Authors Posts by Kyle Barr

Kyle Barr

Kyle Barr
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Paige Relyea was reported missing Monday, Jan. 20. Photo from SCPD

Police have reported that Paige Relyea, who had been reported missing Jan. 20 after she was last seen leaving her home in a 2009 gray Toyota Corolla was found dead in Syosset Jan. 23.

Nassau county Police Department detectives are currently investigating.

*Original story*

Suffolk County Police reported a Nesconset woman has been reported missing.

Paige Relyea, 19, was reported missing by a family member Jan. 20 at approximately 12:45 p.m. Relyea lived at 3 Premier Court, and was last seen leaving her home Jan. 19 at around 12:30 p.m. in a 2009 gray Toyota Corolla with New York plate HSA 5877.

Relyea is white, 5 feet 3 inches tall and approximately 160 pounds. She has brown hair, brown eyes, wears glasses and has multiple ear piercings. She was last seen wearing jeans, a green sweater and brown boots.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on Relyea’s location to call 911 or the 4th Squad at 631-854-8452.

At the Jan. 1 fundraiser, Patti Kozlowski, left with tie-dye shirt, Danielle Warsaw, Kate HIggins, Tara HIggins, flanked by Warsaw’s four daughters. The HIggins said the family showed real strength after the tragedy of their father passing. Photo from Kozlowski

On New Year’s Day, Tara Inn in Port Jefferson was flooded with people, from young children to adults, people from Port Jefferson to people in Brentwood, all to support a family who lost their father from cancer.

Locals and attendees helped raise close to $20,000 for the Warsaw family of Manor Park. Wayne Warsaw, a teacher and football coach in the Brentwood school district, died Dec 8. at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. He had only received news of his diagnosis of neuroendocrine cancer 30 days before he passed.

His family, which includes his wife Danielle and four young girls, all attended the fundraiser. One of the children had also battled and fought off cancer at a young age.

Tara and Kate Higgins, whose family owns Tara Inn, said well over 100 people came to the event. Funds were raised through raffles and T-shirt sales. On those shirts there was a quote from Wayne Warsaw saying, “Life’s too short, do what you love and do it with all your heart.”

The Higgins normally provide the food and drink for the fundraiser, absorbing the cost to the business themselves. Bartenders also donate their time and tips. The place was packed “wall-to-wall,” said Kate Higgins, who helps run the restaurant full time.

“It was great to see Port Jeff and the businesses go out for this.”

Kathleen Barber Mercante

Other businesses in the community also donated their time and efforts to the event. Just a few examples include Terryville’s Port Jeff Sports, which donated shirts, Butcher Boy in Mount Sinai donated food and Joe DeNicola, the owner of Ruvo in Port Jeff and Del Fuego in St. James, donated gift cards for the raffles.

Brentwood’s South Middle School Assistant Principal Kathleen Barber Mercante, a Port Jefferson resident, also thanked all the people who donated their time for the event.

“It was great to see Port Jeff and the businesses go out for this,” she said at a Jan. 6 village meeting. 

Patti Kozlowski, who runs the grassroots community organization North Shore Neighbors Helping Hands, learned about the family through their GoFundMe, which as of now has raised over $19,000 for the family. Her group normally helps local families fight cancer, and so she reached out to the person organizing the GoFundMe and brought it to Higgins’ attention.

She said that once Danielle Warsaw learned about her husband’s diagnosis “all bets were off.”

The night of the fundraiser was filled with both Tara Inn regulars, who often support the restaurant’s fundraisers, and of many friends, family and community members of the Manor Park family.

“It was a complete cross section of the community,” Kozlowski said. “It warms my heart to bring so many aspects of their community together.”

The Higgins family has had generations now of providing such fundraisers. Joseph Higgins was honored by TBR News Media in 2017 for his help in getting over $15,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief, along with years of other fundraisers including for the employees of Billie’s 1890 Saloon after a devastating fire. Previous fundraisers held at Tara Inn also helped the Port Jefferson School District with over $7,000 to construct their veterans memorial outside the high school.

“We try to do it for an individual or family rather than a major organization — they get all the funds,” Tara Higgins said.

Her sister agreed that it was less of a generally nice thing to do, but more of an obligation.

“I almost feel like it’s our responsibility, that the community has supported this business for over 40 years, it’s just a small way we can pay back,” Kate Higgins said. 

 

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The pro-Trump sign hung up Jan. 21 was the same sign the shop hung in 2017 during inauguration. Photo by David Luces

In time for the start of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump (R),  a banner was hung above Roger’s Frigate candy and ice cream shop in Port Jeff reading “In Trump We Trust” on the building’s second floor. 

Barabara Sakovich, the village clerk, said the building and planning department has issued a new order to remedy to the owner, George Wallis, after it was hung. The village has maintained the sign violates code 250-31D regarding signs, specifically the size and material of the sign being hung across the building’s second floor.

Frigate General Manager Roger Rutherford did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The clerk said she had already received some complaints as of Wednesday, but other than the violations of code, the village cannot restrict freedom of speech.

The business owner has five days, starting Jan. 21, to remove the sign or face a financial penalty.

The sign that was first spotted Jan. 21 was the same banner hung on the building in 2017 during the president’s inauguration, which had caused both ire and praise from the local community. That sign had been ordered down by the Village of Port Jefferson, saying it violated village code.

In October last year, the village board unanimously passed a resolution reducing the number of days a sign can be up before it must be removed from 30 to five. Village Attorney Brian Egan said the change was to cut down on time that the board felt was too long for a violating sign to be up, especially when applying for a permit is “not burdensome.”

He added that the courts and village comply with a broad reading on the first amendment, but municipalities such as the village have rights to impose “content-neutral” regulations, such as size, material, ect. Those regulations were in place before the frigate originally installed the sign in 2017.

The candy store owner had put up the same sign three years ago in January 2017, during Trump’s inauguration. The banner caused several days of controversy before it was taken down. Rutherford said at the time the plan had already been to take the sign down after a few days. 

Reaction on community Facebook groups was similarly divided as it was three years ago, with some congratulating the shop while others claimed they had been boycotting the shop since 2017.

Wallis has been a character in Port Jefferson for decades, and the Frigate has become a major staple within that community. The owner of the candy store, as well as the neighboring The Steam Room, has also been known as a maverick in some of his past decisions on his properties, such as in 2002 when he briefly replaced a statue of Thomas Jefferson with one of an eagle to commemorate those lost in 9/11, according to the New York Times.

Additional reporting by David Luces

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Robert Lee Berran

Robert Lee Berran, formerly of Setauket, died Jan. 15. He was 96.

 Bob was born in Mount Vernon, New York, Dec. 24, 1923, and was raised in Scarsdale. Between the ages of 19 and 22, he served as a medic during World War II under General Patton’s Third Army in Europe.

After the war he studied at the Art Students League in New York City from 1947 to 1950. After leaving the Art Students League, he painted movie posters for 20th Century Fox. Four years later he joined the Illustrators Group where artists were predominately from the Haddon Sundbloom School of Painting. His work at the Illustrators Group was for prestigious clients such as Ford and Coca-Cola.

Subsequently Bob illustrated for the Seventh Day Adventists for their series of children’s books “My Bible Friends,” which are still popular today. In 1969 Bob began to paint paperback book covers mostly for Avon, Ballantine, Harlequin and Fawcett among others. He then joined Mendola Ltd, an artist’s representative group, for 17 years, and Hankins-Tegenborg for another 11 years. Then computerized art arrived and put many talented artists out of work. Bob was fortunate, he was introduced to the art director of a publishing company, Quadriga Art. He worked for them for almost 25 years painting religious artwork, to which he was happy to return as it was his first love as an artist. He also enjoyed painting portraits of adults, children and pets. His career spanned over 70 years.

Bob married Suzanne Marie Culbertson in 1952. They have three children, Kathryn (Edward Gutleber), Kristine (Gordon Hamilton) and Scott along with three grandchildren Kathryn, Eddie and Irene Gutleber. Bob and Suzanne lived in Stony Brook for 43 years before moving to Vero Beach, Florida, in 2004. Bob was a member of the Society of Illustrators until his death.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Jan. 24 at First Presbyterian Church, Vero Beach. In lieu of flowers, donations to American Cancer Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Shriners Hospitals for Children would be appreciated. An online guest book is available at www.lowtherfuneralhome.com.

Roscoe Loper Jr.

Roscoe Loper Jr., a lifelong resident of Port Jefferson, died Oct. 10. He was 99.

He was born Sept. 13, 1920, in Port Jefferson and was the son of Anna and Roscoe Loper Sr.

Loper was an Army veteran of World War II and a retired bay constable for the Town of Brookhaven. He also enjoyed camping and boating. 

Left to cherish his memory are his daughters, Diane and Sharon; son, Roscoe Loper III; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and many other family members and friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Alvaretta; parents, Roscoe and Anna; brother, Wesley; and grandson, Roscoe IV.

Services were held at Bryant Funeral Home. Loper was afforded full military honors at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of Setauket. Visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guest book.

Francis ‘Duke’ J. Lupardo

Francis “Duke” J. Lupardo, 86, a longtime community resident, died Oct. 8.

He was born Oct. 1, 1933, in Brooklyn and was the son of Amelia and John Lupardo.

“Duke” was a retired electrical engineer for the New York Telephone Company, a member of the Democratic committee, enjoyed reading, dancing, golf and the stock market. He was a sociable, humorous and generous man who loved a good martini.

He was a Navy veteran of the Korean War.

Left to cherish his memory are his daughters Carrie Gorecki and Patty (William) Seltzer; two grandchildren; one great-grandchild; his sister Maria; along with other family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Rose, son John, sister Ann and brothers Neil and John.

Services were held at Bryant Funeral Home Oct. 12 along with full military honors.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of East Setauket. Visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guest book.

Donations can be made to the American Cancer Society or the American Kidney Foundation in his memory.

Michael J. Pacilio Sr.

Michael J. Pacilio Sr., 81, a longtime community resident, died Dec. 2.

He was born Oct. 25, 1938, in Brooklyn, the son of Marie and John Pacilio.

Michael was a retired teacher for Northport High School, and he was an artist that enjoyed painting and sculpting. He was also an Army veteran of the Vietnam War.

Left to cherish his memory are his daughter Michele; son Michael; two grandchildren; along with other family and friends.

Services were held at Bryant Funeral Home Dec. 6. He was afforded full military honors at Calverton National Cemetery.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of East Setauket. Visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guest book.

Lillian Meehan

Lillian M. Meehan, of Port Jefferson, died Nov. 4. She was 90.

She was born Dec. 16, 1928, in Huntington, the daughter of Jane and William Fisher.

Lillian was a retired secretary for Shell Oil. In her free time, she enjoyed reading, gardening and spending time with family.

Left to cherish her memory are her daughters, Mary Jane and Barbara; sons, Thomas, Peter and Brian; 12 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; sisters, Jane and Patricia; and many other family members and friends.

Services were held at Infant Jesus R.C. Church. Interment was at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Huntington.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of Setauket. People can visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guestbook.

Angelina Landi

Angelina Landi, of Port Jefferson Station, died Oct. 6. She was 94.

She was born October 12, 1924, in Manhattan and was the daughter of Carmela and Ignazio DeLuca.

Landi was a retired teacher for the Three Village School District and a member of the Knights of Columbus and senior club at St. Gerard R.C. Majella Church. She enjoyed traveling in her off time.

Left to cherish her memory are her daughters, Rachel (Michael) Case and Veronica (Paul) Wingler; three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; two sisters, Josephine and Philipina; and many other family members and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Felix, and sister, Jean.

Services were held at St. Gerard R.C. Majella Church in Terryville. Interment was at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of Setauket. People can visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guestbook.

Contributions made to the St. Gerard R.C. Majella Church in her memory would be appreciated.

Hanne Woods

Hanne Edith Woods, of Miller Place, died Nov. 7. She was 90.

She was born Dec. 24, 1928, in Setauket and was the daughter of Elysa and Alf Hoffmoen.

Hanne was a retired secretary for the Three Village school district and a member of the Sons of Norway. In her off time, she enjoyed golf, bridge, bowling, singing and spending time with family.

Left to cherish her memory are her daughter, Candace; two grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and other family members and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank; daughter, Patricia; sister, Ruth; and brother, Robert.

Services were held at the Bryant Funeral Home Nov. 11. Interment was at the Washington Memorial Park cemetery in Mount Sinai.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of Setauket. People can visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guestbook.

Dain Becker 

Dain Becker, “Chief” of Northport, died on Dec. 20 at 65 years of age. Beloved husband of Mina (née Parezo); loving father of Nicholas and Derek Becker; dear brother of Alan and Karan Becker; fond brother-in-law of Dee Lynch, Marlene Weldon and Paul Parezo. Also loved by his nieces and nephews. Visitation was held at Nolan Funeral Home, Northport, Dec. 23. Funeral Mass was celebrated Dec. 24 at St. Anthony of Padua Church, East Northport. Private cremation followed.

 

Florence R. Christie 

Florence R. Christie of Greenlawn died on Dec. 22 at 93 years of age. Beloved wife of the late William; loving mother of William Christie Jr. (Patty), Linda Wilson (Brian), Barbara McLean (Christopher), Patty Christie and Carolyn Gulotta (Ronald); cherished grandmother of Katie McGinn (Casey), William Christie III, Patrick Christie, Christie Bonasera (John), Brian Wilson (Bridget), Jaime Pochtrager (Daniel), Megan Sorvino (Vic), Andrew Gulotta, Christian Gulotta, Caileigh Gulotta and Caroline Gulotta; adored great-grandmother of Liam, Zach, Jack, Charlie and Finn. Visitation was held at Nolan Funeral Home, Northport, Dec. 26. Funeral Mass was celebrated Dec. 27 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Greenlawn. Private cremation followed. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Center of Hope Foundation, Attention: Accounting Office, 51 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776. (Please make checks payable to: Center of Hope Foundation) or made electronically at www.maryhaven.chsli.org/giving.

Bob Lynch and his dog Kallie visit local schools to offer therapy dog services. Photo by Kyle Barr

Bob Lynch and his dog Kallie are magnetic, or at least it seems that way to watch people come forward, asking gingerly if they can pet the dog, her tail waving frantically.

Coming into the TBR News Media offices, Kallie was the star of the show, and Lynch just let her work her magic. She doesn’t make a sound, instead just walking toward people asking to be petted. 

Lynch, a 73-year-old Mount Sinai resident, has been volunteering his time working with therapy dog services for the past several years. He’s owned Kallie, a keeshond, since she was a puppy, and they have been a team for five years. Though he works part time as a risk management consultant, he finds his biggest joy nowadays is taking Kallie where she’s needed most, on a voluntary basis, through the local chapter of Love on a Leash, which provides these services free of charge.

“[Keeshonds] were bred to be babysitters — when they see kids they light up, they love kids, and going to school is perfect for that.”

– Bob Lynch

Kallie has been to nursing homes, veterans homes and hospitals, but where she’s been that her breed might be best at is at schools. 

“[Keeshonds] were bred to be babysitters — when they see kids they light up, they love kids, and going to school is perfect for that,” he said. “The work in itself is fulfilling, you walk into a room and see the smiles, and see the demeanor of the people change very quickly.”

Lynch will soon be at the Port Jefferson high and middle schools often as part of a new pilot program in the district that they say will relieve stress among students.

Christine Austen, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said she was contacted by Lynch last year and submitted it to the curriculum committee as a pilot, which they approved. The pilot program will run twice a month for four months starting in February and ending in May. A mailer and email will be sent to parents asking them whether they would like to opt out of such visits with the dog, whether it’s from allergies or a fear of animals. Austen said the decision of whether the dog is allowed in certain classes would be treated like allergies.

When presented at the Jan. 14 board meeting, some trustees expressed concerns about safety. Austen said the dog trainer would not be allowed alone with a student at any time and would always have a faculty member present.

Tara Sladek-Maharg, who teaches social studies and psychology in both the middle and high schools, originally brought in a therapy dog for her AP psychology class last year. She had become enthused about the idea of a therapy dog in the classroom after witnessing firsthand what a demonstrably positive effect it had on her own father, when trainer Linda Christian and her dog Murphy, also of Love on a Leash, came to Stony Brook University Hospital and showed him love and compassion after he had a seizure and was going through rehabilitation.

“He goes into rehab and he just sits and goes to each individual person and just lays his head down on them — petting the dog is just so calming,” she said. 

Bringing Murphy into the classroom so that the students could review classical conditioning was a transformative experience, Sladek-Maharg said. She has done more research into just why these dogs have such a positive impact on so many. The research shows that being around such dogs has a significant effect on a person’s neurotransmitters and hormones and significantly reduces fear and stress.

Studies have also shown such animals have a positive effect on elementary school students, especially in helping them speak up in public or in class.

“Today our students are very stressed — our staff is very stressed, so having the presence of a dog is just a wonderful outlet,” she said. “They don’t discriminate, especially if they are trained therapy animals. They don’t have any reason to make somebody feel self-conscious, and they have a calming effect on us.”

“Just petting the dog, they get this feeling of unconditional love.”

– Catherine Lynch 

Other school districts that have experimented with therapy dogs in classrooms have come away talking of success. Lynch has been a regular at events hosted in the Longwood school district, Miller Place School District and Ward Melville in the Three Village district. 

Miller Place High School Library Media Specialist Catherine Lynch brings in therapy dogs once a year during testing to help students relax during such a stressful time. One thing she has noticed is students regularly put away their phones when interacting with the dogs, instead talking and petting the dogs or speaking with each other.

“Just petting the dog, they get this feeling of unconditional love,” she said, adding she would like to see the program expanded to multiple times throughout the school year.

In the Comsewogue school district, special education teacher Tom King has been taking his therapy-trained labradoodle to his classes for years. Last June, during exam season, the district brought in multiple dogs into the school cafeteria to interact with students. 

Love on a Leash is a national organization that started in San Diego in the 1980s as a volunteer organization for therapy dogs. The organization has expanded to include chapters across the U.S. and several thousand members. The Long Island chapter was founded about a decade ago and includes over 150 members and just around 25 “active” participants covering Suffolk, Nassau and parts of Queens.

Theresa Schwartz, the chapter president, said schools have been expanding such programs with therapy dogs. When she started about three years ago, schools would ask her to come in during testing times, but that has expanded into doing reading programs in elementary schools, after-school wildlife clubs, SEPTA events and even offering support services during emotionally fraught times, such as when a teacher or a student passes away.

The fact that Love on a Leash is a nonprofit volunteer organization makes the program unique, Lynch said. From the start, people who train the dogs and take them around are also their owners, living with them 24/7, and they have personally seen the ways a dog has helped bring people who are truly suffering a little bit of joy.

“I think I can speak for most of our volunteers doing this kind of thing, [it] makes the team, the dog and the handler, feel better, and makes other people feel better,” she said. “You see what joy your dog can bring to other people.”

Young people in an environment like school, Austen said, respond especially to animals. It has even had a positive impact on faculty.

“It just seems to take down the level of anxiety,” she said. “There are so many instigators of that, whether it’s cellphone use or social media — all of that constant stimulation. Then there are the academics at the high school, and the push to perform.”

If successful, which she expects the program will be, she wants to expand it to the elementary school, where studies have shown therapy dogs have a positive impact on helping people speak up in class.

 

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Senior Joe Goodrich goes for the pin on his opponent. Photo from Mel Jacoby

The Mount Sinai High School Mustangs wrestling team beat John Glenn at John Glenn High School Friday, Jan. 17 to win League VII and advance to the Suffolk County playoffs with teams from Shoreham-Wading River, Mattituck, Port Jefferson, John Glenn and Southampton.

Eighth-grader Brayden Fahrbach and senior Matt Campo both showed their stuff on the mat Jan. 17. Photo from Mel Jacoby

In an impressive victory over John Glen, Mount Sinai showed off their skills, led by seniors Matt Campo (31-2), Joe Goodrich (35-0), Mike O’Brien (31-4), Ryan Shanian (26-8), Gian Luca Ferrara; along with juniors Brenden Goodrich and Jack Tyrell. They all scored impressive wins.

Brayden Fahrbach, an eighth grader, continued his winning streak (34-0) with a pin.  Fahrbach is ranked number 1 in New York State D-2 at 99 lbs.

Mount Sinai will wrestle next at Center Moriches in the semifinals on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 4:30 p.m., with the finals at Bay Shore High School on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2:30 p.m.

The winner of the Suffolk County Championship will travel to Syracuse where they will compete at the SRC Arena and Events Center Feb. 1 for the New York State Dual – D2 Championship. Mount Sinai was the winner of this tournament in 2018 and 2019.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin. File photo by Kevin Redding

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) was named to President Donald Trump’s (R) legal defense team regarding the Senate’s impeachment trial, which just began today, Jan. 21.

Seven other members of the U.S. House of Representatives have also been named to the team as well. Zeldin has been a big proponent of the president and has decried the impeachment trial constantly on cable news shows and on Twitter. The other members of the team have also been outspoken allies of Trump, including fellow Rep. Elise Stefanik, whose district includes a large part of upstate New York. 

“The President NEVER should have been impeached in the first place!” Zeldin wrote to Twitter, also congratulating his fellow congress members on being assigned to the legal team.

The White House statement announcing Zeldin’s position said that such officials have already provided guidance to the White House Team, and derided the impeachment proceedings in the house, saying it was “concocted” by Democrats.

People planning to run against Zeldin were quick to condemn him for accepting the position. In a release, Nancy Goroff, a Stony Brook Democrat planning to run for the 1st congressional seat, said the congressman “has his priorities upside down and backwards, caring more about lying for President Trump than standing up for his constituents.”

For a full Q&A of Zeldin and his thoughts on impeachment, visit: http://tbrnewsmedia.com/one-on-one-with-lee-zeldin/

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Smithtown East sophomore Carly Bigliani (R) battles down low in a league IV game against Central Islip Jan.17. Bill Landon photo

The Bulls of Smithtown East trailed by 6 at the halftime break, but visiting East Islip dropped the hammer the rest of the way, outscoring East by 22 points to put the game away 58-30 in a League IV matchup Jan. 17. 

Senior guard Katie Biglianni led Smithtown East in scoring with 8 points, her younger sister Carly, a sophomore, netted 6, as did freshman Ava Mueller. Paige Doherty, Briana Durland and Becky Hannwacker all scored.

East Islip remains undefeated in league play at 7-0 while the loss drops the Bulls to 1-6 with five games remaining. Smithtown East retook the court with a road game against Bellport Jan. 22, and lost 37 to 42.

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Jean Sparozic passed Jan. 12.

Jean Sparozic passed Jan. 12 in West Newbury, MA. He was 93, and had residences in Huntington, Port Washington and Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Sparozic was the beloved husband of the late Joyce Dendievel Sparozic; the loving father of Jill Morrison, Suzy Sparozic, and Wendy Dirkes; the adored grandfather of Jonathan and Ryan; and the dear brother of Marie Gunderson.

Jean Sparozic with his late wife Joyce Dendievel Sparozic.

Reposing at Austin F. Knowles, Inc. Funeral Home, located at 128 Main St. Port Washington Friday, Jan. 17 from 4 to 8 p.m. Graveside service is Saturday, Jan. 18 at 11 a.m. at Nassau Knolls Cemetery.

For over 40 years, Sparozic was owner of Amoureuse Couture, a 7th Avenue Evening Gown Mfg. Amoureuse Couture in NYC, making glamorous custom formal gowns for such notables as Mamie Eisenhower, wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Opera singer, Beverly Sills, Kathryn Harken (the wife of Zero Mostel), Rudy Giuliani’s second wife, Donna Hanover for President George H.W. Bush’s inauguration, a Saudi Prince’s daughter, Rose Mary Clooney, amongst celebrity clients, with a Fashion Show at Studio 54 in its heyday. He also sold gowns to such stores as Saks, Hirshleifer’s on Miracle Mile, and many more around the country. Before opening his own company, he worked with Bill Blass and Oleg Cassini amongst others notable fashion industry giants.

His life began Sept. 3, 1926 in Masny, France. As a child he was educated at a convent with his sister and his mother, a devout Catholic had high hopes he would enter the seminary. Sparozic had other ideas and wanted to become a merchant sea captain and see the world. At 16, that dream became a reality when he joined the French Merchant Marines during World War II, making close to 40 trips to the U.S. and other ports of call. Many times, the ships carried American soldiers and supplies back to war torn France and other sea ports. The first time, each time after he came to New York Harbor, he would never forget the sight of seeing the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom.

While in New York City, during free time, he would visit the USO French Canteen, where he met his future bride, Joyce Dendievel, a beautiful, young British and French fashion designer. Joyce was fluent in French and was a volunteer at the canteen for the war effort. Jean had tickets to Radio City Christmas Show and the romance bloomed. Joyce was smitten with Jean’s French accent and Johnny Depp good looks. After several trips back and forth to France, at 19 years old, Jean decided he wanted to make a life with Joyce in the U.S., and they were married. Not knowing English, it was rough at first finding work. After moving to Port Washington to live with Joyce and her family, Jean worked for a time at Shield’s Plumbing. The couple moved to New York City and he would find himself working at the Waldorf Astoria in the kitchen, until he visited Joyce’s company, and she helped him find work in the garment district. He became fascinated with the pattern makers and started taking night courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where he became proficient in pattern making and tops in his field. At this point, in 1958, Joyce had become a mother to the three girls, and his wife had saved enough to buy a home. In 1966, he started Amoureuse Couture, and the rest is history. He continued taking courses of all sorts well into his 50s. Jean didn’t retire until in his 80s, acting as a consultant and head pattern maker for other firms in New York City’s Garment Center, including Land’s End, and other top brands.

Around this time, Jean also was able to help bring his mother, step-father, sister and her children from Algiers which was war torn from French Algerian War at the time, to live in Port Washington, as well.

Sparozic was an avid sailor and kept his boat moored at the Port Washington Town Dock, taking his family out sailing and fishing. The couple had spent many summer’s in Montauk camping and fishing, as well. Jean’s other love was restoring old Mercedes Benz in his spare time, well into his 80s, and traveling. He will be sorely missed.

Clothing items and other miscellaneous items left near the Port Jefferson train station. Photo by Kyle Barr

At 7 in the morning, the Port Jefferson Train Station is largely deserted. At such an early hour, the morning frost glistened as the sun peaked over the horizon. It’s 39 degrees outside. By 7:30 a.m., the few commuters who travel on the morning’s last scheduled peak train simply stuck their hands in their pockets and waited outside. They were not drawn to the warmth and seats found in the nearby station office.

Port Jeff resident Gordon Keefer arrived at around 7:25 with his small dog, a maltese, carried in the bag beside him. He walks to the station from his home and takes the train from Port Jeff to Penn Station several days a week, but he can’t even remember a time when there were benches outside of the station or on the platform. He said the ticket building gets crowded when the temperature drops low enough, but he’s never seen it be too much of a problem.

“There’s a pro and a con to that,” he said about the prospect of benches. “Otherwise you would have some of the ‘regulars’ coming by.”

Many of those who stood outside waiting for the train did not feel too concerned about the lack of seating, but many understood “why” they weren’t there. As Port Jefferson village, Brookhaven town and Suffolk County continue to look for means to help the homeless population in Upper Port and Port Jefferson Station, village officials said there wouldn’t be any outdoor seating until they can get more support from the state and MTA.

“I hate to think those who are less fortunate are not afforded the same opportunities.”

Michael Mart

At the last Port Jefferson village meeting Jan. 6, one resident’s call for benches at the local train station led to a heated argument between him and local officials.

Michael Mart, a local firebrand, asked why the station lacked outdoor seating compared to other stations on the line. He said the lack of benches was very unfair to the elderly or infirm who want to use the station.

“I hate to think those who are less fortunate are not afforded the same opportunities,” Mart said. 

According to an MTA spokesperson, the LIRR coordinated with the mayor and other local residents to not include the benches when the train station was remodeled “as they were attracting homeless and others who could compromise the safety of customers and cleanliness of the station.”

There are 12 benches in the station’s ticket office, which is open from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily except Thursday when open until 7:15 p.m. 

Mayor Margot Garant said that although the current master plan does not eliminate seating at the train station, she does not support benches that would facilitate the homeless loitering or sleeping on them. Brookhaven Town’s Quality of Life Task Force held a public meeting in December to discuss what’s currently being done, but members described the need for further legislation at every level of government that could better get the homeless population off the streets and into shelters. 

“I have been doing this for 11 years, every concern [with which] people have come to me I have addressed and done everything I can do about it,” the mayor said. “But I will not tolerate the people panhandling, making beds … We have a task force of 40 people around the table, we have been working on this every other week.”

She added there have been multiple calls about homeless in the area, from those sleeping under the tracks, in planters, or in the area surrounding the parking lot. Remnants of clothes and other discarded items are evident in the gravel lot behind what was once known as the Bada Bing restaurant. 

Pax Christi, a temporary homeless shelter located just feet from the station for men aged 16 and up, has come up in conversation during meetings multiple times recently. It’s one of the few shelters in the area that provides lodging for those who need it, but it can only contain people for a short time, as per state law. Residents have complained about people going outside into Pax Christi’s backyard through an unlocked security door, where they say they have harassed and heckled those standing on the platform.

The village has moved to create a higher fence between the platform and the Pax Christi building. The shelter’s director, Stephen Brazeau, told TBR News Media he has no problem with such a fence.

Part of the issue, the mayor said, is due to a lack of MTA police presence at the station, adding there are only a handful on the entire length of the northern rail lines. The MTA has said more officers will be deployed along the LIRR, but no number has yet been specified, the spokesperson said.

Sal Pitti, the president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association and member of the town task force, said the problem is perhaps even more prevalent on his side of the tracks.

“I’ve gotten hundreds of complaints about benches at the train station, we don’t need them,” he said. “The task force physically told the MTA don’t put benches back there.”

“The majority of problems stem from homeless mentally ill people, people who prefer living on the street without restrictions to people who want to use the system to get out of that.” 

Barbara Sabatino

Barbara Sabatino, who along with her husband once owned the Port Jeff Army Navy surplus store before it closed in 2018, said homeless who used to occupy those nearby benches across from her shop at the station negatively impacted her business.

“The majority of problems stem from homeless mentally ill people, people who prefer living on the street without restrictions to people who want to use the system to get out of that,” she said.

Members of Suffolk County Department of Social Services have said one of the hardest tasks of trying to help the homeless is to build trust, and to convince homeless individuals to be taken to a county shelter. It takes time, patience and having the right person there at the right time. 

Mart said part of the issue is too many people have the attitude they don’t wish to deal with or interact with the homeless. 

“If we feel uncomfortable dealing with people that are different, then that’s another issue, and that’s what I’ve seen most up there and heard everywhere else,” he said. “To deprive everyone else of an opportunity to use the train station comfortably is unfair.”