Obituaries

by -
0 4146

"Ride for Becca" foundation created to help promising equestrians

22-year-old equestrian Rebecca Weissbard died suddenly when her horse fell on her during a jumping competition. Photo from the Weissbard family

Gold Medal-winning, 22-year-old equestrian Rebecca Weissbard died Aug. 31 in Saugerties, New York, when her horse accidentally fell on her during a jumping competition.

Her father Eric and her mother Lynne plan to honor their daughter’s memory by establishing a nonprofit for talented riders to help them fulfill their dreams, he said in a telephone interview. Acknowledging the fact that it is an expensive sport, their goal is to provide financial help to working-class kids who show potential and share Rebecca’s passion for horses.

Becca, as she was known, died instantly.  “It was quick,” her father said. “[The paramedics] tried their best, but nothing could be done.”

She was participating in one of the largest horse shows in the country, called HITS-on-the-Hudson. Becca and her mother were in upstate New York, and her father was home on the North Shore, serving a shift as an EMT with the Stony Brook Fire Department.

 Rebecca Weissbard with her father, Eric. Photo from the Weissbard family
Rebecca Weissbard with her father, Eric. Photo from the Weissbard family

“She was such a dignified and well-put-together young woman,” Eric Weissbard said. “She wanted to be the best — to do it properly. She lived her passion and her dream. She worked hard and excelled. It is only fitting that we help other kids pursue their dreams.”

Her grandmother, Rochelle Weissbard, remembered Becca being around horses practically from birth.

“Rebecca was on a horse when she was a few months old — on her mother’s back; on her father’s back,” Rochelle said. “When she was two Lynne went back to training riders at Smoke Run [Farm] in Stony Brook and she took Becca with her. Right from the beginning she was a natural — and fearless.”

Raised in Stony Brook, Becca attended William Sidney Mount Elementary School through sixth grade. Her parents established Sundance Stables in Medford in 2003 but soon outgrew their rented barn and relocated the stable to Manorville.

“Rebecca was the welcoming, cheerful pied piper of the kids,” her grandmother said. “Wherever she was there was love and there was joy — and silliness — but when she was ready to ride, she’d take care of business. And she did. When focused, there was no one better. She rode to win.”

The grandparents have long supported the quadrennial Maccabiah Games held in Israel that bring together Olympic-caliber Jewish athletes from around the world. Traditionally held the year following the Summer Olympic Games, they are sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee and the World Federation of Sports.

As she became more and more proficient at the sport, Becca’s grandfather, Richard Weissbard, realized there were no equestrian events at the games. He contacted the director to ask why. That was about five years ago. The director said he’d get back to him.

The next Maccabiah Games — in 2013 — included equestrian events. Becca trained with Olympic equestrians Neal and Elisa Shapiro at Hay Fever Farm in Robbinsville, New Jersey, for several years. Neal Shapiro was the coach of the American Equestrian Team, which had 38 athletes. Becca won the first gold medal awarded in individual competition, which also helped the team earn silver overall.

The team members had to compete riding Israeli horses because the expense of bringing their own horses was too great. That was problematic for Becca considering, as her grandparents described seemingly in tandem, the horse she ended up with was “defective.” They said it actually went lame the day before the competition.

Very upset, Becca called her mother to find out what to do.

“She wanted to be the best — to do it properly. She lived her passion and her dream. She worked hard and excelled.”

—Eric Weissbard

“You march in there and you tell them you don’t care where they get a horse — just get one!” According to the grandparents, Becca practiced with a reserve horse for about two hours before winning the competition.

“She flew with him,” Richard Weissbard said; “…because she’s been around horses all her life,” her grandmother added. “We were so proud.”

At the games in Israel the then 19-year-old made connections that provided her with European opportunities.

“Wanting to go where the best horses are she chose to go to Holland,” her father said.

Becca worked at a horse stable in Holland for eight months. Her father said she learned a lot about top-tier horses and established a relationship with one particularly difficult horse. She made riding him look easy.

Labor laws for foreign workers dictated a return to the U.S., but a year later she returned to the Dutch farm for another three months. She’d fly back and forth as an escort for horses.

“In those 22 years she crammed in an awful lot of stuff,” her grandmother said. “But most of all she was a wonderful daughter, a great granddaughter, a terrific niece, and everyone who knew her loved her. Wherever there was excitement, there she was. Never a dull moment. She brought laughter and cheer and happiness and joy to everyone. She will be sorely missed.”

The Weissbards are setting up a foundation called Ride for Becca. “It will be a 501(c)3 nonprofit with the goal of helping kids who have potential to get to the next level,” said Eric Weissbard. “We want to find kids who are good and get them good training and get the horse good veterinary care.” They plan to keep Becca’s spirit and passion alive by helping others.

Once the 501(c)3 is established, tax-deductible contributions made out to Ride for Becca may be sent to Sundance Stables, 37 North St., Manorville, NY 11939.

by -
0 1378
Mom first met her great-great-grandson Aiman on July 13, 2016. Photo by Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

Growing up in Setauket, I learned a great deal from my father by his example, but encouragement and support came from Mom. My sister Ann, my brother Guy and I were taught that we were not only a family but a part of a community that extended from our relatives and neighbors across the street to our relatives and friends everywhere.

We lived with my Grandma Edith Tyler until I was 12 and then we moved into the house down the street where my father’s half sister Carrie had lived with her two aunts, Annie and Corinne, until their deaths. Soon after we moved, my Grandma Tyler moved in and lived with us until her death in 1963. A few years later my grandmother Margaret Carlton (Nana) moved from her home in Port Jefferson to our home and lived with us until her death in 1980.

During all this time, these transitions seemed very normal to me. Mom never said a cross word that I was ever aware of, nor any indication that it was the least bit difficult for her sharing a kitchen and dealing with a strong-willed mother-in-law and an equally strong-willed mother. I always loved and appreciated my grandmothers. They were, like Mom, independent women who had run households of their own.

Grandma and my grandfather Tyler owned and ran a boarding house (now Setauket Neighborhood House) until they sold it in 1918 to Eversley Childs. After my grandfather died in 1926, Grandma took the job of Setauket’s postmaster, and then as librarian at Emma Clark Memorial Library.

Grandma Carlton, Nana to us kids, had married Guy Carlton in 1909 in Alna, Maine, and the couple immediately moved to Port Jefferson where my grandfather Carlton, Pup-Pup to us kids, worked building the original Belle Terre Club. A master carpenter and cabinet maker, Pup-Pup built his house in Port Jefferson, overlooking the harbor, and my grandmother insisted that they have indoor plumbing. This was in 1909, when outhouses were the norm.

One summer (1948) I went to work with my grandfather in Crystal Brook. He was building a full bar in the basement of one of the houses. It was a beautiful piece of furniture with cabinets behind the bar in the game room of the summer cottages, and he told me, “Don’t tell your grandmother, she wouldn’t approve.” My grandfather was a tough man, but my grandmother was the strength of the family.

Mom took all of this in stride. She also believed in letting go and letting her kids explore and discover the world. When I was about 8, I was allowed to cross Main Street in Setauket on my own and take my 4-year-old sister and 3-year-old brother with me to Mrs. Celia Hawkins’ farm. We loved going across to the farm with cows, pigs, geese and a few chickens running through the house. We grew up on the buttermilk and candy corn Celia provided for us every day.

On a number of occasions, I unsuccessfully tried to milk the cows. I could never get the hang of it, but Celia let us churn the butter until our arms gave out and we collapsed on the porch. We also enjoyed mornings when we could help collect the eggs, learning quickly how to avoid having our hands pecked by the chickens.

Mom and Dad also took us on vacations to historic and natural sites from Williamsburg, Virginia, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Niagara Falls and the Reversing Falls Rapids in St. John, New Brunswick.

Dad drove and Mom made up games for us to play in the car, usually looking for things outside as we drove. I didn’t realize it at the time, but although Dad was the tour guide and historian, it was Mom who put the fun into the trips with details about interesting signs, structures and people along the route.

“One in; one out. Life goes on and we have a plethora of memories and stories to keep in our hearts.”

— Beverly Tyler

As adults, we took Mom on a few trips, including one to Maine for the burial service of my Aunt Etta, who died when she was 105. Going through one town, Mom suddenly burst out laughing. She pointed out a Chinese restaurant named Mi Sen Gui, and exclaimed, “That’s my son, guy.”

Mom sang a number of years with the Greg Smith singers, even traveling with them to Europe. She played bridge with a group of friends and enjoyed the Setauket Library book study group, even traveling with members of the club to London.

Mom and Dad were members of the Old Field Point Power Squadron and Mom completed every advanced grade course, including celestial navigation. I remember that after completing that last tough course, her warm, aromatic chocolate chip cookies reappeared after a few years absence. Mom was also an excellent cook whose pie crusts have no equal and my wife will attest to that.

Mom enjoyed golf, bowling, boating, car trips and other outdoor activities with my father until his death in a terrible auto accident in 1975. Mom married her second husband Lewis Davis in 1978 and together they enjoyed golf, bowling, trips to Florida and trips all over the world, making a few lasting friends in Australia and other countries as well as closer to home. I especially got to know and appreciate Mom as a friend as well as a mom after Lew died in 2008, in his 94th year.

By the time Lew died, Mom had developed paralysis due to an inherited condition that strikes different people in our family at all different ages and with varied intensities. By the last few years of her life, Mom struggled with special shoes and braces on both legs. I hardly ever heard her complain or let her paralysis slow her down. By this year she was almost completely wheelchair-bound but was still able, with assistance, to move short distances, including in and out of vehicles.

Mom has always been able to take a problem, evaluate it, and after a day, make a decision that is best for everyone around her as well as for herself. Mom always wanted her colonial era home and property to be preserved. Working through state legislator Steven Englebright, this has been accomplished and the property will now go to the Three Village Community Trust.

Mom never lost her sense of humor. Recently, her companion Elizabeth was rubbing some lotion, with a pleasing but distinctive aroma, on her feet. Mom turned and looked very seriously at Elizabeth and said, “Will this clash with my perfume?”

Mom was always able to set herself a goal and stick to it. Elizabeth said that Mom is the only person she knows who could eat one dark chocolate candy kiss and put the bag of candy back in the refrigerator.

Mom’s concern even extended to our parish priest. A week ago we all feared the end of her life was near, but we didn’t know she knew. I told her that our rector, Canon Visconti, was on the way to see her and she whispered to me, “Does he know the situation?” That’s Mom, always one step ahead of the rest of us.

Mom died Thursday, Aug. 25, in her 102nd year, just a few hours after her fourth great-great-grandchild was born in Tennessee. Mom is survived by sons Beverly (Barbara) and Guy, daughter Ann Taylor (Frank), two stepdaughters Sukie Crandall (Steve) and Nancy Rosenberg, seven grandchildren, one step-granddaughter, 21 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

One in; one out. Life goes on and we have a plethora of memories and stories to keep in our hearts.

The funeral will be Friday, Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. at the Caroline Church, 1 Dyke Rd., Setauket. There will be a wake at Bryant Funeral Home, 411 Old Town Rd. in Setauket Sept. 8 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.

Beverly Tyler is a lifelong resident of Setauket, Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from Three Village Historical Society.

Scott Martella served on the Smithtown Board of Education in 2009. File photo

By Victoria Espinoza

Northport resident and Communications Director for Suffolk County, Scott Martella, died over the weekend as a result of a three-car crash on the Long Island Expressway in Manorville.

Colleagues remembered the 29-year-old man as a devoted public servant with a continuing desire to make his community better.

Martella, 29, had worked for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) since last June, after working as an aide for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office.

Bellone said he remembers his communications director as a leader who was always willing to help others.

“Scott Martella dedicated his all too brief life to public service and to helping others,” he said in a statement. “The hundreds of people Scott has worked with over the years and the thousands of people whose lives he has positively impacted would describe him as nothing short of an amazing person.”

“Long Island is a better place today because of his service and dedication to the community.”
— Andrew Cuomo

Bellone said he asked Martella to join his team because of his intelligence and love of community.

“I will miss Scott’s smile, his advice, his laugh, his sense of humor, his dedication and his drive,” he said.

Cuomo shared a similar sentiment regarding the Northport resident.

“Scott was a dedicated, beloved public servant who worked day in and day out to improve the lives of his fellow New Yorkers,” he said about Martella’s time working as an aide for New York. “Scott was always full of big ideas to help solve the toughest challenges of the day, and he was deeply respected for his strong work ethic, candor and fighting spirit. Long Island is a better place today because of his service and dedication to the community.”

Martella had a history of serving his community far earlier than working for Cuomo’s office. He was elected in 2009 as the youngest board member, at 22, for the Smithtown Central School District, and even served as vice president.

Theresa Knox served on the board with Martella in 2009, and said it was clear even then how successful he would be in life. She said despite his age, he was able to take his job very seriously — without taking himself too seriously.

“He could recently remember what it was like to be a student, so he understood just how these decisions would affect them,” she said. “He was always interested in learning, and he cared about the district so much. He was young, but he was really well suited [for being a member of the board].”

Scott Martella served as communications director for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. Photo from Facebook
Scott Martella served as communications director for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. Photo from Facebook

Knox said despite his maturity, there were still moments when he served where she saw him as another one of her kids — adding he was actually younger than her two oldest children.

“There were times when I could hear my own kids saying what he was saying,” she said. “But he was so mature, and you could tell he was going to have a fine career ahead of him.”

She said when he got the offer to work for Cuomo’s office, he saw it as an opportunity to be a clear advocate for the Smithtown community.

“He understood that this job was more than sitting behind a desk,” Knox said.

The Northport resident was named one of the winners of the 30 Under 30 Young Professionals award by the Huntington Chamber of Commerce in 2012.

In an Instagram post, the chamber said he was a “dedicated leader in various roles.”

Martella was driving a 2014 Honda with his fiancée Shelbi Thurau, 29, another Northport resident, when they were hit by a gray Subaru Outback while traveling west on the LIE towards Exit 68 at about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21.

Carmelo Pinales, the driver of the Subaru, lost control of the vehicle, which crossed over the grassy median, went airborne and struck two vehicles, according to police. He was driving with Winnifer Garcia, 21, of Hempstead, his sister Patricia Pinales, his 10-year-old son Cristopher Pinales, and his sister’s 3-year-old daughter.

Aside from Martella’s car, Pinales also hit a BMW. Inside, were driver Marvin Tenzer, 73, and his three passengers, Sandra Tenzer, 69; Helen Adelson, 69; and Isidore Adelson, 81.

Pinales was pronounced dead at the scene, along with his sister and Martella. Thurau, Garcia and the Tenzers were transported to local hospitals and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Cristopher Pinales was pronounced dead at Stony Brook University Hospital after succumbing to his injuries later that day, police said, as well as Adelson. His wife Helen Adelson was pronounced dead on Monday at Stony Brook University Hospital.

This version correctly spells the first name of Carmelo Pinales’ 10-year-old son.

by -
0 1354

Sandy Pearlman lived in Setauket, graduated from Stony Brook University

Sandy Pearlman. Photo from Ronni Hoffman

By Susan Risoli

Who wouldn’t want more cowbell? Samuel “Sandy” Pearlman — who may or may not have inspired the classic “Saturday Night Live” skit about the song “Don’t Fear the Reaper” — had a fever for living the creative life. The former Setauket resident, Stony Brook University alumnus, and celebrated record producer-lyricist-executive, died last week in California at 72. His friends remember a man whose imagination raced ahead while urging everyone else to keep up.

“He was a philosopher-king,” said Norm Prusslin, an SBU professor who first met him on campus in 1969, when Pearlman was managing a local band he called Soft White Underbelly. In this bunch of guys he met at his father’s pharmacy in Smithtown, Pearlman found musicianship that could turn his stories and poems into records. He loved to write about astrology, architecture, mythical figures and all manner of futuristic things, Prusslin recalled.

Blue Öyster Cult recorded “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in 1976. The song, written not by Pearlman, but by the band’s lead guitarist Donald Roeser a.k.a. Buck Dharma, was a track on the “Agents of Fortune” album recorded at New York City’s Record Plant. Pearlman co-produced the album. So … was he in fact the record producer parodied by Christopher Walken in the SNL skit?

Bassist Joe Bouchard said it’s possible.

“Sandy had that look, yeah,” he said, with a chuckle, of the leather jacket and dark glasses worn indoors.

“He was always very happy in the studio — excited to get the band to do their best.”
— Joe Bouchard

More important was Pearlman’s success at pushing artists to go just a bit further.

“He usually said he wanted more energy during recording,” Bouchard said. “He was always very happy in the studio — excited to get the band to do their best.”

Pearlman worked with other artists, producing the Clash’s breakthrough 1978 release “Give ‘Em Enough Rope.” He also produced the Dictators — a punk band many consider to be a sonic link between the Stooges and the MC5, and bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols — and he managed Black Sabbath.

Pearlman lived on and off in a house on Main Street in Setauket, a few doors down from the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. Prusslin said he had been hired to teach philosophy at SBU, but plans were curtailed by the cerebral hemorrhage Pearlman suffered in December of last year.

Longtime friends Robert Duncan, and his wife Roni Hoffman, saw Pearlman often. Duncan said Pearlman was especially proud of “Imaginos,” a project started as a poem and turned into a song circle album.

Although Blue Öyster Cult played on it, “Sandy always referred to it as his ‘solo record,’” Duncan said. “I think he would say that was his crowning achievement, when that record came out.”

Pearlman was always “the smartest guy in the room,” Bouchard said. “He knew that if you just do a pop song, it’ll be gone in a year. If you do a song with a little more depth to it, it’ll have some staying power.”

“Just looking at her calendar would make your head spin,” Jennifer Paley Ambro said of her late mother, Suzanne Paley.

Paley died on July 18, at the age of 86, after a year-long battle with cancer. She was married to The Smithtown News publisher Bernard Paley for 65 years and was very active within the Smithtown community.

Sue-Paley-2w
Suzanne Paley was a resident of Smithtown for more than 20 years. Photo from Jennifer Paley Ambro.

According to Dave Ambro, son-in-law to Paley and editor of the Smithtown News and The Observer, she was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx by parents Annette and Giuseppe Piazza, both immigrants from Italy, along with her late brother and sister, Frank and Josephine.

Paley was the first member of her family to receive a college diploma, graduating cum laude from Brooklyn College in 1950, where she met her husband. She then worked as a teacher in New York City public schools for five years.

“She could never have imagined the life she would live,” Ambro said of her mother. “She grew up in a tenement sharing a bed with her brother and sister, and sharing a hall bathroom with her neighbors. She was so grateful for her life, which she truly cherished.”

The couple married in 1951 and moved to Kings Park where she taught elementary school at the district for five years. Paley left the school to raise her two daughters, Jennifer and Elizabeth, then settled with her family in Smithtown. Later she worked as a teacher at Western Suffolk BOCES before retiring in 1985 and helping out at The Smithtown News as a proofreader and doing rewrite work.

“She and my father moved out to the suburbs with virtually nothing but my mom’s teaching job and together built a life filled with world travel, including month-long trips to Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Portugal, Ireland and through the United States,” Ambro said.

Paley’s daughter Elizabeth echoed the same sentiments about her mother’s zest for life.

“My mom lived such a meaningful and passionate life,” she said. “Whether it was having us all up to Vermont to go skiing, dragging us all out to Montauk to go camping or inscribing a special book for every birthday, her greatest joy was spending time with her family.”

Ambro said her mother loved spending her winters in Vermont, where she skied daily well into her 80s, and her summers on Fire Island and the Berkshires, where she loved to go to the Tanglewood Music Festival.

“She never turned away from what she believed or the people whom she loved and respected.”

—Bernard Paley

Paley enjoyed many passions including bridge, and was an active member of the Smithtown Bridge Studio.

She enjoyed the theater and museums — she was a season ticket holder at the Metropolitan Museum of Art — though she also supported smaller theater companies throughout Manhattan. Paley was a past president of the League of Women Voters of Smithtown.

Paley’s husband said she loved running into old students and parents around town.

“She never turned away from what she believed or the people whom she loved and respected,” her husband said. “She still had friends she kept in touch with from the second grade.”

Donations in memory of Paley can be made to the New York Philharmonic Education Fund, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023; or to the Smithtown Historical Society, 239 E. Main St., Smithtown, NY 11787. Arrangements were entrusted to the care of Branch Funeral Home of Smithtown and the Vigliante family.

Quotes and information with permission of The Smithtown News.

Thomas Scully, second from left, and his family out fishing on a boat. Photo from Despina Scully

By Desirée Keegan

Thomas Scully’s life can be summed up by the lyrics of one of his favorite songs, “The Man,” by Aloe Blacc:

I played my cards and I didn’t fold. Well it ain’t that hard when you got soul (this is my world). Somewhere I heard that life is a test. I been through the worst but I still give my best.
God made my mold different from the rest. Then he broke that mold so I know I’m blessed (this is my world).

Thomas, 12, of Miller Place, died on July 7 after a long battle with anaplastic ependymoma, a form of brain cancer. Although he grew increasingly sick over the last few years, Thomas was said to always have a smile on his face, a terrific sense of humor and was always concerned about others.

Thomas Scully and his cat Snowflake. Photo from Despina Scully
Thomas Scully and his cat Snowflake. Photo from Despina Scully

Thomas was so full of life that, even while battling a lung infection the day before he passed, his mother Despina said she put music on, and he was dancing in his bed.

“All the nurses and doctors came running and they were amazed that he was doing that,” she said. “They’d never seen anything like it before, and that was Thomas. He never stopped fighting. He just loved being here. He was strong, resilient and hardheaded, and wasn’t letting anything hold him back. He loved life.”

He also cared deeply for others, and even while fighting his own battles he was more concerned about how others were feeling.

“He always was advising people, talking to people, and here while he’s going through this he was making people happy, always wanting to make people laugh and cracking jokes and doing magic tricks with his friends,” his grandmother Helen Vidal said. “He’s just an incredible, incredible little boy. He was so sweet. He was always so polite, always trying to please everybody, always very in tune with people and always advising people to take care of themselves.”

In his short time, Thomas also made sure to soak in every second of life.

His aunt Joelle Manzo, of Miller Place, sister of Thomas’ father James, said that while the family was vacationing in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., they were boogie boarding prior to a storm. As the waves rolled in and everyone came out of the water, Thomas continued to drift along, taking it all in, Manzo said.

“He wasn’t going to let anything go by without taking it in,” she said. “And I think we should all live like that. We forget to. We take things for granted. We all think that we have time, but we don’t. The talks that Thomas and I had have blown my mind. He was so wise beyond his years.”

Thomas shared many hobbies with his friend Robby Fitton, who he met in 2012 in at North Country Road Middle School.

Thomas eats dinner at Wasabi, his favorite restaurant, with best friend Robby Fitton, at left. Photo from Concetta Fitton
Thomas eats dinner at Wasabi, his favorite restaurant, with best friend Robby Fitton, at left. Photo from Concetta Fitton

“Back before he got very sick we played outside a lot,” Robby said. “He loved baseball. He also loved playing video games, riding around in his golf cart, playing the card game Crazy Eights and going to Wasabi, his favorite restaurant, I felt really bad for him that he had to go through that all and it was upsetting to see him like that because he’s my age and had a very serious sickness.”

But he was there for his friend, and the two continued to get together at least once or twice a week. Once Thomas found himself in the hospital, Robby visited him there, too.

“It was tough seeing him with IVs hanging out of his arms and all the treatments he had to go through, but he always stayed positive,” Robby said. “I thought of him as one of my best friends because if something happened to me he would always call or text me to check and see if I was OK. We’d always be there for each other, that was a big thing with our friendship. He was special in his own way. I miss him.”

Thomas also had a lot of strength, and his mother called his battle “one heck of a ride.”

“He kept us going,” Despina Scully said. “He was our strength. I’m so unbelievably proud and feel so unbelievably blessed to be his mother and to have gotten the time that I had with him. I feel so lucky to be his mom.”

Thomas gives a thumbs-up in his fight against childhood cancer T-shirt. Photo from Despina Scully
Thomas gives a thumbs-up in his fight against childhood cancer T-shirt. Photo from Despina Scully

Those who knew Thomas described him as very humble. His mother said that if you told him you brought him a leaf because you were thinking of him, it’d mean the world to him.

He was also outspoken.

While watching other children with cancer on television, he would ask his mother, “Why can’t I also be on television?” When his mother asked, “What would you say if you were on TV?” his response was to tell everyone, “Hello, world. You need to be kind to each other, embrace and love each other.”

Scully is trying not to let that message go.

“He was never negative — he would always see the good,” she said. “That’s what I’m trying to hold onto. I’m getting caught up in being upset that he’s gone and that he’s not coming back and how things happened, and I’m trying not to do that because I can’t get him back. He’s gone. I’m just trying to hold onto all those things that he was trying to tell me while he was here and I was just too busy worry about what medicines and what treatments and where he’s going to go and how we’re going to beat his cancer, and I wasn’t there, like I should have been. I wasn’t hearing him. And now I hear him, and I don’t want to let that go.”

Thomas is survived by his parents James and Despina Scully; his brother James Jr.; his sister Jillian; his grandparents Emerson and Helen Vidal, and James Scully, husband of the late Jean Scully. Religious service was celebrated at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson. Interment followed at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Port Jefferson. Arrangements entrusted to the care of Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place.

Former Brookhaven Town councilwoman and environmental activist Regina “Reggie” Seltzer “died overlooking the gardens she ardently tended and the Great South Bay, two of her favorite places,” read a death notice in the New York Times July 1.

She died at her Bellport home June 29 at the age of 86.

Seltzer is survived by her son Eric, his wife Nealle and three granddaughters: Veronica, Jean and Bryn.

Reggie Seltzer left behind a legacy of good works.

In 1979, Seltzer was named Woman of the Year in Environment by this newspaper.

At that time, she was recognized by Cathy McKeen, who wrote: “Since she won a seat on Brookhaven’s Town Board four years ago Regina Seltzer has been an advocate of protecting the environment.”

Village Times honoree Regina Seltzer. Photo from Sherry Binnington
Village Times honoree Regina Seltzer. Photo from Sherry Binnington

McKeen went on to list her many accomplishments, among them the creation of the town’s Department of Environmental Protection, advocating zoning reform to address haphazard planning and growth and a new sanitary code.

Seltzer was born to Jewish parents in Poland in 1929. Three years later, seeing the injustice and brutality inflicted upon Jews in their town — and fearing what would follow — her parents left Poland, bound for Palestine. In 1937, they followed family and immigrated to New York.

As an adult, Seltzer first worked as a school teacher and librarian, according to Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine (R), who eulogized her at the start of the June 30 town board meeting.

She was a councilwoman and member of the town’s planning board. She had returned to school to earn a law degree in her 50s and worked on many environmental issues, often pro bono. She was a true civic leader, Romaine said.

“[Reggie] made a huge difference in the Town of Brookhaven,” said Romaine. “She was brighter than light, easy to work with, principled, honest, straightforward — someone that we’ll all miss in this town government. … I’ve ordered flags at Town Hall to fly at half mast in her honor.”

Friends and colleagues also expressed their grief at the board meeting. Sherry Binnington, of Bellport, met Seltzer in the 1960s, when they became neighbors.

“Reggie Seltzer was a genuine person who had a conscience and was concerned about other people,” Binnington said during the public participation part of the meeting. “She believed that you should try to do everything you can when you see things that are not right.”

Another activist and friend, MaryAnn Johnston, had this to say, “When I first started working as an activist, Reggie was a source of constant encouragement and inspiration.

“She taught me how to do this work … with an uplifted heart. And to celebrate the victories — that they’d be few and far between, but that when you did the job well, they would matter and they would last. It would be what you left behind.”

Local fire districts salute Thomas Lateulere, as HIS coffin is carried out of St. John the Baptist R. C. Church in Wading River on July 1. Photo by Wenhao Ma

By Wenhao Ma

The Wading River community bid farewell Friday to an impactful, friendly and unforgettable first responder.

Many gathered at St. John the Baptist R. C. Church in Wading River Friday morning to attend the funeral of Thomas Lateulere, the director of training and education for Suffolk County’s Regional Emergency Medical Services Council, and former commissioner of the Wading River Fire District.

Lateulere, 52, who by many was referred to as a “true gentleman” and “professional man,” died of an illness on June 27. A wake was held on June 30, at the Wading Fire Department headquarters.

“He was a selfless guy,” said Kevin McQueeney, first assistant chief of the Wading River Fire Department, who had known Lateulere for 35 years. “When he was sick, he didn’t tell anybody how sick he was. He’s just a selfless, selfless individual.”

Locals pay respect to Thomas Lateulere during mass outside St. John the Baptist R. C. Church in Wading River on July 1. Photo by Wenhao Ma
Locals pay respect to Thomas Lateulere during mass outside St. John the Baptist R. C. Church in Wading River on July 1. Photo by Wenhao Ma

Lateulere, who worked up until days before his death, joined the fire department right after high school, as a volunteer, in 1981, and by the following year, was a trained firefighter and emergency medical technician. He spent time as one of the first flight paramedics to fly with Suffolk County police’s emergency aviation unit, and according to Tony Bitalvo, second assistant chief of the Wading River Fire Department, Lateulere was an advocate for the pilot program, among other pilot programs. He served as an advocate at the state level.

Lateulere also convinced the department to get involved with cutting-edge technologies and ways to save lives, such as narcan, an anti-overdose treatment, which he pushed for as leader of Suffolk REMSCO.

“The things he brought to our department was unprecedented,” Bitalvo said. “He’s just somebody we always relied and counted on. It’s a tremendous loss for the Wading River Fire Department and the community in general.”

The Huntington Community First Aid Squad showed respect to Lateulere by thanking him “for all his service to our organization and the entire EMS community” on its official Facebook page.

Bitalvo said that Lateulere had influenced Emergency Medical Technicians across Long Island.

“His training and patience touched every aspect of the EMS field,” he said.

Bernice Bien-Aime, the Chief of Operations Wyandanch-Wheatley Heights Ambulance Corp., had one such experience with Lateulere. When the two first met in 1995, Bien-Aime was a rookie EMT. She remembers Lateulere as a humble, caring and passionate person.

“I’ve always heard of paramedics having the ‘Paragod’ complex,” Bien-Aime said, but immediately got the vibe from Lateulere that with him, it was quite the opposite. “Now here comes Tom, literally coming from the sky, and he was the kindest paramedic.”

The Wading River Fire Department honors Thomas Lateulere during mass, outside St. John the Baptist R. C. Church in Wading River on July 1. Photo by Wenhao Ma
The Wading River Fire Department honors Thomas Lateulere during mass, outside St. John the Baptist R. C. Church in Wading River on July 1. Photo by Wenhao Ma

She recalled Latuelere’s reassurance and help following taking the Suffolk County protocol exam to become a credentialed EMT. Although her Advanced Emergency Medical Technician -Critical Care certification was completed in Nassau County, she wanted to work in Suffolk.

After taking the test, Lauteulere, seeing she was nervous, called Bien-Aime to the side.

“Relax, you got this,” she recalls Lauteulere telling her.

“Oh, I passed?” she asked in response.

“No,” she remembers him answering, with a smile. “If this was Nassau County, yes. But this is Suffolk. Our protocols are different. You know this stuff. Now relax and remember you’re in Suffolk. Now, retake your test.”

Thousands of first responders went through Lauteulere directly, learning how to save lives from a man who demanded perfection and knew how to bring it out in his fellow emergency medical teams.

“[He was] patient with this rookie EMT,” Bien-Aime said. “That is a feeling I’ve never forgotten.”

Sharing a similar feeling was Branden Heller, who is now the third assistant chief of Wading River Fire Department. Fifteen years ago when he first came to the department, Lateulere was the chief.

“[He’s] a major inspiration and a natural leader,” Heller said.

Many at the funeral looked to Lateulere as not only an influential figure in the EMS community, but the community itself.

“He saved countless lives,” McQueeney said of Lateulere. “He’s irreplaceable, and I firmly believe that.”

Jim and Katie Ford at Good Shepherd Hospice when Katie received a promotion. Photo from Good Shepherd Hospice

By Ernestine Franco

On June 15, at 12:57 p.m., Jim Ford’s Facebook post said, “The journey continues. I’m off to Good Shepherd Hospice later today.” Just three days later, Sound Beach lost one of its best and brightest lights.

James Francis Ford was born in the Bronx on Dec. 3, 1947. He attended William Howard Taft High School and in 1967 he enlisted in the Air Force, where he was a mechanic and worked maintaining airplane while stationed in Charleston, South Carolina. Ford and his wife, Nancy, initially moved to Bayport. Again on Dec. 3, but in 1976, they moved to Sound Beach.

Jim Ford was a member of the Sound Beach Fire Department, holding various different positions. Photo from the Sound Beach Fire Department
Jim Ford was a member of the Sound Beach Fire Department, holding various different positions. Photo from the Sound Beach Fire Department

In Bayport, Ford served in the fire department as lieutenant of the Hook and Ladder Company, so when his family moved to Sound Beach, it was only fitting he’d join the Sound Beach Fire Department. There he became a lieutenant and made his way up the ladder to attain the rank of captain of Engine Company 1, a position he was very proud to hold. Over the years he held many positions in the department, including lieutenant and captain of the Fire Police Squad, president of the department for five years. He served on numerous committees, and was a life member of the department as well as president of the benevolent fund.

For the past 10 years, Ford could no longer be a responding member of the department. “While in and out of hospitals,” his good friend and ex-Chief Bob Pulick said, “being on the inactive list didn’t stop Jim from still being of service.” In fact, Pulick said, “he was single-handedly responsible for about 75 percent of all the funds the department received each year.”

Ford’s commitment to the community was not only through the fire department. He was also very active in his church, St. Louis de Montfort R.C. Church in Sound Beach, where he was a Eucharistic minister and an usher. He also coordinated baptisms with his wife.

A valued member of the Sound Beach Civic Association, Jim is remembered fondly by the Civic president Bea Ruberto.

“In April, the Civic held a Vets Memorial lasagna dinner fundraiser.” Ruberto said. “Because of his health issues, Jim couldn’t eat the lasagna, but he bought a ticket, then brought his own dinner, because he wanted to show support for our vets.”

Jim Ford and his wife Nancy at a family wedding. Photo from from Nancy Ford
Jim Ford and his wife Nancy at a family wedding. Photo from from Nancy Ford

What will be remembered by most people, though, is not just all that he did, but who he was. Patty Pulick, a lifelong friend, remembers meeting the couple nearly 40 years ago.

“He had a great smile and laugh, and was always thinking of everyone else before himself, many times taking me to physical therapy whenever I needed a ride,” she said of Ford. “If I called their home wanting to speak to Nancy and Jim answered, he always said, ‘Hey you’ and I would laugh. He was a wonderful guy and I still can’t believe he is no longer with us.”

The Pulicks and the Fords enjoyed a special bond as parents. Katie and Danny Ford and Kim Pulick came from the same adoption agency in Korea — Katie and Kim within days of each other.

“I will miss our birthday lunches at such gourmet restaurants as Wendy’s, McDonald’s or George’s Kitchen,” Bob Pulick said.

Ford was very proud of his daughter Katie, who was a member of the 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard. When he was already at Good Shepherd, Air Force officers came to his bedside to officially promote his daughter, a veteran of two tours in Iraq, to technical sergeant. With that promotion, Katie now outranked her father, to which Ford answered, “If I could get out of bed, I would salute you.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) also fondly remembers Ford.

Nancy and Jim Ford, and their grandchildren Colin and Andy. Photo from Maureen Ford Chorma
Nancy and Jim Ford, and their grandchildren Colin and Andy. Photo from Maureen Ford Chorma

“I think I have one word that describes him,” Bonner said. “He was a gentleman. He was a warm, kind and funny person, with an upbeat attitude right to the end. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone.” Bonner said she will miss getting a hug from him, something he did every time they saw each other.

Jim and Nancy Ford celebrated their 45th anniversary on May 22. Both very caring and loving people, they were well known for their humor. They had fun together. Nancy remembers her husband being called “the mayor of the fire department and the mayor of their block,” and Nancy said she now knows he is the “mayor in heaven.”

Jim was the beloved husband of Nancy; loving father of Maureen Chorma (Timothy), Kathleen and Daniel; adored grandfather of Andrew and Colin; and dear brother of Michael Ford, Mary Walsh and Kenneth Ford. A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated at St. Louis de Montfort R.C. Church in Sound Beach. Internment followed in Calverton National Cemetery. Donations may be made in his name to Good Shepherd Hospice, Hope House Ministries or the Grumman Memorial Park.

North Shore resident Ivan Kalina is remembered by many as a man of adventure. Photo from Yvette Panno

By Yvette Panno

Ivan Kalina, 84, of Setauket died peacefully the morning of May 27 following a brief illness.

Originally born in Kosice, Czechoslovakia, in 1932 to beloved parents Geza and Ilonka, Kalina’s life was defined by courage, strength and resilience. First as a European Jewish Holocaust survivor, later as an escaped refugee from Communism to America, his story shaped not only his life, but also the history of a generation.

During World War II, Kalina was a young child who managed to survive the Nazis’ early invasion of Czechoslovakia and the deportation of the Jews to concentration camps through the help of Christian friends and false papers.

In the final years of the war, he separated from his mother and father and went to Budapest, Hungary, to hide in an apartment with relatives just blocks from Gestapo headquarters that was bombed day and night by American, Russian and British forces.

Returning to Kosice, his was among the few Jewish families to survive.

Although his education was delayed for years by the war, as a testimony to his determination, in 1956 he graduated as the valedictorian of his medical school class from Charles University in Prague, as a pediatrician. That same year, he married his beautiful wife Vera Atlas, a histopathologist, in Kosice.

With the onslaught of Communist persecution of both Jews and democratic sympathizers, Ivan and Vera realized they could never be free in their oppressive homeland.

In 1965, they left their close families and planned a daring escape through the Yugoslavia border into Austria, until they could manage a flight to New York City with their two young children, Peter and Yvette. They came to this country with two suitcases and $200. With prison sentences awaiting them if they returned to Czechoslovakia, they dedicated themselves to making new lives. Ivan and Vera worked long hours at Bellevue Hospital and New York University while he took his medical board exams in English – his fifth fluent language.

Ivan’s favorite expression – said with characteristic humor and positive spirit – was “that’s why I came to America.”

To this country, Kalina brought with him the grit, charm and fun-loving outlook to be successful. His career spanned a private practice in pediatrics in Rocky Point as well as medical director of Little Flower Orphanage in Wading River, associate professor at Stony Brook University, and attending physician at both St. Charles Hospital and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson.

Always athletic and tanned, he was a fiercely competitive, daily tennis player and longtime member of the Harbor Hills Country Club near his original home in Port Jefferson. A perfect day was sitting in the sun near the backyard pool reading a newspaper. A remarkable skier until the age of 70, he loved to travel and took multiple trips out to his condo in Vail, Colorado, and traveled several times a year around the world.

His love of children was no greater than that for his five grandchildren, who called him Papi and of whom he was most proud: Olivia, Mia, Sydney, Jake and Sam.

He is also survived by his children, Dr. Peter Kalina and Yvette Kalina Panno; daughter-in-law, Michelle Kalina; and long-loved partner, Carolyn Van Helden.

As he would say in Hungarian: Sok Szeretet, Servuse Tatulko.

Social

9,388FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,155FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe