Y Trustee Emeritus Allen Raymond in November, 2011.
The Westport Weston Family Y’s clarion call for “$6 million now” – if its building program is to proceed – has received a significant response from lifelong Westporter and former Y President Allen Raymond.
“I’ll pledge $500,000 right now,” the 89-year-old Westporter said in a memo on March 23, “so that we can get the show on the road.”
The Family Y’s CEO, Rob Reeves, and the President of its Board of Directors, Bonnie Strittmatter, said in a joint statement, “Allen truly embodies the heart and soul of Westport … his steadfast commitment and dedication to the Y’s cause is inspirational, and we know his magnificent gift will lead others to climb on board.”
The Family Y has identified $31 million in funding to date, including more than $7 million raised since launching its “Building What Matters” capital campaign a year ago. Provided sufficient funding is in place by mid-May, Family Y officials are scheduled to break ground on the new Y facility in October and to open in late 2014.
Raymond, whose family lived in Buffalo when he was a boy, has spent every summer of his life at the family’s summer cottage on Westport’s Compo Cove (now called Compo Mill Cove).
“When I was a kid,” Raymond commented, “and my parents’ friends asked me, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ my answer was always, ‘Live in Westport.’ ”
“My late wife, Barbara, whom I met during our senior year at the University of Michigan, said that was okay with her, and in 1949, for $12,500,” Raymond said with a grin, “we bought our first ‘winter home’ in Westport.”
Civic Leader Allen Raymond, photographed in the early 1960s.
In addition to his nearly 60 years of service and leadership on behalf of the Family Y, Raymond has been active in innumerable civic issues and institutions. In 1960, as a member of First Selectman Herb Baldwin’s “kitchen cabinet,” it was Raymond who spearheaded the town’s purchase of Longshore Beach and Country Club, now Longshore Club Park. A former publishing executive and founder of an education magazine for elementary school teachers, Raymond has also devoted countless hours on behalf of the Westport Public Library, Earthplace, Westport Historical Society, Greens Farms Congregational Church, Westport Rotary and the local GOP, among other organizations. He is Member No. 1 of the Cedar Point Yacht Club. He now serves as Town Historian for Westport.
In 1962, when he was 39 years old, Raymond became the Y’s President and, today, he is still the youngest person to ever hold that title. In 2011, Raymond was named a Y Trustee Emeritus.
“And now, 50 years later, I’m 89 years old and, in spite of all the marvelous nonprofit organizations in Westport that warrant my financial support, the Y is still No. 1 on my charitable hit parade,” said Raymond. “I cannot envision Westport without its Y.”
Late last year, a select group of Raymond’s friends and fellow leaders of the Family Y established the “Friends of Allen Raymond Recognition Campaign.” To date, the recognition campaign has received $395,000 in contributions and pledges made in his honor.
As part of this recognition campaign, at a celebration of Raymond’s 89th birthday in January, the Family Y surprised him with the announcement that the private access road to the Y’s Mahackeno campus, now known as Sunny Lane, will be changed to Allen Raymond Lane.
“I cannot think of a better, more lasting and fitting tribute to Allen than to name the entry road to the Y’s wonderful new home in his honor,” said Jim Marpe, Chairman of the Family Y’s volunteer Board of Trustees.
To make a donation in Raymond’s honor, please contact Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO, at 203-226-8981, ext. 131; the Family Y’s goal is to fully match Raymond’s $500,000 personal bequest.
"Allen Raymond Lane" will be the address for the new Y facility at Mahackeno, in honor of Westport's preeminent civic leader over the past 60 years.