Hilmar "Bruno" Ahnert died at his home in Old Lyme on May 17, 2012 with his son and daughter at his side.
Bruno was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada in 1920. When he was eight years old, his family moved to the United States and he grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. Bruno was stationed in Alexandria, Louisiana, with the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. It was there that he met and married his wife, Norma Marie Carbo, and where their two children, Linda and Glenn, were born.
Returning to Connecticut with his young family after the war, Bruno made his living in the structural steel business. He worked for steel fabricating companies in Stamford, Bridgeport, and Newington. He would eventually become the owner and president of his own company-Coastal Steel Corporation in Salem. During the thirty years that Bruno lived in Salem, he participated in civic affairs and served on various committees. He helped to design and acted as the "clerk of works" for the addition to the Salem Town Hall and oversaw this project to its completion in the early 1990s.
When he retired, Bruno kept a promise that he made to his wife-he enrolled in art classes. He began with fine art courses at the Greater Hartford Community College and subsequently studied at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts.
After moving to Old Lyme in 1998, Bruno joined the Lyme Art Association and became an elected artist member. He has exhibited his paintings at Connecticut shoreline galleries and at the State Capitol building in Hartford.
In 2005 Bruno held a special art sale at his home for a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. He wanted to help because of his deep, personal connection to Louisiana-Norma's home state. They had spent many happy times in New Orleans. Norma died in 2003 and Bruno was especially proud to have raised money by selling his artwork.
He was a man of great spirit and a truly "unforgettable character." Bruno spent his final weeks surrounded by his family, eating a final lobster roll, listening to Tchaikovsky symphonies, Strauss waltzes, and Gershwin tunes. And he watched Red Sox games. On the easel in his studio is a small canvas of a mountain laurel grove in his back yard. Though unfinished, it is a lovely painting.
Bruno is survived by his daughter Linda of Old Lyme; son Glenn and his wife Susie of Waterford; granddaughter Jackie Meislitzer and her husband Andy of Oakdale; granddaughter Kristin Custodio and her husband Dave of East Lyme; and three great-grandchildren-Aiden and Ava Meislitzer, and Stella Custodio. Also surviving is Bruno's sister, Elly Kida of Greenwich.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Bruno's memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, PO Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123 or to Hospice Southeastern Connecticut, 227 Dunham Street, Norwich, CT 06360.
A graveside service will be held on Saturday, June 2 at 11 a.m. at the Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme. Please visit www.fultontherouxoldlyme.com to leave online condolences.