WESTPORT, Conn. -- Jo Luscombe’s fingerprints can be found all around Westport. They will be evident for a long time to come.
Luscombe’s major focus these days is the Westport Woman’s Club, the 109-year-old organization that supports a host of community programs. During her 47 years in town, Luscombe has also served as State Representative, chaired the Zoning Board of Appeals and served as President of one of two Westport Rotary Clubs, the first Westport woman to hold such an honor. She has worked on Boards for a number of local organizations, helping to raise funds for The Westport Library and The Westport Historical Society.
Luscombe also oversaw the building of seven major projects during her tenure on the School Building Committee, including a new middle school and high school.
“I really have enjoyed everything I’ve done,’’ Luscombe said. “I’m very satisfied being a Westport resident, and I’m happy to give back to Westport.”
Perhaps Luscombe’s most recognizable service to Westport came during her 10 years as a Republican in the State General Assembly. Luscombe served under Connecticut Governors William O’Neill, Lowell Weicker and John Rowland. “The interesting thing is that my seat mate was Jodi Rell, who succeeded Rowland as Governor,’’ Luscombe said.
Luscombe served in office when the state introduced the state income tax under Weicker. She voted against it. “I had been very careful to poll my constituents, and they did not want it,’’ she remembers.
The long commute on construction-plagued Interstate 95 hastened her exit from public office. “That was a chore,’’ she said. “What I like was it provided the avenue of learning. I met people I never would’ve met. I was happy to do it for my community. I knew what to look out for, and I was able to help my constituents in a lot of ways.”
Luscombe was born in Texas and raised in Latin America. She speaks Spanish and Italian, and traveled extensively before settling in Westport. She also lived in Libya during the 1960s.
Westport has changed significantly since she and her husband, John, moved to town with a dog, a cat and a sailboat. “I am not one to be afraid of change,’’ she said. “I do miss some of the things that were here. I do miss the Mom and Pop shops. I miss that I could walk Main Street and know just about everyone. I still walk Main Street, but I don’t know that many people now.”
Luscombe still works tirelessly on behalf of the Westport Woman’s Club. The volunteer organization is dedicated to raising funds to support the charitable, educational, cultural and public health services in Westport. It is one of only two women’s clubs in the state that rents its landmark property for charitable purposes.
“It truly is an organization that has something of interest for any woman that wants to join,’’ Luscombe said. “It really does provide a lot of opportunities to meet other women and to give back to the community. It’s very unique.”
Luscombe said her success as a Westport leader stems from the people with whom she has worked. “You have to be able to see the forest for the trees,’’ she said. “There are so many capable and talented people in Westport. They see a need, and they want to go out and take action.”
After more than four decades of public service, even Luscombe’s husband, now retired, wonders when she will slow down. The truth is, she can’t. Not yet, anyway.
“I’m happiest when I’m very busy,’’ Luscombe said. “As long as I think I can contribute, I’ll do something. I do get away from time to time. I’m a realist, and I know there will come a time when someone will want to come and take over. For the time being, Westport can count on me being involved.”