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Celebrating the Life of Arthur J. Muir Co-Founder of Litchfield Performing Arts

Arthur Muir left this world on January 22st just three weeks after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He would have been 84 in May. Before he died at his home in Goshen which he shared with his wife and love of his life, Vita, and his daughter Lindsey and her family, he enjoyed a stream of visitors and reminiscences. He especially liked to talk about his travels. He reckoned he visited 89 of the 100 major cities in the US in his working life and destinations as far flung as Fiji, Russia, China, and New Zealand in his retirement. One of his oldest friends who flew from Atlanta to be with him in his last days found him “a mixture of wonderment, dignity (always), joy, and acceptance.” Another called him “your wonderful Arthur, a great and very dear man.” He was also a very brave man who bore a decade of illnesses of old age with never a complaint and always with courage.

Arthur wrung out of life all of the joy it offered and was profoundly grateful for the life he lived and the love he received. His was a Horatio Alger story, he said, of a boy raised by a widowed factory worker in a wartime quonset hut in Meriden, CT. He delivered milk at 9 for “fifty cents a day and all the breakfast I could eat” and picked shade tobacco at 14. He went on to receive his engineering degree as a scholarship student at General Motors Institute in Flint, MI, and found his calling in sales. He became a successful management consultant with a showplace of a home in the historic district of Litchfield, a place he and his wife opened to all comers for scores of charity events. In 1981, it became the first home of Litchfield Performing Arts (LPA), the not-for-profit they co-founded. He saw the historic mansion he was lucky enough to inhabit for almost two decades as a special trust and once calculated that in the early years alone 13,000 friends, neighbors, and perfect strangers came through it.

His wife told a friend recently she wanted to see him described not by what he did but what he was. Art was enormously generous not just to his family but to the community. He funded and hosted years of concerts and served as their MC. When LPA began the Litchfield Jazz Festival in 1996, he let the hipper radio guys MC and did everything from mowing the lawn to lugging sound equipment and art displays back to his own basement for storage. When health issues sidelined him, he took his place in the front row and never missed a set.

Of all the good works he was involved in, he most loved Litchfield Jazz Camp, the Festival’s teaching arm and gloried in the young people, especially those who came from challenged backgrounds financially or socially, educated there each summer. Over 21 years, he took many under his wing teaching them everything from life to driving, while all the time encouraging and applauding their music.

Arthur was a lovely man–all kindness and grace. And speaking of grace, he was a fabulous dancer. One friend of 35 years thought, on hearing that he had died, she would give anything to see him dance just once more. Another said “tell him he was the classiest date I’ve ever had and that I am so glad you shared him with me.”

Arthur lives on in the memories of daughter Lindsey, her husband Nathan and 5-year-old grandson Calvin Henry, his son Dr. Owen Muir and his wife Dr. Carlene MacMillan and their 9 month old twins Quinn and Trent of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, two daughters from a former marriage, Alison Decker and her husband Ron of Winsted and Karen Muir of New Jersey, and many friends and admirers.

The Muir family wish to thank the members of VNA Northwest and Goshen Community Care and Hospice for their invaluable and loving support during this time. Special thanks must go to Debbie Di Pietro of Goshen CCAH, and VNA NW Care Coordinator, nurse Debbie Welch and the talented, hardworking and empathetic aids she had trained.

Flowers are lovely but they wither. Music education lives on. So the family asks those so inclined to consider instead a contribution to the Arthur J. Muir Scholarships at Litchfield Jazz Camp for students in financial need. We hope to build this fund over time to honor Arthur’s memory and his lifelong efforts to so many young people. Donations in memory of Arthur can be made online here or checks can be made payable to Litchfield Jazz Camp and sent to Litchfield Performing Arts, PO Box 69, Litchfield, CT 06759.

The family invite friends and neighbors to join them to remember Art at the Woodridge Lake Clubhouse 260 E Hyerdale Dr, Goshen, CT 06756 on Sunday afternoon, February 5 at 3PM (please RSVP if you plan to come at 860-361-6285). Guests are encouraged to remember Art with stories, poems, music, or simply their presence along with others who knew and loved this very special man.

Click below to donate to the Arthur J. Muir Scholarship fund

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