James Pinson-Rose was a big man with a kind heart.
That’s the verbal picture painted by many who knew the longtime Fairfield resident and owner of , who died suddenly on his 31st birthday on March 24. Fairfield police believe his death was attributable to an accidental overdose.
“He was very pleasant, generous, self-effacing and” – pausing for a chuckle – “he made a lot of good sandwiches,” said Kathryn Braun, a local attorney who was an occasional customer at Lucy’s and also familiar with the man’s generosity.
“He was good-hearted. He would donate a couple hundred dollars of food to non-profits,” Braun added. “If he said he was going to bring food (to an event), he’d be there.”
Also a caterer, Lucy’s Kitchen provided the food for the 13th annual Garden Expo held last weekend at . Proceeds benefit River-Lab, a hands-on environmental program of the .
Gay Gasser, who, with Pinson-Rose's mother, Ellen, volunteers as a guide and serves as on the River-Lab board of directors, also spoke warmly of Jim Pinson-Rose.
“A lot of us expect our kids to help (with River-Lab). A lot of kids would complain and hide,” she said. "But Jim always helped. He was so helpful and pleasant for hours and hours and hours.”
Elaine Veisler, a neighbor of the family on Hoyden’s Hill Road, described Pinson-Rose as “a pretty sweet guy” who “seemed a little bit shy.”
“He and his family are environmentalists, down-to-earth people. I never heard anybody say anything bad about him,” she said.
Born in Washington, D.C., James H. Pinson was a 1998 graduate of the Hopkins School in New Haven, where he played football and was named an All-County player in 1997. He was also a member of the Hopkins wrestling team and, as a senior, was the state private school champion and the No. 2-ranked wrestler in New England.
Not long after graduating from Southern Connecticut State University in 2005, with a B.A. degree in economics, Pinson opened Lucy’s Kitchen on Black Rock Turnpike. His unique personality and sense of humor endeared him to Lucy’s customers.
“He was like a kid, 22 or 23 years old, when he opened the place,” said Gias Kasas, a nine-year employee of next door. “He was very nice. We never had any trouble.” Another Swanson’s employee, Rema Halabi, found Pinson to be “very funny.”
In the summer of 2009, a fire swept through the building housing both businesses as well as the adjoining Matsuri Sushi House, forcing all three to cease operations for a year. “We came back together,” Kasas said.
Lucy’s Kitchen was a member of the from July 2006 until November of 2009.
Pinson-Rose's friends say the legal troubles for which he served a brief time in jail — he was convicted in 2001 of risk of injury to or impairing the morals of children — were behind him. Despite being listed on the state's sex offender regisitry, friends say it was consensual. Details of the case were not immediately available.
Responding to a medical call shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday, Fairfield police discovered Pinson-Rose in cardiac arrest on a couch in the family home. He was taken by AMR Ambulance to St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport where he was pronounced dead, police said.
He is survived by his mother, Ellen M. Pinson, and his stepfather, Dr. Daniel Rose, with whom he resided; his sister, Ellen M. Ackerman and her husband, Michael, of Verdi, Nev.; two brothers, Charles B. Pinson-Rose of New York City and William K. Pinson-Rose of Los Angeles, and his partner, Divita Mehta. He also leaves behind his beloved dogs, Harvey and Daisy.
Friends are invited to attend a celebration of his life on Saturday, March 26 at 11 a.m. at the , 50 Reef Road, Fairfield. Friends may greet the family from 10 a.m. until the time of the service. Interment will be private.
Donations may be made in his memory to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 811 W. Evergreen Ave., No. 303, Chicago, IL 60642-2629 or www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org.