‘The gentleman Scouter’: Darien resident Charles Scribner remembered fondly
Lifelong resident and World War II veteran Charles Scribner was nicknamed the “gentleman Scouter,” because of his kind and helpful manner, according to many people in the Boy Scout community in Darien.
Scribner died June 27 at the age of 96. A 1942 Darien High School graduate, Scribner served in the U.S. Army in the China-Burma-India Theater.
Most recently, he was the very first person to be selected for the town’s new Wartime Veteran Street Sign Program.
Many will remember Scribner for his dedication to community service, and especially to Scouting.
Scribner was Scoutmaster and commissioner for Darien Boy Scout Troops 53 and 35 for over 50 years. His father Harold started Scouting in Darien in 1915.
Leslie Pennington, president of the Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust, said everyone involved in Scouts who knew Scribner will agree he was an inspiration to everyone.
Scribner was a loyal friend, a leader, a mentor, a historian and guide to many generations of Scouts and their families, according to Pennington.
“He was incredibly special to all of us in the Darien Scouting family,” Pennington said.
His dedication to Darien Scouting is “unmatched,” she added.
“He was a fixture at every single Scouting event from meetings to parties. He was always the first to volunteer to help, from before the time I met him when my oldest was a Cub Scout in first grade — 18 years ago — until just about a year ago as I led the ASMT operating board meetings,” she said. “Chick led the Eagle charge at every Eagle Court of Honor and lived the Scout Oath by example. He was the epitome of the 12 points of the Scout Law: ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.’ I can’t tell you how profoundly he is missed.”
Others involved in Scouting commented on Scribner’s nature as well.
Babette and Nicasio Arroyo, a longtime volunteer and alumni parent of two Eagle Scouts, said she and her husband are deeply saddened by the loss of “our favorite leader in Scouts. We have so many stories to tell but the most pivotal one was the night of Charles’ Eagle Board of Review. He had many obstacles on his path to becoming an Eagle, especially with his project. Later, he told me that they were firing questions at him and it was hard, but Mr. Scribner was at the table and told him to pause and think about his answer before speaking.”
Babette added she had a chance to thank Scribner many times over for being a positive force in her sons’ young lives.
“Nicasio and I are wearing our red Troop 35 neckerchiefs as face masks in his honor,” she added.
Troop 35 Scoutmaster Mike Towell said Scribner’s presence was always such “a beautiful reminder of the rich history of Scouting in Darien, and we will all miss him dearly. The example he set will continue to guide us for years to come.”
Dot Kelly, an alumni parent and volunteer, said Scribner was an “unforgettable mentor.”
Alumni Scout parent and past board member Marilyn Huffman said Scribner is such a “wonderful man and an inspiration to so many people.”
To honor the Scribner family for their devotion to Darien Scouting, a campaign to raise $500,000 has been initiated to name the new Scout Cabin Assembly Hall after them. For more information or to donate, visit darienscouts.org.
Lucy Berry, who teaches eighth grade history at Middlesex Middle School in Darien, said it was an honor to name Scribner as the first Darien Wartime Veteran Street Sign recipient.
The purpose of the program, which was started by Berry, is to honor Darien wartime veterans by adding their names to existing street signs in town.
“He was very deserving of that honor,” Berry said. “Chick served his country in the United States Army during WWII as Staff Sergeant in Company C 558th Signal Air Warning Battalion with action in India Burma and Burma. He faithfully served for three years until war’s end. During that time, Chick received many decorations and citations for his exemplary military service, including a Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Theater Campaign Ribbon and Asiatic Theater Campaign Ribbon.”
Scribner was a longtime community volunteer, serving on many town committees and commissions for many decades.
He was a member of the Noroton Heights Fire Department for over 50 years. In addition, he volunteered for the Darien Historical Society, Darien Community Association and the Darien Genealogy Society.
He was also a founding member of the Monuments & Ceremonies Commission.
“He and I started on the Monuments and Ceremonies Commission back in 1992, both appointed by then first Selectman, Hank Sanders. We have a very long history of volunteering together,” said Karen Polett, secretary of the Monuments & Ceremonies Commission. “I always admired and respected Chick Scribner.”
According to Berry, Scribner was known for his “friendly personality and willingness to quietly serve in any way needed, without seeking the limelight. This has made Chick a valuable citizen and friend, and a perfect recipient for the first ever Darien Wartime Veteran’s street sign award,” Berry said. “He will be missed.”
Scribner was born in the house across the street from the Fairfield Avenue home where he lived up until the time he died. His wife Mary died in 2012. They were married 62 years.
A father of four, grandfather of five, and great-grandfather of one, was extremely hands-on, according to his daughter Jean Scribner Allen.
“He was the dad always found playing in the yard with his kids,” Allen said. “He was always involved. We would do these great multi-family trips to Pound Ridge to sled for a day, or have a winter cookout.”
Allen reminisced about their family trips to the beach.
“I remember him at Pear Tree Point Beach and he was always teaching somebody to swim or jump off the float,” Allen said. “It was so crowded and my cousins were up from Maryland, and were saying ‘Watch this, Uncle Chick,’ and he’d be in there cheering for them. Then all of a sudden, every other kid on the float was saying ‘Watch this, Uncle Chick,’ and jumping in.”
When Allen’s three sons were young, her father would travel to their home in New Jersey “countless times” to go to their baseball games, and play with them, she said.
He also had a green thumb, according to Allen.
“Our house was like a botanical garden,” she said. “He was gardening from when he was little. He was interested in everything and seemed to know about every plant.”
Even until the end of his life, he was very active and took many walks, according to Allen.
Allen said her father was always happy to give back.
He taught her the importance of volunteering.
“What kept him going after many years was all of the organizations that he belonged to,” Allen said. “When he turned 95 last year, his Scouting family brought him over a cake and a beautiful card which every Scout signed.”
With everything he took part in, Scribner taught Allen and her siblings to lead through example, Allen said.
Up until recently, he continued mentoring Eagle Scouts and was involved with their projects.
“Everything he did was always with a smile on his face,” she said. “He had such pride in this town.”
Allen said her father taught her to “be grateful for and to appreciate my circumstances and be the best that you can be.”