Stew Leonard’s son’s ‘spirit’ lives in new Norwalk swim school | #schoolsaftey

“We had a whole bunch of adults out around our pool and other children,” his father Stew Leonard Jr. recalled, 34 years later. “My wife thought I was watching my son and I thought my wife was watching my son.”

Quickly, the family’s 1989 New Year’s Day celebration at their vacation home in St. Maarten turned into an unimaginable tragedy. 

“We weren’t aware he was in the pool. We ran all around the house. It was panic time,” Leonard said. “In a matter of minutes, we found him floating face down in the water. We tried CPR. We rushed him to the hospital, but it was too late. He passed.” 

The Leonards, owners of the Norwalk-based grocery chain Stew Leonard’s, transformed the pain of losing their 21-month-old son into a powerful mission to educate the community about water safety. More than 30 years later, that mission has culminated in the opening of a swim school in Norwalk in his honor.

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