Michael W. Varese, 91, Writer and Restorer

Nov. 13, 1925 - March 27, 2017
Michael W. Varese, Nov. 13, 1925 - March 27, 2017

Michael William Varese, who restored fine furniture in his East Hampton workshop for 35 years and wrote over 300 columns about furniture for The New York Times and Country Living magazine, died on March 27 in Lantana, Fla., at the age of 91.

He had been ill for about a year with end-of-life dementia and his death was attributed to anemia. With his wife, the former Elisabeth Bastion, who survives, Mr. Varese moved to Florida in 2007. He died at the Carlisle Palm Beach, a senior residence, where the couple had lived for about four years.

In addition to maintaining a workshop in their small red-shingled house on Osborne Lane in the village, Mr. Varese taught continuing education classes in the proper care of furniture and belongings —  everything “from  tea trays to blanket chests,” his wife wrote. 

Mr. Varese, who was born in London on Nov. 13, 1925, and grew up in Orpington, Kent, fought with the British Royal Navy during World War II, serving aboard ships that, he once said, took him twice around the world. “The hardest and coldest run was with the Arctic convoy, a 2,000-mile trip to Murmansk to supply British and United States ships” with supplies for Russia and the eastern front after their invasion by Germany, his wife wrote. “He got a medal for surviving, the Arctic Star.” She added that he had bought a formal white jacket for parades.

After the war, Mr. Varese worked for banks on both sides of the Atlantic. A skilled and passionate oarsman, he rowed on the Thames, “in all kinds of weather,” with the rowing club of the National Provincial Bank before being transferred to New York City as the bank’s representative. He met his wife-to-be, a Texan, in the city and they married in London on July 24, 1965.  They spent the next three years in London before choosing to live in America and make East Hampton their year-round home.

Mrs. Varese said her husband learned about scalloping and clamming from local old-timers and it brought him many happy hours, often at Sammy’s Beach. Baking bread was his hobby, and he won two gold ribbons for his breads at county fairs in Riverhead. He also produced “many a French baguette for yearly parties and picnics.”

Mr. Varese’s ashes will be dispersed in part at Henley-on-Thames, England. Memorial contributions have been suggested for the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, P.O. Box 901, Wainscott 11975.