Mike (Myron) Belaga of Westport, a retired oil company executive who became a longtime community activist, died Nov. 24 at the Fairfield County Hospice House in Stamford. He was 88.
Mike Belaga: community activist. Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
He was born in Baltimore, Maryland on Dec. 31, 1929. He attended Baltimore Poly Technical High School and then graduated from Johns Hopkins University. He went on to get his graduate degree from MIT and then served as a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force during the Korean conflict.
After his military service, he worked for 18 years at Exxon where he traveled the world.
He left Exxon to become vice president of A Johnson, a Swedish oil company. In 1982, he became president of GHR, the largest independent oil refinery in the country.
He retired in 1983 and began a new life as a volunteer and community activist in Westport.
In 1984 the First Selectman appointed him to evaluate a 14-town appraisal of an incinerator-to-energy arrangement with Wheelabrator-Frye Inc. This would be an unprecedented municipal collaboration.
He spent two years working on the contract and communicating with the 14 Fairfield County towns. A contract evolved that included a section known as the “Belaga phrase” which saved the towns $300 million compared to the preliminary contract.
In 1986 he joined the Republican Town Committee and then served as chairman.
He was an avid golfer, playing for nearly 40 years at the Patterson Club in Fairfield.
He was an enthusiastic member of the Y’s Men and took advantage of their array of activities. He enjoyed the bi weekly meetings of the International Discussion Group which he led for many years.
He is survived by his wife Julie, daughter Debra and husband Steve; son David and wife Alison; and daughter Heather and husband Rob. He was particularly proud of his three granddaughters Kristen, Tracy and Lindsey.
A celebration of Mike’s life will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. at the Westport Woman’s Club, 44 Imperial Ave.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions to the Westport Senior Center or to the Westport Library. It was the library’s collection of large print books that kept him company for these last challenging years.