Letter: A tribute to Dolly Wittman

Dolly Wittman
Dolly Wittman

To the Editor:

The Ridgefield Garden Club would like to pay tribute to Emeline Starr Wittman, whom we knew as Dolly, for her decades of service to Ridgefield. Dolly died in October at age 90. Dolly spent most of her life in Ridgefield and was an active member of the Ridgefield Garden Club for over 60 years. She was a driving force in the restoration and use of the 1906 Lord & Burnham greenhouse in Ballard Park and was an early organizer and longtime volunteer at the plant sales still held there every Mother’s Day weekend since 1970. In 1976, Dolly was a leader in the restoration of Mrs. Ballard’s 1920’s perennial garden as a U.S. Bicentennial gift to the town and for decades volunteered weekly in the garden. Dolly led maintenance of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse and conducted tours there for schoolchildren and the general public. She led efforts to plant flowers, shrubs, and trees at the Schoolhouse, in Ballard Park and along Main Street. She organized gardening workshops and annual flower shows throughout town for the enjoyment of the public.

Dolly was a third generation president of our club. Her grandmother, Lucy Moffitt Lynch, helped to found the club in 1914. Her mother, Emeline Starr Lynch, was also a longstanding member. Dolly’s death ends over 104 years of continuous civic service to the town by these remarkable women. Like so many of their time, they were also founding members and longtime leaders of other town organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield, Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, Land Conservancy of Ridgefield, and many others.

Dolly was a lovely, generous, welcoming person with a warm smile. She holds a very special place in the history of the Ridgefield Garden Club and we will miss her. We extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Dolly’s children, brother, sister-in-law and grandchildren. Dolly’s memorial service will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 21, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Main Street.

Terry McManus

Ridgefield Garden Club historian and archivist