It's Happening: And Their Stories Go On

By Julie Perine on March 13, 2018 via

Occasionally, I like to blog about people previously featured in Connect-Bridgeport stories and fill you in on what has since happened in their lives. I think both of the following are interesting and inspiring:
In July of 2014, a ceremony was held at Hinkle Lake, to honor the heroic effort of Oscar Leonard Jeffers who on Jan. 24, 1953 dove into the frigid, partially frozen lake to try to rescue three boys who had fallen through the ice. A World War II veteran and father of three children, Jeffers was driving by the lake when he flagged down by friends of the boys who had seen them slip through the ice and disappear. Though he had recently had back surgery, Jeffers didn’t hesitate to help. He didn’t make it out alive and neither did the three boys: 9-year-old Taylor McCausland, 10-year-old Edwin Merchant and 12-year-old John Carlin. 
At the July 2014 dedication, during which a memorial bench was unveiled, Jeffers’ three children – now parents and grandparents – shared some words about their selfless dad, as well as how they remember the community of Bridgeport taking such good care of their family after the passing of their dad, making sure they had everything they needed. Oscar Leonard Jeffers’ son is Don Jeffers, who back in November, lost nearly everything he and his wife Gay owned when a fire swept through their Bridgeport home. The couple has relocated and as I was walking my dog the other evening, Don asked me to come inside and see their new house. Before I left, he shared something with me that I’ve been thinking about since. He told me that after the fire, the firefighters took many of the burned and charred belongings out into the yard and he had subsequently gone through them, looking for anything that might have made it through the flames. He was stunned to find his dad’s Medal of Honor, presented to his mother by The Carnegie Foundation to commemorate the selfless act of bravery. When Don found it in the rubble from the fire, it was still intact, set in velvet and tucked into a leather case. He showed it to me and I was privileged to run my fingers over a medal received by such a selfless individual. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the medal was spared. Maybe it was our reminder of sacrifice, remembrance and community support.
As a portion of the inscription on the bench at Hinkle Lake reads:
“…Oscar Jeffers’ act of heroism remains an act that shall forever stay in the hearts and minds of this community. From that day, to this day, and into the future, let it be known that time shall not erase the memory of a selfless deed in which a man made the ultimate sacrifice for children who were not his own.”
About a year and a half ago, 1986 Bridgeport High School graduate Sarah Timms Chittaro –now the mother of three and living in Chicago – revived her acting career; making some appearances on NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Med,” as well as “Shameless” and “Empire,” also filmed in Chicago. Her children Isabella and Christopher also got in on the action, playing extras on the set of “Chicago Fire” in February of 2016.
It has become a true family affair as both Chittaro and her husband Jim landed pretty high-profile gigs. Both make brief appearances in major motion pictures – both currently running at Cinemark 10 at Meadowbrook Mall.
They are both in the comedy “Gringo” starring David Oyelowo and Charlize Theron. Sarah is a reporter and her appearance is very quick, she said. Jim, however, is easily spotted in a basketball court scene with Joel Edgerton.
Sarah also worked with Bruce Willis in the action film “Death Wish.” Although she was in a scene with Willis - crossing an alleyway – it was edited out. Sarah is in the background on the El train and again in a scene by the water.
The lead role in her BHS senior class play, “Anything Goes,” a lifelong dancer and acting veteran of West Virginia Public Theatre, Sarah says she hasn’t hit anything bit yet, but she is sure having fun. 

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