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- December, 2013
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Compiled by Robin Jovanovich
Jodi Ritter, owner of Paw-Pourri, the longtime dog grooming business on Milton Road in Rye, died September 1, 2014. She lived in Rye Brook.
She was born in Hiawatha, Kansas on March 15, 1960. Her father, Don was a Navy Seal so the family lived in many parts of the United States, but settled during in Virginia Beach, Virginia when she was a teenager.
She had a lifelong affection for pets and started dog grooming at age 13 years old. In 1989, she opened Paw-Pourri, which was the embodiment of a small neighborhood business. Her two standard poodles greeted customers. Ritter was considered a gifted stylist and groomed dogs for Mariah Carey and Kathy Lee. Many of the groomers she trained went on to open their own businesses in other areas of the country. Jessica Marquez, who worked with her, will continue the business.
Ritter was involved in many animal advocacy groups throughout her life, including Adopt-a-Dog and the World Wildlife Federation. She was an amazing gardener and a certified scuba diver, who loved to travel.
She was pre-deceased by her mother, Margie, and her brother Randy. She is survived by her father and stepmother, Don and Betty Ritter, and her siblings, Sheryl, Murray, and Ryan.
Her beloved poodles are in need of a new home. The Ritter family asks interested parties to contact Jessica at the shop.
Donations in Jodi Ritter’s memory may be made to Adopt-a-Dog, 23 Cox Avenue, Armonk, NY 10504, or Poodle Rescue, P.O. Box 188, Naugatuck, CT 06770.
John Stephen Wenzel died peacefully on August 28, 2014 surrounded by his family at his home in Bluffton, South Carolina. He was 90.
Born June 11, 1924 in Mamaroneck, his family moved to Harrison around the time he turned 12. In 1942 he graduated from Harrison High School. An active participant in many school functions, his easy-going and extremely likable persona, a trait that never left him, saw him receive the class Hall of Fame award. He was active in sports, which included baseball (shortstop), track and field (especially the 100-yard dash) and was a star running back for the Huskies winning the first Best Sportsman Award for the 1941 Rye-Harrison game.
Upon graduation from high school, he served his country as a medical technician, eventually becoming a Sergeant and Ward-master of a hospital in Verdun, France, where he treated casualties during the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of the Rhineland.
After the war he attended College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University, graduating in 1950. He soon found employment as a salesman in the Mamaroneck Lumber Company. He later became associated with Northeastern Wholesalers, one of the largest retail/wholesale building supply companies in the Northeast. A division called the House of Light later opened to specialize in fixtures. He became president and eventually principal owner in 1974, and retired in 1991.
In 1952, he married the former Astrid Gronlund, also a 1942 graduate of Harrison High School. They lived in the home built by her father on Hughes Avenue in Rye.
An avid golfer, Mr. Wenzel became Rye Golf Club’s first commissioner, serving from 1977 to 1979. A past president of Rye Rotary Club, he received that organization’s distinguished Paul Harris Fellow award. The Wenzels were members of Coveleigh Club where they were active lawn bowlers. Since the late 1930s, he’d been a parishioner of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Harrison, where he served as vestryman as well as junior and senior warden.
In 1996, the Wenzels moved to Hilton Head and then Bluffton, South Carolina, where he became a member of the Crescent Point Golf Club and the Church of the Cross Episcopal Church.
Mr. Wenzel is survived by his wife of 62 years, Astrid, two children Arthur (Danuta) and Scott, both of Rye; and four grandchildren: Stefan, Paul, Catherine, and John.
A memorial service was held at All Saints’ Church on September 3.
Donations in his memory may be made to All Saints’ Church, 300 Harrison Avenue, Harrison, NY 10528, or to the ALS Association.
Daniel Rudolph Spicer of Holmes, New York, formerly of Rye, passed away peacefully at home on September 14, 2014, with his family by his side. He was 93.
Born March 31, 1921 in Gloversville, New York, he was the son of the Reverend and Mrs. William C. Spicer. He was a graduate of Gloversville High School, where he played for the undefeated football team. He went on to Mercersburg Academy and then graduated from Colgate University, where he also played football. He received a letter of intent from the L.A. Rams but, due to a knee injury, he declined. He later went on to receive a Master’s degree from NYU.
His college education was interrupted by World War II, in which he served in the United States Army. He was honorably discharged on April 8, 1946 and went to work for Mobil Oil Corporation until his retirement in 1986.
He married his wife Joan on September 13, 1953, on Long Island. They settled in Rye, where they raised their four children.
Mrs. Spicer died on August 6, 1973. He is survived by his children: William C. Spicer and his wife Fran, Charles R. Spicer, Laura Rosenstein, and Drusilla Park and her husband Cole; his grandchildren: Ashley, Sara, Sandy, and Daniel; and a great-granddaughter, Madison. He is also survived by his stepchildren Valerie, Mark, and Lisa; and many nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his sisters, Marion Wood, Elizabeth Spicer, and Margaret Viglione, and brothers, Kirby and William C. Spicer II.
The family will receive visitors at Graham Funeral Home September 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. A funeral service will follow on Saturday, September 20 at 3 p.m., at Rye Presbyterian Church.
Donations in Mr. Spicer’s memory may be made to Rye Presbyterian Church.
Patrick Leech passed away peacefully August 30, 2014 at Greenwich Hospital after a brief illness. He was 78.
A resident of Rye for 29 happy years, he was a positive, kind ,and generous man who was loved by his family and all who knew him.
He was born in Queens in 1936 to Irish immigrant parents, William and Mary Leech.
Right out of high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1954. He loved to regale his family and friends with stories of his service on a military base in Goose Bay, Canada, watching the skies for signs of Russian aggression over the course of a sub-zero Christmas. He returned to New York City after his honorable discharge from the armed forces, and earned an undergraduate degree at Pace University.
Mr. Leech then embarked upon a career in computer sales and data services.
Pat married his beloved Mariela, with whom he would spend the next 45 years. When their children were in grade school, they lived in a cheerful neighborhood in White Plains.
In 1985, after many years of searching around Westchester, the family found the perfect home on Soundview Avenue, overlooking the Rye Golf Club fairways. Pat was particularly proud of shooting a hole in one on the third hole on July 8, 2001.
Mr. Leech began his second career as a mortgage banker in Westchester. He touched many lives helping regular folks navigate the tangle of paperwork required to get a mortgage and into their first homes. He took pride in the fact that, of the countless mortgages he issued, none ever defaulted. He had many friends in the business and enjoyed his work right up until his retirement at age 74.
In his retirement years, he spent his early mornings having coffee at Dock Deli; late mornings enjoying the links of Rye Golf Club; and afternoons taking walks at Edith Read Sanctuary. Special times for him were playing nine holes with his daughter in the Litchfield Hills and the Berkshires, and cheering on the Rangers at home games in Manhattan with his son. He enjoyed opera and musical theatre but only attended ballet with “strong encouragement” from his wife.
The Leeches loved traveling the world together but also enjoyed exploring locales closer to home, including Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Sagamore on Lake George, and Spring Lake. They cruised the Danube and the Rhine in Europe, sailed on the <Queen Mary’s> maiden voyage around Cape Horn, and enjoyed three restorative snowbird seasons in Naples, Florida with his family.
Mr. Leech had a kind word for everyone he met and will be dearly missed. In addition to his wife Mariela, he is survived by his daughter Johanna and her husband Matthew and his son Kevin and his wife Christine.
A private mass at Church of the Resurrection will be held in his memory. Memorial donations may be made to Edith Read Sanctuary; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN; or the Purple Heart Service Foundation, Annandale, VA.
Thomas J. Feeley Jr., formerly of Rye, died on September 7, 2014 in Maitland, Florida, after a long and valiant battle with pulmonary fibrosis and hypertension. He was 71.
Born in New York City to Agnes and Thomas Feeley, he lived in Rye for most of his life. He attended Resurrection School and Stepinac High School.
After graduating from the University of South Florida with a degree in Marketing, he enjoyed a 34-year career as an executive with ADP. He retired in 2002.
A colleague of his at ADP said, “During his business career, Tom earned the reputation of being a good judge of people and would only hire the best. Integrity, good work ethic, and commitment were necessary ingredients to survive. He had the ability to get people to perform at a high level and truly enjoy their job.”
He continued, “Tom cared about everyone he hired, as well as their families. Everyone loved working with him because he helped you develop and move up another level in your career. Records he set in the company have still not been broken after all these years.”
Mr. Feeley was very proud of his family and grandchildren. He enjoyed boating, golf, and being with close friends and family.
He is survived by his daughters, Lori Ann Quasky of Cary, N.C., and Kyla Feeley of New York City; his former wife, Lora Feeley of St. Augustine; son-in-law Ed Quasky; grandchildren Brayden and Loralei Quasky; his sister, Agnes Bilotta of Milford, Conn., and his wife, Patty Raymer-Feeley. He is also survived by a niece, Cheryl Fameli and her husband Sal of Milford; and a nephew, Chris Bilotta and his wife Sue of Harrison.
The family will receive visitors at Graham Funeral Home, Monday, September 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. A service celebrating Mr. Feeley’s life will be held September 30 at 10 a.m. at Resurrection Church.
Memorial donations for pulmonary fibrosis can be made through https://philanthropy.mayoclinic.org/donate
Mary Cecilia Patouhas, 96, passed away on August 29, 2014 at her home in Rye, surrounded by her family.
The oldest of eight children of Anna and Camillus O’Brien, she devoted her life to her family and working alongside her husband, John Patouhas, a former test pilot whom she married in 1941.
Throughout her life, Mrs. Patouhas served as an active member of both the New Rochelle and Larchmont Shore clubs, the Garden Club, PTO, The Women’s Guild, as well as Holy Family Catholic Church, and local charities.
She will be remembered for her unconditional love, constant reassurance, and strength.
Mrs. Pathouhas is survived by her daughters, Penelope Costello and Patricia Straehle, and her son, Philip Patouhas; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and her sister, Patricia Santora.
A Mass of Christian burial was held September 3 at Holy Family Church in New Rochelle.
Irvin Choron, of Rye, New York, passed away on August 31 at the age of 86. His beloved wife, Lee of 63 years, was at his side. Also with him were his two sons, Greg and Doug; his daughter-in-law, Eileen; and his granddaughters, Rachel, Deborah, and Rebecca.
His family said, “Irvin was a Holocaust survivor, a devoted husband, an exemplary father, a lovable grandfather, and a remarkable human being.”
He was born on February 23, 1928 in Lithuania to Boris and Bertha Choron. After being liberated following World War II, he eventually settled in Rye where he and Lee raised their sons. Irv was proud to become an American citizen and worked hard to achieve the American dream.
After owning a general store in Pelham for many years, Mr. Choron enjoyed long days of fishing on the beach in Montauk with his family. His surviving family will forever be inspired by his legacy.
To send the family an online condolence, visit www.zionchapel.com.
Edward (Ed) Dirk Johannes Baars, of Newnan, Georgia, passed away on August 8, 2014 at his home in Wesley Woods. He was 88.
He was born in Arnhem, the Netherlands on April 13, 1926. During the war, he learned to fix clocks, which helped the family survive. Following the war, he earned a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Delft University of Technology.
In September of 1955, after a long courtship, he married the love of his life, Wiepkje Danckaerts. In late 1963, the Baars immigrated to the United States, setting down roots in Rye. He and his wife moved to South Windsor, Connecticut in 1999 and to Newnan in 2012.
The most important thing in Mr. Baars’ life was providing for his family. He worked tirelessly for 40 years at Philips Electronics, starting as an engineer and rising to president of a key Philips subsidiary. His responsibilities ranged from setting up the first TV stations in Australia to introducing a platform that was a precursor to the personal computer.
After retiring from Philips in 1991, he enjoyed traveling, which included a number of voyages aboard the Holland America Line cruise ships.
He is survived by his children, Carla, Dirk, and Robert and grandchildren Andrea, Kristen, Brian, and Connor.
A private family service was held August 17, 2014 in Newnan, Georgia.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Zonne Fund at the Epilepsy Foundation Western/Central PA, 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 3002, Pittsburgh, PA 15233. Donations can also be made online at www.efwp.org.
Rosemary Bradley Corroon died August 8, 2014 after a long illness. She was 90.
Born on December 23, 1923, she grew up in Manhattan. After graduating from Convent of the Sacred Heart, she attended Manhattanville College.
Pursuing her avid interest in decorative arts, she studied and trained at the Isabel O’Neil School for Painted Finishes and Conservation. She did volunteer work at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, where she was an in-house decorative arts conservator. She was also a member of the Cooper Hewitt Advisory Council before the Museum became part of the Smithsonian.
She married John A. Corroon in May 1947. They lived in Rye from 1964 to 1975 and then moved to Vermont. In 2010, they moved to The Osborn.
She was a great reader, who enjoyed biographies and social histories of England and France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
She leaves her husband of 67 years, John A. Corroon; daughters Rosemary Martin and Margaret Sheridan; sons John A. Jr., Richard A., and Thomas B., ten grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Her sister, Jeanne Gerwig of Naples, Florida, also survives her.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held August 14 at the Church of the Resurrection.
Donations in Mrs. Corroon’s memory may be made to The Osborn.
Markham F. Rollins Jr.
Markham F. Rollins Jr. of Mamaroneck passed away on July 22, 2014 at the age of 80.
Born on November 17, 1933 to Elizabeth (Richardson) and Markham Rollins Sr., he proudly served his country in the U.S. Marines as Captain from 1953 to 1967.
He went on to become President of The Rollins Agency Inc., founded by his grandfather in 1910 in Bronxville. It is now located in Rye Brook and is run by his sons, Markham III and Charles.
Mr. Rollins was always active in the community, serving as President of Bronxville Rotary, the Mamaroneck Lions Club, and Trustee of The Mamaroneck Methodist Church. He was also very involved with The Community Fund of Bronxville, Eastchester, and Tuckahoe.
Throughout his life, he was devoted to his family, community, God, and country.
He is survived by his wife, Sally Ann (Johnson) Rollins; his three children: Susan Rollins Reville, Markham F. Rollins III (Jody), and Charles J. Rollins (Jeanne); nine grandchildren; and a sister, Sally Meinweiser. He was predeceased by a brother, Richardson.
Interment was private. To place an online condolence, visit www.coxeandgraziano.com.
Donations in his memory may be made to The Community Fund of Bronxville, Eastchester and Tuckahoe, Inc., 17 Sagamore Road, Bronxville, NY 10708.
Harvey M. Kelsey Jr.
Longtime Rye resident Harvey Kelsey passed away at his home on July 30, 2014.
Born August 23, 1923 in Plattsburgh, New York, he spent his high school years, starting in 1938, at Phillips Andover Academy. While there he gained a valuable education and distinguished himself as a runner. In 1941, as a high school junior, he ran the 100-yard dash in 9.5 seconds. The world record was then 9.4. His school record times for the 100- and 220-yard dashes still stand at Phillips Academy.
He enrolled at Princeton in September 1941. For him and his friends, the world changed on December 7, 1941. Over the next five years, he underwent military training, followed by a procession of assignments. Following ROTC at Princeton, he was sent to Fort Bragg for basic training as an enlisted man. He then traveled to Fort Sill in Oklahoma for Artillery Officer Candidate School and received his officer’s commission. Sent overseas in a troop transport, he joined the 1st US Infantry Division in the European theater.
During his military service Mr. Kelsey was, on occasion, able to run competitively. He won competitions in the Penn Relay Sprints, the IC4A, and in Bordeaux, France at the mini-Olympics where he was charged with coaching the U.S. Third Army track team. His prize for sweeping the 100- and 200-yard dashes, and the 440-relay was a case of Bordeaux wine.
Following discharge from the military, he returned to complete a last year at Princeton. Shortly after graduation in 1947, the greatest event of his life occurred when he met and subsequently married Anne Talcott. They had five children: Harvey, Jim, Peter, Karen, and Peggy.
After a brief tour in his own business, he enrolled at Harvard Business School, class of 1949. Jobs were scarce, and he accepted a temporary offer from James Talcott, Inc. in New York. He retired 25 years later as company president. He then accepted a partnership position at Johnson & Higgins, working as their CFO until retiring in 1985.
He served on the boards of Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and the Burke Medical Research Institute, where, after 25 years of service, a research library was dedicated in his honor. He also served on the Miriam Osborn Home board, and on the boards of several conservation groups, including the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.
He loved all out-of-doors activities. Sailing with Annie on the Sound, gearing up five small children every winter’s weekend to ski at Jiminy Peak, fly-fishing the Middle Fork Salmon River with Jimmy and Peter, trekking in the Aleutians with Harvey, hiking the Norwegian fiords with Karen and Peggy, shooting grouse over Ruff, and building campfires with his grandchildren at Tupper Lake were his most treasured experiences among thousands more. These were also treasured gifts to his children.
His adored his wife, Annie, and the five children she gave to him, and their fifteen grandchildren. His greatest sadness was his wife’s passing on October 31, 2008. They were married for 61 years. Renewed through his steadfast faith, and the loving support of the family, his last years were blessed and filled with true joy.
In addition to his five children and their spouses, Mr. Kelsey is survived by 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Tanner, his fifth grandson, predeceased him.
Donations in his memory may be made to the Burke Medical Research Institute.
Pasquale Daniel Iorillo died July 23, 2014 at the age of 77.
The longtime Rye resident, a member of the Rye High School Class of 1955, was affectionately known as “Pat the Handyman” throughout the community and beyond. If he wasn’t out on a house call in his signature red van, repairing one thing or another, he was making music. He played bass guitar for sixty years.
Last fall, Mr. Iorillo was inducted into the Westchester Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. He was honored for over 40 years of volunteer service, performing at Rye Association for the Handicapped events and Westchester Chordsmen concerts.
In addition to his wife Brenda, he is survived by his four children: Pat Jr., Maria, LuAnn, and Laura; and ten grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated July 29 at Church of the Resurrection.
Donations in Mr. Iorillo’s memory may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (stjude.org), 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
Robert Jackson McKean Jr.
Robert Jackson McKean Jr., of Lantana, Florida, died peacefully on August 9, 2014, at the age of 88. Mr. McKean was one of the lead banking attorneys in the financial rescues of New York City in 1974-75, and of the Chrysler Corporation in 1980-81.
Born on December 21, 1925 in the Bronx, to Isabel and Robert J. McKean Sr., he graduated from A.B. Davis High School in Mount Vernon, where he was valedictorian. Mr. McKean then served his country as a Technical Sergeant in the 286th Engineer Combat Battalion, serving in England, at the Battle of the Bulge in France, in Germany, and Austria.
He received his B.A. summa cum laude in 1950 from Amherst College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After receiving his L.L.B., cum laude in 1953 from Harvard Law School, he joined the New York City law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, where he became a Senior Partner specializing in banking and finance law. He was a member of the Management Committee of the firm, the New York State Bar Association, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, L’Union Internationale des Avocats, and the Commercial Panel of Arbitrators of the American Bar Association.
Devoted to Amherst College, of which he was a Life Trustee, he received the College’s Medal for Eminent Service in 1968. He was also a member of the Committee of the Amherst Board of Trustees, which recommended that the college become coeducational. He served on the Five College Cooperation Committee with trustees from Smith College, Mt. Holyoke College, Hampshire College, and University of Massachusetts.
Mr. McKean was also Co-Chairman of the first Parents Committee of Hampshire College and a member of its Advisory Board. For many years he served on the board of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and was a Trustee Emeritus there.
While a Rye resident from the 1960s through the 1980s, Mr. McKean was active in the city’s community affairs, serving on the Board of Education, the Board of Architectural Review, the Board of Appeals, and as a trustee of the Rye Free Reading Room Board. He was also a Trustee and Elder at Rye Presbyterian Church, and a trustee of the Hudson River Presbytery.
In his retirement, he loved traveling, singing double bass in the chorus, and drawing scenes from his travels. He was supportive, open-minded, and proud of his Irish heritage.
He is survived by his children, Katherine Rochefort and her husband Michael, Lauren French and her husband Larry, Douglas McRoberts McKean and his wife Pamela, and Andrew McMath McKean; three granddaughters, Julie C. Rochefort, Emily J. Rochefort, and Stephanie A. McKean. He is also survived by his second wife, Sally Ament McKean, and two stepdaughters, Debra Ament and Jennifer Ament; a stepson, Charles Ament, and two step-grandchildren, Leanne Sherwood and Christopher Fieldhouse. His first marriage to Jean McMath, who predeceased him in 2011, ended in divorce.
In the final years of his life, he very much appreciated his compassionate caregivers.
A funeral service was held August 15 at Tillman Funeral Home & Crematory in West Palm Beach, Florida. Interment with military honors will follow at South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida.
Betty Jean Renfro Schneider, a longtime resident of Rye, died July 11, 2014.
Born on January 6, 1924 in Flora, Illinois, she was one of five children of Rolla and Lulu Renfro. After graduating from high school in 1940, she moved to Chicago where she served her country, working for the Bureau of Censorship.
She met Richard Schneider, her future husband, in 1943, only a few months before he was scheduled to leave for Europe as a soldier in World War II. He returned to the U.S. in the summer of 1945. He and Betty were married on December 30, 1945.
The Schneiders lived in the Chicago area until 1969. Richard was public relations director of the Walgreen drugstore company and Betty raised their two sons. In 1969, when Richard was offered a job as senior editor of Guideposts magazine, the family moved to Morristown, New Jersey.
After the Schneiders moved to Rye in 1980, Betty quickly became involved in the community. She was a member of the Woman’s Club of Rye, Ceres Garden Club, and the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary. She served as finance chair of the Rye Methodist Church. During her years as a docent at the Square House Museum, visitors gained a new perspective on Rye’s history. She was an active volunteer for Meals on Wheels, bringing a bright smile along with a hot meal to many local residents.
Mrs. Schneider loved to spend hours working in her gardens. She and her husband took great advantage of the cultural offerings in New York City, spending many evenings at the ballet, the symphony, and the theater. In 1994, she and Richard fulfilled a lifelong dream by sailing on the <Queen Elizabeth II> to the United Kingdom and spending several weeks touring England and Scotland.
In 2009, Richard and Betty moved from their home near Oakland Beach to The Osborn.
Besides her husband of 68 years, Mrs. Schneider is survived by her sons, Peter of Yorktown, New York, and Christopher of La Jolla, California; and granddaughters Sarah, Hilary, and Katrina.
A private family service was held July 16 at Graham Funeral Home. A Memorial Service celebrating her life will be held at The Osborn on Saturday, September 6 at 1 p.m.
Donations in her memory may be made to the Walter Hoving Home for Girls, 40 Walter Hoving Road, Garrison, NY 10524.
Peter Timothy Collins, 18, of Rye passed away peacefully on July 26, 2014 at Greenwich Hospital surrounded by his family and friends.
He is survived by his loving parents, Timothy and Lauren Collins and his adoring brother Michael Collins; his grandmother, Shirley Wittner; his aunts and uncles: Brenda Aparicio, Fred Wittner, Patrick Collins, JoAnne and Steve Fairchild, and Dennis Collins; and his cousins: JP Fairchild, Alex, Dave, Gabe and Brandon Aparicio, and Casey Wittner.
Born on September 6, 1995, he attended Rye High School and Marist College.
Peter was dearly loved by his family and friends. “He was an extremely caring, funny, and sweet young man who will be deeply missed by all who knew him,” said his family.
A mass of Christian burial was celebrated at the Church of the Resurrection on July 30.
Donations in Peter's name can be made to St. Vincent's Hospital - Westchester, 275 North Street, Harrison, NY 10528.
Atra Baer Cavataro
Gifted journalist, musician, and speechwriter Arthura “Atra” Baer Cavataro, formerly of Rye, died July 30, 2014 at St. Mary’s Hospice in Waterbury, Connecticut. The cause was a pulmonary disorder. She was 87.
Ms. Cavataro was a highly regarded columnist at the New York Journal-American, a leading afternoon daily newspaper, through the 1950s and 1960s. Starting as a copy girl, she worked her way up in the male-dominated newspaper industry. During her nearly 30-year career with the Journal-American, and its successor the World Journal Tribune, she used the byline Atra Baer.
Her reporting assignments included the city desk, national news, feature writing and television, music and film critic. During the many lengthy newspaper labor union strikes of the 1960s, she wrote for many magazines and newspapers, including the National Enquirer, Weight Watchers, and New York Magazine. She also penned screenplays, songs, and operas. On the Journal-American staff she worked closely with columnists Ed Sullivan, Dorothy Kilgallen, Jimmy Breslin, and Jack O’Brien, often collaborating.
Born in January 25, 1927 in New York City to the noted Hearst syndicated columnist and humorist Arthur “Bugs” Baer and Marjorie Cassidy, she was the goddaughter of New York City Mayor James J. Walker. Cavataro was a graduate of Horace Mann School and attended Barnard College.
Friend and retired New York Times writer Rita Reif recalls Atra as being “the most gifted writer at the Journal-American — and that’s saying a lot because her father also worked there.” Reif was introduced to her husband by Atra and recalls her showing her the ropes at the newspaper. “I was a ‘nobody’ and that was just so very nice of her!” Reif, who lives in New York City, was attending Fordham University and working part-time as a copy girl at the Journal-American when she mentioned to Atra that she was having trouble with her tuition and was in danger of having to quit the university. She took the train to Fordham, found Reif, and gave her the money to keep her on track for her dream career. “She was the most thoughtful and generous person you could know,” Reif said.
She also went on numerous feature assignments for the paper, including traveling with Bob Hope and his USO tours to Germany, England, and Korea. She interviewed many celebrities including Elvis Presley, Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and Chubby Checker. In 1967, Cavataro was a two-day champion on the then nascent television program “Jeopardy.”
In 1970 Cavataro transitioned from newspaper work to public relations, initially for the giant J. Walter Thompson firm. She later pivoted to politics and government, joining the staff of Mayor Abe Beame, serving as a speechwriter from 1974 to 1977. Baer continued her speechwriting responsibilities both on the staff of Mayor Edward I. Koch from 1978-1989, and thereafter for Mayor David N. Dinkins from 1990 to 1993.
She married a fellow journalist, Nicholas A. Cavataro, on January 21, 1955 in New York City, and honeymooned in Havana, Cuba. She raised her family in Rye, where she resided for over 50 years before moving to Wilton, Connecticut in 2012. Mr. Cavataro died on May 5, 1994.
She is survived by five children: Nicholas J. Cavataro and his wife Susan of Greenwich; Lisa Cavataro of Norwalk; Richard Cavataro and his wife Elissa of Rye; Arthur Baer Cavataro and his wife Carin of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; and Mary Cavataro and her spouse Laura LaBosky of Wilton; 11 grandchildren; and her half-brother, Arthur “Bugs” Baer Jr. and his wife Joan of Madison, Conn.
A voracious reader of all topics, especially mysteries and biographies, she rarely missed completing The New York Times crossword puzzle in pen and got great joy when, on the many occasions, the clue “famous NY humorist” appeared (Bugs or Baer) or the clue “NY TV critic Baer” (Atra) appeared in the puzzles.
Mrs. Cavataro was passionate for chocolate desserts or a gin martini, when available. A lifelong fan of the Dodgers and Yankees, she also loved animals, especially her pet cat Marla.
She was always a journalist at heart, said her family, relishing the telling of a story. She will be missed for her sharp humor, wit, writings, and editing skills, as well as her generosity, guidance, and brilliance.
A private service was held. Donations in Mrs. Cavataro’s name may be made to the Rye Free Reading Room or the Westchester Humane Society.
Allen J. Striffler of Rye passed away peacefully on June 26, 2014 at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Mr. Striffler was born and raised in New York City. In 1943, at the age of 17, he left Brooklyn Technical High School to enlist in the United States Marine Corps.
After boot camp at Parris Island and radio schools at New River and Camp Pendleton, he was deployed into combat with the 4th Marine Division. He participated in four invasions with the 4th Marine Division: Roi Namur, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. Wounded on Iwo Jima and while waiting to be evacuated on the beach, he witnessed the flag being raised on Mt. Suribachi. He returned two days later and remained in combat until the island was secured. It was on Iwo Jima that he earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, awarded for bravery, heroism, and courage in combat.
Returning to civilian life, Mr. Striffler attended Columbia University and began his career in the shipping business at Standard Oil Company. He spent the bulk of his professional career as Executive Vice President of Transoceanic Marine Transportation, a company owned by the Greek shipping magnate, Stavros Niarchos.
In 1981 the Striffler family moved to Rye, and Mr. Striffler opened Greenwich Marine Transportation, a ship brokerage company, of which he remained as President and CEO until retiring.
Mr. Striffler is survived by his wife of forty years, Janet Striffler; his five children: Adam Striffler, Olivia Striffler Langston, Scott Striffler, Corinne Striffler Striepeke, and Eric Striffler; his five grandchildren: Alexandra Striffler, Charlotte Striffler, Worth Langston, Ian Striffler, and Leigh Striffler; and a brother, William. He was preceded in death by his brother Donald.
Donations in Allen Striffler’s memory may be made to The Fisher House Foundation or The Wounded Warrior Project.