WHS Daffodils a Lasting Tribute
to a Dedicated Volunteer
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)
Westport, CT – As they dug shallow trenches along fences, troughs around tree trunks and pits along pathways, and gently placed daffodil bulbs into them, they fondly recalled their dear departed friend.
In early May, 86-year-old Mollie Donovan, a long-time volunteer at Westport Historical Society who developed, mounted, documented and promoted over 50 exhibits over several decades, lost her courageous battle with spinal cancer. As a lasting remembrance, Joni Andrews, WHS past president and Hidden Garden Tour leader, ordered 1,000 Narcissus Long Trumpet daffodil bulbs and organized a team of Donovan’s friends and family to plant them around the Historical Society’s 25 Avery Place property on Saturday.
Among those on hand were Donovan’s sisters, Eve Potts of Essex and Marion Morra of Milford. “Mollie lived on Daybreak Lane here in Westport for 35 years,” said Potts. “She was probably the most dedicated volunteer WHS has ever had. She knew all the artists and writers, and was a happy, funny lady. She could always find something to laugh about. Even when she was ill, she still managed to come down here. Her memorial service was held on these grounds, with her 12 grandchildren, four children, all her nieces and nephews and hundreds of area residents in attendance.”
Potts continued, “She loved daffodils, and spring. We thought planting bulbs this fall for the spring would be a fitting memorial. She was a big gardener. This is really a living memorial – we’ll remember her for years to come as the flowers bloom every spring.”
Westporter David Rubinstein echoed Eve’s sentiments. “I worked for years with Molly, on the Westport Arts Advisory Committee (WAAC),” he said. “We were co-chairs together for 10 years. This is a perfect tribute to a remarkable person. She was absolutely dedicated to the cultural heritage of Westport and had the most amazing nature – always cheerful, and got things done, never complained.”
Guiding the planting, WHS Executive Director Sue Gold contributed, “We always described her as unsinkable. She accomplished her goals and motivated and inspired all of us that worked with her. One of her many traits was an attention to detail, and keeping organized with schedules and timetables. She was a writer, too, so handled the p.r., working closely with graphic artists and professionals.”
Kneeling in a garden bed alongside Kim Cooper, Westporter Ellen Naftalin joined the chorus singing Donovan’s praises. “She volunteered for everything,” she said. As a testament to her spirit, Naftalin noted that WAAC gives out an award called The Mollie, which recognizes the biggest volunteers in the arts category. Naftalin said Donovan also started the WSPAC (Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection) and was responsible for the placement of art collections all throughout town and the community.
“There was nothing she couldn’t do… or wouldn’t do,” Naftalin suggested.