Obituary: Martin Spohn, 86, former Darien resident, Broadway stage manager

Martin Spohn, a former Darien resident and Broadway stage manager, died Friday, Jan. 27, at Norwalk Hospital. He was 86.

Mr. Spohn was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1925, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1936. He graduated from Mt. Herman Prep before enlisting in the U.S. Army, serving in the 101st Airborne Division. Mr. Spohn fought in World War II s a paratrooper in the European Theater, including the battles of Normandy and Bastogne.

After the war, Mr. Spohn attended the New School for the Arts in New York City, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree. He stage managed several shows on Broadway and tried his hand at acting in Hollywood. For most of his professional life, Mr. Spohn represented major handbag manufacturers to department stores.

Mr. Spohn is survived by his daughters, Melissa Spohn-Wenman of Wilton and Christina Bradford of Thousand Oaks, Calif.; and six grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his wife, Diane Martin Spohn.

A funeral service was held at the Noroton Presbyterian Chapel on Tuesday, Jan, 31. Burial followed with full military honors at Willowbrook Cemetery in Westport.

Obituary: Edward J. Filanowski, 87, World War II veteran, father of Darien resident

Edward J. Filanowski of Milford, father of a Darien resident, died at his home on Sunday, Jan. 22. He was 87.

Born on July 29, 1924, on the family farm in Milford, he was the son of the late Marko and Victoria Filanowski. Mr. Filanowski was the husband of the late Elizabeth Stowe Filanowski.

He was a proud World War II veteran who served with the U.S. Army in the China, Burma, India theater. He worked for Remington Rand for more than 30 years as a truck driver, warehouse manager, and carpenter. Mr. Filanowski was a member and past commander for the American Legion Post 34 in Milford. He served on the World War II monument committee, and was active in many other community activities.

Mr. Filanowski will be remembered for his fun, loving spirit, for the great picnics in his backyard, and for engaging in conversation with anyone he would meet, his family said. He loved cooking, fishing, planting flowers, UConn Basketball (especially the girls), playing cards, helping neighbors, and time spent with family and friends.

Mr. Filanowski is survived by his four children, Lori A. Maki of Troy, N.Y., Mark L. Filanowski of Darien, Karen M. Cogswell of Cape Coral, Fla., and Lynn B. Domangue of Schertz, Texas; a brother, Mark Filanowski; a sister, Frances Rindos; eight grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

A funeral service was held Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Cody-White Funeral Home in Milford. Burial followed at King’s Highway Cemetery in Milford.

Memorial donations may be made to Connecticut Hospice Inc., 2 Trap Falls, Suite 408, Shelton, CT 06484.

Obituary: June Alexander Van Sciver, 88, Opened the Bait Shop 50 years ago

obt-Van Sciver 01-26June Alexander Van Sciver, a Darien native who opened the Bait Shop with her husband in town, died Friday, Jan. 6, surrounded by her family in Pawling, N.Y. She was 88 years old.

Born in her West Avenue home in Darien on June 16, 1923, she was the daughter of Walter Edmond and Helga Nilsson Alexander. She was the youngest of three children. Her mother, father, brother Walter Nilsson and sister Muriel Eleanor all predeceased her.

As a child, Mrs. Van Sciver attended Royal School, and spent many happy days playing at Tilly’s Pond, helping in the garden and delivering her mother’s pies to the neighbors. Darien was a smaller town back then, and Mrs. Van Sciver grew up loving her small town friends and small town life.

After graduating from Darien High School in 1942, she became a secretary at Pitney Bowes, and World War II began. As a way to contribute, she warmed the hearts of many young enlisted men overseas with her encouraging letters, and kept all of their return letters close to her heart in the hopes that they would return safely, her family said.

After the war, Mrs. Van Sciver met the love of her life, Herbert Benjamin Van Sciver. They were married on Sept. 27, 1947, in a ceremony at St. Luke’s Church in Darien, as her mother and father had done forty 40 earlier in 1907. This year the Van Scivers would have been married for 65 years.

June continued to work as a secretary until she had her first child, Nancy, in 1951. Her youngest daughter, Diane was to follow in 1954. By then, June had come to be known as a beautiful, fun loving, hard working wife and mother, her family said, driving her husband to work in the mornings, getting the kids off the school bus, taking the girls to Pear Tree Pt. Beach in the summer months, working part time at Grade Teacher and helping to organize the fabulous rummage sales at St. Luke’s Church. “She had many fond memories of the good times there with her friends,” her family said. “The summer vacations spent with our friends on the Cape will forever be etched in our memories as simply perfect.”

In 1961, the Van Scivers opened the Bait Shop Inc. on the Post Road in Darien. After 10 years and a major fire, the Bait Shop relocated to its present location in Rowayton on the Five Mile River. Mr. and Mrs. Van Sciver were known for their Annual Mako Fishing Tournament parties on the water, where everyone, young and not so young enjoyed the fishing, the fantastic food, the prizes and the fun that was always anticipated, their family said.

Mrs. Van Sciver worked as the Bait Shop’s bookkeeper for more than 40 years. Her retirement years were filled with birthday party lunches with her girlfriends and holiday celebrations with her close-knit family in Darien, Sharon, and Pawling.

“Most of all, June was loved by all who knew her,” her family said. “She was a bright star who cared for all the people she knew; she never forgot a birthday; was a terrible liar; loved to feed the crows; made an amazing apple pie, and very rarely put herself first. She loved to bet on gray horses at Saratoga, and watch ‘America’s Most Wanted’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ She loved ‘dressing to the nines’ and always looking her best. She loved her husband and children unconditionally. She was innocent and naive and wise, and the voice of reason if you asked. She was our Rock of Gibraltar! We will all miss her so.”

Mrs. Van Sciver is survived by husband, Bert Van Sciver; her daughters, Diane Van Sciver and Nancie Van Sciver Evoniuk; and son in law, Tom Evoniuk.

Memorial donations may be made to PAWS Pet Animal Welfare Society, Norwalk, CT (

Obituary: John Bernard ‘JB’ Sipple, 56, executive chef at Country Club of Darien

John Bernard “JB” Sipple of Darien, executive chef at the Country Club of Darien, died Tuesday, Jan. 17. He was 56.

Born John Bernard Breuer in Carlisle, Pa., on Feb. 15, 1955, he grew up in Camden, N.J.

A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Mr. Sipple had been executive chef at Darien Country Club for six years. Before that he was club executive chef at Amelia Island Plantation in Florida. A member of the American Culinary Federation, Mr. Sipple was winner of Gold and Silver medals in Ice sculpture from the Ben E. Keith Food Show in Lubbock, Texas. He graduated as valedictorian with honors from the Greenbrier in White Sulpher Springs, W.Va.

His wife of 20 years, Charla Sipple, died on Jan. 2, 2011.

He is survived by his two children, Brittany Sipple and Spencer Sipple; two sisters, Barbara Dever and her husband Jack and Patricia Esola; a brother, James Sipple; and seven nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2, at the First Congregational Church of Darien, 14 Brookside Road.

Obituary: Florence A. Howe, 93, Darien resident

Florence A. Howe of Darien died of a heart attack on Thursday, Jan. 19, while visiting family in Crystal Lake, Ill. She was 93.

Born in New York on Aug. 25, 1918, she was the daughter of Richard and Florence Spink.

“Although Florence is no longer physically with us, she will always be in the hearts of her family and friends,” they said.

Mrs. Howe was predeceased by her husband, Frederick P. Howe Jr., a longtime local building contractor, and her sister, Helen Bryant.

She is survived by her five children, daughter Linda and her husband Mike Orawsky, and sons, Rick and wife Georgiana Howe, George Howe, John Taubl and Clayton Taubl; sister, Marie Minihan; and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Florence is also survived by her dear sister, Marie Minihan.

No immediate services are planned.

Memorial donations may be made to the Noroton Heights Volunteer Fire Department, 209 Noroton Ave., Darien, CT 06820.

Obituary: Eugene L. Lyver, 77, worked for General Electric, father of Darien resident

Eugene “Gene” L. Lyver of New City, N.Y., who worked for General Electric and was father of a Darien resident, died Tuesday, Jan. 17. He was 77.

Born in the Bronx on Feb. 14, 1934, he was the son of James and Sarah Gillespie Lyver. He grew up in the Bronx and attended Bronx Vocational High School. Mr. Lyver served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. He married the love of his life, Dorothy Martin, on April 14, 1956. They were married 44 years until she died in 2000.

Mr. Lyver worked as a service technician for 35 years with General Electric and also was a maintenance supervisor. He also was a courier for New City MRI. Mr. Lyver was a eucharistic minister, an usher and a member of the men’s club at St. Francis of Assisi in West Nyack. He was member of the American Legion Post 329 in Pearl River and a member of the New City Senior Citizens. Mr. Lyver enjoyed bowling, golf and coaching for many years for the New City Little League, his family said.

Mr. Lyver is survived by his children, Laura Pezzola and her husband Louis of Central Valley N.Y., Kevin Lyver and his wife Patricia of Myrtle Beach S.C., Nancy Farrelly and her husband Christopher of Blooming Grove N.Y., Stephanie Murray and her husband Michael of Darien; his mother-in-law Bertha Martin, 11 grandchildren, Theresa and Dan Pezzola, Brian and Elizabeth Lyver, Jaime, Timmy and Annie Farrelly, Jack, Kate, Hope and Christopher Murray; one great grandchild, Landon; his brothers; William (Ed), Donald; and many sisters-in-law, brothers-in-laws, nieces, nephews and wonderful friends.

Mr. Lyver was predeceased by his wife, Dorothy; his sister Mary Pallman; and his bothers, Thomas and Jack.

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Saturday, Jan. 21, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, West Nyack, N.Y. followed at St. Anthony’s Cemetery in Nanuet, N.Y.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Francis of Assisi Church Building Fund, 128 Parrott Road, West Nyack, NY 10994

Obituary: Paul Vincent Martenson, 87, sales executive

Paul Vincent Martenson, a sales executive and a Darien resident since 2004, died at Greenwich Hospital on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Mr. Martenson, 87, was the husband of Carolyn Martenson.

Born on July 19, 1924, in San Francisco, he was the son of the late Walter and Rosella Dillon Martenson. He was raised in San Francisco and graduated from the St. Ignacious College Preporatory School.

Mr. Martenson then headed East to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1948. After serving in the Korean War, he settled in the Washington, D.C., area and married Carolyn Krieger of Baltimore in 1950.

Mr. Martenson worked as a sales executive at both Kaiser Aluminum and Litton Industries for many years and then joined the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, a division of the Department of Commerce, as an advisor for the last 10 years of his career.

Mr. Martenson will be remembered for his dry wit, great smile, and a deep love of his family and friends, they said. “He particularly enjoyed the company of his grandchildren in his later years. He was an avid Redskins fan, holding season tickets for over 40 years. He also regularly attended the home football games at the Naval Academy. Crossword puzzles, photography, and golf were favorite pastimes.”

Besides his wife of 61 years, Mr. Martenson is survived by two daughters, Mary M. Rooney and her husband, Bill, of Darien, and Katherine D. Appleton and her husband, Jonathan, of Cambridge, England; and 5 grandchildren.

A Mass of the Christian Burial was held at St. John R.C. Church on Tuesday, Jan. 17th. There will be a private family burial at Spring Grove Cemetery at a later date.

Memorial contributions may be made to U.S.N.A. Association, Class of 1948, U.S.N.A. Alumni Association, 247 King George Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5068.

Obituary: Walter O. Scott, long time Darienite and real estate agency owner

Walter O. Scott, with caring family members by his side, died peacefully on Friday, Jan. 13, in his native Ireland, after a valient battle with cancer. He was 92.

Born on Feb. 11 1919, he arrived in the United States as a young adult and subsequently acquired citizenship. A resident of Darien for more than 30 years, he was the founder and respected manager of the well-known real estate agency bearing his name until his retirement in the early 1990’s. He and his late wife Carolyn established residences in Naples, Florida and County Wicklow, Ireland.

He will be interred in the land of his birth, his family said.

Obituary: Lester R. Giegerich, 96, Darien resident, real estate pioneer

Lester Ralph Giegerich of Darien, who developed some of the first shopping centers in California, died in the early morning of Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Norwalk Hospital. He was 96 and still active in his real estate development and management business until the last two weeks of his life.

Born May 22, 1915, he was raised in New Providence, N.J., “Les” Giegerich went to the University of Pennsylvania on full scholarship and graduated from the Wharton School of Commerce & Finance in 1940. He then moved to Missouri where he met and married Betty Louise Bradley of Kansas City in 1941. He served as a World War II Air Force flight instructor for five years at Kelley Field in Texas where he rose to the rank of major.

After the war, Mr. Giegerich worked for Merrill Lynch in Kansas City followed by four years with Traveler’s Insurance Co. as assistant manager of the City Mortgage Loan Department. He then moved on to head up the Mortgage Loan & Real Estate Department of Teacher’s Insurance & Annuity Association in New York City from 1950-54.

He was a pioneer in the sale and leaseback transactions (a financial device that allowed new stores to be built at a time when suburbs were rapidly expanding), his family said, and mortgage banking with his partner Sidney M. Barton of New York. In 1960 he started his own company, the Giegerich Co., in Westport, where he lived with his wife and two daughters.

During his 60 years as one of the country’s most active experts in leasebacks, his family said, Mr. Giegerich developed some of the first shopping centers in California with partners Earnest W. Hahn, Linn C. Alexander and Gerry L. Moss — all pioneers in the industry. One of his earliest projects was the Spanish-styled La Cumbre in Santa Barbara. Not only did his company develop shopping centers, but it also financed numerous office and industrial buildings throughout the U.S. Additionally, the Giegerich Co. conducted a mortgage banking business through 1986.

In 1977, after his first wife died of cancer, Mr. Giegerich married Lillian Ransco Roney of Darien, formerly of Rochester, N.Y., and moved to Darien.

In Fairfield County, Mr. Giegerich served on many boards including the Westport YMCA, the Westport Library, the Norwalk Housing Association, and the Maritime Aquarium. He was a generous donor to not only these organizations, his family said, but also others such as the Westport Saugatuck Congregational Church, the Norwalk Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania.

Known affectionately as Mr. G. in his office, his family said, Mr. Giegerich “was a humanist, always interested in people and their lives. An inspiration to all, he was generous with his time and talent. Drawing from his innate common sense and wide perspective, Les was an educator; he was known to offer advice to many, particularly to those who were just starting out in their careers.”

“Open-minded with many interests, Les lived life fully,” his family said. “He traveled to all the continents (at least twice) and had few wonders of the world left to see. He read widely, and especially loved history books and biographies. His athletic abilities lasted into early ’90s during which he still enjoyed skiing, tennis and swimming, but above all, the sport of golf.”

He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Lillian Giegerich; his sister, Marion Snyder of New Providence, N.J.; his two daughters, Brenda K. Giegerich of Westport, and Marsha G. Torkelson of Mill Valley, Calif.; his step-daughter Joan Roney of New York City and his step-son John Roney of Darien; three grandchildren, and two newly born great grand-daughters.

Calling hours will be Friday, Jan. 20, at Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien from 5-8. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the St. Thomas More Church, 374 Middlesex Road, on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 10. Burial follows with full military honors at Spring Grove Cemetery. A celebration of Mr. Giegerich’s life will follow at the Country Club of Darien.

Memorial donations may be made to Norwalk Hospital’s Whittingham Cancer Center at norwalkhospitalfoundation.orgor by calling 203-852-2216.