Ed Went leaves a legacy of community spirit
Published 3:19 pm, Thursday, August 20, 2015
Edward Went dedicated more than more than five decades to serving the community of Roxbury.
The former first selectman offered his time and efforts in various ways to help shape the town into what it is today.
Went died Aug. 3 at the age of 90.
In days after his passing, family and friends were high in praise of the town’s beloved former chief executive.
“I don’t think there is anything he did not do for the town of Roxbury,” said Peter Hurlbut, the longtime town clerk.
Went served as a selectman from the late 1950s until a few years before he became the first selectman, a position he held from 1985 to 1997.
He was also the town treasurer, served on the zoning board, senior housing board and the Region 12 Board of Education.
Went coached youth baseball and was an active member in his church, according to his obituary.
“To us kids, he was always involved in the community and church,” said Bev (Went) Weaving, the middle of three daughters, “so it was all we knew.”
“We ate dinner together every night,” she added, “and off to a meeting was the norm in our household.”
Went’s youngest daughter, Diane (Went) Bigelow, also has fond memories of her dad and their family.
“With all the reminiscing, I can’t help but see my father and Mom (the late Norma Went) as Team Roxbury,” she said. “Fairness, face to face interactions, checking in with workers at every level; treating each person they met with dignity.”
“He was a standup guy in the community,” Hurlbut agreed, and well respected.
Went was one of the town’s first emergency medical technicians and a life member of the Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department, serving as chief for eight years.
Hurlbut said he knew Went and his family well. Hurlbut was a member of the fire department and his mother was good friends with Went’s late wife, Norma. Hurlbut said he also grew up with the Wents’ son, Danny.
“I couldn’t ask for a better association,” Hurlbut said, “than the one I had with Ed Went.”
Hurlbut served with Went on the Board of Selectmen for two terms. He described his fellow selectman as a constant gentleman, even when he lost an election for first selectman.
Hurlbut’s first 15 years as town clerk were served under Went’s leadership. In that context, he described Went as the “consummate administrator.”
Went had a strong financial background, which Hurlburt said carried over to how he guided the town. He said there are many things Went did during his administration that influenced how the town operates today.
Hurlbut remembers Went brought the long-debated town hall project to the Board of Selectmen.
About nine committees had been established over the years to design a new town hall, replacing the old building, which had been in operation since the late 1800s.
When Went presented it to the selectmen, the current building was soon designed and adopted.
“Ed was certainly the one who laid the foundation,“ Hurlbut said.
Went’s daughters are among those who best remember Ed Went.
“We’d be sitting in church as kids,” Bev Weaving recalled, “and the siren went off, and off we’d go.”
“We were incredibly lucky to have Dad as long as we did,” she reflected. “None of us will ever be able to wear his shoes, but we all do try to do our part as we are very proud to call him Dad.”
Diane Bigelow echoes her sister’s sentiments.
“Dad was everything I would want my own children to be,” she said, “kind, moral, fair, giver of time and talent, and having a sense of place within the community and dedication to the family.”
Went was born Nov. 29, 1924 in New Milford. He graduated from New Milford High School in 1941 and attended classes at Danbury State Teachers College (later Western Connecticut State University) before serving in the United States Navy during World War II.
He worked for the Southern New England Telephone Company for 35 years as a construction manager before his 1982 retirement.
A funeral service was held Aug. 10 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Washington Depot.
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