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Tuesday, December 1 News

WestportNow founder, former Westport first selectman dies at 75

WESTPORT — Gordon F. Joseloff, former first selectman and founder of the news site WestportNow, died on Monday, leaving a legacy of community engagement and commitment to journalism.

Joseloff, 75, died after battling a rare blood cancer called myelofibrosis for three years, according to WestportNow.

He served two terms as first selectman from 2005 to 2014, and spent 14 years prior to that as a member of the Representative Town Meeting.

“Gordon’s commitment and dedication to Westport, his hometown, was exemplified in so many ways,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said in a statement Monday. “His first job as a teenage reporter was for the Westport Town Crier, and he found WWPT, the Staples High School radio station.”

Marpe said Joseloff, who was his predecessor as first selectman, faced a variety of crises that ranged from the Great Recession, to Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. Under Joseloff’s leadership the town also saw the construction of the new Levitt Pavilion begin, he said.

“He oversaw the initial reforms of the town’s pension plans which have helped to assure Westport’s long term financial stability,” Marpe said. “And throughout his public service career, he exemplified a nonpartisan approach to governing our community.”

Marpe said Joseloff worked directly with him to assure a smooth transition of responsibility once he was elected.

“Throughout my term in office, I regularly sought his perspective and advice on a number of key issues,” Marpe said. “I always found his perspective invaluable.”

According to WestportNow, Joseloff was an award-winning veteran journalist who reported from London, Tokyo and several other world capitals for United Press International and CBS News for more than two decades.

He founded WestportNow in 2003, which served as one of the nation’s first community news websites, according to the site. Joseloff would serve as editor and publisher from its founding until 2005, when he was elected first selectman and decided to relinquish his editor’s position for the time being.

He started the news site to provide quick, local news to the community.

“Westporters could get almost instant news of bombings in Beruit, but it often took days to learn of something happening in Westport,” Joseloff often said, according to WestportNow.

His loss was felt throughout town.

“I honestly don’t know what to say other than we lost a great man today,” Lee Fleming, associate editor and webmaster for WestportNow, said.

Dave Matlow, longtime photographer for WestportNow, said Joseloff was a top drawer journalist and he learned a lot from his disciplined high standards.

“He had a very positive impact on my life,” Matlow said. “His death is a significant loss to the Westport community, to his family, and to me.”

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Joseloff was very active in the Westport community. He served as an honorary member of the advisory board of the Westport Historical society, and was a member of the Westport Rotary Club and the League of Women Voters of Westport.

He was also a volunteer firefighter and a former volunteer Emergency Medical Technician in town.

“At my request, Gov. Ned Lamont has given his permission for Westport to lower its flags to half-staff for the remainder of the week in honor of Gordon Joseloff,” Marpe said.

Joseloff is survived by his daughter Anna-Liisa, son Ben of Westport, six grandchildren, sisters Jill and Jody, brother Michael, and former wife Suzy Joseloff Stark.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com

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