In his short but consequential term as first selectman, Edward Desmond left a lasting impression on Wilton. Desmond, who led the town from 1987 to 1989 died Sunday, Sept. 25, in Delray Beach, Fla., at the age of 86. He had suffered from lung cancer, according to a friend. A Republican, Desmond holds the distinction of being the first candidate for first selectman ever cross-endorsed by both the Republican Town Committee and Democratic Town Committee prior to his election in November 1987. \u201cI feel very honored,\u201d he said at the time. Desmond ran as an incumbent, having been appointed first selectman in December 1986 to fill the unexpired term of Margaret Gill, who won election to the state House of Representatives in November 1986. That cross-endorsement may have been earned not only for his leadership abilities but also because of his personality which was uniformly described as warm and outgoing by those who remembered him. Former Police Chief Angelo Toscano became friends with Desmond in his pre-Wilton days when Desmond owned a convenience store in Westport. \u201cWe used to go to the same restaurant,\u201d Toscano told The Bulletin earlier this week. \u201cHe was a very social guy, outgoing, liked to help people. He was very giving and very generous.\u201d Desmond had a varied background. A native of Lynn, Mass., he enlisted in the U.S. Army upon graduating from high school. Following his graduation in 1954 from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire, he took a position as a teaching principal at the Pine Tree School in Conway, N.H. He earned a master\u2019s in education from Boston University in 1958. In addition to working as a teacher, he owned a real estate and construction business in Plymouth from 1960 to 1964, when he came to Connecticut, again as a teacher. He moved into administration in 1966 and served as comptroller of the Westport schools from 1972 to 1977. There he worked with long-time friend Janet Bondeson. Following the discovery of some financial discrepancies within the Wilton schools, Desmond was brought on as director of management services from 1977 to 1983, where he oversaw finances and human resources. David Clune came on board as superintendent of schools in 1982. \u201cI remember him as a welcoming person to me when I first came to Wilton,\u201d Clune said upon learning of Desmond\u2019s death. \u201cIt was good to have a strong person like Ed in charge of finances for the Wilton schools. \u201cEd was a friend. He was a very talented, outgoing, warm and generous person,\u201d he continued. \u201cWe will miss him.\u201d While working for the school district, Desmond brought on Bondeson as his assistant. \u201cHe was just a delight to work for,\u201d she said. \u201cHe was an honest man, a very generous man with his time to the community. \u201cHe treated everybody the same. If you were the superintendent of schools or a custodian, he treated everybody the same,\u201d she said. \u201cYour position meant nothing to him as far as him respecting you. He looked at each person as an individual. He got along with everyone. \u201cWe worked very closely,\u201d she said. \u201cI had a wonderful career and most of it was because of him.\u201d Bondeson, who would later become Wilton\u2019s chief financial officer, eventually replaced Desmond at the school district when he resigned in 1984, but as a testament to all he did, she said, when he left \u201cthey had to split his job\u201d in two. When Desmond left at the age of 54, to become a consultant to the school district, he told The Bulletin, \u201cIt\u2019s my mid-life career change. I plan on living to 108.\u201d Sadly, he did not live to that age, but he had more than one career after that. Toni Boucher, now Wilton\u2019s state senator, was first elected to the Wilton Board of Education in 1987, the same year Desmond ran uncontested for first selectman. His experience with the school district and finances stood him in good stead for his new job. \u201cHe knew the school system and the roads in Wilton were awful,\u201d at that time, she said. \u201cA lot were dangerously narrow and gravel with no curbs.\u201d Old Wagon Road, in particular she recalled, was a dirt road with a huge hill. The unimproved roads made for dangerous conditions for school buses. Along with straightening out the school district\u2019s finances, Desmond\u2019s big municipal achievement was embarking on Wilton\u2019s \u201cfirst massive road program,\u201d she said, which had to be bonded. As a result, roads were paved and widened. Those that were one lane were made into two. Curbs were put in. \u201cHe made it very safe and more contemporary. That\u2019s really the legacy Ed Desmond left the town,\u201d Boucher said. The expensive program was not embraced by all, and Desmond only served one full term. In 1989, the RTC did not renominate him. Nevertheless, Boucher said of his road program, \u201cin the long-term, looking back, it was what the town needed.\u201d When he completed his term as first selectman, Toscano said, Desmond and his wife Dorothy moved to Florida. Because he was in a new business \u2014 institutional furniture \u2014 Desmond commuted back to Connecticut and would stay with Toscano at his home in Darien. Toscano retired in 2000 and eventually moved to Stuart, Fla. \u201cI stayed friends with Eddie,\u201d he said, adding the two often met for lunch or dinner. Bondeson said although he moved away, Desmond kept in touch with a number of Wilton friends. \u201cI didn\u2019t see him but we would talk once in awhile,\u201d Bondeson said. \u201cI am going to miss him a lot.\u201d Desmond is survived by his wife Dorothy. The couple had no children. There will be no services, Toscano said, per Desmond\u2019s wishes.