Obituary: Davis L. Baker Jr., 99, investment banker, Country Club of Darien charter member

Davis L. Baker Jr., a former longtime Darien resident, died a year ago, on May 5, 2011, in Santa Barbara, Calif., after a long period of failing health. He was 99.

He was born in Clifton, N.J., on Aug. 23, 1911, raised in New Rochelle, N.Y., graduated from Phillips Academy Andover, Yale University and Harvard Business School. He retired from the First Boston Corporation in 1975 after a long career in investment banking that included setting up and running the first foreign offices of that company in London and Zurich, 1965-68.

Mr. Baker lived in Darien from 1948-2007, except for the period in London. He read everything and remembered most of it.  He had lifelong interests in antiques, art, architecture, astronomy, golf,  history, economics, geography, medicine, music, sports and unsolved mysteries.  He was a  lifelong member of the St. Elmo Society, charter member of the Country Club of Darien, longtime member of the Noroton Presbyterian Church and the Darien Historical Society.

His wife, Dorothy Maulsby Baker, and his son, Davis L. Baker, III (Skip), predeceased him and he is survived by his daughter, Deborah M. Baker, granddaughters Elizabeth Baker McMillan and Margo Baker Thompson and four great grandsons.

Obituary: Nancy Tota, 87, Darien native, worked for Stamford Police

Nancy Tota, formerly Nancy Jane Curtis, who grew up in Darien and later worked for the Stamford Police, died Wednesday, May 2, in Middletown. She was 87.

Born Nov. 10, 1924, in Stamford, CT, she was the daughter of the late Harold and Mable Curtis. Mrs. Tota graduated from Darien High School in 1943.

She worked for the St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Stamford Police Department until she retired.

Mrs. Tota is survived by a daughter, Nancy Dugan of Clinton; four sons, Ryan Dugan, Keith Dugan, Colin Dugan and his wife Elizabeth, and Curt Tota of Old Lyme; and a brother, Harold Curtis of Darien.

She was predeceased by her son-in-law, John Dugan of Clinton; a sister, Beverly McElwee; and a brother, Robert Curtis, both of Darien.

A graveside service will be held on Friday, May 11, at 2 at High Ridge Cemetery in Stamford.

Edward Lawrence Funeral Home of Darien handled the arrangements.

Obituary: Elizabeth Hooper, 83, former longtime Darien resident, soprano

Elizabeth Nichol Hooper, 83, formerly of Damariscotta, Maine, passed away Sunday, April 29, in Norwalk. She was born May 26, 1929, in Hawick, Scotland, the daughter of Hector Law and Agnes Cairns Law.

While still young her family moved to Cheltenham, England, where she learned to play the piano, enjoyed going to concerts, and gained what was to be a lifelong love of classical music. On Aug. 21, 1954, she married James F. Hooper who was serving with the United States Air Force in England. Following his tour of duty, Elizabeth immigrated to the United States with her husband.

read moreObituary: Elizabeth Hooper, 83, former longtime Darien resident, soprano

Obituary: Tish Flemma, 72, Darien resident worked in advertising

Tish Flemma, a long-time Darien resident, died Saturday, April 14, at her home, with her family by her side. Mrs. Flemma, 72, was the wife of John Rowley Borise of Norwalk.A Middlebury College graduate, she had a long career in advertising sales.

Besides her husband, she is survived by her children, Jean Epifanio, Julia Humphries and Ben Flemma. A memorial will be held Saturday, May 12, at 11, at St. Luke’s Parish, 1864 Post Road, Darien.

Obituary: John J. ‘Jack’ O’Neill, 81, last of Noroton Height’s ‘Flying O’Neills’

obt-jjoneill 05-03John J. “Jack” O’Neill, a former Darien resident and the last pilot left in his Noroton Heights family known as “The Flying O’Neills,” died Thursday, April 12, at his home in Overland Park, Kan., from melanoma, after a brief illness. He was 88.

Mr. O’Neill, who in 1942 flew his first solo flight from Danbury Airport in a Piper Cub just months after graduating from Darien High School, over the next 70 years became something of a legend in his profession for the breadth and depth of his flying career. As recently as early this year, he could still be found behind the controls, making a living at a passion to which he was first drawn at 4 when his dad took him up in a single-engine Taylorcraft, his family said.

In his seven decades in the air, Mr. O’Neill’s pilot friends estimate he racked up 50,000 or more flight hours on as diverse a range of aircraft as any pilot of his era, from single-engine planes, to the P-51 Mustang Fighters on which he taught naval aviation cadets during World War II, to some of the world’s largest commercial jets he flew around the world in a 34-year career at American Airlines.

By the time Mr. O’Neill had is first solo flight, Noroton Height’s “Flying O’Neills” were already well known: his uncle, Walt O’Neill, was a flight instructor; his father, John O’Neill, an accomplished pilot; and his sister, Ollie, one of the few women in the country to have received flight certification under a federal program to boost the number of pilots as the country prepared to enter World War II. Their youngest brother, Bill. later joined their ranks, and like Jack eventually became an American Airlines captain.

In 1942, eight months after Pearl Harbor, Mr. O’Neill enlisted in the Naval Air Corps. Once again, the O’Neills were of like mind, and he was followed into the armed services by all his siblings: Ollie joined the Coast Guard, Walter Peter the Army Air Corps and Bill the Air Force.

After extensive training at several Naval stations around the U.S., Mr. O’Neill served as an instructor of countless naval aviation cadets sent into service during he war. A majority of the cadets he instructed — out of naval air stations at Pensacola, West Point, San Antonio, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — were British Royal Air Force flyers sent to the U.S. to be trained on a variety of combat aircraft. In 1943, he transferred from the Navy to the Army Air Corps, and was discharged in 1946.

After the war, Mr. O’Neill returned home to Noroton Heights, and worked in an array of area flying jobs, including management of a seaplane base then located at Cove Pond in Stamford. He landed a job with American Airlines in 1949, initially flying Douglas DC-3 twin-propeller airliners and later gaining experience flying most of the American’s larger aircraft, retiring as a captain in the company’s Boeing 747 fleet. At first flying out of New York, in 1966 he moved to southern California and San Diego’s Lindbergh Field became his base.

For five years after his retirement from American, Mr. O’Neill served as CEO of Optopics Laboratories, a family pharmaceutical manufacturing firm then based in Fairton, N.J. But in 1988 he gave up the desk job and returned to a more active flight schedule, moving to Overland Park, Kan. Over the next 24 years, he became a familiar face around Kansas City area airports, as he instructed numerous aspiring pilots and served as a member of private jet crews that worked out of the airfields.

Two years ago, Mr. O’Neill was interviewed by the Palm Springs, Calif., Air Museum as a part of its flying veterans project, archiving the recollections of surviving World War II flyers. In the interview, he said he felt extremely fortunate to have been able to spend a lifetime doing what he wanted to do since he was 4. He remembered earning the money as a caddy at Wee Burn Country Club in Darien to pay the $5 per hour fees for his first flight lessons in 1942: “Two dollars for the plane and $3 for the instructor,” he said.

Mr. O’Neill is survived by two daughters, Jon Caryl “Binky” Pickard of Cathedral City, Calif., and Kelly Valentine of Overland Park; a son, Michael O’Neill of Seattle, Wash.; two step-daughters, Paula Proud and Susan Parsons, both of Overland Park; a step-son, Mark Parsons of Eagle Rock, Ark.; a brother, Walter Peter O’Neill of Macau; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his wife of 36 years, Martha, in 2007; his former wife of 24 years, Jean Fickett O’Neill, in 2007; his sister, Olive, in 2010; and his brother, Bill in 1965.

A funeral Mass for Mr. O’Neill was held Thursday, April 26, at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Olathe, Kan., followed by burial with military honors at Park Lawn Cemetery in Kansas City.

Memorial donations may be made to Angel Flight Central, 10 NW Richards Road, Kansas City, MO 64116 (AngelFlightcentral.org).

Obituary: Helen Ann Keeler Schulten, 88, owner of Darien’s Old MacDonald’s Farm

Helen Ann Keeler Schulten of North Branford, a former Darien resident who ran Darien’s Old MacDonald’s Farm for a quarter century, died Tuesday, April 24, in the Evergreen Woods Health Center. She was 88.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on July 7, 1923, she was the daughter of the late Isaac P. and Anna A. Trainor Keeler.

She and her late husband, John Spencer Schulten, owned and operated Old MacDonald’s Farm in Darien from 1954-81. The covered bridge can still be seen from the Post Road. When Mrs. Schulten moved to Evergreen Woods, she volunteered for more than 10 years in the on-site store and was the manager and chief purchaser. She even went to Stop & Shop for milk and eggs when the store ran out.

“She loved to read, knit, garden and take long walks outdoors in all kinds of weather,” her family said. She volunteered for the American Red Cross.

Mrs. Schulten is survived by seven children, Jess Schulten (wife Lillian DeSena) of Charleston, S.C., Dr. Richard Schulten (wife Jane Hamlin) of Guilford, Dr. Bren Schulten (wife Jane Reynolds) of Crete, Ill., Helen Rene vanGemert of Wayne, Pa., Marguerite Leigh Zaimes of Malvern, Pa., Christine Carter (husband Charlie) of Radnor, Pa. and Robert Schulten (wife Bridget Schulten) of Southport; 14 grandchildren; seven great grandchildren; and a brother, Richard Keeler of Palm Beach, Fla.

Besides her husband of 49 years, Mrs. Schulten was predeceased by her brother, Robert F. Keeler, who died in World War II.

Private gravesides serves were held this week at Lakeview Cemetery, New Canaan, with the Rev. Paul Whitmore of the Southport Congregations Church officiating.

Memorial donation may be made to the charity of your choice.

Obituary: Victor R. LaBozzo, 82, Darien resident owned credit union, veteran

Victor R. LaBozzo of Darien, a Korean War veteran who owned a local credit union, died Saturday, April 28, at Stamford Hospital surrounded by his family. Mr. LaBozzo, 82, was the husband of Joan DeCaro LaBozzo.

Born Sept. 10, 1929, in Stamford to the late Raffaele and Maria Louise LaBozzo, Mr. LaBozzo was owner and president of Norwalk Credit Bureau Inc. and attended Bridgeport University.

He was a member of the Lions Club, Piedmont Club, Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, JC’s of Stamford and the Associated Credit Bureaus. He also served in the Korean War as a sergeant with the U.S. Air Force.

Mr. LaBozzo’s heart was endlessly giving, his family said. “His smiling eyes coupled with his captivating personality, never let you go. He would never pass up a tee time, even on a rainy day.”

Besides his wife, Mr. LaBozzo is survived by his daughters, Lisa LaBozzo of Darien and Diana M. Daniele and her husband Fortunato of Stamford; two grandchildren, Ralph and Michael Daniele; two sisters, Jane Wasco, Lee Masone and her husband Tony of Stamford; and several nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his son, Michael V. LaBozzo; and two brothers, Frank and Ralph LaBozzo.

Calling hours are Wednesday, May 2, from 4-8, at Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home & Crematory, 104 Myrtle Ave., Stamford

A funeral procession will be leaving the funeral home at 10:20 on Thursday, May 3, for a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 at St. John’s R.C. Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien. Entombment will follow at St. John’s Cemetery, Norwalk.

Memorial donations may be made to the Carl & Dorothy Bennett Cancer Center, 34 Shelburne Road, Stamford, CT 06904 or to St. John’s R.C. Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien, CT 06820.

Obituary: John ‘Jack’ Leveridge Taylor Jr., 81, former Darien resident worked in securities

John “Jack” Leveridge Taylor Jr. of Rowayton, a former Darien resident who worked the securities industry, died Wednesday, April 18, surrounded by family at Stamford Hospital, following a battle with cancer. Mr. Taylor, 81, was the husband of Roberta DeFilippo Taylor.

Born in 1930 in New Rochelle, N.Y., Mr. Taylor grew up in Glencoe, Ill. He graduated from New Trier High School and attended the University of Virginia. After moving to Connecticut with his family, he lived in Darien, Stamford and New Canaan for many years before moving to Rowayton in 2009.

Mr. Taylor’s worked in the securities industry with Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and most recently with Source Capital Group in Westport. A sports enthusiast, he was an avid golfer and paddle tennis player at Wee Burn Country Club in Darien. Mr. Taylor was vice president and a longtime member of the Westchester Kennel Club and a member of The Dinosaur Club of Greenwich.

In his later years, he enjoyed spending time and boating around Sanibel Island, Fla., his family said.

Besides his wife of 43 years, Mr. Taylor is survived by two sons, Breck Taylor and John Hap Taylor; three daughters, Laura Taylor, Lisa Lane, and Jennifer Maurillo; a sister, Jill Heath of Lake Forest, Ill.; and 10 grandchildren.

A service in celebration of his life will be held on Thursday, May 10, at 10 at St. Luke’s Parish, 1864 Post Road, in Darien.

Obituary: Peter Edmond Rondepierre, 51, Darien High School graduate

Peter Edmond Rondepierre of Clearwater, Fla., the son of Darien residents, died Thursday, April 12, after a long illness. He was 51.

Mr. Rondepierre was born June 1, 1960, in Birmingham, Ala. He graduated from Darien High School and Eastern Connecticut State University.

Mr. Rondepierre is survived by his parents, Nan and Edmond Rondepierre of Darien; a brother, Stephen Rondepierre of Springfield, Mass.; two sisters, Aimée Rondepierre Amarant of Hackettstown, N.J., and Anne Rondepierre Riczu of Trumbull; and eight nieces and nephews.

A private family service was held at the Edward Lawrence Funeral Home followed by a private burial at Spring Grove Cemetery.