Published: April 29, 2003
WOODBURY, CONN. Mr Claydon-White was 81 and died at home.
Claydon-White was born in Hertfordshire, Great Britain, in 1921 and served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He came to New York in 1954 where he worked in the corporate world as head of research and development for consumer products for US Rubber/Uniroyal. It was there that he met his companion of 42 years, J. David Veselsky.
Together with Veselsky and the late Ferris P. Ellis, Claydon-White opened Mill House Antiques in 1964. With restoration, the old gristmill on the Nonnewaug River, which dates back to 1707, became a warm, appealing setting for an antiques compound that was to attain a high-profile clientele. It is set in five acres of lush and interesting gardens that were overseen by Claydon-White.
Mill House Antiques was one of the first antiques businesses in Woodbury, which is now a bustling antiques destination with more than 20 shops. Claydon-White’s specialty was Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century English and French antiques. Mill House Antiques will remain open.
David Veselsky said, “Leslie would spend as much time with a young couple as he would with a multimillionaire corporate mogul. He loved people and could very quickly establish what suited them. He had a fine sense of line, balance and color.”
Claydon-White will be remembered for his generous nature. He was a key supporter of Ballet Florida in West Palm Beach. In 1992 he enabled the ballet to move to a renovated building on Fern Street. He was board president from 1992 to 1996, and was president emeritus until his death. Claydon-White was also a member of the Water-bury Foundation. Memorial contributions can be sent to Ballet Florida, 500 Fern Street, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 or to the Waterbury Foundation, 81 West Main Street, Waterbury, CT 06702.
Marie Hale, founder and artistic director of Ballet Florida said, “We are all very sad. He was my good, good friend. I had known him since the beginning of the company 17 years ago. He came and watched rehearsals. He brought the company a long way. We were in a very bad part of town and ten years ago he moved us to a beautiful location next to the Kravis Center. He was a marvelous man. Wherever he did anything, the world became a better place because of him. We are all very grateful that he was part of our lives.”
“Leslie Claydon-White was a tremendously generous individual who supported many organizations in the greater Waterbury area and Florida. He inspired us all with his love of and dedication to the arts, especially ballet,” said Ingrid Manning, CEO, Water-bury Foundation.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 17, at 3 pm, at North Congregational Church. For directions call Mill House Antiques at 203-263-3446.
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