Obituaries

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Frank Schiavone

Frank “Francesco” Schiavone, of Brookhaven died July 31. He was 91.

Schiavone was born April 15, 1928, in Brooklyn, the son of the late Francesco and the late Lucia (Daraio) Schiavone. 

He was a proud veteran, serving in the Army from 1947 to 1949. He was employed as a machinist at Kraft Mech in Bohemia. He is survived by his beloved wife, May (Benvenuta) (Calvacca) Schiavone; one loving daughter, LuAnn Schiavone of Coram; and one loving son, Ignatius (Nate) Schiavone of Bohemia. He also has five cherished grandchildren and three cherished great-grandchildren. 

All services were entrusted to the Rocky Point Funeral Home, 603 Route 25A, Rocky Point. Cremation was private. An online guest book can be found at www.rockypointfuneralhome.com.

Denise Young

Denise D. Young, of Ridge, died July 27. She was 40. 

Young was born Oct. 19, 1978, in Plainfield, New Jersey. She was employed by Right at Home Cares in Miller Place as a home health aide. She was the beloved daughter of Ronald and Lydia (Jammal) Mihalek. 

She is survived by her two cherished daughters Sierra Young of Starlight, Pennsylvania, and Mariah Young of Ridge; and two loving brothers Donald Mihalek of Winter Garden, Florida, and Daniel Mihalek of Midland, Virginia. 

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Aug. 2 at St. Mark’s R.C. Church in Shoreham followed by a private cremation ceremony. 

Services were entrusted to the Rocky Point Funeral Home, located 603 Route 25A, Rocky Point. An online guest book can be found at www.rockypointfuneralhome.com. 

Edna Kenski

Edna A. Kenski, of Mineola, died July 27. She was 87.

Kenski was born Jan. 16, 1932, in Mineola, and was the daughter of the late Richard and the late Margaret (Kammerer) Rueb. 

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Frank Kenski in 1999. She was employed as a manager by Verizon in Hempstead. 

She is survived by her loving children Karen (Carmine) Abbatiello of Ridge and Frank (Kathy) Kenski of Selden. She is also survived by seven cherished grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. 

Celebration of the Mass of Christian burial was held Aug. 1 at St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in Rocky Point, with a burial following at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury. 

Services were entrusted to the Rocky Point Funeral Home, located 603 Route 25A, Rocky Point. An online guest book can be found at www.rockypointfuneralhome.com. 

Donna Marie Durney

Donna Marie Durney, of Rocky Point, died July 18. She was 53. 

Durney was born Feb. 6, 1966, in Brooklyn, the daughter of Clifford and the late Mildred (Faucci) Dean. 

She is survived by her beloved husband, James Durney; her loving children, including her daughter, Taylor Durney, and her son, Jack Durney. She was the dear sister of two brothers, James Dean and Clifford Dean. 

Cremation was held private, while a memorial was held at the Rocky Point Funeral Home, located at 603 Route 25A, Rocky Point. An online guest book is available at www.rockypointfuneralhome.com.

Anne Davis

Anne “Anna” Davis, of Hawthorne, died July 1. She was 90.

Davis was born June 8, 1929, in the Bronx, the daughter of the late Harry and the late Fay (Foxman) Dorfman. 

She was employed by New City schools as a teacher. 

She is survived by her son, Warren Davis of Yonkers; sister-in-law, Madelyn Dorfman of Ridge;  her niece, Debra Botens of Norwalk, Connecticut; and her nephew, Robert Dorfman of Holbrook. A memorial service was held July 27 at Rocky Point Funeral Home, located at 603 Route 25A, Rocky Point. Cremation was private. 

An online guest book is available at www.rockypointfuneralhome.com. 

David Krohmer

David Krohmer, of Rocky Point, died July 19. He was 58. 

Krohmer was born Feb. 18, 1961, in Port Jefferson, the son of Edward and the late Nora (O’Connor) Krohmer. 

He was employed by Adchem in Riverhead as a machinist. 

He is survived by his father, Edward Krohmer of Port Jefferson; sister, Donna Famiglietti of Rocky Point; and brother, Edward Krohmer of Miller Place. 

Memorial visitation was held July 25 at the Rocky Point Funeral Home, located at 603 Route 25A, Rocky Point. Cremation was private. 

An online guest book can be found at www.rockypointfuneralhome.com. 

Joanne Lucille Boeger

Joanne Lucille Boeger, of Ridge, died July 11. 

Boeger was born in Boston March 30, 1934, and graduated salutatorian from Abbington High. 

She grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts. She married Richard M. Boeger, after meeting in Hyannis. They raised four children in Massapequa Park, where they were members of St. David’s Lutheran Church. She created Heptas, a women’s educational self-improvement group. She became a life insurance agent for Aid Association for Lutherans in the 1970s and was the first woman to hold that position in the Long Island agency. 

Boeger and her husband, Dick, retired to Sutton, West Virginia, where she began painting in many various mediums, settling on water colors as her favorite. She also became an avid gardener and was president of Judy’s Garden Club in Sutton. She loved reading (mostly history), birding and wildlife magazines. She was a member of the Suffolk Chapter of the DAR and the Rich Family Association. She returned to Long Island in 2012 and lived in Leisure Knoll in Ridge. Recently, she had been living with her daughter and granddaughter in Washington state, returning to Ridge for vacations and family events. She had returned to New York for one such event but passed away in her sleep in her own home. She will be buried in Hingham, Massachusetts, in a family plot with her mother, paternal grandparents and great-grandparents.

She is survived by four children, Lynne Plewa of Bellevue, Washington, Richard M. Boeger Jr., of Redlands, California, Bonnie J. Boeger of Sound Beach and Wade Preston Boeger of Pennsylvania; and her sister, Betty Tuttle of Columbus, Indiana. She is also a cherished grandmother of seven, and great-grandmother of one.

Her family is proud of her and her lifelong love of learning, history, the arts and nature.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks people to make donations in her name to the Alzheimer’s Association or another deserving charity.

Services were entrusted to the Rocky Point Funeral Home, 603 Route 25A, Rocky Point. Cremation was private. 

An online guest book can be found at www.rockypointfuneralhome.com.

Matthew S. Procelli

Matthew S. Procelli of Bethesda, Maryland, formerly of Port Washington, East Northport and Fort Salonga, passed away peacefully on July 28 at 93 years of age. Loving husband of the late Marion Mahoney-Procelli; beloved father of Robert; adoring father-in-law of Mary;  cherished grandfather of Michael, David and Nicholas; and great-grandfather of Josephine. Procelli had a long career at Long Island Lighting Company as vice president of industrial relations and vice president of personnel. He was a visiting professor at Stony Brook University business school. Visitation was held Aug. 1 at Nolan Funeral Home in Northport. Funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 2 at St. Anthony of Padua Church, East Northport. Interment was at Mount St. Mary’s Cemetery, 172-00 Booth Memorial Ave. in Flushing. In Matthew’s memory donations to  Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (www.alzfdn.org) are appreciated.

William H. Davenport 

William H. Davenport of Greenlawn died at 83 years of age. He was the manager of Lewis Oliver Dairy, a community farm in Northport. Davenport was the beloved husband of the late Jean; father of Laura Jean Michta, William H. Davenport, III (Thami) and Kenneth Davenport (Barbara); fond brother of Donna Scarola (the late Capt. Mike), Robert Davenport (Pat), Joseph Davenport (Peggy) and Larry Davenport (Grace); brother-in-law of Diane Cobb (John); dear grandfather of Ashley Michta, John Michta, Matthew Davenport and Christopher Davenport; and great-grandfather of R.J. and Kaylee. Funeral services were held Aug. 10 and 11 at Nolan Funeral Home in Northport with the Rev. Bette Sohm officiating. In Bill’s memory, donations to Friends of the Farm Animal Sanctuary on Burt Avenue in Northport, NY 11768 (www.lewisoliverfarm.org) would be appreciated.

George W. Wild Jr.

George W. Wild Jr. of East Northport died on Aug. 11 at 88 years of age. Wild was the devoted husband of the late Marie; loving father of Cheryl Galasso (Chris), Lori Horvat (Doug) and the late Wayne; dear grandfather of Christopher, Danielle (James), Victoria and Sabrina; and fond great-grandfather of James. Services were held at Nolan Funeral Home on Aug. 14 and 15. A funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 16 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in East Northport. Burial was held at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Huntington. In George’s memory, donations to Memorial Sloan Kettering (www.mskcc.org) or Joslin Diabetes Center (www.joslin.org) would be appreciated.

From left: Frank, Dominick and Nick LoSquadro in Germany, 1945. Photo from LoSquadro family

By Rich Acritelli

A longtime resident of Rocky Point and distinguished World War II veteran, Dominick T. LoSquadro died Aug. 2. He was 97. 

Through hardship and trial, this World War II veteran was the epitome of what is often considered the Greatest Generation. He was an active member of the VFW Post 6249 Rocky Point, and the veterans organization lost a dynamic and key member of its organization this month, one that always wanted to help other military service members and community residents.

From left to right: Nick, Frank and Dominick LoSquadro in Wiesbaden, Germany, toward the end of the war in 1945. Photo from LoSquadro family

LoSquadro’s story began as a poor Brooklyn kid — born July 28, 1922. He was the youngest of seven children with four brothers and two sisters. Growing up his family had no comforts at home. They survived due to the hard work of their father, who delivered blocks of ice, and their mother who managed a grocery store. Their home had no heat or hot water and when the would-be Rocky Point resident was a child, his brothers paid him a nickel to warm the toilet seat for their use. It was a common practice for this family to stay near the kitchen, where they felt some warmth from the cooking stove. Dominick did not take a hot shower until he was drafted into the Army as a young man during World War II.

The boys grew up with Italian-speaking parents, but together they only spoke a few words of the language, and their mom spoke little English. There were only a couple of Italian words that were utilized in order to communicate with each other. Years later, when LoSquadro was stationed in Germany, he understood and spoke German more than he could Italian. 

As a kid who grew up in the streets of Brooklyn, LoSquadro collected rags and sticks which he sold to a local junk vendor. He used the pennies and nickels he earned for movie tickets. He also worked with his father to deliver ice to various parts of the city. As a child his poor eyesight led to equally poor grades, and his teachers did not realize that he had a difficult time reading the board and they continually moved him to the back of the classroom. They believed that he was a challenged student that was unable to keep up with their instructions and, for many years, LoSquadro never fully realized his educational potential.

During his teenage years, family and friends remembered he always had a brilliant smile and a full head of hair, making him a favorite of local ladies. He was a talented ballroom dancer who immensely enjoyed listening to popular big band music in New York City. Before the war, LoSquadro enrolled into an automotive school where he earned a degree so he could be a mechanic. He flourished in this environment, and he would take his expertise in fixing, driving and directing heavy machinery in his military and civilian occupations.

For the late Rocky Point resident’s generation, it was a trying time to be a young adult after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. The United States quickly entered the war effort to fight the Japanese in the Pacific and the Germans in North Africa and Europe. Right away, the five “LoSquadro brothers” entered the military to do their part. Like that of his three older brothers, Dominick was drafted into the Army Dec. 29, 1942, where he applied his civilian trade as a mechanic in the service. His earliest military time began at Camp Upton Army base in Yaphank, where he entered his basic training with a serious fever that quickly became an ear infection. LoSquadro was stationed at several military bases in Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma and South Carolina, but as these units were shipped overseas, he was not sent with them due to his medical condition. The Army warned that if he was attacked with chemical or biological weapons that it could prove to be terribly fatal due to his ailments.

Despite being held back, it was his goal to be ordered overseas to be near his family members and friends that were already fighting against the Germans and Japanese. The Army eventually looked past his medical record and shipped him to Liverpool, England, where he was quickly sent to France. LoSquadro was vital in keeping the trucks, jeeps and tanks moving against the strength of the Germans, as they were pushed back to their own border. He also conducted backbreaking labor, as he helped reconfigure air strips after they were bombed and damaged by the German Luftwaffe.  

Like that of other American families, the LoSquadro boys were all in harm’s way trying to fight against the fascist regime. His brother, Frank, was with the second wave of the June 6, 1944, Normandy landings at Omaha Beach. That December, Frank was a medic that survived the Battle of the Bulge, where just about his entire unit was killed by the Germans. At one point, he acted as if he was dead for three days to avoid being shot or captured by the enemy. Later, the army wanted Frank to re-enlist, but he had witnessed terrible accounts during the war and he wanted to go home. LoSquadro’s brother rarely spoke about his traumatic experiences.

During the height of the war, the brothers were determined to meet up with each other. Dominick worked on the military trucks that operated at the air fields, where they loaded and delivered war supplies to the soldiers in the field. He was in closer contact with his brother Frank who was stationed near the railroad lines at the front. They both decided to search for their brother Nicholas, who served with the Office of Strategic Services (later renamed the Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War). He helped collect and analyze intelligence from enemy double agents, the resistance, captured prisoners of war and more.

Both Dominick and Frank hitchhiked on the French roads as they were looking for Nicholas. They were pleasantly surprised, as it was Nicholas who discovered them as he drove down a road in his jeep. These two brothers, both grunts, saw a much different face of the military from Nicholas who was an officer, as he was not often in the field and he lived in homes that had servants to clean his clothing and cook meals. They were overjoyed to be briefly together during the course of the war, where they were alive, united and fighting for their nation.  

Dominick LoSquadro during his army days. Photo from LoSquadro family

At the very end of World War II, as the U.S. dealt with the growing power of the Soviet Union in Europe and the end of the fighting against the Japanese in Asia, the LoSquadros were formerly recognized for their service. About a week before the Japanese surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945, their mother received a letter from Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. It genuinely stated, “For my part, I should like to assure you of the deep appreciation of the nation which has accepted their service with gratitude and a strong sense of responsibility.” Stimson was one of the most powerful leaders in the nation to oppose Germany and Japan, and he evidently respected the role that the entire LoSquadro family played to help defeat the Axis powers.

As a seasoned veteran that spent over three years in the military, LoSquadro finally returned home to New York City where he was employed as a diaper and furniture delivery man. In the late 1940s, he brought these items to famous musicians like that of Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and to the actress Kitty Carlisle. Later in life, LoSquadro had poor knees and it was attributed to running up the stairs of high-rise buildings where he made these deliveries. It was not until the mid-1950s that LoSquadro was motivated to earn a city job. Once he was examined for his eyes, it turned out that he was an able test taker and he performed well on exams, and he was later employed as a bus driver.

After the war, LoSquadro again flourished as a dancer, and he always received interest from the ladies that had liked his ballroom skills and looks. He spent many nights at the Roseland Dance Club in Manhattan, near the Ed Sullivan Theater. He was friends with all of the bouncers, perfected his craft of dancing and met his wife at this establishment. Once he was married, LoSquadro raised a family of five children, including one son and four daughters at homes in Corona and Elmhurst. While he worked long hours, he was known for his creativity as a handyman who could repair practically anything. He drove many hours of overtime to support his large family on one salary. The World War II vet was known for spending many hours studying for the Metropolitan Transit Authority exams which enabled him to be promoted as a foreman and later a general superintendent. As when in the Army, LoSquadro also faced resentment for being an Italian American as he began to get promoted within higher city positions at the MTA.

He would eventually become responsible for operating large bus garages in Queens Village and in Flushing near the present home of the New York Mets at Citi Field. For many years, he handled numerous responsibilities with the drivers, investigated bus accidents within his district, petitioned for additional funds and made sure that his garages followed MTA regulations. He was always known for utilizing common sense and fairness with a staff of over 500 workers. He would grow to be respected for helping to provide transportation services utilized by millions of people within the city.

During his spare time, local family and friends counted on LoSquadro to repair umbrellas, bicycles, doors, windows and anything that needed some TLC. His children widely believed that if it was broke, that “daddy could fix it.” As a young kid that endured poverty, LoSquadro utilized his ingenuity to recycle products and save money. Later in life, he always enjoyed having nice clothing and cars, but he never forgot the lessons that poverty teaches. It is said in his prime that he had an unbelievable amount of stamina, allowing him to work all day and tinker in his basement for hours where he became a self-taught carpenter.

In the early 1980s, Dominick began living with a longtime companion, where they renovated a bungalow in Rocky Point. For many years, he was a devoted member to Post 6249 Rocky Point Veterans of Foreign Wars, helping to provide aid to vital military and civilian causes. Armed with a big smile and can-do attitude, he was one of the founding members of the post’s annual Wounded Warrior Golf Outing, which raised over $200,000 to help local veterans severely hurt from the War on Terror. LoSquadro knew all of the players, he handed out T-shirts to the golfers, counted raffle ticket money and spoke to all of the wounded armed forces members who were recognized by the organization. Even in his 90s, LoSquadro led an energetic life where he was overjoyed to participate in the many successful activities of Post 6249.

Several years ago, this decorated member of the Greatest Generation finally received his diploma from Rocky Point High School, with students, parents and staff giving him a rousing round of applause. At his wake, Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore and post members lined up at the funeral home to pay the ultimate respect to this noted veteran. With tears in his eyes, Cognitore expressed the final goodbyes to one of his best friends. Both of these men were inseparable, as they lobbied government leaders for local and national veteran’s affairs, attended the local summer concert series, marched and presented the colors at local schools during Veterans Day ceremonies and they often went to local restaurants and diners for lunch. 

As a member of this post that had worked closely with LoSquadro, it is my firmest belief that if you were friends with Dominick T. LoSquadro, his acquaintance surely made you into a finer person. Thank you to the unyielding efforts of this veteran to ensure the defense of the United States and his many wonderful contributions as a citizen, all who felt his presence during his time on Earth.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College.

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Joyce Bloom

Joyce Susan Bloom, of Coram, died Aug. 8. 

She was the beloved wife of Ronald Bloom; the loving mother of Michael (Jill) Forst, Jeffrey (Laura) Bloom and Faith (Christopher) Kit; the cherished grandmother of Christopher, Jessica, Josh, Jordan, Jamie, Kirsten, CJ, Katie, Justin and Sean; the adored sister of Wally (Judy) Siegel; and is survived by many other family members and friends.

Interment was held at New Montefiore Cemetery in Farmingdale. Arrangements were entrusted to Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place. An online guest book is available at www.branchfh.com.

Robyne McGough

Robyne McGough, a Port Jeff native and graduate of Port Jefferson high school, passed June 15. 

McGough had worked at the Port Jefferson to Bridgeport ferry company for several years and later worked as a paralegal in Port Jefferson Station.

She was the daughter of Maryanne and the late Thomas McGough; the loving sister of Richard, Sharon, Kelly, Timothy, Joseph and Joanne; the beloved aunt to Monica Treutle; the friend of Dorthy, Nikki and Colleen; loved niece to James and the late Helen Knox and Richard Knox.

Our love and prayers be with you always.

Doris M. LaTurno (Beaumont)

Doris M. LaTurno (Beaumont), 83, died in Naples, Florida, Feb. 20. She was predeceased by her
husband Joseph Peter LaTurno.

She grew up in a large family of 10 sisters and three brothers. She lived in Suffolk County until relocating with her husband to Florida in 2016. Doris is survived by her sons Walter Chad Beaumont and Gary Roy Beaumont; four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Her and her husband’s remains will be put to rest at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale.

Joseph Peter LaTurno

Joseph Peter LaTurno, 91, died in Naples, Florida, Dec. 27, 2017.

Born in Mineola, he attended Hempstead High School. In the spring of 1944, when he was 18 years old, he enlisted in the Navy and served on LST 537/755 in the South Pacific until the spring of 1946. Between 1946 and 1950, he worked at Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., in Bethpage. With the outbreak of the Korean War, he returned to active duty and was assigned to the USS LSMR-527 as a radio operator. Following a one-year tour he returned to Grumman where he retired after 40 years.

For the next 25 or so years, he and his wife Doris enjoyed traveling and their lovely home in Lake Grove. They relocated to Florida in July 2016. Their remains will be put to rest at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale.

Frank Ohman

Frank Ohman, former New York City Ballet soloist, founder and artistic director of the New York Dance Theatre and the Ohman School of Ballet on Long Island and internationally known dance professional died suddenly on July 22 at home in Centerport. He was 80 years old. 

Ohman began his critically acclaimed dance career with the San Francisco Ballet in 1959, moving quickly through the ranks while also serving in the U.S. Army Reserves. He joined the New York City Ballet in 1962, where he was a soloist for 22 years. During his distinguished performing career, Ohman studied professionally with icons of the American ballet world including George Balanchine, Lew and Harold Christensen, Ernest Belcher, David Lichine, André Eglevsky and John Taras. He appeared in leading and soloist roles in ballets of Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Frederic Ashton, Antony Tudor and Jacques d’Amboise among others. He partnered many of the world’s leading ballerinas including Maria Tallchief, Suzanne Farrell, Allegra Kent, Patricia McBride, Gelsey Kirkland, Kay Mazzo and Suki Schorer. Ohman performed with the New York City Ballet at the New York State Theater, Kennedy Center, Marinsky Theater, Bolshoi Theater, the White House and Jacob’s Pillow. 

With the blessing of his mentor George Balanchine, Frank Ohman established New York Dance Theatre Inc. in 1974 on Long Island to bring classical ballet to a broader audience. Five years later, the Ohman School of Ballet was founded as a training ground for young dancers, teaching the art of classical ballet in the style of Balanchine. Ohman’s commitment to the Balanchine legacy extended to his company’s annual production of “The Nutcracker,” Long Island’s largest and an annual tradition for families throughout the region. A prolific choreographer, Ohman created more than 200 original ballets, performed by his New York Dance Theatre, Boston Ballet, Edmonton Ballet, Syracuse Ballet (where he was director), the Cassandra Ballet of Toledo, the Long Island Philharmonic, the Long Island Lyric Opera, the School of American Ballet workshop performance and American Movie Classics, among others. Still actively teaching at his eponymous classical ballet school in Commack until his death, Ohman’s teaching career also included stints at prestigious programs including the School of American Ballet, the Boston Ballet, the St. Louis Ballet, the National Dance Institute and as guest Ballet Master at Ballet Philippines. 

Beyond his career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher, Ohman was a gifted fine artist whose paintings have been featured in art shows at libraries throughout Long Island and Queens. Ohman encouraged his students to be well-rounded students of the arts. In his 2014 memoir “Balanchine’s Dancing Cowboy,” Ohman wrote, “To be a great artist, one must care deeply and completely about something, and to work devotedly to contribute that artistry to the world.” Ohman is survived by his son, Johan (Soumala), and grandson, Luke, as well as his ballet family of students and colleagues who carry on his legacy. A private funeral service is being held for immediate family. A public memorial service is planned for late summer. Details to be announced at www.ohmanballet.org.

Rose Messina

Rose Messina of Hauppauge died on Aug. 10 at the age of 97. She was one of six children and is survived by two sisters Nellie and Lena, ages 93 and 94; six children, Linda D’Amico, Frank, Christopher, Mickey, Diane Cazzetta and Ramona Bisono; 21 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren with three more on the way.

Born in Retsof and raised in Huntington, Messina attended Huntington High School. At 4 feet 9 inches, she was nicknamed “the peanut.” She was a four-year varsity letter winner in field hockey, basketball and softball and four-time outstanding female athlete at Huntington in grades 9 thru 12. Messina played semi-pro baseball, while working for Grumman during World War II. She gave up a baseball contract to marry Dominick Messina in 1946. She joined the Red Cross to help in the war effort in the 1940s. The family lived in Huntington and moved to Hauppauge in 1960.  Messina was a class mother to every one of her six children for over 20 years and an active lifetime columbiette member for 75 years. She was one of the original founders of the “Hauppauge Sideliners Club” and member for over 25 years, and also a member of the St. Thomas More church “Young at Heart” organization for over 30 years. She was a team mom, seamstress and cook for every sport her six children played from little league, football, wrestling, baseball, field hockey, eaglettes, cheerleading, volleyball, track, to dance and theater plays in the school.

As a seamstress, she made many of the costumes for the school’s musicals and plays, costumes that her children and grandchildren performed in. 

Messina started cooking for the Hauppauge wrestling team in 1969 and continued organizing dinners for many sport teams which evolved into an end-of-the-year awards banquet, a tradition still enjoyed by sport teams in Hauppauge today.

Messina was inducted into the Hauppauge Hall of Fame in 2011 as an honorary member and in 2018 with her entire family. Messina’s lifelong dream was to become a physical education teacher, which was fulfilled by seeing five of her children become teachers, two physical education, industrial arts and biology teachers and one an engineer.

Her compassion, beside for her entire family, was for the Hauppauge wrestling team. She spent 40 years supporting the team. 

Services were held at Moloney’s Hauppauge Funeral Home on Aug. 12 and 13 and a funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Thomas More R.C. Church in Hauppauge on Aug. 14. 

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully asks that tax-deductible donations be made to the Rose Messina scholarship foundation. Please make checks payable to: The Hauppauge Wrestling Club, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and include “The Rose Messina scholarship foundation” in the memo. All money collected will be distributed to a Hauppauge wrestler and/or student in the upcoming years.

Belleau was a faithful parishioner at Saint James R.C. Church in East Setauket where he was an eucharistic minister, member of the parish finance committee as well as a be member and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. Photo from Bryant Funeral Home

Thomas F. Belleau, 76, of Setauket, died Aug. 4.

He was born March 27, 1943, in Adams, Massachusetts and was the son of Clare and Donald Belleau.

Tom attended Saint Joseph’s Catholic High School in North Adams and the University of Notre Dame where he graduated from the class of 1965. He was an avid Fighting Irish fan and supporter. He attended graduate school in finance at New York University where he earned his CPA and MBA degree. He worked as an accountant and chief financial officer in Melville.

Tom was a faithful parishioner at Saint James R.C. Church in East Setauket where he was an eucharistic minister, member of the parish finance committee and member and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. 

Tom was an active member of St George’s Golf Club and the Old Field Club. He was a devoted community servant and was actively involved and had been a board member of the Three Village Community Trust, the Three Village Historical Society and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The Three Village Community Trust informed their members in an email of his passing and described the past treasurer of the trust as “a valued pillar of the community” who was responsible for digitizing the trust’s financial records during his tenure.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Olga; daughters Maria and Renee; son-in-law John and grandchildren Peter, Michael, Hannah, Jacob and Zachary.

Services were held at St. James R.C. Church Aug. 8. Interment followed at the St. James R.C. Churchyard Cemetery.

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

The family has designated the University of Notre Dame and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for memorial contributions.

Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Notre Dame online at www.giving.nd.edu, by phone at 574-631-5150 or by mail: University of Notre Dame, Department of Development, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556.

Memorial contributions to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center may be made at www.giving.mskcc.org.

 

Barbara, 86, and Bruce, 85, were married for 64 years, they were residents of Setauket from 1960 to 2005. Photo from the McNaughton Family

By Donald McNaughton

Barbara and Bruce McNaughton, formerly of Setauket, died in Fort Myers, Florida, July 2 and July 24, respectively.

Barbara was 86 and Bruce was 85. Married for 64 years, they were residents of Setauket from 1960 to 2005, raising their three sons Cameron, Donald and Andrew there and contributing to the community they so loved. They will be laid to rest at the Setauket Presbyterian Church under a headstone simply marked “Home.”

Bruce Angus McNaughton

Bruce, an only child, was born in Brooklyn Jan. 14, 1934. His father was a broadcasting executive who specialized in turning around failing radio stations. This took Bruce at a young age to Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin, before he graduated from Ossining High School in Ossining, New York. He then attended the University of Illinois.

He met Barbara when they each had their first jobs after college at the McCann-Erickson advertising agency in New York City. After a stint writing for The New York Times, Bruce found his calling in the magazine business, selling advertising space. Following stops at Business Week, Look and McCall’s, he was hired by Time Incorporated in the mid-’60s to work for Life Magazine during its last years as a weekly publication. When Life ceased as a weekly in 1972, he moved to Time Inc.’s Fortune magazine, where he spent twenty years. At Fortune, he oversaw a new category, imported car advertising, growing it to be a source of significant revenue for the magazine. All in all, before retiring in 1994, Bruce spent more than 30 years at Time Inc. during its heyday as the leading magazine publisher in the United States, relishing the work, his colleagues, New York City and his place in the publishing world.

Bruce was nothing if not passionate about his many community involvements and his various pastimes. He helped to restore the sanctuary and steeple of the Setauket Presbyterian Church and worked on the committee to place the church on the National Register of Historic Places. He put his publishing experience to work to help establish a weekly newspaper in the Three Villages, The Village Times, now known as The Village Times Herald. He served on the board of the Stony Brook Community Fund, now the Ward Melville Heritage Organization. And he was a longtime board member of the Frank Melville Memorial Park, serving as its president and overseeing major renovations to the park’s buildings and grounds.

Bruce was an ardent lacrosse fan, voracious reader, Civil War history buff and lover of English cars, Winston Churchill, trains and all things Scotland. He was never more alive than when in the ocean surf or playing golf at St. George’s Country Club, where he and Barbara were members for 25 years.

Barbara Ann Hill McNaughton

Barbara, the eldest of four, was born in Queens March 4, 1933. Her father worked for New York State, helping to resettle returning World War II veterans.  This took the Hill family to Washington, D.C., during part of her childhood, but she mostly grew up in the New York area. She attended William Smith College in Geneva, New York, and graduated from the University of Vermont.

After meeting and marrying Bruce in New York City, Barbara gave birth to Cameron, the first of their three boys, in 1955. With the arrival in 1959 of their second, Donald, the young family moved east from New York City to Setauket, where Barbara’s parents kept a summer cottage on West Meadow Beach. The couple added a third child, Andrew, in 1963.

During these childrearing years, Barbara received her master’s degree from Stony Brook University and later worked in the library there for many years. She served as president of the  Play Groups School in Old Field and was an elder and longtime choir member of the Setauket Presbyterian Church.

Barbara was a boundless reader, enjoyed The New York Times crossword puzzle and loved sitting at the Brookhaven Beach Club with her friends. She was a fan of many sports, played tennis and golf and enjoyed watching baseball, Derek Jeter and Tiger Woods in her later years. She drove a stick well, and loved to watch her sons play lacrosse. Above all else, she was a devoted mother.

Upon leaving Setauket in 2005, Barbara and Bruce moved to Shell Point, a retirement community outside of Fort Myers where they quite happily spent their remaining years. 

In addition to their three sons, Barbara and Bruce leave behind two daughters-in-law, Karen Walsh McNaughton and Alison Pyne McNaughton, and five grandchildren: William Walsh McNaughton, Robert Cameron McNaughton, Alexander Gilchrist McNaughton, Holloway Elise McNaughton and Katherine Ann McNaughton. They were thrilled to live to see the birth of twin great- grandchildren, Charlotte Reilly McNaughton and Cameron Walsh McNaughton. Barbara is also survived by a sister, Jane Hill Burr, and a brother, David C. Hill.

A private family interment will be held this fall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shell Point for the benefit of the Waterside Health Center.

 

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Robert A. Moore

Robert A. Moore, formerly of Stony Brook, died July 29 at East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in West Babylon.

Born in Brooklyn, Robert was the son of the late Charles and Marianne (Meier) Moore. He was a proud member of the Mt. St. Mary’s University doctorate alumni family and the Stony Brook Fire Department, and will be remembered as a Ward Melville High School soccer and lacrosse fan where his children played.

He was the big brother to the late Kathleen Leddy and William Moore, as well as Judy Button and Janet Ruquet. In addition to his siblings, he is survived by his children, Katie Martin (Matt) of Medford, Massachusetts; Terry Moore (Fatima) of Lindenhurst; and Ryan (Aparna) of Baltimore, Maryland; as well as his grandchildren, Gabriela, Daniela, Jackson, Aidan, Quinn and Kailash.

A memorial service will be held at Hawkins and Davis Funeral Home, located at 17 Manor Road in Smithtown, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, August 10. Relatives and friends are invited to attend and may visit with the family at the funeral home from 2 to 6 p.m. Following the service, a celebration of his life will be held at the Ward Melville Educational and Cultural Center at 97 Main Street, Stony Brook and all are invited to join. Interment will be private.

Doris M. LaTurno (Beaumont)

Doris M. LaTurno (Beaumont), 83, died in Naples, Florida, Feb. 20. She was predeceased by her husband Joseph Peter LaTurno.

She grew up in a large family of 10 sisters and three brothers. She lived in Suffolk County until relocating with her husband to Florida in 2016. Doris is survived by her sons Walter Chad Beaumont and Gary Roy Beaumont; four grandchildren and six great- grandchildren.

Her (and her husband’s) remains will be put to rest at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale.

Joseph Peter LaTurno

Joseph Peter LaTurno, 91, died in Naples, Florida, Dec. 27, 2017.

Born in Mineola, he attended Hempstead High School. In the spring of 1944, when he was 18 years old, he enlisted in the Navy and served on LST 537/755 in the South Pacific until the spring of 1946. Between 1946 and 1950, he worked at Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp, in Bethpage. With the outbreak of the Korean War, he returned to active duty and was assigned to the USS LSMR-527 as a radio operator. Following a one-year tour he returned to Grumman where he retired after 40 years.

For the next 25 or so years, he and his wife Doris enjoyed travelling and their lovely home in Lake Grove. They relocated to Florida in July 2016. Their remains will be put to rest at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale.

Winthrop Taylor Hall

Winthrop Taylor Hall of Lake Ronkonkoma died on Monday, May 13, at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown after suffering a heart attack at the age of 64. Several family members were by his side.

Hall attended Harbor Country Day School in St. James, East Woods School in Oyster Bay, The Rectory School in Pomfret, Connecticut, and graduated in 1974 from The Stony Brook School in Stony Brook.

He grew up in the Village of Nissequogue with three brothers and a sister and enjoyed tennis, golf and paddle tennis as well as volunteering in the Nissequogue Fire Department and monitoring emergency communications for the Suffolk County REACT Program. He was a seaman in the U.S. Navy from 1981 until 1983 and served in the active reserves upon discharge from active duty.

In the late 1990s, Hall was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and became a longtime participant in programs at the Clubhouse of Suffolk County, which later merged with Suffolk County United Veterans and the Mental Health Association in Suffolk to form today’s Association for Mental Health and Wellness.

One of Hall’s greatest pleasures was to participate in periodic trips to Albany for NYAPRS (New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services) conferences, where he made presentations to state legislators to advocate for mental health awareness and program funding for those with mental disabilities. He was a valued member of the Clubhouse/MHAW team at these conferences and made significant contributions to their activities through the sharing of his knowledge of public policy and personal experiences with public programs.

He is survived by his mother, Louise of South Setauket; two brothers, Frederick of Bellport and Stuart (Robin) of Durham, New Hampshire; a sister, Lisa H. Reed (Keith) of Three Forks, Montana; a nephew, five nieces, a great-nephew and three great-nieces. His father, Gordon, and brother, Bruce, predeceased him. He will be fondly remembered by family and friends for his exceptional memory, his love of trivia and his eagerness to converse with others. 

A memorial service has been planned for Saturday, Sept. 7 at 9:30 a.m. at St. James Episcopal Church,  490 Route 25A, St. James.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Association for Mental Health and Wellness, 939 Johnson Ave., Ronkonkoma, NY 11779.

Amelia E. Stegmaier 

Amelia E. Stegmaier of Northport died on July 17 at 87 years of age. Beloved wife of the late Kenneth; loving mother of Marlene McDonnell, William Stegmaier (Maggie), Annette Fiumano and Tara Brooks (Russell); cherished grandmother of Evan McDonnell, Heather Vergara (Lincoyan), Adam Fiumano, Amanda Fiumano (Daniel), Wyatt Brooks and Kirsten Brooks; adoring great -grandmother of Coy Gilchrist and Christian Vergara; dear sister of Wilhelmina Shoob; fond sister in-law of Claire Dorr. Memorial visiting was held on July 26 at the funeral home with Rev. Harry Schenkel officiating funeral services. Burial of her ashes followed at Northport Rural Cemetery. 

Anthony “Tony” Damulewicz

Anthony Damulewicz of Northport died on July 4. Beloved husband of Rose; loving father of Robert, Thomas and Laura; devoted grandfather of Maximilion, Cole and Alexandria; dear brother of Irene (the late Dory) Pendzick. Tony was the owner of All Appliance Repair. He served in the U.S. Navy and was a veteran of the Korean War and active member of Northport American Legion Post 694. Religious service held at the Nolan funeral home on July 7 and 8. Interment, with U.S. Navy military honors, was held at Philip Neri Cemetery on July 9. Donations to the Parkinson’s Foundation, www.parkinson.org, in his memory, would be appreciated.

Susan Martorella 

Susan Martorella of East Northport died on July 12 at 92 years of age. Beloved wife of the late Joseph J. and the late Arthur Soper; loving mother of Anita Taylor (Kevin), Melanie Soper – McGroarty (John), Andrew (Maureen) and Lucille; also loved by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Visitation was held at Nolan Funeral Home, 5 Laurel Avenue, Northport on July 15. A funeral mass was celebrated on July 16 at St. Anthony of Padua Church, East Northport with interment at St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Huntington.

Charlie Beck

Charlie Beck of Northport died on July 14 at the age of 81. Recipient of the St. Agnes Medal of Service from St. Philip Neri for his devotion to teaching his religion to the children of the parish. Proud veteran of the U.S. Air Force in which he served for six years. Beloved husband of Barbara Beck and beloved by his predeceased wife Joan Norwood Beck; adored by Gretchen Boyles, Anastasia Beck, Kelly Boyles, Leslie Boyles, Miah Charlee Boyles, Matty Boyles and Matthew Boyles; cherished brother of Rosemarie (Robert) Scheibe and Margaret Oliva; also cared for by Jeanne (Richard) McPartland; precious uncle to his many nieces and nephews; dear cousin of many; loyal companion to two dogs, four cats (especially Gracie) and many other animals; dearly devoted to and loved by his many faithful friends. Memorial visitations were held at Nolan Funeral Home, 5 Laurel Avenue, Northport on July 19. A memorial mass was celebrated at St. Philip Neri Church on July 20 with Msgr. Peter Dooley officiating. Interment of ashes with U.S. Air Force military honors followed at Northport Rural Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to any of the following charities in Charlie’s memory.

-St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, www.stjude.org

-St. Philip Neri Religious Education, 344 Main Street, Northport, NY 11768

-North Shore Animal League, 25 Davis Avenue, Port Washington, NY 11050, www.animalleague.org

 

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August LaRuffa

August J. LaRuffa Jr., a longtime community resident, died June 8. He was 87.

August was born March 26, 1932, in Brooklyn and was the son of Concetta and August LaRuffa.

He was an Air Force veteran of the Korean War but later became an engineer, since retired. He was known as a smart man, a master of the trade who worked on the Apollo moon mission. He also enjoyed doing crosswords.

Left to cherish his memory are his daughter Gina, son Dr. August LaRuffa, four grandchildren and many other family and friends.

Services were held at Bryant Funeral Home June 12. He was afforded full military honors at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

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

Katherine Dzurney

Katherine Dzurney, a longtime community resident, died June 11. She was 98.

Katherine was born Oct. 12, 1920, in
Perryopolis, PA, and was the daughter of Eva and Michael Zehall.

Katherine was a homemaker, and she enjoyed knitting, sewing, growing a vegetable garden and cooking.

Left to cherish her memory are her son Ray, her grandchild and other family and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband Stanley.

Services were held at Bryant Funeral Home June 13, and interment followed in the Calverton National Cemetery.

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

Frank Russo

Frank A. Russo, of Port Jefferson Station, died May 20. He was 59 years old.

Frank was born May 27, 1959, in Mineola and was the son of Marie and Frank P. Russo.

He was a 23-year veteran school teacher for the Three Village school district, and those that knew him said his qualities included a great spirit, kindness and generosity. Frank’s bright smile and natural warmth made his students, colleagues and friends always feel acknowledged and special. He dedicated his career to working with children and delighted in their successes and accomplishments. He was a bright light and his beautiful singing voice resonates in our memories and hearts. He left an indelible message of caring, joy and compassion, which will forever remain with us.

Left to cherish his memory are his parents Marie and Frank, brother Anthony (Susan) and  other family, friends, colleagues and students.

Services were held at St. Gerard Majella R.C. Church in Port Jefferson Station May 23, and interment followed 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
guest book.

Majael Gelston

Majael (Mickey) Gelston, of Port Jefferson Station, died May 21. She was 82.

Majael was born May 8, 1937, in Sand Springs, OK, and was the daughter of Florence and Allen Baker.

Majael was a retired executive secretary, and she enjoyed baking, gardening, knitting and sewing.

Left to cherish her memory are her husband Stephen; daughters Kathleen, Jacqueline, Stephanie and Denise; son Kevin; seven grandchildren and many other family and friends.

Services were held at the Bryant Funeral Home May 25, while committal services were held in private.

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

Edward Kettell

Edward E. Kettell, of East Setauket, died May 10. He was 90.

Edward was born Dec. 28, 1928, in Brooklyn and was the son of Janet and Joseph Kettell.

He was a retired captain in the New York City Fire Department, and people who knew him described him as family-oriented, hardworking, protective, smart and very generous. He loved the farm in Pennsylvania where the family would go to snowmobile, and he also enjoyed building and fixing computers.

Left to cherish his memory are daughter Janet, sons Edward and Robert, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, brother Richard and many other family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife Marilyn and his brother Joseph.

Services were held at St. Gerard Majella R.C. Church in Port Jefferson Station May 29, while interment followed at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram.

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

Diana Spetta

Diana Spetta, of Stony Brook, died June 15. She was 86.

Diana was born April 13, 1933, in Queens and was the daughter of Lillian and Paul Duttge.

Diana was a retired executive secretary for Stony Brook University, and she was a member of the community garden club. She also enjoyed the piano, traveling, gardening and being with family.

Left to cherish her memory are her sons Glenn and Robert, five grandchildren and other family and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband Donald and brother Paul.

Services were held at the Bryant Funeral Home June 19, while committal services were held in private.

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

Mary Lewis

Mary Jane “Maisie” Lewis, of Port Jefferson, died June 14. She was 101.

Mary was born Sept. 27, 1917, in Northern Ireland and was the daughter of Sarah and Samuel Stevenson.

Mary was a retired bookkeeper, and she loved to read, garden and spend time with family.

Left to cherish her memory are her sons Michael and Harry, two grandchildren, three great- grandchildren and many other family and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband  Harry.

Services were held at the First Presbyterian Church in Port Jefferson June 20. Interment followed in the Calverton National Cemetery.

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

Eleanor Kra

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

This week’s column is dedicated to courage, the particular courage of one person. That person was one of my closest friends, and she died last week. Even though she suffered for five years with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and we all knew that the end was coming, it is hard to imagine life without her.

And isn’t that the height of selfishness, to think of her death as my loss? What about her loss? Never again on Earth to hug and kiss her husband, her children and grandchildren, to cheer when they enjoy victories and to commiserate when things don’t work out as they had hoped. Never again to join friends for an evening at the opera. Never again to enjoy cooking delicious dinner for those lucky enough to be her guests. Never again to exchange insights about the political turmoil through which we are living. Never again to share a deep belly laugh. For her, it has ended.

We met as freshmen at college. She was impressive for her strongly held viewpoints during classroom discussions of world affairs, asserting that the Cold War was not just about two superpowers but also included a third bloc of underdeveloped and uncommitted nations. She was also delightfully funny, laughing at the incongruities of life. When we were both assigned dorm rooms on the same floor of the same dorm, I got to know that she was born in Poland in the Warsaw ghetto in 1941, hardly a choice time and place, that she had escaped from the ghetto with her mother and another woman and child thanks to her father’s resourcefulness, and that she had lived out World War II in Warsaw with false papers, both mothers being under extreme duress.

My friend went on to be elected editor in chief of the college newspaper, and she sometimes wrote about my actions as class president. We laughed about how it was a microcosm of the fourth estate, that is the public press, commenting on the executive branch. We served on the student council together and became close friends.

After graduation, when my husband and I were looking to settle somewhere in the New York area, it was she who I called from Wichita Falls in northern Texas to ask if Stony Brook, where her husband was a mathematics professor, was a good place to live. Little did I know that this one night she and her husband had decided uncharacteristically to retire early to bed, and with the one-hour time difference between Texas and the East Coast, I would wake them up with my question. But she waved me on. “It’s home,” she responded in her usual direct fashion, telling me all I needed to know. That is how we happened to move to the North Shore of Long Island.

After my husband died and my children all left for college, she stepped in with a surprising offer: How about joining them with an opera subscription? “Where?” I asked. “Why at the Metropolitan Opera, where else?” she smiled. “We would drive into NYC each time?” I responded disbelievingly. “Yes, and have dinner beforehand,” she said with a gleam in her eye. And that is how I discovered one of my great passions.

But before she died, here is her most important gift to us. She was the embodiment of courage. Even as the quality of her life deteriorated, she fought to maintain normalcy, for her sake and the sake of those around her. She went from a cane to a walker, accompanied by her husband, then to a wheelchair, then to a scooter wheelchair that she drove at breakneck speed down Broadway from their West End apartment to Lincoln Center for her subscription performances and more. And as her muscular ability to verbalize diminished, she used the internet and her computer keyboard to stay connected to the rest of us as long as she could control her hands.

Watching her struggle was a gut-wrenching anguish. It was also an inspiration. She was not going into that dark night easily. She fought for every inch of the life her parents had saved and she and her husband had made together, and in so doing she showed us not only how to die with valor but especially how to live life to the max.

Principal Robert Grable speaks at the 2019 high school graduation. Photo by Bob Savage

Mount Sinai High School Principal Robert Grable passed July 19. He was 49.

Mount Sinai High School Principal Robert Grable addresses the graduating class of 2015. Photo by Erika Karp

Grable joined the school district in 1998, teaching fourth, fifth and sixth grade before moving up to assistant middle school principal and in 2005 to middle school principal. He would become high school principal in 2010, during a reshuffling of staff where TBR News Media reported at that time he was there to help facilitate a “diversity of staff.”

In his earlier years, before he entered into education, Grable played Major League Baseball for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. He can be found in the Suffolk sports hall of fame. He was a lifelong resident of Connetquot and father of three girls.

“The community, school district and its teachers, administrators and staff are devastated by his untimely loss,” the school district said in a statement.

But if his true calling was education, it showed, according to both those who worked with him and those students he guided.

Lynn Jordan, a Mount Sinai resident who had been on the board of education since 2007 until this year, said the high school is where he truly thrived.

“That was his building — that was where he belonged,” she said, only a few hours after learning of his passing.

The high school principal would be instrumental in several programs that saw the high school thrive, Jordan said, including a “collegial observation process” that had teachers sit in on other’s instructors classes, having them learn from each other. While the program met with some initial resistance, it soon became an important part of teachers mentoring each other, especially for those just coming into the district.

“Teachers are very funny about having other people in their classrooms while they’re teaching,” she said. “It grew tremendously, I think about every teacher was participating in the collegial rounds eventually.”

Scott Reh, the district’s athletic director, knew Grable for nearly 20 years, having been one of his closest comrades. He said the principal cared about the students like they were his own children.

“He had a vision — he was a presence in the high school,” Reh said. “If you look at the Mount Sinai high school, rob created that, he made it.”

Vincent Ammirato, who taught and coached alongside Grable, would later work under him as principal. He said he remembered joking, saying Grable once worked for him, and he was now his boss. Even with him moving up in the district, Ammirato said the principal never lost that personal connection to his students.

“The kids loved him, the parents loved him, the teachers loved him,” he said. “It’s very rare that you find that in education or any walk of live to be loved by so many people.”

Students who took spent years with the principal, both in the middle and high schools, would come to see him as more than just an administrator.

Daria Martorana, a Mount Sinai native who graduated in 2014, said she had travelled the road from middle to high school with Grable, adding he was magnanimous to her and the other students.

“To say Mr. Grable was a passionate and dedicated educator is an understatement,” she said. “He has always been the one who his students could go to for a laugh when we were down, guidance when we were lost, and help when we were confused… he would even escort us to class so we didn’t get in trouble for not having a late pass.”

To those who paid attention to his methods, Grable took a look at teaching like a coach would on the baseball field, seeing how each individual student has strengths that had to be pushed and nurtured. He was adamant that students just looking to coast through easy courses should challenge themselves.

“They mentored them all through the year, making sure they were really getting what they needed,” Jordan said. “He worked with kids, he tried to make the final outcome better.”

“That was his building — that was where he belonged.”

— Lynn Jordan

Grable spoke at the 2019 senior commencement ceremony just last month, June 28. Jordan said that, even though he had spent nearly 19 years in the district and could have moved up higher in administration, he considered the high school his home.

“Robert Grable was so much more than a principal,” said Gabriella Conceicao, a 2014 Mount Sinai graduate who would later become a teacher in the district. “There are few educators who take the time to get to know their students on a personal level and he was one of them. He built relationships that would last far beyond high school and he touched the lives of countless students and faculty members… I feel so lucky to have known him as a principal, friend, mentor, and coworker.”

Community reaction to the news on Facebook was swift in its condolences, with one resident calling him “one of the most compassionate educators Mount Sinai has ever had.”

The school district announced it would be closed at 3 p.m. Friday, July 19 until Monday July 22 in observance of Grable’s passing.

“There are no words to show the impact Mr. Grable has had on each and every one of his students,” Martorana said. “We are so lucky to have had him as a mentor and teacher but more importantly as a friend.”

*This post was updated July 19 with additional information and quotes.

** This post was updated July 22 with additional quotes

Michael McDermott

A popular Kings Park middle school gym teacher Michael McDermott died tragically on Sunday, July 14, at age 37. He was jogging on the shoulder of the southbound lane of Lake Avenue in St. James, north of Oak Street, when he was struck and killed by a southbound car at 12:21 p.m. 

The driver, Keith Clancy, age 32 of Mattituck, fled the scene in a Nissan sedan and was located and arrested about 30 minutes later, according to police reports, near exit 69 on the Long Island Expressway heading east with a smashed windshield. He was charge with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. 

End of the 2019 season Kings Park JV Baseball game

McDermott served as physical education teacher and coach for 14 years at the William T. Rogers Middle School, where he touched many lives with his enthusiasm, kindness and wonderful sense of humor.

“He was a dedicated JV baseball and middle school boys soccer coach, who inspired those around him,” said Superintendent Timothy Eagen in a prepared statement on behalf of the Kings Park school district. “Our hearts are broken after the tremendous loss of this truly dedicated educator, professional, husband and father. Our thoughts are with the McDermott family at this time.”

Students gathered in the dugout at the school’s baseball field on Monday afternoon for an impromptu tribute that grew that evening into a candlelight vigil, where students, teachers, counselors and the community joined in to mourn the loss. 

John Mueller, age 15, a ninth-grade pitcher for 2019 Kings Park JV baseball team said he will always remember Coach McDermott and wants to be like him.

“Coach made me the person I am today,” John said. “He knows right from wrong, and what is good. He was a great coach, gym teacher and person.”

Community members Camille Cardoza and Barbara Mueller, mother of John admired the coach’s positive attitude and the values he instilled such as family first, school second, then baseball. 

Students inscribe tribute to Coach McDermott in dugout.

Memorial services were held Wednesday July 17 at the Branch Funeral Home. A funeral Mass was due to be held Thursday, July 18, at 10 a.m. at Sts. Philip & James R.C. in St. James. 

McDermott is survived by wife Lorraine, and three children Leila, Ryan and Sienna.

 

Photos from Branch Funeral Home, Barbara Mueller, Camille Cardoza and Patrick Moser

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