
Chaplain Leo E. McIlrath of Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut will lead services Saturday, Sept. 18, at noon in the Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, 9-11 Granville Avenue, Danbury.
The family will receive friends in the funeral home on Saturday from 11 to 1.
Interment will be private.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 25, Segar Street, Danbury, CT 06810.