New London - Burton "Chic" Hendel, 83, passed away while under the compassionate care of Hospice at Hartford Hospital on Feb. 2, 2013. His daughter, Alisyn, and life partner, Linda Files, were at his bedside as he peacefully passed away. Chic had been suffering from progressive dementia for several years, but was still actively involved in family events as recently as Thanksgiving.
Chic was born in New London, on Nov. 23, 1929, the son of Maurice L. and Ruth Hendel. He had two older sisters, Tibe and Mickey. His father proudly called him boychic, which in mixed Yiddish-English meant his little boy. The "Chic" part of that stuck with him his whole life.
As a child, Chic attended Nameaug School. His father owned and operated The Fireman's Lunch and Cabin Grille at the corner of Bank and Tilley Streets. Chic finished his elementary schooling at Harbor School where he reports getting in A in speling [sic]. After Harbor School, he attended the former Bulkeley School where he graduated in 1947. He was a loyal "Bulkeley Boy," attending the annual reunion including this past year.
While at Bulkeley, he became a member of the swing band playing alto saxophone. He became a member of the American Federation of Musicians and from Dec. 22, 1943 to Oct. 19, 1945, played in 97 venues, including ships' parties, Ocean Beach, the USO, Elks Clubs, and the Eagles Club. He had his own band with a partner, called Chic Martin. They played at Ocean Beach and Latham's Dance Studies for the Friday night dances. Chic was an avid fan of classical and marching band music, regularly attending the Coast Guard Band concerts and Harkness Memorial Summer Music Series.
Chic graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1951, majoring in marketing. Following graduation, he served in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany during the Korean War
While he was in the Army, Chic's family opened Lee's Kidyland on Bank Street. Upon returning from Korea, Chic ran the toy store until he retired on Oct. 10, 1987. A month after retiring, Chic met Linda Files at a singles dance, the start of a loving relationship that would last the rest of his life. Together, they traveled to all corners of the world and shared wonderful adventures together. Chic loved to putz in his yard, taking meticulous care of his shrubs and flowers. He tinkered in his woodshop and was adept at making all kinds of gadgets and inventive solutions.
Also following his retirement from Lee's, Chic became very active with the Marine Commerce and Development Commission (MCDC) and became a well-known figure at all their downtown New London events. His gregarious nature and sense of humor made him the perfect social chairman. He was also a 50-year member of the Freemason Union Lodge No. 31, and a lifelong member and past president of the Hendel Family Association.
Even as his dementia progressed, Chic never lost that charm nor his good looks. At Atria Crossroads where he resided for the past year, he was still a favorite among the staff and fellow residents, especially the women. His smile and piercing blue eyes could light up any room.
Chic is survived by his two children, Alisyn and Ross "HR" Hendel, of Wethersfield; nieces, RanDee Smith and Lori Marcus Corah; nephews, Stephen Smith and Peter Marcus; along with numerous great-nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents, Maurice and Ruth Hendel, and two sisters, Tibe Smith and Mickey Marcus.
A memorial celebration of Chic's life is being planned from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, at the home of Steve and Diane Smith, 899 Montauk Ave., New London.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Connecticut Chapter of the American Red Cross.