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Easton Preservationist Will Tressler Dies at 80

EASTON, Conn. – Easton lost one of its treasures Monday with the passing of Will Tressler, whom many considered to be the grandfather of Easton preservation.

“He was our link to our past. He made it his life’s goal to preserve everything that he thought was great about this town. He is responsible for everything that I value in Easton,” said Princie Falkenhagen, Tressler’s friend of more than 30 years.

Tressler, who was 80 years old, worked as an architect on homes throughout Fairfield County. Many of his projects, according to his son, Dan Tressler, were additions to historical homes. “He has this perfect eye where the addition and the home would just match up. You never knew an addition was put on. I don’t know how he did it. He was a talented man,” his son said.

Tressler also taught industrial design for many years at the University of Bridgeport. And although he spent much of his life as a designer, his real love was preserving the farms and historic appeal of Easton.

Tressler, who moved to Easton in the 1960s, was founding member of Citizens for Easton , a group committed to preserving the rural aspects of the town. He also helped create the Easton Agricultural Commission, on which he served, and was a supporter of the Trout Brook Valley Nature Preserve. “No matter where you turn in Easton, you see Will’s work, you see his hands,” Falkenhagen said.

Speaking on the passing of Tressler, First Selectman Thomas Herrmann said, “Words can hardly express the profound influence Will Tressler had on our community. He was, perhaps, the first to articulate a vision of Easton that has come to define our public policy for decades.”

Herrmann also said that Tressler “has been a valiant guardian of our town’s rural character, open space and our agricultural heritage. Will was a highly respected, and always respectful, friend of mine.  To be certain, Will Tressler’s legacy is the Easton we all know and love. I know he will be greatly missed.”

Back in the 1990s, Tressler dismantled the Tammany Feed Store, which used to sit behind the current EMS building on Sport Hill Road, after learning that it was going to be demolished. With help, he took the building apart piece by piece and reconstructed it on his property. “He couldn’t see it destroyed. It was a part of Easton history,” Falkenhagen said.

His love for Easton could also be found in the music he played. Tressler played with the Easton Banjo Society and led the Jackson Pike Skifflers for over 40 years. The band, in which he played with his wife, Katie, and son, Dan, was named after the highway now called Sport Hill Road, according to Falkenhagen.

His love for Easton and music merged a few years ago when Tressler built a gazebo on the Easton Community Center property. It was a vision that took several decades to realize. The Jackson Pike Skifflers played at the gazebo soon after it was built. “My Dad was definitely happy that day,” Dan Tressler said.

One of the preservationists favorite spots was the Tressler Barn on his family's property. Dan Tressler said his father created the barn to be like “an old meeting hall. It was filled with artifacts from Yankee farms and ... tons of music.” Musicians from all over the area would play at the Tressler farm. “It is a place where people could just let their creativity flow,” Dan Tressler said.

Looking back on his father's accomplishments in Easton, Dan Tressler said: “He was just one man and he could only do so much. But I think he played a great role in town. My Dad had a lot of passion, and I think that is something he would like to see continue.”

Falkenhagen agreed. “We all need to keep going and keep Easton the town that he loved so much. That is what he would have wanted. We can’t let Easton die with him – we need to keep his fire burning.”

A wake will be held Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Commerce Hill Funeral Home, 4798 Main St., Bridgeport. The funeral will be held on Friday at 10 a.m.

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