John Brandt, speaking at his last meeting as President of Y’s Men’s of Westport/Weston at the Saugatuck Congregational Church last Thursday, recognized a number of members who made the year successful and enjoyable. He finished and turned the gavel over to incoming President Ed Bloch.
Y’s Men is a social organization of about 400 retired men living in — or with connections to — Westport and Weston. The group meets weekly from September to May for coffee and donuts (thank you Coffee An’ for the best donuts on the planet), a little schmoozing, then they hear a typically outstanding speaker.
The group bookends its local speakers, hearing the superintendents of Westport’s and Weston’s schools at the first, and State of the Towns talks by the two First Selectmen. Among recent speakers were Representative Jim Himes, and Susan Granger, who annually predicts the Oscar winners. Concert pianist Fredrick Chiu, who will soon be honored at the newly transformed Westport Library, played for the group, and Bill Harmer, the Library’s Executive Director, just told Y’s Men what the community has to look forward to.
WWII veteran Larry Aasen opened the meeting, leading 175 members in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Aasen is among the handful of group members who served in that war and remain active in Y’s Men.
Mr. Brandt focused on “What being a Y’s Man adds to our lives.” “We’ve made a tacit agreement with one another to stay in the game… In the fourth quarter of our lives, we’ve committed to one another to cross the finish line in a way that validates our entire voyage.”
He offered a lighthearted thank you to Minnie’s Boys, the resident humorists — Roy McKay, Marty Yellin, Mike Guthman, Ted Voss and Steve Raffel. As Ted Horowitz’ photo shows, these men were clearly not to be outdone by the pseudo-seriousness of their recognition.
Moving to the serious, Brandt recognized Peter Nathan for leading bi-weekly Global Issues discussions, each dedicated to a topic of current interest — Israel, India, North Korea — and in the immediate future, the EU election.
Perhaps the most important recognition each year is the Order of the Owl (the Y’s Old Owl), given to a member who makes a particularly noteworthy contribution. This year’s honoree was Bill Blaufuss, for his tireless efforts leading a team that presented a long menu of Trips and Events — from behind the scenes at Madison Square Garden to ten stories beneath Grand Central, to the summer trip to the Merchant Marine Academy, plus museums, theater and a couple of sports events. And monthly restaurant visits.
Brandt mentioned, briefly, the almost two dozen activities offered as our raison d’être, activities designed to build friendships and help get us off our couches, out of our homes and into groups and activities (a reminder to all seniors): hiking, skiing and tennis, as well as more cerebral activities including a book club, a camera club, an investment club, and many others.
Bloch first gained approval for next year’s board: Peter Chelico, First Vice President; Bob Mitchell, Second Vice President; Phil Johnson, Treasurer; Ross Burkhardt, Assistant Treasurer; Dewey Loselle, Secretary; Maury Wind, Assistant Secretary.
He then picked up Brandt’s theme — while we competed for career and financial rewards in our past, now, “those who have the most fun win.”
“We now compete for fun, laughter, fellowship, enlightenment, and engagement. This is Y’s Men.”
“So, as we end this season and look toward the next, let’s be aware of what this exceptional organization offers all of us — the chance to be involved and engaged and to have the best times of our lives.”
And so, on to the food, a picnic catered by Fortuna’s, and to looking forward to seeing you in September.
Photos by Ted Horowitz