Obituary: Dennis Varza, 59, of Fairfield, founding member of the Ct Ornithological Association (COA)

Dennis Varza, 59, of Fairfield, passed away on Sunday, December 29, 2013.

Born in Bridgeport, son of the late Victor and Marie Broderick Varza, Dennis had been a Fairfield Town resident for most of his life.

Dennis graduated from Shippensburg State College in Pa and did his graduate work at LSU where he earned a MS in Zoology and went on to the University of Oklahoma where he studied aquatic ecology. He had worked for many years as a contract biologist for the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection setting up programs to protect Piping Plovers and Least Terns plus many other projects.

Early on, he worked for the Connecticut Audubon Society revitalizing Fairfield’s Birdcraft Museum as its curator and initiating a bird banding field station that continues today. Dennis had a lifelong love of Ornithology and the research and historical documentation of the birds of Connecticut. He has several first state record bird sitings on his “life list.”

In high school he started the Stratford-Milford Christmas Bird Count. Later he was a founding member of the Ct Ornithological Association (COA) and the first field editor for its publication, The Connecticut Warbler. He was acknowledged in the popular book by Zeranski and Baptist, Birds of Connecticut.

Mr. Varza was very well respected in the birding community, receiving COA’s Mabel Osgood Wright Award in 2013 for his many contributions in research and conservation. Dennis also enjoyed photography, gardening and caring for the environment.

He is survived by his brother, Victor Varza of Maryland, a sister, Gail Santelle and her husband Michael of Trumbull, his uncles Thomas, Robert, Michael and Patrick Broderick, an aunt Catherine Broderick, a niece Ava Santelle and many cousins.

Calling hours will be held on Saturday, January 4, 2014 from 2-6pm in the Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post Rd., Fairfield Center with a prayer service at 5:30 pm.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Swim Across the Sound, c/o 2800 Main St., Bridgeport, Ct 06606.

To sign an online register, purchase flowers or to get travel directions, please visit www.leskopolkefuneralhome.com.

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