Dorothy “Dot” Bannow Larson, age 93, died peacefully on Friday morning, September 25, 2020 at her home in Fairfield. Mrs. Larson, wife of the late Gilbert Ragnar Larson, was born in Bridgeport on May 31, 1927 to the late Rudolph and Elsa Bannow. Prior to moving to Fairfield, Dot spent the majority of her life residing in Easton.
She was a graduate of Bassick High school and went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Tufts University in 1949. Upon graduating, she became the Director of Personnel at Bridgeport Machines, a company co-founded by her father. The community impact on manufacturing is something that she was passionate about throughout her lifetime. She married her husband Gilbert on April 24, 1954 and together they raised their daughter, Denise. In 1996, she earned an Honorary Doctorate degree from Fairfield University.
Dot’s commitment to philanthropy and the improvement of the communities around her was her passion. The notion of “Whatever you give, will be returned to you” was paramount to how she lived each day — and there was no greater joy than seeing opportunities being provided to others. Whether that was through leadership and advisory roles, or hands-on engagement, she made a lasting impact. It was her involvement in the Kennedy Center that spurred her passion for social activism and she later served as the Lifetime Director for their Board.
As Chairperson of the Bannow-Larson Foundation, Dot was responsible for many philanthropic endeavors in the greater Bridgeport community. Her leadership, vision and dedication drew her to become involved in other countless and diverse organizations including The Discovery Museum, The Easton Community Center, Fairfield University (Bannow Science Center), The Greater Bridgeport Foundation, The Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra, The International Institute, the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation Board, and the University of Bridgeport.
Alongside her husband Gil, she fulfilled one of the greatest acts of philanthropy close to home in Easton, when the Bannow-Larson Community Center was completed in 2003 (fondly known as “Gil’s Place”) to ensure that the teenagers had a place to go. In 2014, The Kennedy Center opened the residential home known as “Dot’s Place” in her honor. Dot received the Benemerenti Medal, a Papal Honor, which is given to lay or clergy members for their service to the Church.
Those who knew her best knew that she was always finding joy and a reason to celebrate. She wore many hats — among them a mother, a wife, a sister — yet always had the time to connect and be a friend to all. Dot was always very present to all who had the pleasure of spending time with her — whether that was through listening, providing encouragement, or sharing her contagious laughter. Dot always told those around her that she “had a wonderful life and everything is going to be alright” and would want all to remember those words.
Being surrounded by family and friends brought her everlasting happiness and memories. Animals held a special place in her heart. She enjoyed traveling the world and experiencing different cultures, and had a special fondness for her Swedish heritage. Spending time at Candlewood Lake with her family was her local “home away from home,” and a place where cherished memories were made.
She is survived by her beloved daughter, Denise Larson Fenton, as well as two grandsons, David and John Fenton. Other survivors include Raymond and Ronald Noren, Brian Larson, Rick Perachio and Lec “Niki” Pjetri. Her husband, Gilbert; her sister, Lillian Bannow Noren; and son-in-law, Lawrence Fenton, predeceased her.
No words can express the love and gratitude to Paul, Bonnie, Tim, Trish, Joanne, Shermaine, Ravi, Marie and Marlene particularly over the course of the last few months.
Due to the concerns affecting us all at this time surrounding social distancing, the services were private at Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport. In lieu of flowers, and to continue her legacy of giving to others, please consider opportunities for “acts of kindness” and/or memorial gifts may be sent to the Kennedy Center (Attn: Residential Services at 2440 Reservoir Ave. in Trumbull, CT 06611)
To send flowers to Dorothy’s family, please visit our floral store.