Authors Posts by Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan
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Firefighters battle a kitchen fire at Mario's restaurant in East Setauket that traveled into the ceiling. Photo by Donna Deedy
Firefighters battle a kitchen fire at Mario’s restaurant in East Setauket that traveled into the ceiling. Photo by Donna Deedy

In the early morning hours of July 30, members of the Setauket Fire Department along with firefighters from surrounding companies battled a kitchen grease fire at Mario’s restaurant in East Setauket.

Lou Lasser IV of Mario’s said no one was in the restaurant when the fire, which spread to the ceiling, broke out.

Due to the heat, tents were set up in the adjoining parking lot to keep the first responders cool.

The restaurant is closed until further notice.

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Gold Coast's East Setauket location as well as the bank's other branches will soon be part of Investors Bank. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Investors Bancorp, Inc., based in Short Hills, New Jersey, announced its acquisition of Islandia-based Gold Coast Bancorp, Inc. last week.

According to a press release from Investors Bancorp, consideration will be paid to Gold Coast stockholders in a combination of stock and cash valued at $63.6 million. The deal is based on Investors’ July 23 closing price of $11.20. Gold Coast had assets of $563 million, loans of $463 million and deposits of $486 million as of March 31.

“We are pleased to partner with Gold Coast, a commercial bank with deep ties to the Long Island community and a strong track record of growth,” said Investors’ Chairman and CEO, Kevin Cummings in the press release. “This transaction strengthens Investors’ current suburban Long Island franchise and deepens our presence in this large, affluent market.”

Gold Coast founder John Tsunis said in a phone interview that the Long Island bank chain needed larger facilities to support its business. He said it could only facilitate up to $10 million in business as it had a cap.

“To better service our customers, we needed to get more capital to support what our customers are doing,” Tsunis said. “To do that we either had to raise capital in the markets or merge with another bank.”

Tsunis, the current CEO and chairman of Gold Coast, said Investors Bank is the largest commercial bank in New Jersey with approximately a $23 billion balance sheet in contrast to Gold Coast’s $700 million balance sheet.

Investors Bank will be able to offer more services than the smaller community branches of Gold Coast, he said. The new offers will include points and larger facilities.

“With seven branches we’re limited in our reach and our scope around our branches,” Tsunis said.

Gold Coast Bank will now be called Investors Bank and all branches will remain open. In addition to its Islandia headquarters, Gold Coast has locations in Huntington, East Setauket, Farmingdale, Mineola, Southampton and Brooklyn. Investors Bancorp’s CEO and chairman of the board have visited the Island to meet with employees. Most employees are expected to continue working at their branches.

Tsunis will stay on as chairman of the regional advisory board. He said he would continue to facilitate the growth of the relationships Gold Coast has established in its communities. All of the Gold Coast board members have been offered a board position on the Investors board on Long Island as well.

Tsunis said he feels the move will be a good one for Gold Coast customers.

“We endeavored to be a community bank in the areas we serve, and they subscribe to the same philosophy,” Tsunis said.

Investors Bank has 147 branches in New York and New Jersey, with seven located on Long Island. Locations can be found in East Northport, Commack, Wantagh, Mineola, Manhasset, Merrick and Franklin Square.

 

Santa Claus took time off from his vacation to visit pediatric patients at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital July 29.

Decked out in shorts and flip flops topped off with his signature jacket and hat, Santa stopped by the children’s rooms at the hospital delivering gifts with the help of correction officers from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.

For the second year in a row, Correction Officer Peter Lambert organized a toy collection to help Santa with his visit. The officer was impacted by the passing of Ryan Zinna, a child who suffered from medulloblastoma, and the toy drive was conducted in Ryan’s honor.

Patients and their siblings were excited to see Santa, and he didn’t forget the parents as those on hand received Starbucks gift cards.

Santa sat down and talked with each of the patients. Avery, 9, from Florida, who became sick while on vacation, said she would give a bigger toy she received from him to another child since she would be traveling on a plane the next day. Macklin, 11, from Wading River, was painting a model toy when Santa entered his room and told him how he wanted to be an engineer when he grows up. And 12-year-old Brady, from Aquebogue, told Santa he would be both the cops and robbers when he plays with his new toy.

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Max Nielsen at the pitcher’s mound June 4. Photo by John Dielman

The Ward Melville Patriots, the No. 1 seed in their league this year, completed a successful season in 2019.

The team made it to the Suffolk County finals but lost in game 3 to Connetquot. Coach Lou Petrucci said it was the third time the team went up against Connetquot in the finals.

Brady Doran heads to home base April 15. Photo by Bill Landon

For the spring 2019 season, Petrucci said it was difficult to name just one favorite game or play.

“Anytime a kid plays a high school baseball game on his home field, it’s a memorable game,” he said, adding it’s more about what the players take from the game.

It was a season where Max Nielsen, the only five-year player in Ward Melville history, struck out 18 batters in the Suffolk County semifinals. The stats are a Patriots record, according to Petrucci.

Among the accolades he garnered this year, the left-handed pitcher won the Suffolk County Baseball Coaches Association’s 52nd annual Carl Yastrzemski Award for Suffolk County’s top player. He is the third Patriots baseball player to win the coveted award in the last 12 years. Petrucci said, in the past, AJ Nunziato and current Mets pitcher Steven Matz have been among the winners. Nielsen was also named a member of Axcess Baseball’s All Decade Team 2010-2019 second team, and the SCBCA awarded him Suffolk County League 1 Most Valuable Player and All-County Selection, too.

Nielsen, who is already taking two classes at the University of Connecticut this summer, is modest about the awards.

“It’s an honor to receive them,” he said. “It’s all because of my teammates.”

Nielsen said the May 25 Suffolk Class AA elimination game against Commack stands out as a favorite for him. The pitcher, just back from an oblique injury, witnessed his teammate Matthew Franco hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the 6th with two outs and two strikes. The Patriots went on to win the game, 8-6.

If it weren’t for Petrucci, Nielsen said he wouldn’t be playing at his present level. He also credits his fellow teammates Brady Doran, Ethan Farino and Matthew Maurer for their hard work.

Ethan Farino takes a lead off first April 15. Photo by Bill Landon

“Without them, I don’t think we’d be in the position we were in this year,” Nielsen said.

The pitcher said the thing he will miss most about Ward Melville baseball is “playing with the kids I’ve been playing with since [ages] 8, 9, 10.”

Other Patriots racked in SCBCA awards including Farino for All-County, Doran and Maurer for All-League and Ryan Hynes for Academic All-League. Petrucci was the winner of League 1 Varsity Coach of the Year.

Petrucci said in addition to Nielsen playing for UConn, a few of the Patriots are moving on to play college baseball. Doran will play at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire; Farino at Marist College in Poughkeepsie; Maurer at Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut; Bryan Radzinsky at Immaculata University in Immaculata, Pennsylvania; and Patrick Schriffen at College of Old Westbury.

The coach said he thinks the players enjoyed playing baseball at Ward Melville.

“The kids gave their classmates, their parents and many people in the Three Village baseball community exciting baseball memories,” he said.

Participants in the Empower Spinal Cord Injury program held at Stony Brook University play quad rugby. Photo from Empower Spinal Cord Injury

Stony Brook University students and local community members stopped by the Walter J. Hawrys Campus Recreation Center July 23 to check out the latest equipment created to make life easier for those with spinal cord injuries.

Empower Spinal Cord Injury program participant turned mentor Jack Gerard poses with his dog Radar. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Organized by Boston-based nonprofit Empower Spinal Cord Injury, the expo featured vendors from the health care field who specialize in innovative products for individuals with spinal cord injuries. On display were products such as the Action Trackchair that can handle rocky, dirt roads and go through streams, and a wheelchair called permobil that helps those who are paralyzed to maneuver upright. Participants also demonstrated a wheelchair rugby game called quad rugby, also known as murderball, where players sit in custom-made, manual wheelchairs and play a chair-based form of rugby, physical contact and all.

In attendance were participants from Empower SCI’s two-week program that began July 14 at the university. The residential program, in its eighth year at SBU, provides an opportunity for participants to be involved in an immersive rehabilitation experience with a mix of recreational activities such as cycling, yoga, quad rugby and kayaking in Setauket Harbor. Attendees also learn techniques such as how to make getting out of bed and dressing for the day easier on the body.

Stephanie Romano, assistant director of the program, said each year approximately 50 volunteers help a dozen program participants regain independence and passion in activities, as spinal cord injuries alter the ability to control parts of the body.  According to the organization, more than 17,000 people are affected by the injuries each year in the United States.

Andrew Gallo, from Lake Grove, has participated in the program for the last two years. The 28-year-old was injured in December 2016 while diving in the ocean in Florida when he hit a sandbar. He learned about the program through his therapy office, and he said a friend told him, “There’s life before Empower, and there’s life after Empower and that I had to go.”

Participants in the Empower Spinal Cord Injury program held at Stony Brook University play quad rugby. Photo from Empower Spinal Cord Injury

Gallo said it’s difficult for wheelchair users to get together, and he said he learned from his fellow participants several tricks to help navigate the day a little easier.

“To be around like people makes all the difference,” Gallo said. “You get to interact with them and see what they would do at home in their regular lifestyle.”

He said due to this year’s program he had a chance to try kayaking again, something he had done a few times before his accident. After last year’s event, he has tried adaptive hand cycling, and now he’s looking into buying his own bike.

Jack Gerard, of Massachusetts, who was injured three years ago while swimming in Cape Cod, was also in attendance with his service dog Radar, named after the M*A*S*H character. He first attended the program a few years ago when he couldn’t get out of bed or dress on his own. This year he is a mentor.

“We learn to adapt here rather than trying to change things, Gerard said. “So, I just find a different way to do it, and that’s how I go forward in my life.”

Gerard said he wanted to use the skills that helped him look at life differently and share them with others. He said his life is back on track with returning to school at the University of Massachusetts, playing sports and attending social events. The former lacrosse player and high school track and field player is now into quad rugby, adaptive surfing and hand cycling where he recently cycled 750 miles.

Everyone learns from each other, he said, even mentors from volunteers, especially since sometimes people don’t know what’s possible until others show them.

“One of the biggest things is that you have to be vulnerable to be brave,” he said. “There are a lot of things in our lives that we have to figure out by saying maybe this isn’t the right way to do it. I need to push through this wall to find a different way to get around it.”

For more information about Empower Spinal Cord Injury, visit www.empowersci.org.

A rendering of the future rental units located at Heatherwood Golf & Villas in South Setauket. Rendering from Town of Brookhaven Planning Board website

The Brookhaven Industrial Development agency voted to postpone a decision to grant Heatherwood Luxury Rentals tax breaks for construction of rental housing units on its current golf course in South Setauket at a July 17 meeting.

File photo by Andrea Paldy

Lisa Mulligan, Town of Brookhaven director of economic development and CEO of the IDA and Local Development Corporation, said there were more than a dozen residents who attended the meeting and approximately six of them spoke during the public hearing. She said the comments varied from traffic concerns — which she added are outside of the office’s scope — and the tax breaks the company is applying for.

If approved at the IDA’s next meeting Aug. 21, Heatherwood could see its property taxes at the location, which falls in the Three Village and Comsewogue school districts, reduced by $3.76 million over the next 13 years. The package would also include $2,854,000 in sales tax exemptions and $420,000 in mortgage recording tax exemptions for a total savings of more than $7 million.

Last year, the Brookhaven Planning Board approved the proposed plans of Commack-based Heatherwood Luxury Rentals to build on nearly 26 acres of its more than 70-acre golf course on the southeast corner of Arrowhead Lane and Route 347. The new development will be called Heatherwood Golf & Villas and will be a 55-and-over community. The company plans to construct 200 rental housing units — 10 percent of which will be set aside for workforce housing units — and an 8,500-square-foot clubhouse with a pool. Heatherwood also plans to redesign the golf course, reducing it from 18 holes to nine.

Development of the golf course has faced opposition from nearby residents, elected officials and local civic associations since it was first presented in 2014. That year, town Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) sponsored the resolution for a zone change for the property from A Residence 5, which allows one housing unit for every 5 acres, to Planned Retirement Community, which would allow a 55-and-over community. On Dec. 16, 2014, the town board approved it by a 4-3 vote. Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), former Councilwoman Connie Kepert (D-Middle Island) and Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) dissented.

The town board placed conditions on its zone change approval, including requiring Heatherwood owner Douglas Patrick to donate 40 acres of land to the Manorville Farm Protection Area, removing a billboard at the golf course and constructing a sidewalk on the east side of Arrowhead Lane. The town accepted the 40 acres of property in 2015 in lieu of the Pine Barrens Credit redemption required under the Planned Retirement Community code.

Cartright said in an email that within her district the project has been a highly controversial one.

“The community was against it from the get-go, and it was still able to squeak by somehow.”

— Salvatore Pitti

“Numerous residents and organizations have raised concern about this project, notably density and traffic concerns, especially in light of the existing traffic issues at this location,” the councilwoman said. “I stood with members of the community and opposed this application. However, over my objection and vote in opposition, the application was still granted, and open space benefits were provided to other areas outside of our community. The applicant has always touted this project as tax positive to the local school district. This application to the Brookhaven IDA seems to be in clear contravention to the promises made to our community.”

John Gobler, a nearly 50-year homeowner in Heatherwood Village South in South Setauket, is one of the residents who is concerned about traffic. At the July 9, 2018,  planning board meeting, he said the intersection of Arrowhead Lane and Route 347 has been a problem for several years due to the number of cars exiting onto Arrowhead and the timing of lights at the corner, where he has witnessed only four or five cars being able to go through a green light at one time.

Salvatore Pitti, president of the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Civic Association, said in a phone interview the group has been opposed to the development since the beginning. He was on hand for the July 17 IDA meeting where he addressed the residents’ concerns about Heatherwood applying for tax breaks.

“If you’re a contractor, and you don’t have money to build a project, then don’t build it,” Pitti said. “The community was against it from the get-go, and it was still able to squeak by somehow. So why should we be burdening ourselves with less taxes coming our way from a new development when [Heatherwood] is the one who is going to be raking in all the profit.”

Herb Mones, chairperson of the Three Village Civic Association’s land use committee, said the community has not supported the development since it was first proposed in 2014. He said he feels Heatherwood asking for tax breaks is an example of corporate greed.

“We are going to feel the effects of this high-density buildout in the Heatherwood area without any kind of benefit, and for the corporation to now apply for even more advantage, after getting what was millions of a windfall in a zone change, is almost incomprehensible,” he said.

George Hoffman, first vice president of the Three Village Civic Association, said the IDA should reject the request.

“Our civic association was concerned that the zoning was changed without any community input, and we remain concerned that this ill-conceived project now seeks taxpayer-funded incentives like property tax abatements and sales tax exemptions,” he said.

Douglas Patrick could not be reached for comments before press time.

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Jack Raybin, center, on his 100th birthday receives a proclamation from New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright while his wife, Anne Raybin, looks on. Photo by Maria Hoffman

Not many can say a state legislator attended their birthday party, but that’s exactly what happened when Jack Raybin, a 52-year Setauket resident, celebrated his 100th birthday.

Jack Raybin checks out a gift from his grandchildren a few days after this 100th birthday. Photo by Rita J. Egan

New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) stopped by Raybin’s party July 4 to present the centenarian with a proclamation. Englebright said it’s a practice of the assembly members to recognize those who distinguish themselves through unique gifts and generosity.

The assemblyman said when Raybin was a young man, he put aside his dreams to become a civil engineer to serve his country in the U.S. Army during World War II. After telling the party guests that the proclamation bears the seal of the State of New York in solid gold, he turned to Raybin to present the certificate and said, “You, sir, are solid gold.”

A few days after the party, sporting a Brooklyn Dodgers hat, the centenarian said he had a nice time at the party that featured baseball-themed decorations lining the driveway and a cake shaped like the former Ebbets Field stadium. Like many of his generation, Raybin was a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers until the team moved from the borough to Los Angeles in 1957. He then went on to root for the New York Mets.

Born in the East New York section of Brooklyn July 4, 1919, he graduated from Erasmus Hall High School. While he originally studied civil engineering at City College uptown, Raybin said he wound up joining the Army during World War II. He was stationed on the Atlantic Ocean side of Panama. He said he volunteered to join the Army, and at the time there were openings in Fort Tilden and Fort Hamilton in New York, and he expected to serve for a year at either one of them. However, due to there being no volunteers for Panama, names were chosen randomly, and Raybin was selected to serve in that country.

“It was the best thing that happened to me,” he said.

Members of the armed services at Tilden and Hamilton eventually were sent to Europe to fight in World War II; however, he remained in Panama for four years. It was during this time that he met former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who was visiting the troops. He was a captain at the time, and Roosevelt had a question for him.

“Captain, which is your best mess hall?” Roosevelt said.

“That one,” he said, indicating a nearby hall.

“I took one look at her, and I guess I must have fallen in love.”

— Jack Raybin, about when he first met his wife

“Captain, they all should be the best,” she said.

When he returned from Panama, he went back to City College but then transferred to Baruch College, where he majored in business administration. After graduation, he got a job in the field working for a wholesale liquor company. After retiring at 65, he began working at his son-in-law’s company which deals with the laser industry until he was 96, helping with the books and the business side of the operation.

“I was in good health, so I kept working,” he said.

Raybin’s wife, Anne, said the couple moved to Setauket 52 years ago due to its proximity to the beach and the Long Island Rail Road. They raised their children Linda and Paul in the Three Village area.

The two met at Banner Lodge in Connecticut in 1947, and eight months later were married. The centenarian said he remembered she came to the lodge visiting a friend.

“I took one look at her, and I guess I must have fallen in love,” he said.

He said he also remembers taking her on the Ferris wheel where he put his arm around her in the hopes of making out with her.

His wife also remembers the encounter.

“He may be quiet, but he makes his moves,” Anne Raybin said.

When it comes to marital advice, Jack Raybin said it’s about give and take.

“You got to treat your partner as a partner,” he said.

Raybin has seen a lot of change in the world since he was growing up in Brooklyn. He said he remembers going to the store for his mother to pick up ice to keep food cold in an icebox and keeping items such as milk outside the window on a platform in the winter. The centenarian said he still calls a refrigerator an icebox. His family would also have to go to a store if they had a phone call, he said, as the neighborhood phone was in a nearby candy store. An employee would run to a person’s apartment to tell them they had a call, and then they would have to walk down to the store.

Raybin is a grandfather to five and great-grandfather to one, and he said he’s always willing to share his stories about the old days with his family.

“If they’re interested, they’ll ask me about it, and I’ll tell them,” he said.

A photo from Rudy Sunderman's website

On July 16, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced the indictment of Suffolk County Legislator Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic Beach), who has served in the 3rd District since January 2018.

Sunderman, 49, is being indicted for alleged perjury, ethics violations and other offenses in connection with his work as the former district manager of the Centereach Fire District that continued after he become legislator. An independent investigation by the Suffolk County Board of Ethics was referred to the district attorney’s office.

“This was a violation of the very laws that Legislator Sunderman has sworn to uphold,” Sini said. “These laws are in place to prevent potential conflicts of interest for lawmakers, prevent corruption and protect the integrity of ethics investigations.”

Prior to his election to the Suffolk County legislature in November 2017, Sunderman was employed as the district manager for the Centereach Fire District, earning approximately $175,000 a year, and as the district secretary for the Center Moriches Fire District, earning approximately $20,000 a year. On Dec. 6, 2017, Sunderman received an opinion from the Suffolk County Board of Ethics that continuing to serve in these roles while serving as a legislator would constitute a violation of the Suffolk County code’s prohibition on dual office-holding. Sunderman resigned from his position with the Center Moriches Fire District, according to the DA’s office.

Sunderman is alleged to have attempted to circumvent that ruling by creating a shell company in his wife’s name, Now That’s Fire Management, Inc., and arranging for the Centereach Board of Fire Commissioners to hire him through that company for $10,000 per month. Between Jan. 2, 2018 and June 30, 2018, despite the Board of Ethics’ determination, Sunderman allegedly continued to perform the duties of a district manager for the Centereach Fire District, including personally signing more than 600 vouchers and other official documents as district manager for the Centereach Fire District. Vouchers and purchase orders that Sunderman signed as “DM” or “District Manager” included those that authorized $60,000 in payments to Now That’s Fire Management, which is a violation of state municipal law regarding conflicts of interest, according to the DA’s office.

Following receipt of a complaint, the Suffolk County Board of Ethics began an investigation into Sunderman’s employment with the Centereach Fire District. On Oct. 29, 2018, during a deposition in connection with the investigation, Sunderman allegedly perjured himself on numerous occasions, including denying that he received any income from his continued work for the Centereach Fire District. Bank records obtained by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office showed that Sunderman was a signatory on Now That’s Fire Management’s corporate bank account, that the account was used for Sunderman’s personal expenses and that the county legislator had personally engaged in more than 100 transactions and spent thousands of dollars using a debit card issued to him on that bank account.

Sunderman also allegedly denied under oath managing fire district staff members after January 2018. Evidence developed over the course of the investigation showed that Sunderman continued to manage employees and represent himself as “District Manager” until he resigned from the position in June 2018, after the Board of Ethics began to investigate his conduct.

On April 23, 2019, Sunderman allegedly intentionally failed to disclose his outside employment and income as well as his wife’s income from the Centereach Fire Department on a financial disclosure form filed with the Suffolk County Board of Ethics for the 2018 reporting year.

Thomas Doyle, chairman of the Centereach Fire District board of fire commissioners, said the board was informed of the indictment July 16.

“The Centereach Fire District is cooperating with the Suffolk County District Attorney, and we refer all questions regarding this case to his office,” Doyle said. “The board of fire commissioners will have no further comment on this matter at this time.”

Sunderman is charged with five counts of perjury in the first degree; offering a false instrument for filing in the second degree; violation of the prohibition on dual office-holding under Suffolk County code; violation of the prohibition against conflicts of interest under general municipal law; and intentional failure to file an accurate financial disclosure statement under Suffolk County code.

Sunderman was arraigned on the indictment July 16 in front of Suffolk County Court Judge Anthony Senft Jr. and was released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court Aug.13, and if convicted of the top count, Sunderman faces a maximum sentence of two and one-third to seven years in prison.

Cris Bottari a resident of The Bristal Assisted Living at Lake Grove celebrates his 100th birthday July 3. Photo from Rubenstein Strategic Communications

On the afternoon of July 3, a few employees of The Bristal Assisted Living facility in Lake Grove were spotted wearing New York Mets shirts. They had a particular reason — they were preparing to celebrate the 100th birthday of one of their residents, who happens to be a big New York Mets fan.

Chris Bottari met retired Mets player Frank Catalanotto at his 100th birthday party. Photo from Rubenstein Strategic Communications

As they prepared, Crispin Bottari, the guest of honor, sat in the game room wearing a Mets T-shirt and a decades-old hat that featured the team’s logo and the Mr. Met mascot. The room is where he and his wife regularly work on puzzles that they later laminate for keepsakes.

The party that night wasn’t the first one for the centenarian. Bottari said a few days earlier his family threw one for him at the Blueblinds Mansion in Smithtown, where nearly 150 guests were in attendance.

“It felt like my heart was bursting when I saw all those people,” he said. “I had tears.”

Born July 3, 1919, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he grew up a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers until they moved to Los Angeles in 1957. He said when he first met his wife, they would go to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn every Sunday and watch the team play.

A few years after the Dodgers departure, he discovered the Mets, initially watching them play at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan before Shea Stadium was built in Queens. He remembers taking his daughter to a 1969 World Series game, the year the Mets won.

“They were misfits at the time, but they played, and they won a pennant, and in ’69 they won the World Series,” Bottari said.

A year ago, he had the chance to watch the team play at Citi Field, where he attended a ceremony honoring World War II veterans. Out of a few people that were invited, he said he was the only one able to attend, and the ballplayers presented him with a flag and a baseball.

Bottari said he doesn’t have a favorite player now, but he lists Tom Seaver among his favorites from the 1969 Miracle Mets.

Bottari meeting Frank Sinatra while serving in Greenland during World War II. Photo from the Bottari family

“Talk about gung-ho,” he said. “They did it the way it should be done.”

While Bottari and his family love baseball, there is another love in their lives — music.

“Music in my family precedes everything, because everyone in my family somehow, someway is musically inclined,” he said, adding he owns a 70-year-old guitar that was given to him by his father that he is unable to play nowadays due to arthritis.

He remembered playing that guitar when he first met his wife, Anne. She was in a group called the Mayfair Trio with her sister and friend, and he would accompany them on guitar. The group would entertain injured soldiers in hospitals along the East Coast.

Bottari said he enjoyed seeing the big bands play in the city when he was a young man. One day he went to the Paramount Theatre in New York City to see Benny Goodman and his band, and he noticed that Frank Sinatra was also billed as playing. He said at the time he hadn’t heard of Sinatra and was surprised to see hundreds of teenage girls screaming and yelling.

During World War II, while serving in the Army with the 417th Engineer Company building airstrips in Greenland, Bottari met Sinatra, who he said would have breakfast with the soldiers every morning for the week he was in Greenland. While Bottari enjoyed having the singer around and took a picture with him, his fellow soldiers, who hadn’t heard about the entertainer, didn’t know what the big deal was and asked what his name was.

“Frank Sinatra,” he told them. “When the war is over, you’re going to hear about him,” he said.

While baseball and music have played a big part in Bottari’s life, family is the most important to him. His father, who was a tailor, immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was a teenager. He said his parents met through a matchmaker. At first, his mother felt hesitant about her future husband, because he didn’t speak English, but her mother encouraged her to teach him. The two would sit in the parlor and practice the language. Bottari is one of four sons born to the couple.

The centenarian said he never would have imagined celebrating his 100th birthday. While his mother lived to be 97, his father died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 50, while coming out of a subway station.

Crispin Bottari spending time at his daughter’s home. Photo from the Bottari family

“Fifty years old,” he said. “What is wrong with this picture.”

Bottari said another sorrow in his life was the death of his three younger brothers.

Despite the sorrow of losing his brothers, his own family has brought him immense joy. Sixty-nine years ago, he married his wife, Anne, who is now 94 years old.

He said he was at a dance and when the young woman he was dancing with excused herself to talk to someone else, he started talking to Anne. He asked his future wife for her phone number, and when she said she didn’t have a pen, he said, “I can solve that situation,” and lit a match and used the charcoal to write her number on the matchbook.

As for the secret to a long marriage, Bottari said it’s important to talk to each other.

“If you have a problem, resolve it,” he said.

Anne Bottari agreed and described her husband as an easygoing man. Both also said it helped that they had children who always got along and visit them often, because it keeps them going.

The Bottaris raised their five daughters in Jamaica, Queens.

“One smarter than the other,” he said. “They’re smarter than their father.”

With six females in the house, to get a chance to get into the bathroom before going to work as an accumulator of salaries for the Social Security Administration in the city, Bottari said he would wake up an hour earlier than needed.

Nearly 40 years ago, when their daughters began moving out of the house, the Bottaris relocated to Selden to be near their children, who were starting to have children of their own. The couple now has 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Through the years in Selden, the biggest change Bottari said he has seen is the increase of the numbers of condos and stores in the area.

The couple moved into The Bristal in 2015, but Bottari said they get out often to attend family functions. He loves visiting his daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Matty Kaspak, in St. James and seeing their dog, Cooper. His son-in-law said that Bottari is always there when the family needs them, whether it’s to see his nephew playing with a band or his grandson wrestling.

“The TV goes off, and he’s in the car,” Kaspak said.

When it comes to tips for living a long life, Bottari said he’s not sure he can speak about what to eat or not eat, admitting he loves a hot dog and a beer at a baseball game.

“Each individual person has his own genes that he’s acquired from someone else in his family,” Bottari said.

On the night of his 100th birthday, in addition to family and friends, retired Mets player Frank Catalanotto was on hand at The Bristal, and Bottari received a custom-made Mets hat with his name and number 100 on it and a plate signed by Catalanotto from the facility’s employees.

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The Jazz Loft recently acquired bandleader Xavier Cugat’s musical collection. Photo by Rita J. Egan

A St. James resident’s inheritance has become a treasure for a local museum and music venue.

Among the museum’s current exhibits are singer Keely Smith items. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Recently, John Diana, a periodontist and clinical assistant professor at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Periodontology, donated the musical archives of renowned bandleader Xavier Cugat to The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook. Tom Manuel, the Loft’s founder, said the collection contains many of Cugat’s original manuscripts.

Manuel added that manuscripts like the newly acquired ones include various musical notations.

“That’s incredibly important because that means the music can be performed again, and that means, in many ways, the music can live on,” he said.

Diana is the only child of Robert W. Kasha, who was the pianist in the Sammy Kaye orchestra in the 1940s and ’50s. He said his father went on to become vice president of Willard Alexander Inc., and the theatrical agency had many of the big bands on contract. When Kasha met Cugat, he made an offer to purchase the bandleader’s name, music and rights to the band, and Cugat accepted the offer.

The periodontist said his mother, who used the stage name Ada Cavallo, was a singer, and she became the conductor of the band after his father gained the rights.

“Also, being Latina, she instilled the Latin rhythm required of a Latin band,” Diana said.

His father would play piano in the ensemble, and the New Xavier Cugat Orchestra was together for nearly 20 years, according to Diana. He said his parents traveled with the group numerous times to Japan, and both were inducted into the Big Band Hall of Fame in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Diana said his wife, Kathleen, was the one who suggested he contact The Jazz Loft to see if they would accept the Cugat material.

“Tom, from The Jazz Loft, was more than kind in accepting the music, and many of the exhibits in his museum were from bands and musicians that my dad booked and knew personally,” Diana said. “I feel, and I believe my folks would feel, that the music found a good home.”

Manuel said there aren’t many places like The Jazz Loft with a museum and educational component, and many people have reached out to them about musical archives they own but no longer have room for in their homes.

The Jazz Loft recently acquired trombonist Benny Powell’s musical archives. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“It’s really amazing that we’re getting these incredibly important — historically important — collections,” he said.

Manuel said every collection is different and may include not only manuscripts, but also photographs, receipts, date books, tour schedules, instruments and more.

Some of the collections The Jazz Loft has acquired through the years have been from jazz trombonists Ray Anderson and Benny Powell and jazz and pop singer Keely Smith. The museum currently has the collection of piano player Jack Wilson on display to coincide with its July tribute to the entertainer.

The collections are rotated throughout the year in The Jazz Loft museum because it would be impossible to display everything at the same time, Manuel said. In October Anderson’s collection will be on display and the trombonist will also be performing at the venue. Next year Manuel plans to display the Benny Powell and Xavier Cugat exhibits.

Manuel said some of his favorite pieces from the Cugat collection include manuscripts that were written while the bandleader was in Cuba, parts are in Spanish, and the paper was made in Cuba.

Diana also had his favorite pieces.

“Being of Latino heritage, I enjoyed it all, but my favorite piece was a newer version of the ‘Peter Gunn’ theme, and from dad’s personal piano archives, his rendition of the classic ‘Laura,’” Diana said.

The Jazz Loft crew will begin sorting through the material from the Cugat collection. Manuel said first everything must be entered into a computer and initially placed in an envelope. Once the memorabilia are grouped together and categorized, the items will be put in archival boxes to help keep them preserved.

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