Wilton 25 of 2017
Most Dedicated, Most Creative, Most Intriguing
We’re proud to celebrate 25 of the most creative, dynamic, generous, and entrepreneurial individuals that make Wilton such a wonderful place to live.
Ralph & Jamie Walker
“This dynamic duo has been volunteering tirelessly for decades in Wilton across many fronts,” says nominator Margie Holcombe. The couple volunteers multiple times a month for Habitat for Humanity and are deeply involved at St. Matthew’s Church. For years they oversaw major programs at the schools including the WHS Track concessions, Parent’s Soccer Organization, and the WHS Theater Program. Jamie also serves as an “Executive on Loan” for the non-profit National Executive Services Corporation, which helps provide guidance to small businesses.
Not many people can claim to have worked for the fashion houses of Dior, St. Laurent, and Ralph Lauren. In addition, Phillips, is acouture designer who has had her collections featured by Henri Bendel, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue. She also creates fashion-inspired charcoal and pastel illustrations and is a talented botanical photographer.
Whether she’s dazzling local audiences with her performance as Sally Bowles in Cabaret or Velma Kelly in Chicago, this multi-talented Wilton High School senior is a true triple threat—she sings, acts, and dances and makes it all look effortless. Look for Scamuffo in the upcoming Wilton Playshop production of How to Succeed in Business.
In addition to being Chairman of the Wilton Youth Council, Elias is also a trained volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI) Child and Adolescent Network Support Group that focuses on solutions and support for children with behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues, and their families.
If there’s a group in Wilton with a goal to do good, chances are that local business owner, Phil Lauria is a committee member and doing everything he can to make it a success. Lauria serves as the Vice Chair of the Wilton Social Services Commission and is on the Financial Aide/Scholarhisp Selection Committee for Our Lady of Fatima School where he also serves as a Eucharistic Minister. He is a committee member of the Wilton Historical Society and chair of the Wilton Economic Development Committee. A ubiquitous presence in town, Lauria is unfailingly cheerful and always looking for positive solutions to real problems.
This British born, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist is also a children’s book author and illustrator who has made Wilton his home for over adecade. With his stylized drawings and satirical wit, Davies takes expert aim and cleverly skewers his political targets.
When Dugan went to the town dump 25 years ago, she was dismayed to see so many good pieces of furniture being tossed away. A light bulb went off and soon, she launched an eponymous non-profit designed to collect donated furniture, clothing, toys, and household effects from people’s homes. Dugan passes all these found treasures on to those in need through the Open Door shelter in Norwalk.
Catherine Tell Romer
Not only does she always smell good from making a variety of natural soaps, lotions, and potions, at her Wilton Town Center shop, Nod Hill Soap, but Romer is always doing good for others and generously supports the fine and performing arts, historic preservation, and community improvement. Romer routinely donates time, resources, and products to a wealth of organizations around town including the Wilton Historical Society, the Wilton Library, and Jazz in The Garden to name just a few.
Owner and teacher at the Conservatory of Dance on Old River Road, Titus is also a judge for national dance competitions and a fitness expert. She shares her love of dance with kids and adults of all ages, offering classes in ballet, hip hop, jazz, tap, and more. She also donates her time as a Board Member for the Wilton Playshop and is in charge of fundraising and development.
You know the expression, “She’s good people”? Well that applies in spades to Susan Graybill. This talented English teacher taught full time in Wilton Schools for decades, and now tutors middle school and high school students who are struggling academically. With her southern lilt and trademark sense of humor, Graybill puts in hours of extra time and effort to help her students thrive and succeed in their course work.
Nominator Jeanne Robertson is a big fan of Cameron Berg. “He is an outstanding Junior at Wilton High School who serves as Class President, is on the debate team, plays Varsity Soccer, and has written to the papers and the administration on policy and current event issues of concern for students at the HS.” His life goal? To become POTUS. We’re all watching Cameron!
Catherine Fraise Frustrated with the cookie-cutter nature of the current school system that works for some, but not all students, Fraise created Workspace Education,an innovative 21st century non-profit education model for middle and high school students. Children choose an academic path suited to them and get exposure to industry experts, professionals, and educators who help them achieve their academic and professional goals. Nominator (and daughter), Claire Fraise—a 2016 Wilton 25 honoree—says, “At Workspace, students can discover who they are, find their voice, unleash their passions, get mad skills, and contribute meaningfully to the world.”
Everyone in Wilton knows Jon Ellenthal from his highly entertaining stints as an auctioneer for virtually every charitable organization in town, but what you may not know is that he is also president of TEDMED, the health-and-medicine edition of the world-famous TED conference. Hilarious, smart, and making a difference. Who could ask for more?
Generous to her very core, Greenshields is an indefatigable and highly effective volunteer for the Family and Children’s Agency (FCA), where she has served on the board for the past nine years. In addition, and not for the faint of heart, Greenshields and her husband Simon have frequently hosted gala benefits both for FCA and A Better Chance at their beautiful home.
Senneff has been singing and performing his entire life. From his early days teaching himself to sing and dance to Michael Jackson videos on YouTube, to his year-long tour of schools in the anti-bullying musical The New Kid, to his moxie in auditioning for “The Voice,” “American Idol,” and “America’s Got Talent,” this musical wunderkind can’t help but impress. Now a vocal soloist for Black Tie Affair and the a cappella group Unlike the Rest, Seneff’s star continues to ascend.
Heather Priest Private Chef, “Chopped” competitor, Culinary Arts Teacher extraordinaire—Heather Priest has worn a lot of chef toques in her day. But we particularly love that shewas named “Outstanding Green Teacher” by Wilton Go Green for her efforts to create and maintain an organic garden at Middlebrook and to teach young students about healthy eating and sustainability.
Christine, Brian, Kyle, Sean & Zach Dedrick
The Dedrick family started TOP Soccer, a community based program “that provides meaningful learning, development, and physical participation opportunities for young athletes with disabilities.” Everyone is welcome regardless of their skill level or ability and are paired with a soccer buddy on the field. Nominator Laurie Collins says, “This program has had positive effects on so many people in countless number of ways—the players, the buddies, and their families.”
Gregory, a Julliard graduate, is the President of the of the highly successful Wilton Candlelight Concert series held at the Wilton Congregational Church. The series will soon begin its 70th season and amazingly, Gregory has been personally involved for all seven decades. Brava!
“Ellen Lewis is an inspiration not only to her family and friends, but also to the entire Wilton Community,” says nominator, Wilton Police Chief John Lynch. Over the years, Lewis has volunteered for the Wilton High School tennis team, the Wilton Youth Football team, Wilton Boy Scout Troop 125, Norwalk Food Pantry, Habitat for Humanity, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County. She has also taken her volunteerism abroad, working at an orphanage in Sao Paolo, at a senior center in Costa Rica, and on a Native American reservation in North Dakota.
Marie-Antoinette Boot & Henry Boot
When Marie-Antoinette Boot learned that one in four Ugandan children die from drinking contaminated water,she wanted to do something about it. After raising money with husband Dirk, to build a well in the village of Nabweye, Boot and her son, Henry, travelled to Uganda to celebrate the opening. The brought over 200 donated soccer uniforms collected by Henry and also distributed pencils and notebooks to each of the 700 children in the village.
In addition to her other duties as President of the Wilton Garden Club, Kuntson also oversees the massive annual Plant Sale held on Mother’s Day weekend. In addition she lends her time, talent, and expertise as a landscape designer to several beautification projects around Wilton including helping to improve the area around Schenck’s Island. “Suzanne has only one lung and works as though she has three!” enthuses nominator Tamara Kalin.
Don’t mess with Emily Fields. This 14-year-old Wooster freshman is also a black belt who has taken home Gold at the USA Tae kwon do National Championship not once, not twice, but an impressive three times. The speed and force with which she can break multiple boards with both her hands and feet is truly dazzling. Perhaps a fourth Gold, Emily?
Rubinstein, a former field medic, professor, and NYC psychiatrist is also an award-winning author of The Lovers’ Tango which beat out over 1400 other books to win the gold medal in the popular fiction category at the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Book Awards. Author of five novels, Rubinstein’s latest effort is a non-fiction medical/psychiatric memoir, Beyond Bedlam’s Door: True Tales from the Couch and Courtroom.
“I can’t overstate the meaningful contributions that Elliot made to the music community at Wilton High School,”says nominator Anna MacDonald. “From leading his peers and mentoring younger talent, to playing an instrumental role in establishing the new recording studio at the high school, Eliot has been a musical tour-de-force in Wilton. And now, he continues to develop his gifts and talent within the music community at Yale.”
Paganelli is an artist, textile designer, and entrepreneur who created Sis Boom, an online web site that showcases her whimsical fabrics as well as pillows, totes, home accessories, and patterns. With textile names like Super Fly, Crazy Love, Poodle, and So St. Croix, you can’t help but smile. She is also the author of the book, Happy Home.