Irene Stahl is Bethany’s 2023 Citizen of the Year!

The Bethany Democratic Town Committee is pleased to announce that Irene Stahl is Bethany’s 2023 Citizen of the Year. We honor Ms. Stahl for her lifelong dedication to conservation and reverence for the land.

Irene Stahl was born in a small rural town in Canada and came to the USA as a young woman. She soon settled in New Haven and obtained work as a technical engineer for phone company thanks to her background in mathematics. She was the first female engineer in her department and the only one for many years.  It was there that she met and became friends with her future husband, Carl.  Carl appreciated her clear speaking voice and math skills and enlisted her help as a volunteer in recording math textbooks for the blind.

Irene married Carl in 1959 and moved to his beautiful property in Bethany. Carl had begun acquiring land from the Russell family in 1944 and continued to add parcels over time. The couple always believed strongly that the land was meant to be nurtured and shared.  They allowed Henry and Julia Russell to use the property for grazing and to harvest from the orchard. Together they planted trees and wildflowers. They maintained paths through the woods to encourage hikers to enjoy its beauty and serenity.

They also offered the use of their land to a troop of Boy Scouts from New Haven. The troop needed to spend a night in the woods  to attain one of the merit badges they needed to qualify for the rank of Eagle Scout. Irene recalls “It was very cold that night and the young men were not well-outfitted, but they refused to come in. Carl built a fire and kept them company.”

In January of 2023 the Bethany Land Trust announced that Irene Stahl generously donated 49 acres of land. The land consists of woodlands, streams, and historic features. It adjoins two Land Trust parcels along Briar Road and the town’s Carrington Preserve. This donation ensures that the land will be free of development and that the existing wildlife corridor and natural habitat of many species will be protected in perpetuity. Irene has declined to have the land named after her. As she explains it, “People don’t own the land. I want this to be called Whispering Pines.”

Please join us on Saturday, April 29, 2023, to celebrate Irene at our annual Spaghetti Dinner and Citizen of the Year award presentation.

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