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Will Tressler, Easton's Renaissance Man

EASTON, Conn. — Will Tressler , a man who devoted most of his life to conservation and preservation, died at his home in Easton on Jan. 2. He was 80.

He was often described as a "Renaissance Man." He was passionate about his family, traditional music, design, antique cars, gardening, building stone walls, travel, historical home, barn and farmland preservation, and musical and spiritual fellowship.

Tressler completed and published his life memoirs, titled "Start-Ups, Setbacks, Surprises, Strategies, Solutions & Success," just the week before his death.

Tressler was born in Gloucester, Mass., in 1931 to Donald and Ella Tressler. He attended elementary school in Geneva, N.Y., and graduated from Staples High School in Westport in 1948. Will received a bachelor's in industrial design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1952.

After graduating, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. He was appointed to Officer Candidate School at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London and was commissioned as an ensign in December 1953. Tressler was assigned as an officer to the USCGC Campbell from 1954 to 1955 and was later promoted to lieutenant, junior grade, and assigned as a watch officer at the USCG Rescue Coordination Center in New York City from 1955 to 1956.

From 1956-1972, he focused on his industrial design career, working for John Sonoda, a custom furniture designer in Darien; for Jakob Jensen Design in Copenhagen, Denmark; and for the University of Bridgeport as a professor of industrial design for 13 years.

In 1980, Tressler took over as President and CEO of his father's publishing business, AVI Publishing Co., where he had worked in print layout and graphic design. His private architectural design practice grew steadily from 1962 to 2008.

From the early 1960s, Tressler was a member of the Easton Banjo Society and a founding member/organizer of the Jackson Pike Skifflers, in which he performed with his immediate family and various other musicians over the years. He played at many venues, including the White House, Lincoln Center, the Great Hudson River Revival concerts with Pete Seeger, the Bridgeport Rescue Mission as part of a gospel music ministry, Christ Church of Easton for the annual Christmas concert/fundraiser, and the much-loved Tressler Barn in Easton, home to many concerts, parties and hootenannies.

It was his love of music and participation in many summer concert series that prompted him to rally for a gazebo/bandstand in Easton; His early efforts in the 1980s came to fruition with the help of other activists and music-lovers when one was constructed on the Easton Community Center grounds in 2009.

Tressler also affectionately known as "Easton's Rural Character," was a founding member of the Citizens for Easton, a group "working to protect the beauty and character of Easton."

He was involved in the creation of the Easton Agricultural Commission and the Morehouse Road farming initiative on municipal land. He also served as the architectural preservation adviser for the Historical Society of Easton.

He is survived by his wife Katie; his two children, Daniel Tressler and Sally Tressler Connolly, her husband, Damien, and their four children, Colman, Tiernan, Clara and Tristan Connolly. He was predeceased by his older sister, Eleanor Tressler Brown, and his parents.

Visiting hours will be 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, at Commerce Hill Funeral Home, 4798 Main St., Bridgeport. The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 6, at Christ Church, 59 Church Road, Easton, followed by burial in Aspetuck Cemetery, Easton. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to the Mary McCann Bradicich Fund, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, 1088 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06605 or the CFE Farm Trust, 146 Bibbins Road, Easton, CT 06612.

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