12 members of Connecticut’s Jewish community are among Connecticut’s “60 over 60”
BLOOMFIELD – Every year, Connecticut Magazine celebrates 40 state residents who are all under the age of 40 and deemed to be “up and comers” in a variety of fields. The magazine’s list – dubbed appropriately, “40 under 40” – is not the only one to celebrate the accomplishments of younger generations. The Hartford Business Journal does the same, and the magazines Forbes and Inc. each run similar lists for the “30 under 30” crowd; not to be outdone by New York’s Jewish Week, which calls its list, predictably, “36 under 36.”
And that’s just a sampling of the well-deserved recognition continually heaped upon today’s young movers and shakers.
But, hey, what about those for whom middle age falls under the heading of “remember when?” Why are the ongoing accomplishments of the over-60 crowd going unnoticed?
“We’ve all heard of 40 Under 40 awards that highlight the successes of this group of people. We thought it was high time to recognize the ongoing inspiration and achievement of those 60 or better,” says Carol Ann McCormick, Duncaster’s vice president of sales and marketing at Duncaster, a senior adult community located in Bloomfield and offering both independent and assisted living options, plus other services for seniors.
And so, this year Duncaster introduced the “60 over 60” awards, given in recognition of Greater Hartford residents age 60 and up who continue to impact their community as well as the world beyond. The 60 honorees – including 12 members of the Greater Hartford Jewish community – received their awards at a reception held recently at Duncaster and attended by more than 250 guests.
According to Duncaster CEO Michael O’Brien, “They included those who dedicated their lives to public service, authors, artists, poets, volunteers, caregivers, healthcare professionals and executives with some of the state’s most influential institutions. They are pioneers and change-makers. They broke rules. They made new ones. They did things first and they kick-started change. They made history and they honored it.”
Nominated by colleagues, family and friends, the “60 over 60” recipients come from 25 towns in the Greater Hartford area.
Here is a look at members of the Jewish community who are recipients of the “60 over 60” awards:
David A. Baram – Bloomfield
“Champion of Rights”
A member of the Connecticut State House of Representatives for the 15th District since 2009, David Baram is currently the legislature’s chair of General Law and serves on the Judiciary Committee and Banking Committee. He was also appointed to the Speaker’s Committee on Domestic Violence and the Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies. The managing member of Baram, Tapper & Gans, LLC, a Bloomfield law firm, he previously served as mayor of Bloomfield (1983-1989), chairman of the Capitol Region Council of Governments (1987-1989), and president of the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce (1997-1998).
An involved member of the Jewish community, he currently serves as a board member of the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford; the Mandell Jewish Community Center; Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford; the Anti-Defamation League of the Hartford region, and an honorary board member of Federation Homes. He is also a director of SummerWind Performing Arts Center in Windsor.
Irene Levin Berman – Bloomfield
“Witness to History”
Hitler’s invasion of Norway in 1940 and the subsequent persecution of the country’s 2,000 Jews was a little known story until author Irene Levin Berman decided to tell it in her two books, Norway Wasn’t Too Small and “We Are Going to Pick Potatoes” – Norway and the Holocaust: The Untold Story, a memoir endorsed by the late Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel that tells the story of her life under Nazi rule and her family’s escape in 1942 to neutral Sweden. Seven members of Berman’s family were among the 771 Norwegian Jews deported and sent to Auschwitz.
Berman has worked as a translator of Scandinavian languages for more than 25 years. She has combined her strong affinity for Norway and Norwegian culture with her American experiences, and has translated six of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s plays into English, in collaboration with an American author and actor.
Howard Steven Frydman – Bloomfield
“Bloomfield’s Goodwill Ambassador”
For the past 29 years, Howard Frydman has served as general manager of Bloomfield Access Television (BATV) – as well as the town’s most visible cheerleader. The current secretary of the Bloomfield Board of Education, he previously served the town as selectman, first selectman, registrar of voters, justice of the peace, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Bloomfield Library. He also serves on the Board of Directors of BATV, Bloomfield Continuing Education, Bloomfield Federation Homes. He was a founding member of the Bloomfield Winterfest/Light Up The Town holiday event. Frydman’s theater and food reviews have been syndicated in several newspapers including Bradley International Airport’s The Airport News, North Central News, Connecticut Business Journal, and Bloomfield Messenger, where he serves as the paper’s “Art Critic at Large.” Among his many honors, Frydman is a past recipient of the Connecticut “Hometown Hero” Award, Connecticut Jaycee Outstanding Citizen Award and the National Army Citizen Service Award.
Billie M. Levy – West Hartford
“Children’s Book Advocate”
By 1989, Billie Levy’s collection of books had become so extensive that she decided to trim it by donating 8,000 volumes of work to the University of Connecticut. Housed at the Dodd Research Center on the university’s Storrs campus, the Billie M. Levy Literature Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books has since grown to more than 15,000 books.
Over the past 30 years, Levy has led a host of initiatives that celebrate children’s literature. The founder of the annual Connecticut Children’s Book Fair and of the American Book Collectors of Children’s Literature, Levy continues to participate in conferences, examine private book collections, and interview authors and illustrators. Often on these travels, she returns with a commitment from these authors and illustrators to deposit their archives to the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.
Heidi (Puklin) Parlato – Northford
Heidi Parlato’s focus on “end-of-life” issues officially began in 2007 when she completed the introductory volunteer course and training at The Connecticut Hospice in Branford. She had owned an antique shop for 22 years but shifted gears after her husband, Vincent, died of cancer in 2004. “He had really good care, and the people in oncology at Yale were our saving grace,” she says. “The staff managed to help us find joy [during] an unbearable time.”
After her initial hospice training, Parlato was assigned to the Patient Assistance department, where she worked directly with patients and families. She next became certified as a bereavement support counselor and still facilitates groups that help survivors cope with their losses. Parlato’s interest in the end-of-life journey and society’s treatment of those who are dying or are elderly led her to earn a certificate in bioethics from Yale University. Today, she is a teaching volunteer at the Sherwin B. Nuland Institute for Bioethics. She has also attained certification as an End-of-Life Doula, a new field.
Parlato’s interests extend beyond coping with life’s final journey. She also volunteers with the Anti-Defamation League and with the Smilow Cancer Hospital’s “Discovery for the Cure” fundraising efforts. She served on the original planning committee of “Food 4 Kids” New Haven, a group that provides backpacks of food to schoolchildren who may not have enough to eat at home on the weekends.
Roberta Prescott – West Hartford
“Setting the Bar High for Female Entrepreneurs”
A national authority on communication, Prescott was honored by the Hartford Business Journal as one of its eight “Remarkable Women in Business.” She is a former chairman of the board of the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau, and has served or serves on the boards of St. Francis Hospital, TheaterWorks, Metro Hartford Chamber of Commerce, and Teykio Post University. A guest lecturer at the Women’s Campaign School at Yale Law School, she is a former adjunct marketing professor at the University of Hartford.
She has been quoted in The New York Times, the Hartford Courant, and other publications, and is a frequent guest speaker for groups such as the National Foundation of Women Legislators, the Law Firm Marketing Association, the American Society for Training and Development, and the International Association of Business Communicators.
Bernie Siegel – New Haven
“All You Need is Love”
A physician who prefers to be called “Bernie” rather than “Dr. Siegel,” Bernie Siegel has spent his life exploring and advocating the role of love, humor and a positive attitude in treating illness. Quite simply, he believes that “love heals.” He maintains that an optimistic outlook and the ability to tap into one’s spirituality works in tandem with traditional medicine’s approach to managing an illness. Using patients’ anecdotes, Siegel lays out his philosophy in his first book, Love, Medicine & Miracles. The mind-body connection also inspired him to found Exceptional Cancer Patients, a support organization open to patients with cancer and other serious illnesses.
In some respect, Bernie is busier than ever, nearly 30 years following his 1989 retirement from Yale University where he had a medical practice and served as assistant clinical professor of general and pediatric surgery. He and his wife, Bobbie, have five children and eight grandchildren and a house full of pets. (He has a weakness for rescuing needy animals.) He continues to write books, host two radio shows and facilitates a cancer support group that meets twice a month in Woodbridge. In addition, he is also fulltime caregiver for Bobbie, who has Muscular Sclerosis.
His message is always about love, often telling patients who successfully battle disease that they are strong because their parents loved them. Individuals who grew up with loving parents are stronger, both physically and mentally, he says.
He inspires himself and others with a simple goal, stated on his web site: “I believe that we are here to contribute love to the planet – each of us in our own way.”
Laura Soll-Broxterman – Windsor
“Bridge-Builder and Community Champion”
Over the years, Laura has been active in Windsor’s Congregation Beth Ahm, and has done work for the Greater Hartford Arts Council, Bloomfield’s International Drum Festival, and served on the board of the Connecticut Veterans Memorial organization.
Founder of Laura Soll Public Relations, LLC, she has more than 25 years experience as a public relations and event management specialist. She was honored for her publicity work on behalf of the Connecticut Veterans Day Parade and the National Paralysis Association’s “Rise to the Occasion” fundraiser with the late actor/director Christopher Reeve, and for the creation and promotion of the Bloomfield Drum & Music Festival. Laura’s dedication to the Channel 3 Kids Camp earned her the 2011 Women Raising Awareness Philanthropically (WRAP) Award, and the Camp’s Outstanding Board Member honors. She is a founder of Citizens for a United Windsor, which promotes racial, ethnic and religious understanding, and received the organization’s Windsor Bridge-Builders Award along with her husband, Paul Broxterman.
Joan Walden – West Hartford
“A Woman for All Seasons”
True enough. But it hardly tells the story of Joan Walden (and her multifarious incarnations).
A member of the faculty of Central Connecticut State University and a teacher at Tunxis Community College, Walden founded and ran one of Hartford’s premier event management firms for over 20 years, before she began her career in academia. In 2014, Joan took on another responsibility as president of the West Hartford chapter of Toastmasters International, an organization helps people who want to improve their presentation and leadership skills. Along the way, Walden wrote for the Hartford Courant and edited two anthologies for the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford.
In her spare time, Walden heads up Congregation Kehilat Chaverim, an unaffiliated Jewish “community of friends,” of which she is also founding member.
Edith Whitman – Avon
“Finding Comfort in the midst of Crisis”
Edith Whitman’s mission might be described in one word: comfort. When hospitals around the country look to comfort and support families with premature babies in their neonatal intensive care units (NICU), they often turn to the interior designs Whitman provides for Caroline’s Rooms, an organization that provides hospitals with a safe haven within the NICU where parents meet in privacy with their child’s caregivers, plot strategies, and deal with outcomes. Here, in the midst of crisis and struggle, families find comfort, peace, and a sense of home. Whitman, who heads up the Avon-based firm Edith Whitman Interiors, creates rooms that exude the feeling of a safe and protected place.
Anne (Tulin) Williamson – Bloomfield
“A Healing Touch”
Anne Williamson’s life is a testimony to the power of touch and love. A certified Reiki practitioner, she volunteers her skills in this Japanese stress reduction and healing therapy to those who are ailing and terminally ill as a way to promote relaxation and peace. Williamson is also a volunteer in the Hartford area school system, working with children with special needs, and helping with the Hartford Dental Smile Mobile Program, which brings oral health education into elementary school classrooms.
Ira Yellen – Glastonbury
A serial entrepreneur, Ira Yellen has spent his life seeing a need and filling it. His latest venture offers family caregivers online searches to find and match their specific home care needs with a home care agency. The company emanated from his struggle to caregiver screening options for his mother, together with the business expertise he developed running his marketing agency, First Experience Communications, a company that provides strategic skills to create integrated marketing communications plans and e-commerce and interactive multimedia projects.
Yellin is also a board member of the Connecticut Technology Council, Leadership Greater Hartford and the MIT Enterprise Forum. He has mentored dozens of MassChallenge finalists, and many start-up companies including, most recently, the Yale Entrepreneurial Society, Start-Up Weekends, and Connecticut Innovations CTech Incubators at Science Park in New Haven. He is currently part of a steering committee tasked with creating an entrepreneurial and innovation center in Central Connecticut with the help of MassChallenge.