The Westerly Sun

Greetings dear friends and readers and welcome back for our Lincoln’s birthday and Valentine’s Day visit here on the Front Porch, where some of us are preparing for the day of flowers, chocolates and lacy red hearts, and others are preparing for Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday (the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians), which fall on the same day (Wednesday) for the first time since 1945. And if that mash-up of observances isn’t quirky enough, get this: Easter falls on April 1 this year — the day we call April Fool’s Day.

But back now to Valentine’s Day and a toast to all you sweethearts out there. Love aplenty from the Front Porch! Speaking of sweethearts, best wishes to newlyweds Leslie Barber and Justin Bridgman, who were married Saturday at Mystic Seaport’s Latitude 41. Leslie, who was stunning in a sleeveless ivory satin floor-length dress highlighted with a thin, rhinestone waist band, is the daughter of Michael and Tricia “Trixie” McNeill Barber (who looked stunning). Justin is the son of Kathy and Bob Bridgman. Leslie’s uncle Stephen McNeill performed the wedding ceremony and choked up when he announced “Mr. and Mrs. Justin Bridgman.” Leslie’s granddad Charlie McNeill gave the toast, and her sister, Julie, was her maid of honor. I hear the heart-shaped, pink-iced cookies were a smash hit at the special night of love.

And from Florida comes news of a pair of sweethearts with a deep local connection. Happy anniversary and happy Valentine’s Day to Bob and Helen Birchell of Naples, who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last week when all six of their children  — including Stonington’s Assistant Town Clerk, Sally Duplice, and Cindy Gillum of Mystic — gathered to celebrate their folks’ amazing landmark. Bob, 96, and Helen, 94, were married in St. Michael’s Church in Pawcatuck on Feb. 7, 1948. Along with their children’s spouses, one grandchild was able to attend the party. In all, 14 family members went to the official anniversary dinner at Pelican Bend on Isles of Capri. Stay tuned for photos and more details!

Speaking of Florida, what an interesting story in the Palm Beach Daily News about Chuck and Deborah Royce and Lido, their landmarked Palm Beach house that was recently honored by the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach with a 2017 Robert I. Ballinger Award, given to historically sensitive renovations at major estates. Lido was designed for Boston entrepreneur Harry Kelsey, once the largest landowner in Palm Beach County. The article mentions other Royce restoration projects, like “The Avon, a 1937 movie house in Stamford, Conn., [and] a complete reconstruction of Ocean House, a seaside hotel that dated to 1868 in Watch Hill, R.I., where the Royces are restoring a Colonial-era farmhouse.”

Hats off to beloved crooner Billy Gilman, who helped raise $100,000 last week so children with muscular dystrophy could attend summer camp when he joined a number of Boston celebs and sports stars to “put their muscle behind local children as they fight back against neuromuscular disease.” Joining Billy at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel last Thursday were WCVB’s Erika Tarantal, who served as emcee, three-time Super Bowl champion Joe Andruzzi, former Patriot Troy Brown, and former Red Sox pitchers Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Lenny DiNardo. Ciao bella!


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