The Westport Weston Family Y will rename the private access road to its Mahackeno Outdoor Center — longtime home of its summer day camp and site of the planned new Family Y facility — “Allen Raymond Lane” in honor of the former Y President, Trustee Emeritus and longtime civic leader.
The announcement came at a party celebrating Raymond’s 89th birthday, held at the home of Bonnie and Bill Strittmatter. Bonnie Strittmatter serves as president of the Family Y’s volunteer board of directors.
“We’re honored to be able to give something back to him, in some small way, for all he’s done for the Y, and for Westport,” said Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO at the gathering, which was attended by dozens of Raymond’s longtime friends and neighbors and fellow Y board members, as well as four of his five children and numerous grandchildren.
(Attending the celebration was longtime Y member and noted local columnist Dan Woog, who filed this account on the “0688o” blog. )
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 now serves as Town Historian for Westport.
Born in upstate New York, Raymond first came to Westport as a young boy, when his parents bought a summer home on Mill Cove. As he is fond of saying, after those halcyon summers, Raymond never wanted to live anywhere else. He moved full-time to Westport in the late 1940s, with his late wife Barbara; he continues to split his year between the summer home and the house in town where he and Barbara raised their five children.
“The Family Y and I were born in the same year, 1923, and I became involved with the Y in the mid-1950s, when the first of Barbara’s and my five children was old enough to take part in what the Y offers,” Raymond has noted of his Y connection. “In those days I was young and eager; I began raising money for the Y, and the rest is history – president of the Y’s Board in 1962-‘64, member of the Board of Trustees for many years and now Trustee Emeritus. Life doesn’t get any better than that.”
A staunch supporter of the Family Y’s long-planned move from its outmoded home downtown to a new Y facility at its 32-acre Mahackeno Outdoor Center, Raymond has said, “Located overlooking a delight rustic summer camp, with vistas of the beautiful Lee’s Pond beyond, this lovely building on the Y’s campus will be a dream come true.”
Jim Marpe, Chair of the Family Y’s Board of Trustees, said in presenting Raymond with a facsimile of the street sign at his birthday celebration: “For the past 88 years, these two ‘local institutions’ have remained steadfast in their commitment and dedication to our community and its residents. Allen truly embodies the heart and soul of Westport and the Family Y.”
First proposed in 1998, the new Y facility at Mahackeno is a 102,000 sq. ft. building designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. The Family Y’s volunteer boards of directors and trustees spent the better part of the past decade receiving all the necessary permits and approvals for the new facility, as well as in successfully overcoming legal challenges. The final phase of the capital campaign, known as “Building What Matters,” was formally launched in May, 2011.
Following a successful fundraising campaign, Family Y officials are scheduled to break ground on the new Y facility in September and to open in late 2014.
For information about Building What Matters, please visit www.westporty.org. To discuss making a financial contribution, including one in honor of Allen Raymond, or to become involved in the campaign for a new Y, please contact Rob Reeves at 203-226-8981, ext. 131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a photo gallery with images from Allen’s 89th birthday celebration: