Editorial: Eight Bells

Flags-editorial-3-11-FIThere is a tradition at Indian Harbor Yacht Club that we find comforting. When a member passes away a simple notice is posted under the words “Eight Bells” with the person’s name and the dates of their birth and death, and a dash in between. In the navy, they tell time differently than we do on shore. Bells are struck to designate the hours of being on “watch” or working. A bell is struck after the first half-hour has passed, two bells after one hour has passed, three bells after an hour and a half, and so forth up to the completion of a watch, which was four hours or eight bells. The practice of using bells came about because sailors could not afford their own timepieces and so the ringing of the bell informed the entire ship what time it was. When eight bells is struck, a person’s watch is over.

Everybody dies and every death is meaningful. It seems though we have lost some pillars in our community recently. Coming so quickly upon one another it caused us to wonder how their passing might affect our community and how we will fill that void.

The first to catch us by surprise was Kenneth Hopson. Ken was a tall man both in height and in character. Just 58 when he passed, he was well known throughout town for his generosity and love of life. He had a very accomplished career in corporate finance and he was grounded. He taught Sunday school at Christ Church and was the church’s Treasurer. Ken was a family man who is survived by his loving wife and young daughters. He had a passion for the sea and was a sailor. By no means was Ken slowing down; in fact you had the sense that his trajectory was continuing to rise quickly and that the possibilities of what he could accomplish were not fully realized. He will be missed.

The second was Harry Keleshian. A first-generation American and the son of an Armenian genocide survivor, he loved Greenwich deeply. Harry and his beloved wife, Edna, were a “real ‘Mom and Pop’ team—they did everything together,” according to their daughter, Alyssa Keleshian Bonomo. Together they had a real entrepreneurial spirit. They started small, with a card shop on the Avenue. They did it again and again, building one business after another. Soon Harry began purchasing the buildings that housed his businesses, and he became a successful property owner and real estate developer. He was kind in both endeavors. He could be tough, but he was also compassionate and supportive of others, igniting and fanning their entrepreneurial spirit. Many successful local businesses owe a token of gratitude to Harry. He will be missed.

And then there was Barry Nova. Most recently working for the YWCA, Barry had a long, successful career in communications and a love of politics. Barry was an old-school liberal in the best sense. He never tired of promoting and defending Democratic ideals. He worked on several presidential campaigns and was very involved locally with the Democratic Town Committee, including serving as its chairman. At Barry’s core, he was a gentleman. He would tell stories that would make you laugh. Barry was funny. He wanted you to be comfortable and would use language masterfully to put you at ease. His enthusiasm and passion for the YWCA were infectious, and would draw others to become involved. He and his wife, Susan, were married for 56 years, a milestone not often achieved these days. He will be missed.

Space here does not allow us to list all of the good these gentlemen have done, but each impacted our community greatly. We wonder who will step up to take upon themselves this mantle that these three gentlemen, and so many others, have hoisted for the betterment of our town. We have said it before: each of us matters to our community. It is often the quiet, unspoken ones that have the greatest impact. Eight bells: Ken, Harry, Barry. Your watch is over. You will be missed.

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