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Tuesday, January 22 Local

Former journalist, owner of Monroe music store dies

WESTPORT — Elizabeth Comte Reisman, a former award-winning journalist and the owner of Creative Music Center in Monroe, died Wednesday at the age of 55.

She was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in August 2016, according to her husband, Michael Reisman.

Friends and family remembered her as a tireless supporter of music education who supported a litany of local organizations and music groups, in addition to giving scholarships to local youths for lessons and instrument rentals.

“Her personality is such that she would come into a room and just lighten up that room,” said Kate Rich, who now runs the store. “There was a brightness and a directness about her that made her very approachable.”

Reisman served on the boards of directors of the National Association of School Music Dealers and the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), which listed the Creative Music Center among in its list of the Top 100 Music Dealers nationwide in seven of the last eight years.

Joe Lamond, president and CEO of the NAMM, said Reisman’s dedication to music education went beyond the Monroe area, taking part in the group’s “fly-in” to Washington, D.C., to lobby lawmakers to commit more federal funding to music education.

“As a community music store, she really set the tone for what a local business could be,” Lamond said.

Rick Sadlon, director of music at Darien Public Schools, said Reisman was a recipient of the Connecticut Arts Administrators Association Advocacy Award for her “exemplary service to music education community.”

“We always felt that she was a strong advocate for us and she was a team member in our corner to promote music education throughout our state,” Sadlon said. “She will really be missed a lot by many of us.”

Before running the music store on Route 25 in Monroe, Reisman worked as a journalist, first reporting on the sports business for publications including The Sporting News and The National Sports Daily.

She went on to Forbes and Smart Money magazines, where she won three National Magazine Awards, and Golf Digest, where she led the launch of Golf Digest Women and served as its managing editor.

Reisman left journalism in 2002 to return to her first love — music — having played flute with the Oakland Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Bay Area Wind Symphony while growing up in California.

As her husband, Michael, recalled Thursday, their daughter, Samantha, was taking piano lessons in Monroe when they learned the store would be closing in 2002.

“About an hour later (Elizabeth) said ‘You know what? I think we should buy the store,’” Michael said. “She was a very determined lady when she made up her mind on something.”

Under Reisman’s ownership, the store moved from a 500-square-foot space in the back of a commercial condo complex to a new 5,000-square-foot building that now has 10 studios and dozens of employees.

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Rich said Reisman was a very dear friend in addition to being her boss.

“I can’t tell you my gratitude for being lucky enough to have our time together,” she said.

Michael Reisman echoed the sentiment.

“It’s a real loss but she had a very full life in 55 years,” he said.

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