Louis ‘Squash’ Travaglini, dispatcher
Louis J. “Squash” Travaglini of Ridgefield, a dispatcher whose deep, gravelly voice sent police to investigate countless crimes and crashes over nearly a half-century, died Friday, Feb. 4, 2005, at Danbury Hospital. He was 86 years old.
State police troopers used to say they could hear Dispatcher Travaglini’s distinctive voice 20 miles away Ñ without a radio. Rarely was he asked to repeat a transmission.
“Well, I guess they couldn’t say, ‘I didn’t hear you,’” Mr. Travaglini said with a smile during a 1974 interview.
From 1942 until his retirement in 1990, “Squash” was the main radio voice for the state police barracks in Ridgefield and then for the Ridgefield Police. He was one of the original dispatchers for the Connecticut State Police and was the first for the Ridgefield police.
A native of Ridgefield, Mr. Travaglini was born on Nov. 23, 1918, a son of Nazzareno and Domenica Camelloni Travaglini, who had immigrated from the province of Pesaro, Italy, a few years earlier. He grew up on Bailey Avenue, attended Ridgefield schools, and played both baseball and basketball at Ridgefield High School.
In 1938, he went to work at Troop A, the state police barracks in Ridgefield that is now the home of the Ridgefield Police. In those days, troopers lived at the barracks for days at a time, and Troop A was also a training center. The staff included a full-time chef and Mr. Travaglini was hired as the chef’s assistant, helping prepare meals for 25 to 30 troopers and trainees three times a day.
In 1940, the training school moved to Groton and Mr. Travaglini was transferred to the Westport barracks. He returned to Ridgefield a year later as a custodian.
When radio communications came to the state police around 1942, Mr. Travaglini took the FCC examination then required to be a commercial radio operator. He passed and got the radio-dispatching job at Troop A, only to resign in June of that year to enter the Army in World War II.
As an infantryman, he was a 40-millimeter gun operator in the Fifth Division under General Patton in France, Luxembourg, and Germany. He was part of a D-Plus-Four landing at Omaha Beach.
After the war, he returned to the Connecticut State Police as a dispatcher with Troop A, which covered northern Fairfield County, and parts of New Haven and Litchfield Counties.
During his 36 years and eight months at the barracks, Mr. Travaglini was at the center of much excitement, handling communications in murder investigations, bank robber chases, plane crashes, and, of course, innumerable automobile mishaps (in official state police radio lingo, a car collision was a “signal 10,” but Squash usually just called it an “accident.”)
Mr. Travaglini left the state police in 1974 when a centralized communications center was established in Litchfield to handle cruisers in all of western Connecticut. He wasn’t interested in commuting nearly 40 miles to the new center.
Though he was not a policeman, Mr. Travaglini had a reputation for breaking in new troopers and showing them the ropes. “More than a dispatcher, Squash was one of the best training officers the state police department ever had,” Lt. Jack Jones of Ridgefield, a former Troop A commander, said at Mr. Travaglini’s 1974 retirement dinner, which was attended by scores of troopers and state police executives.
Ridgefield Police quickly took advantage of his availability. With Board of Finance approval, he was hired that year as the Ridgefield Police Department’s first full-time dispatcher. He worked at first in the old police station in the town hall basement. In 1975, the police took over the renovated East Ridge quarters of Troop A, which had moved to Southbury, and he wound up in the same building in which he had already worked for 36 years.
As dispatcher, he communicated with patrol cars, but he also answered the department phones, dealt with walk-in customers, operated the computer systems, monitored prisoners when they were in the lockup, and handled the hundreds of burglar alarm systems connected to the station.
When he retired in 1990, a plaque in his memory was placed on the wall near his dispatching desk, honoring his half-century of police service. “He gave his all for this town,” then First Selectman Sue Manning said at the plaque ceremony.
Mr. Travaglini was a member of the Italian American Mutual Aid Society, belonged to the Marquette Council Knights of Columbus, was an honorary life member of the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, and served as an usher at St. Mary’s Church.
Being called “Squash,” Mr. Travaglini was sometimes confused with his brother, Aldo Travaglini, also known as “Squash,” who operated the well-known news and stationery store on Main Street. (Some distinguished between the two by calling Aldo “Big Squash” and Louis “Little Squash.”) Another brother, the late Eugene Travaglini, was also called “Squash” when he lived in town.
Friends and acquaintances handed down the nickname to the Travaglini brothers, somewhat to the distress of their father, Nazzareno. He, too, had been called “Squash” Ñ it is not certain why Ñ and he never liked it.
“He didn’t go with it at all,” Dispatcher Travaglini recalled. “He always said he was christened with a right name and he wanted it used.” His father even made Louis take the name “Squash” off the back of an athletic jacket he’d once acquired.
“I don’t mind it,” the son said of the nickname. “A lot of people wouldn’t know me by Louis.”
Besides his brother, Aldo of Goldens Bridge, N.Y., Mr. Travaglini is survived several nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
Four sisters Ñ Josephine Serfilippi, Leanna Santini, Franca Falcinelli and Theresa Rinciotti Ñ and a brother, Eugene Travaglini, died before him.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Monday in St. Mary’s Church,
Burial was in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance Fund, 6 Catoonah Street or to the Visiting Nurse Association, 90 East Ridge, Ridgefield 06877.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Mary Anna Schoenfeld, Red Cross worker
Mary Anna Schoenfeld of Heritage Village, Southbury, who lived in Ridgefield for nearly 50 years, died at Danbury Hospital on Feb. 7, 2005.
Mrs. Schoenfeld was born in Philadelphia Nov. 12, 1926, daughter of the late Hans C. and Mary Pennypacker Duus. She grew up in Wilmington, Del., and graduated from Antioch College with a degree in business and sociology. She married Charles W. Schoenfeld in 1949 and in 1956 settled in Ridgefield, where she lived until 2003, the year her husband died.
She worked for many years for the Western Connecticut chapter of the Red Cross. She was a longtime member of the Danbury branch of the American Association of University Women, for which she served as president in 1989-1991 and 1999-2003.
Mrs. Schoenfeld is survived by a daughter, Lynn Abrahamson of South Windsor; two sons, Steven Schoenfeld of Thomaston and Martin Schoenfeld of Trumbull; a sister, Louise Duus of Franklin Park, N.J.; a brother, Peter Duus of Stanford, Calif.; and three grandchildren.
Contributions in her memory may be made to WECAHR, 211 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810 or to Devil's Den Nature Conservancy, 33 Pent Road, Weston, CT 06883.
Private funeral services will take place at the convenience of the family.
Green Funeral Home, 57 Main Street, Danbury, is in charge of arrangements.
Elaine K. Finklea, 83, was active here
Elaine Kelleam Finklea of Brookfield, formerly of Ridgefield, died on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2005, at Filosa Convalescent home in Danbury. She was 83 years old.
Elaine Kelleam was born in Amarillo, Texas, on Sept. 21, 1921, the daughter of Dr. Fanan and Heba Kelleam. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She met and married Ernest E. Finklea, a research engineer for Schlumberger, who was transferred to Schlumberger Research Center in Ridgefield as an executive in 1960.
Mrs. Finklea was very active in the Ridgefield community, especially in the PTA, Girl Scouts, and the First Congregational Church. She was also active with the Bethel Congregation of Jehovah Witnesses. She and her husband moved to Bethel when he retired in 1985.
Mr. Finklea died in 1997.
Mrs. Finklea is survived by three sons, Ernest E. Finklea III of Arizona, Dr. James N. Finklea of Ridgefield, and Philip A. Finklea of Bethel; one daughter, Ellen J. Vozzo of Walkill, N.Y.; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah Witnesses, 48 Payne Road, Danbury on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 1:30. Burial will be private.
The Hull Funeral Home, 215 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel is in charge of arrangements.
A Requiem Mass will be celebrated at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York City at a later date.
Richard Fischer, systems analyst
Richard Pierie Fischer, a longtime Ridgefielder, died on Friday, Feb. 25, 2005, at Norwalk Hospital. He was 66 years old.
Mr. Fischer was born in Philadelphia on June 13, 1938, the eldest child of Herman W. and Elizabeth P. Fischer. His bachelor of arts degree in French from Wesleyan University came with the accolade of “Distinction.”
Mr. Fischer worked as a systems analyst until his retirement in 2002.
“He was a sailing enthusiast, avid reader, supporter of just causes, loving parent and husband,” his family said. “He was an entirely ethical human being.”
Mr. Fischer is survived by Bonnie, his wife of 39 years; a daughter, Julia B. Fischer of New York; a son, Peter R. Fischer of Brooklyn, N.Y.; a brother, Edward, and his wife Vanessa Fischer, of West Sussex, England; and a sister, Patty Fischer of Prescott, Ariz.
A memorial service will be held at Kane’s Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah St., Ridgefield, on Friday, March 4, at 11.
In lieu of flowers donations in his memory may be made to the American Civil Liberties Union, 125 Broad St., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004, or to the Foundation for Melanoma Research, 3601 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.
Bill Grech, 80, decorated veteran
Raymond “Bill” Grech of Ridgefield, a decorated war veteran and retired marketing executive who had been a popular Visiting Nurse Association volunteer, died on Friday, Feb. 25, 2005, at Danbury Hospital. He was 80 years old.
Mr. Grech was born in Savannah, Ga., on July 1, 1924, son of Joseph and Naomia Conaway Grech. He attended Savannah schools.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Mr. Grech served 54 months in World War II and participated in the landing at Normandy. In 1950, he was recalled to active duty as an infantry platoon leader in Korea where he received the Silver Star and Purple Heart for wounds suffered in action.
Mr. Grech had been the chief operating officer of Telephone Marketing Programs Inc. before his retirement in 1995. A resident of Ridgefield since 1987, he had at first lived at Casagmo and later at Ridgefield Crossings.
After his retirement in 1995, Mr. Grech became a volunteer worker for the Visiting Nurse Association of Ridgefield. He often told family and friends that the VNA offered the most gratifying experience of his entire life.
“He was a wonderful, wonderful person,” said Helena Jedlinsky, executive director of the VNA. “He was very committed to the individual client.”
Mr. Grech was a member of the VNA’s Friendly Visitors program and was a driver for patients who needed transporation. He had also advised Ms. Jedlinsky on marketing.
“He always had a smile, always had a laugh,” she said. “He’ll be sorely missed.”
Mr. Grech was a member of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church.
He is survived by four sons, Michael Grech and William Grech, both of Walled Lake, Mich., Matthew Grech of San Diego, Calif., and Philip Grech of Port Saint Lucie, Fla.; three daughters, Nancy Oliver of Macon, Ga., Robin Boccuzzi of Ridgefield and Catherine Bacon of Shelton; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A son, Raymond W. Grech II, died in 1974.
Services took place on Monday in St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church. Burial followed in Long Ridge Union Cemetery, Stamford.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association, 90 East Ridge, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
John V. Hawley Sr., outdoorsman
John V. Hawley Sr. of New Fairfield, a former Georgetown resident, died on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005, at Harborside Healthcare-Glen Hill in Danbury after a long illness. He was 77 years old and the husband of the late Betty Broadhurst Hawley, who died in February 2003.
Affectionately know as “Hawkeye,” Mr. Hawley was born in Norwalk on Feb. 2, 1928, a son of the late Edgar V. and Eva Mae Mead Hawley, and was raised in Vista, N.Y. He was retired from Dichello Distributors of Orange, where he had been employed for 25 years. He had previously lived in Georgetown and Danbury.
He enjoyed fishing, hunting and was an avid sports fan, especially of the New York Yankees.
Survivors include his five daughters: Vivian Tooker of New Fairfield, Toni Hawley of Ridgefield, Betty Booth of Wilton, Terry Lepoutre of Wilton, and May Hawley of New Milford; one son, John V. Hawley Jr. of Danbury; two brothers, Charles and William Hawley; one sister, Emma Stanek of Danbury; 17 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
Services were held on Monday, Feb. 21, at the Bouton Funeral Home, Georgetown. Burial was in Branchville Cemetery.
Donations in his memory may be made to the American Heart Association, Connecticut Affiliate, P.O. Box 100, 5 Brookside Drive, Wallingford, CT 06492.
Chip Hendrickson, historical dancer
Charles “Chip” Cyril Hendrickson III of Newtown, a former Ridgefielder who was widely known for his knowledge of historic and square dancing, died at Danbury Hospital on Friday, Feb. 25, 2005, from complications of a stroke. He was husband of Frances Cibel Eitapence Hendrickson, and had lived in Ridgefield from 1962 until 1967 when the family moved to Newtown.
Mr. Henrickson was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Sept. 26, 1932, son of the late Ruth Copeland and Charles Cyril Hendrickson II of Oceanside, Long Island, N.Y.
He grew up on Long Island, attending Oceanside schools and receiving an associate’s degree in surveying from Brookline College. His career in technical illustrating included work at Branson Sonic Power, and other companies in southwestern Connecticut. He had worked at Schlumberger Doll in Ridgefield from the late 1970’s until 1988 when he retired from corporate work.
As a pre-teen, Mr. Hendrickson saw a presentation by a American Indian family at a Long Island library, and that began a life-long commitment to educating the public about Indian ways. He formed a dance group in his teens and later, with his five children as the Te Wa Hey Dancers, continuing the education process. He created regalia after learning beadwork skills, leather craft and feather work.
After a stroke in January 1997, he was unable to dance but could still teach and display his items.
A longtime square dancer, Mr. Hendrickson became a caller for many local clubs and traveled across the country. He made 27 recordings and wrote for a national square dance magazine. He had been the square dance caller for the father-daughter Girl Scout dances in Ridgefield, as well as for other groups, and also did American Indian dance demonstrations for schools and Cub and Boy Scout groups here.
As Cyril Hendrickson, he was dancing master for historic re-enactment groups including DeLancey’s Brigade based in Trumbull, and The Living History Foundation, based in Virginia. In 1990, he was employed by Colonial Williamsburg as dancing master.
Mr. Hendrickson was also involved in Boy Scouts with his sons, serving as an assistant leader and an adviser.
He is survived by two sons, Bob and Russell of Newtown; three daughters Ruth and her husband Gary Hard of Ridgefield, Carol and her husband Jim Mayhew of Shelton, and Susan and her husband Tim Vogelman, of Newtown; two stepsons, Adam Eitapence of Waterbury and Christopher Eitapence of Orange Park, Fla.; and grandchildren Timmy, Christopher, Alex, Allison, Reed, Benjamin and Matthew, and step-grandchildren Danielle, Kerstin and Kyle, as well as his former wife, C. Elaine Hendrickson of Southbury.
Services will take place at 3 p.m. today, Thursday, March 3, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 36 Main Street, Newtown.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Chip and Fran Hendrickson Benefit Fund at Newtown Savings Bank, 250 South Main Street, Newtown, CT, 06470, to help defray extensive medical costs.
The Green Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.