Becker's Short Link Committee  
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Patenaude/ Webster
So I've Heard Column

Todd H. Becker took about 250 people through the genesis to Interstate 395 Oct. 4 when a section to Thompson Road was dedicated Herman Becker Highway in honor of his late father.
Mr. Becker, of Ridgefield, Conn., spoke on behalf of his mother, Shirley B. Becker, three brothers, John C., Mark D., and Randall V. Becker, and their families during the ceremony, held on the lawn to the family residence on Thompson Road in Webster.
State Rep. Paul Kujawski and state Sen. Richard T. Moore remembered Mr. Becker for his dedication to Webster causes and area businesses, and especially for his leadership in helping bring what was first Route 52 through the region.
Todd Becker revealed a little known fact. His maternal grandfather, the late Thomas Bellerose, was an alderman in Putnam, Conn., and friends with then Putnam Mayor John N. Dempsey. Two Bellerose daughters, Shirley and Marie, babysat for Mayor and Mrs. Dempsey's grandchildren. Shirley Bellerose subsequently became Mrs. Herman F. Becker and, with her father, provided the Chamber of Commerce with a conduit to John Dempsey, then the Lieutenant Governor, and the Governor of Connecticut from 1961.
Todd Becker's reference was to January 1958, when the Chamber formed a Short Link Committee to encourage continuation of the Connecticut side of a Massachusetts to Connecticut turnpikes connector from Putnam through Thompson and to the state line at Webster. The Short Link objective was to give Connecticut access to Route 193 in Webster and a way to the Massachusetts Turnpike in Auburn. This sidetracked a plan that would have taken the road through Woodstock and into Sturbridge. The late Mr. Becker, Robert W. Harris, John C. Bayer, Eudore "Ted" Morse, Charles R. Puliafico and the late Leonard E. Leboeuf were named to the committee.
While this bit of history was recorded 45 years ago, it took another 20 years to complete the interstate. The final section, Auburn to Oxford, opened Nov. 3, 1978. The original C. of C. Committee was still at work, but as the Final Link Committee and complemented by similar groups from other towns. If this column had neon type it would flash: "25 Years Ago."
A quarter century is but the blink of an eye in the stretch to time, but the interstate cut miles, condensed time and influenced industrial development and growth in towns from Killingly, Conn., north to Auburn, Ma.
The late Mr. Becker, long time secretary to the Webster-Dudley-Oxford business group, made a prediction in November 1978: "The road will certainly improve the area's economic base...Just think where we would be if the road went from Putnam through Woodstock and Sturbridge as originally planned."
For an aside, John C. Becker, now of Waterford, Mi., and a flight captain for Delta Airlines, was born Jan. 28, 1958, the day the Short Link Committee was organized, and Mark D. Becker, Webster Planning Board chairman and an assessor, celebrated his 44th birthday Oct. 4, the day Herman Becker Highway was dedicated.
Time has a way of shading recall. I developed a piece about nicknames years ago and learned they seldom have general reach.
I forgot this last week when John Bill "Red" Radzik suggested "a column about nicknames," providing some great examples. In process, "Red" mentioned a one time fishing buddy, "Ziggy's Uncle."
I knew "Ziggy's Uncle" as Sygmund Ankiewicz. The nickname, limited to some of his fishing friends, was a reference to the late Msgr. Andrew A. Lekarczyk, long time pastor of St. Joseph's Church. Orphaned as children, Mr. Ankiewicz and a sister, Genevieve S. (Ankiewicz) Magnant, now both deceased, were raised by their uncle, the Rev. Lekarczyk, according to Anne P. (Laskowski) Ankiewicz, his widow.
Mr. Ankiewicz prefered "Ziggy," to Sygmund, she said. He died years ago but Mrs. Ankiewicz retains many fond memories.
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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