Hundreds Turn out to Honor Putnam Indian Field School’s Beloved Marianne Riess

By Leslie Yager

The Water Club was a great spot for a retirement party for beloved Putnam Indian Field School Head of School, Marianne Riess, who is set to retire on June 30th, after 36 years.

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Marianne Riess, Annesley MacFarlane and Michelle Binnie. Credit: Leslie Yager

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Riess has been an integral part of the school for so many years that guests likened her tenure to that of Barbara Walters and it will be difficult for some to imagine the preschool without her.

cakeWith the Water Club’s windows thrown open to welcome a warm sea breeze, staff and parents including Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Ocleppo payed tribute to Riess with hugs, reminiscences, and an enormous cake in the shape of the PIFS campus. Bruce Quakenbush said he wouldn’t miss the event, as he had four children go through PIFS, for a total of nine years as a parent at the preschool.

Riess has been with the school since the merger of Putnam and Indian Field School in 1978. Prior to joining PIFS, Riess taught English for five years at Central Middle School back when it still Central Junior High School. In fact, Anne Martine Cook, longtime teacher at PIFS herself, said Riess was her Engish teacher at CMS in 1967.

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Marianne’s husband Mike Riess, her brother Dave Gallagher, and son Dan Riess. Credit Leslie Yager

4 of 7Back in 1971, Fred Wierdsma, Greenwich resident and teacher at Greenwich Country Day School, founded the Putnam School in 1971 and became its headmaster in 1973.

In 1978, Wierdsma merged his school with Indian Field School, a “little red schoolhouse.” The result of the merger, the Putnam Indian Field School, would represent more than 70 years of combined experience serving community children.

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Michelle and John Binnie, Marianne Riess, Anne Martine Cook and Annesley MacFarlane. Credit: Leslie Yager

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Marianne Riess and Annesley MacFarlane. Credit: Leslie Yager

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PIFS teacher Anne Martine Cook (center) with Richard and Cathy Paukner. Credit: Leslie Yager

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Bruce Quackenbush, former PIFS preschooler Emma James, who is now an 8th grader at Greenwich Academy, and her mother Karen James who was a Board member at PIFS. Credit: Leslie Yager

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Tom Healy, Betsy Wells, Jeffrey Sahrbeck, John Wells, Heather Sahrbeck and Kyle Healy. Credit: Leslie Yager

The Greenwich Water Club is located on the banks of the Mianus River at 49 River Rd. in Cos Cob.  Tel. (203) 661-4033

Putnam Indian Field School is located at 101 Indian Field Road Greenwich. Tel. (203) 661-4629

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