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Anthrax Scare Shakes Conn. Town

November 22, 2001

OXFORD, Conn. (AP) _ People in this small southwestern Connecticut community were hit hard Wednesday by the news that one of their own had become the nation’s latest anthrax victim.

During a midday service at Immanuel Lutheran Church, the Rev. Richard Miesel offered a prayer for Ottilie Lundgren, the 94-year-old parishioner who was a Sunday regular. He knew she had died just a couple hours earlier, but the news had not yet been made public.

``It made me angry,″ said Miesel, who visited Lundgren at Griffin Hospital in nearby Derby over the past several days. ``It’s an evil thing, and whoever is responsible for it needs to be brought to justice.″

Lundgren, a retired legal secretary whose husband died in 1977, lived in a modest ranch-style home in this town of 9,800 about 30 miles southwest of Hartford.

For eight years, she had an appointment every week at the NU-Look Hair Salon, and friends said she was a gardener, a book lover and a fan of all-news cable television stations. Her niece said she rarely left home.

``If that can happen to an old lady who didn’t go out very much, what can happen to us and our children?″ asked Tony Linauro, 68, of Ansonia, a small town about 10 miles from Oxford. He went to Griffin Hospital on Wednesday to learn more about Lundgren’s condition.

``I’m very concerned. I’m 68 years old. I’d like to live a few more years,″ Linauro.

Lundgren used to swim every week with a group of women at the Naugatuck YMCA, said the Rev. Lucille Fritz, pastor of the Oxford United Church of Christ. Friends sometimes brought Lundgren, a classy lady in hat and gloves, to church functions, Fritz said.

``She was a very wonderful woman,″ Fritz said. ``People talked highly of her. She was very well dressed, very well put together. You never would have thought she was 94.″

Not knowing Lundgren was no insulation from the shock.

``It’s scary to think that it could have been anybody in this town,″ said 18-year-old Jessica Allen, working at Oxford Pizza Palace on her Thanksgiving break from Western Connecticut State University.

At the tiny Oxford post office, which shares a room with a barber shop, postal employee Frank Rubino said customers were talking about the case but haven’t changed their daily routines.

``They’re concerned, but you don’t see anyone with gloves getting their mail out of the post boxes,″ he said.

Fred Raymond, who delivered Lundgren’s mail, was on the job Wednesday and is taking the antibiotic Cipro as a precaution.

``I’m feeling fine,″ he said.

About three-fourths of workers at the Seymour post office and the nearby distribution center in Wallingford, where Lundgren’s mail was sorted, are taking the antibiotic as a precaution.

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