Howard J. Aibel of Weston, a benefactor of the arts and land conservation, died on March 9 from complications from pneumonia. He was 88.
A retired attorney and Weston resident since 1986, Aibel had a long history of charitable work in the community.
In recognition of a $3 million gift from Aibel, the Westport Country Playhouse renamed its entire campus “The Howard J. Aibel Theater Center at Westport Country Playhouse” in February. Aibel served as vice chair on the Playhouse board at the time of his death.
“Our community has lost a great leader and advocate. Howard never sought the spotlight but always sought to inspire others to action, leading by his own actions. He believed that experiencing live theater is central to a life well lived; his was certainly well lived, said Michael Barker, Westport Country Playhouse Managing Director.
Aibel was also a supporter of the Westport Arts Center, Westport Public Library, WSHU, South Shore Music, and was a trustee emeritus at Sacred Heart University.
“Music and art have always been important to me,” Aibel said in an interview. “If you’re fortunate, I think you have an obligation to try to pass that onto others.”
Aibel was also a passionate land conservationist. In 2016, he donated six acres off Steep Hill Road in Weston to the Aspetuck Land Trust in order to preserve it as open space.
A self-proclaimed “lifelong Democrat,” Aibel was honored in 2017 as the first-ever recipient of the Bob Gardner Lifetime Achievement Award by the Weston Democratic Town Committee for his public service and philanthropy.
“Howard is a voice of reason and contributes endless wisdom to every conversation. He doesn’t speak unless he can improve silence and I admire that about him,” said DTC chairman Fran Goldstein, upon announcing the award.
Aibel was born in 1929 in Brooklyn, New York. He was a graduate of Harvard Law School and began his law career as an associate at White & Case. He served as antitrust litigation counsel for General Electric and then worked as general counsel for International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation for nearly 30 years. He retired as a partner with the New York law firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.
Aibel is survived by his children, David, Daniel and Jonathan, and a grandson, Lucien. He was predeceased by his wife Katherine Webster Aibel.
Memorial services are to be announced.