Biographical Information:

Dates: 1885-1969Dates in Ridgefield: 1941-1948
journalism
columnist, Pulitzer Prize recipient
Westbrook Pegler, the caustic columnist who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1941 for his exposure of labor union racketeering, lived here from 1941 to 1948 during which time he seemed more famous locally for his attack on the plumbing code and his efforts to collect bumpers than as a national columnist. Both his local campaigns occurred during World War II. While expanding his 100-acre estate on Old Stagecoach Road, he wanted to use cheaper, unlicensed plumbers, and the town code, modeled after the state’s and supported by unions, required licensed plumbers. Pegler called it discriminatory and tried to get the Town Meeting to abandon the code. He failed. He was more successful in his campaign to get people to turn in steel car bumpers toward the war effort–the cover of Life Magazine once featured him removing his own bumper in front of Town Hall. The nationally syndicated writer started out as a sports columnist in the 1920s, but turned to politics and labor. Famous for his conservative, anti-Communist writings, he “used his typewriter like a meat ax,” said one critic. In a 1950 column, he described Ridgefield as “an old aristocratic town of moldering white mansions on a white main street” that “has quietly become infested with wealthy Sixth Columnists.” He wrote a syndicated column called “Mister Pegler” for Scripps Howard starting in 1933, and later moved the column to Hearst Syndicate in 1944. He became a sharp critic of FDR; Eleanor Roosevelt; the New Deal, and the civil rights movement. By the mid-1950s, he fell out of favor. In later years he wrote for the ultra-conservative John Birch Society’s American Opinion, which asked him to leave because of his extremism. He died in Arizona in 1969, aged 74.

–Notable Ridgefielders–Jack Sanders; Wikipedia