remembering ted diamond

Ted Diamond, President of Composition Materials from 1952 – 1987, leaves a great legacy.

The former 2nd Selectman, longtime civic volunteer and World War II hero, died at 105.

Theodore Diamond — a combat veteran, attorney, CEO and active citizen of Westport, died at home on August 2 as a consequence of Covid-19. He was 105 years old.

After serving as an infantry drill instructor, Ted volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. He was determined to fight, and became the lead navigator of a group of 28 planes flying 50 missions against the Nazis leaving from North Africa, Italy and Russia.

The missions were beyond dangerous — after 50 of them, only 3 original planes survived.

Ted Diamond

An  exhibition called “In Their Own Words: Jewish Veterans of World War II,” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, opens with Ted’s words: “As a Jew, it was Hitler and me. That’s the way I pictured the war.”

For his service Ted received many medals and decorations, including 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses. He was proudest of the insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest military medal.

Ted was totally engaged in Westport politics. He served 3 terms in the RTM, and 3 terms as 2nd Selectman.

He worked on many projects in Westport. Three stand out, and helped to form the character of the town.

The first was the town’s acquisition of Longshore Country Club, and the upgrading of the clubhouse.

The second was working with the modernization of the Fire Department, to help it become one of the finest and most professional departments in Connecticut.

Finally, and probably most important to the town, Ted led a community movement to prevent the development of a shopping mall. Instead, the town purchased the land that has now become Winslow Park.

Ted Diamond delivers an RTM invocation. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

Born on July 3, 1917 in New York City, Ted was the son of Isador Diamond and Sadie (Drath). Diamond. His parents had recently immigrated from Europe, had limited proficiency in English and were very poor. To contribute money to the family, Ted worked from the age of 8 in a grocery store and drug store.

Ted learned to read early. When a mobile library unit came monthly to his community of Far Rockaway, he borrowed and read as many books as he could.

A teacher in Ted’s elementary school recognized his talents, and encouraged him to take the competitive exam for placement in an elite public school, Townsend-Harris.

He was admitted, and the experience changed his life. It introduced him to college level study, school government, world affairs, and a community of achievers within which he excelled.

Following high school, Ted graduated from St. John’s University, and received his law degree from Columbia University. He was drafted shortly after graduating from law school.

Before he flew overseas, he met Carol Simon for 2 hours at a party. He told his flight crew that if she were still available after the war, he would marry her.

In 1946 they married. They shared an intense love for 75 years, until her death in March 2022.

From 1946 until 1950, Ted practiced in a small law firm specializing in civil rights and labor law.

In 1950 he joined Composition Materials. Ted developed, manufactured and marketed diverse materials used in industries from oil well drilling to airplane maintenance to the composition of running tracks. He worked at Composition Materials until he was 87.

Ted is survived by his sons William and Jonathan; daughter-in-law Harriet; grandsons Theodore and Noah, and great-grandchildren Peter, June and Beatrix.

A celebration of Ted’s life will be held Sunday September 18, 2022.

Contributions in his memory may be made to: ACLU Connecticut, 765 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105.

At 98, Ted Diamond served as grand marshal of Westport’s Memorial Day parade. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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