It was with a heavy heart that I read the news about Silver of Westport closing. Steve and Sue Silver have captured the essence of mom and pop (OK, brother and sister) shops at their best. Shoppers were greeted by name and asked about the family, the job and other news. After a short chat, Steve and Sue would zero in on the perfect gift for your mother, father, daughter, sister, in-laws. They even asked about those relatives long after the gift had been happily received. They offered outstanding and unique gifts for all occasions: graduation, engagement, travel, new home, new baby and retirement. No matter how stumped you may have felt, you left satisfied because Silver had the perfect gift!

Because they care about their community, the Silvers always gave when asked: ads for theater productions at local schools, boosters for local athletic events, and involvement in local agencies, such as the United Way. In addition to the staff that has been there for years and seem to be part of the Silvers' "family," the owners also made it a practice to hire local young people, who would often return on their college vacations, happy to help out.

When I first moved to town, Phil was the store elder, and Steve and Sue would often defer to their father for his advice. Years later when Phil was in decline, he was still treated as the elder; his family rallied around him and made sure to carry on the business Phil had started all those years ago. That is who the Silvers are, and our town has been enriched by their presence. Westport is soon to lose a gem of a store, clearly an example of retail business at its best, but we are also losing what makes a community special: the caring and attention that goes well beyond the merchant exchange and into the realm of friendship, community and continuity.

Thank you, Silvers, for all you have done and meant to this community. To Steve and Sue and all the loyal employees at Silver, we wish you all the best. You will be missed.

Jean H. Bennett