Thomas Francis Shaughnessy of Westport died April 3 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee; He was 89.
Thomas Shaughnessy: longtime Westporter. Contributed photo
He retired as a vice president and general sales manager at Conagra Inc., the agricultural and food-processing conglomerate in Omaha, Nebraska.
He was an exemplary Christian, Catholic, father and friend, bringing joy to all who knew him. His incredible love for his wife, Mary, and love of family was one for the ages.
He unknowingly served as an example of how to live an honorable and fulfilled life. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, he graduated from Cretin High School in 1946 and the College of St. Thomas in 1950 where he played first base and was team captain.
Cecile “Celli” Renzulli of Weston, a former Westport resident, died April 11. She was 99.
Cecile Renzulli: former Westporter. Contributed photo
She was born July 5, 1918 in Berlin, New Hampshire to the late Joseph and Blanche LaPointe. She moved to Norwalk in the 1950s where she worked as a physical therapist. She lived most of her adult life in Weston and Westport.
She was married to Dominic Renzulli (Dom), who died in 2000, and she was preceded in death by her brother Norman LaPointe of Canaan, Vermont. Survivors include her son Joseph and his wife Donna of Westport; her daughter Carolyn Jaslow and her husband Alan of Memphis Tennessee; her grandchildren Eric Renzulli, Lauren Renzulli, Rob Jaslow, Karen Jaslow and Steve Jaslow. A dedicated aunt, she leaves behind six nieces and nephews, 13 grand nieces and nephews, and four great-grand nieces and nephews.
She will always be remembered for her positive outlook as well as her generosity of spirit. Her love of children was unsurpassed. Ceil’s baked goods and the parties held in their Weston home were legendary.
Marylyn Rae Smith of Fairfield, a former longtime Westport resident and Westport school employee, died March 24. She was 99.
Marilyn Smith: former Westport teacher. Contributed photo
She was born in Monroe, Indiana but grew up mostly in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1941 she graduated from Western Michigan University where she met her future husband when he volunteered to illustrate her campaign posters in her successful run for president of the Women’s League. They were married in 1942.
She moved with her family to Westport in 1956 and lived here for the next 60 years. In mid-life she earned a master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University and in 1962 began a 20-year teaching career in the Westport Public school system.
There she was one of the first teachers of special needs children and was also an original teacher in a pilot project for learning disabled students.
She was born in Saranac Lake, New York on Aug. 15, 1923 and was the daughter of the late Eugene and Hazel (Lascore ) Christian. She had been a resident of Westport since 1965 where she was a member of Assumption Church, AARP of Westport and the Westport Woman’s Club.
Her life career included 15 years with Moran Towing Corporation in New York City, followed by four years with the U.S. Air Force Exchange Service in Wiesbaden, Germany. Upon returning to the States, she worked with the Helicopter Association of America and with Nabisco Brands Corporate Technology Group, from which she retired.
She is survived by one brother, Eugene Christian and his wife Terri of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, four nephews and one niece.
William “Bill” Kokot of White Plains, New York, a former longtime Westport resident, died April 2 after a 10-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 82.
William Kokot: former longtime Westporter. Contributed photo
He was an accomplished engineer and builder; knowledgeable and trusted adviser to friends and colleagues; incurable storyteller; informed commentator on all things political, mechanical, and automotive; loyal friend; indomitable spirit; loving and devoted husband; and caring, wise, and generous father and grandfather.
Born in 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, he grew up in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood and spoke only Yiddish until he began elementary school.
He counted among his closest friends boys he met in first grade. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cooper Union in 1958.
Edwin F. Potter, Jr., of Lincoln, Massachusetts, a former Westport resident, died March 18. He was 91.
He is survived by his sister Patricia Moore of St. Augustine, Florida, his children Donald Potter, Susan Spencer, Kathryn Potter, Judith Greer, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren who knew him as Big Papa. He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Marjorie J. Potter.
A memorial service celebrating his life will be held on Saturday, April 21 at 1:30 p.m. at the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church, 207 Washington St, Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Arnold Van Hoven Bernhard of Westport died March 7. He was 83.
Van Bernhard: longtime Westporter. Contributed photo
The husband of Dianne Jones Bernhard was a longtime resident of Westport, a sculptor and pastel artist, philanthropist, financial analyst, and ecologist. He was the son of the late Arnold Bernhard and Janet Kinghorn Bernhard. Arnold Bernhard was the founder of Value Line Investment Survey.
Van was an alumnus of the Choate School, was enrolled in the ROTC and graduated as a biology major from Colby College of the class of 1957. Afterward, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served his active duty at Lakenheath, Suffolk, England.
After his military service, he worked at Value Line and was in the forefront of computerizing the company and family holding company, Arnold Bernhard & Co., Inc.
Henry Radcliffe Burt of Richmond and Orkney Springs, Virginia, a former Westport resident, died April 2 at his home on Church Hill following a brief illness. He was 82.
Henry Burt: former Westporter. Contributed photo
Known as Harry, he was a Renaissance man. He was born on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, growing up in Westport and Jackson Heights, New York.
After graduating from Avon Old Farms School in Avon, Connecticut, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from Washington & Lee University with a degree in mathematics.
Following college, he moved to Boston to work as a mechanic for a motorcycle shop and racing team, playing ragtime piano in Boston bars at night. He then began a career in operations research, first for ARMA on Long Island, and then Vitro and Presearch in Washington D.C.
Jean K. Felia, a lifelong resident of Westport, died April 1 in Norwalk Hospital. She was 88.
Jean Felia: lifelong Westporter. Contributed photo
She was born in Westport on Dec. 7, 1929 and was the daughter of the late Frank and Flora (Smith) Hartigan. She grew up at the beach. She loved the feeling of the sand beneath her feet, the sound of the waves crashing at the shore, and would have jumped at any opportunity to go for a swim.
She was also a lifelong sports fan. She could be found every game day rooting for the Jets with her son Timmy. In the offseason she enjoyed watching baseball and golf.
She got enjoyment out of being a home health aide, being a companion for people was rewarding to her as she always enjoyed getting visitors herself. But most of all, she loved her family. She would light up with every visit, and valued all the moments she shared with them. Even if they were being silly, she partook in their activities with a smile on her face.