Growing Up Greenwıch

The Power Couple

Lisa Hull Weicker and Scot Weicker

Having known each other since before they were teenagers—and now married for more than thirty years with three adult children and one grandchild—Scot and Lisa Weicker have many shared memories. The two grew up in backcountry, and lived less than two miles from each other near Round Hill Road. Still, they didn’t go on their first official date until Scot was nineteen and Lisa was eighteen, and they were both at the University of Richmond. “I was a huge fan of the Marshall Tucker band, so I took her to a concert in Williamsburg, Virginia,” Scot says. It was 1978 and they both were of legal drinking age in Virginia, so Scot whipped up homemade cocktails for them beforehand. “But I ended up spilling a drink all over my lap,” he remembers. “Despite the mishap, we enjoyed every moment of that date.”

Growing up, their lives were filled with many happy moments. As kids, they would often ride bikes with their friends to Strain’s (a.k.a. The Round Hill Store) to spend their allowance on penny candy and shared the long bus ride to Greenwich Country Day School. “If we were really lucky, our parents would let us ride our bikes down to school,” says Lisa. “And hopefully you’d get mom to pick you up and throw your bike in the station wagon because it was all uphill on the way home!”

Community played a large role in both their families, especially Scot’s, whose father, Lowell, was a First Selectman of Greenwich in the ’60s before going on to become a United States senator and later governor of Connecticut. “He really got his political feet here,” says Scot, who remembers holding up signs for his father’s campaign. “I even still have some Weicker Liker buttons!” says Lisa. After graduating from the University of Richmond a year apart, they got married at the Round Hill Church in Greenwich. From there, they hit the road a bit.

“I was with Connecticut National Bank for twelve years, and we lived in Stonington, Mystic, Old Saybrook, New London, Hartford and then Stamford,” says Scot. “We really got to know the state of Connecticut,” jokes Lisa. Along the way, they had three children, Amanda, who is now thirty years old; Melissa, twenty-six; and Matthew, twenty-one. When they returned to Greenwich in 1990, Lisa enrolled her oldest daughter, Amanda, in kindergarten at the North Street School. “I went into the office and saw the same secretary, Viola Belmont, who was at the Parkway School when I was a kid,” she says. “She took one look at me and said, ‘Well, Lisa Hull!’ And I went, ‘Miss Belmont!’ And she said, ‘You can call me Viola now!’”

Philanthropy soon became a focus for both Scot and Lisa. “I’d always been involved in events, chairing a number of charitable groups,” explains Scot. After eighteen years at UST, in 2009 he started his own business, SBW Events Group, and has planned the annual Greenwich Town Party since its inception in 2010. “It started off huge,” says Scot. “We reached 5,000 people with the first party, and Ray Dalio really has a vision to make this into a Greenwich town party for as many residents as possible.” While Scot is often busy executing the event, he does get an occasional perk. “I remember the year James Taylor played, and I was working in the park on Friday night and heard his voice in the background. I thought someone had put on a Sweet Baby James album to test the sound system, but no, it was actually him singing. And his voice sounded as good during that rehearsal as it did when he made that album.”

The couple are also active members of the Greenwich Point Conservancy board, which was created by their childhood friend, Christopher Franko and his wife, Rachel. “Preserving the history of the Point is so important. We all have memories of growing up around the Point: You’d pack a brown bag lunch, your mom would take you down to the beach for the day, you’d play in the tide pools at low tide, and get a treat on the way home,” says Lisa. To date, the organization has restored the Innis Arden Cottage and plans to preserve and expand the concession stand at Tod’s Point Beach, which once served as a barn.

Despite their busy lives—in addition to helping Scot’s business, Lisa is also a realtor with Sotheby’s—the two find time to reconnect every day, and celebrate their anniversary with the same tradition every year. “We take our little whaler out to Great Captain’s Island, just the two of us,” says Lisa. “We usually chat with the fellow who works there, and have a picnic.” If it sounds idyllic, it is. “Sometimes people grow up thinking they’ll never return to their hometown,” says Scot. “We’ve have had many wonderful stops along the way, but the path always leads back to Greenwich—and that’s the best we could have hoped for.”


The Sisters

Alison Farn-Leigh and Kendra Farn-Finz

Most sisters share a close bond. For Alison and Kendra Farn it’s a really close bond since they live only a house apart from each other in Old Greenwich. Kendra recently moved into an English Manor house on Sylvan Lane with her husband and their two daughters, Paulina, age ten, and Garyn, age eight, from their previous home on Lockwood Avenue. It’s just a one-minute walk from Alison’s place, where she lives with her husband and three children, Jillian, age twenty, and twins Georgia and Grace, age fifteen. Still in the process of unpacking boxes and settling in, Kendra jokes: “Last week, our microwave wasn’t set up yet, so one of my daughters went over to Alison’s to heat up leftovers.”

Both sisters were raised in a household where it was common to display such little acts of kindness to neighbors, even those you weren’t related to. The Farns moved from the Midwest to Greenwich in 1968, when Alison was four years old and Kendra was two years old, after their father, Gary, was transferred east for work. Their first house was on Rainbow Drive, near North Mianus School. They instantly took a liking to the area. “Everyone played in each other’s yards until the dinner bell rang, and the moms would just drop their kids off next door when they needed to do grocery shopping,” says Alison.

Alison and Kendra soon became Greenwich history buffs, thanks to their mom, Carol. “Before we were born, she was an elementary school teacher, so she had this passion for learning and teaching us,” says Alison. Their mom was particularly active with the Greenwich Historical Society. “She lead the tours around town,” says Kendra. “So of course, we had to ride in the trolley in matching dresses with the calico prints and little hats. I actually still have those outfits—they’re now in the dress-up bin for my daughters.” The Bush-Holley House was another special landmark. “Our mother was very involved with it, to the point where we had our sixteenth birthday parties there,” says Alison, slightly cringing at the adolescent recollection. “You’re trying to be so cool at that age, and that was definitely not cool. Also, she sent out invitations that said, ‘Sweet 16 and Never Been Kissed,’ which was of course true in my case, and it made it even worse!”

Still, anything Alison did was pretty much always cool in her younger sister’s eyes. “Everything she did, I had to do it, too,” Kendra says, laughing. This even extended to college, as both sisters went to Vanderbilt. Yet after graduation, their careers took them in different directions: Kendra went into broadcast journalism, while Alison worked in fashion and later headed up the family business, Gary Farn Ltd, an international cosmetic distribution company. When both were married with families of their own, they moved back to Greenwich: Alison in 1990 and Kendra in 1998. Alison now works in real estate and Kendra runs her own video production company.

Sadly, both of their parents passed away early in their lives: Gary from a rare brain tumor in 2000 when he was just sixty-five, and Carol from Alzheimer’s in 2010 at the age of seventy-three, which only strengthened Alison and Kendra’s resolve to stay close to each other and their friends in town. In fact, they still see the same hairdresser their mother went to from the time they moved into town, David Chiappetta, of David Hair Care & Color on Church Street. “He did all of our hair growing up, even our fathers, and he’s now doing our children’s hair,” says Alison. “He’s part of the family,” says Kendra, adding that he attends all their holidays and important get-togethers. Now, as busy mothers with lots of daughters in tow, Alison and Kendra carry on many traditions from their childhood, with a few twists. “We always do birthday dinners,” says Kendra. “Not at the Bush-Holley House, but at the dining room table.”


The Best Friends

Amanda Carnell Petz and Frederica Peluso McGannon

Like many friends that have known each other for decades, Amanda Petz and Frederica McGannon can’t say exactly when they first met—they’ve just always been in the same orbit. Frederica, a third-generation Greenwich resident, grew up in mid-country while Amanda was raised in Lucas Point. “I think we first hung out at the Underground,” says Frederica of the teen dance club held in the Greenwich YMCA during their youth. “Yes, and the band, The Orphans, played almost every weekend,” says Amanda. “Everyone was in love with those guys,” says Frederica laughing.

But the duo clearly remembers when they truly clicked: It was during their freshman year at Greenwich Academy. “We both were in dance club,” says Amanda. The shared interest in dance bonded the two over the years and neither will forget their senior year performance, which seemed profound to the teens at the time. It’s now a  memory they chuckle over. “It was a duet to Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” and a tribute to each other and our friendship,” says Frederica. “I think it’s what you’d call lyrical…” says Amanda. To which Frederica teases, “Lyrical? I think you’re watching too many episodes of Dancing With the Stars.”

There’s little these friends don’t know about each other since they’ve been close confidants for years. “I think going to an all-girls school was the best of both worlds. We had Brunswick across the way, but we started our days with just the girls, which encouraged and supported making friendships,” says Frederica. “And we spent a lot of time talking it all over at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Cos Cob,” says Amanda. “It was like our therapy.” Other conversations came with a side of comfort food; they still rave about the french fries served with melted cheese at Country Squire (now the Cos Cobber), the pizza at DaVinci’s (now TD Bank) and “their usual” orders of cheeseburgers and French onion soup at Chopping Block (now Mediterraneo). “Afterward we’d wander the Avenue, and then call our parents from the pay phone to come pick us up,” says Frederica.

At college time, both applied to Denison University in Ohio, and almost went together. Ultimately only Amanda decided to go while Frederica headed north to Boston College. Eight years after graduation, with a family of her own, Amanda moved back to Greenwich from Chicago and took a job as a print production artist at Design Within Reach. Meanwhile, Frederica had moved back to town after completing her masters in teaching in 1996 and took a job at Glenville School where she worked for more than five years, until she had her own children. Despite the geographical distance and different career directions, the two kept in touch with letters and phone chats. “I actually found all these letters you wrote me in college,” Frederica tells Amanda. “You wrote me pages and pages about what was going on, and our friendship—it was really sweet.”

Now as best friends living in the same Old Greenwich ZIP code, the two still “talk it all over,” with frequent girls’-nights-in. “Usually we’re more than happy to order pizza and a  salad and drink wine at each other’s houses,” says Amanda. They might even be raising a new generation of best friends. “Over the summer, our kids were together at the Lucas Point beach near my parents’ house. They were all sitting on the beach wall, so immersed in conversation,” says Amanda. “Frederica and I looked at each other and said, ‘What do you think they are talking about?’ They looked just like us!”


The Town Sweethearts

Ashley Callahan Carr and Zino Carr

Everyone has a teenage crush they never really forget—Ashley Callahan ended up marrying hers twelve years after graduation. Six years apart in age, Ashley would often see Zino (ZJ) Carr hanging out with her older sister’s friends. He was from central Greenwich while she lived in Cos Cob. “But he never noticed me,” says Ashley laughing. It wasn’t until after college when they both moved back to Greenwich and settled into their careers—Ashley at a private equity firm and ZJ at an automotive parts distribution company—that they struck up a friendship that soon took a romantic turn.

Their first date was at MacDuff’s on Railroad Avenue. “Well, it was more like a hang-out that turned into a date,” remembers ZJ. On that night, and subsequent dates, conversation often steered back to the activities they grew up doing around town. “Even though we were in different age groups, we both spent a lot
of time at Tod’s Point as kids,” says ZJ. While dating, they also had time to bond on long walks. “We’ve each had dogs all through this relationship, and we’d take them to the beach or the trails around River Park,” ZJ says. Bruce Park Grill soon became their go-to spot. “It’s a total dive bar. But it’s cool because my grandfather used to eat pizza and play shuffleboard there back in the day,” Ashley notes.

After nearly seven years of dating, ZJ popped the question in December of 2012. “I had planned to take Ashley to see The Book of Mormon for an early Christmas present, but it was really a ruse to get her into the city,” says ZJ. His best-laid plans went awry. They first headed for romantic drinks on the rooftop of the Kimberly Hotel, only to learn it was closed for a private party. Then they showed up to the theater to discover that StubHub had double sold their tickets. “We ended up getting free tickets to a Knicks game instead,” says ZJ, which was not exactly the setting he had in mind for proposing. With the ring burning a hole in his pocket, ZJ had to wing it. “I suggested we stop by The Campbell Apartment for a drink on the way home,” he says. After summing up his courage, ZJ dropped down on one knee and proposed in the iconic New York hot spot. “She said yes, and now she’s stuck with me!” he says affectionately.

The wedding took place in 2013, at Alder Manor in Yonkers, and was attended by 160 guests, many of whom were longtime Greenwich residents. Ashley is the youngest of three generations living in town—her grandfather started Callahan Brothers Moving & Storage in 1947—while ZJ is second generation. Both still maintain close ties to their childhood friends, who came together to celebrate the couple’s big day.

Now Ashley and ZJ are experiencing their hometown through the eyes of their five-month-old daughter, Nuala. “There are lots of things that we’ve always done in town, that are now even more fun with her, like Fourth of July fireworks in Binney Park, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which I can remember going to as a kid in my [Irish] cable-knit sweater,” says Ashley. Dance lessons might also be in Nuala’s future. “A friend of ours, Kate Truesdell, just opened a new location of the Greenwich Dance Company,” says ZJ. Coincidentally, the space once served as a warehouse for Callahan Brothers Moving & Storage.

“It’s really nice to see that a lot of friends now have successful businesses here,” says ZJ. “It reminds you that Greenwich is not that big of a town; even though a lot of people have moved in, it hasn’t changed entirely. There are still opportunities to make good, and for local people to be successful.” Another aspect that hasn’t changed in the years since they’ve been married? “We still see kids walking on Greenwich Avenue, causing trouble and having fun,” says Ashley. “We just laugh because that used to be us!”


 

 

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