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Jefferson’s Ferry

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Les Paldy, 84, takes on the Marine’s Leadership Reaction Course in Quantico. Photo from Jefferson's Ferry

As told to Cathy DeAngelo, vice president of sales and marketing, Jefferson’s Ferry.

Les Paldy is not your average 84-year-old. The Jefferson’s Ferry resident and distinguished service professor emeritus at Stony Brook University has spent more than 50 years teaching in the departments of technology and society, physics, political science and the university’s Honors College. While Paldy has retired, teaching only one class each semester and living with his wife Judy, a retired Three Village Central School District science teacher, in a two-bedroom cottage at Jefferson’s Ferry, he keeps a busy schedule.

“I had trained at Quantico in the 1950s when training methods were relatively primitive. Today’s training is more rigorous, designed to challenge the motivated college graduates competing to become Marine officers.”

— Les Paldy

Paldy, a former Marine infantry and intelligence officer and Korean War veteran, was recently invited to the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia, to observe current Marine officer candidate training during the Marine Corps Recruiting Command’s 2018 Educators and Key Leaders Workshop. He wound up participating at a level he hadn’t anticipated.

“I had trained at Quantico in the 1950s when training methods were relatively primitive,” Paldy said. “Today’s training is more rigorous, designed to challenge the motivated college graduates competing to become Marine officers. On this visit I was assigned to a four-member team given the opportunity to attempt the Leadership Reaction Course involving a set of physical obstacles. The team leader must make a team plan and execute it within a time limit. Marine officer instructors observe to rate the leader and team.”

Paldy said the goal was to retrieve a wounded Marine supposedly held captive by hostiles.

“The physical obstacles consisted of two 8-foot-high platforms separated by a 5-foot gap,” Paldy said. “The team had to scale a wall to the first platform, crawl through a section of conduit pipe, bridge the gap to the second platform and climb down to retrieve the stretcher-borne Marine. Then the team would have to reverse course, re-cross the gap with the wounded Marine on the stretcher, and then lower him to the ground from the first platform. The team had only an 8-foot plank and a short length of rope to work with.”

Paldy volunteered to lead.

“With a separated shoulder and replaced knee, I had planned to stay at the base of the first platform to help lower the casualty to the ground,” Paldy said. “I had no intention of attempting the climbs and gap traversals but one of my teammates was clearly hesitating. It was obvious that we needed three persons to climb up and over to retrieve the wounded Marine. Someone else would have to be the third climber and that person would have to be me.”

“I’ll try to share the excitement of acquiring new knowledge with a younger generation that will have to deal with issues and problems that have eluded us.”

— Les Paldy

Paldy scaled the first wall, bridged the gap between platforms with the plank, and had almost crossed it before losing his balance, falling 8 feet to the ground and becoming a real casualty.

“Probably poor judgment to try it,” he said, “but I didn’t see any alternative.”

He said he gave himself a C-minus for the effort. Course instructors told him he may have the distinction — “dubious,” he said — of being the oldest person to have tried to run the Marine Corps Leadership Reaction Course.

When Paldy is not climbing walls in Marine officer training, he consults with Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Nonproliferation and National Security Department and volunteers as a professor in the Department of Pathology, working to connect Stony Brook medical and engineering researchers with their counterparts at national laboratories and the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory at the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut.

“This Navy lab is the world’s premier research center for submarine medical research, focusing on ways to maintain the health of submarine crews, dedicated men and women whose submarines may stay submerged for months,” Paldy said. “Navy and Stony Brook researchers have exchanged visits and gone aboard attack submarines to discuss possible collaboration.”

He also makes a study of nuclear weapons proliferation and other global concerns and this fall will lead a senior seminar in Stony Brook’s Honors College.

“I’ll try to share the excitement of acquiring new knowledge with a younger generation that will have to deal with issues and problems that have eluded us,” Paldy said. “The university gives me the freedom to work on interesting things with the support of faculty colleagues and professional and civil service staffers who make the university run. No one could ask for more. With some luck, I’ll keep doing it.”

The Dalys smile looking back on 60 years of marriage

Bill and Angie Daly with their wedding photo. Photo by Donna Newman

Angie and Bill Daly are months away from celebrating 60 years of married bliss. Well, maybe it wasn’t all bliss, Angie said, but they must know how marriage survives, because they are still happily together.

The two met at a church dance in Brooklyn in 1956. Angie’s brother Vin knew Bill from their days together at the Vincentian seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. So when they encountered each other at the coat check, Bill noticed Vin’s armful of coats.

“Where’re you going with all those coats?” Bill asked. To which Vin explained he brought seven girls to the dance. “I said, you’re just the guy I want to talk to.”

Angie was the first girl he asked to dance.

“I was attracted to guys who were fair with blue eyes,” Angie said. “It was those blue eyes. And I thought he was suave.”

At the end of the evening, Bill asked Angie if he could drive her home.

“I thought everything about her was terrific,” Bill said. “She was so bright and cheerful and outgoing — and cute.”

She said yes, but only if some of the other girls could come along. So they piled into his yellow Olds 98 convertible and on the way home, the car broke down.

“It just died,” Angie said. They were alongside a big cemetery. It was around midnight; no houses or stores were nearby. It started to snow. Angie and Bill left the others in the car and went to find help.

They finally reached some stores, but only the bar and grill was open. They went in and called Vin, who had been home for some time, got dressed, picked them up, drove all the girls home and dropped Bill off at the train station.

“So the first night we met, we had problems,” Angie said.

They got engaged in 1957, married in 1958, and the babies started coming in 1959. By 1969, the couple had four sons and two daughters. Bill taught algebra and business at John Adams High School in Queens. The family lived in Brentwood. He moved into sales with State Farm insurance company and operated his own agency for 28 years. The pair moved to Smithtown, where they resided for 25 years before moving to Jefferson’s Ferry in South Setauket a little more than four years ago.

They still enjoy spending time together.

“We have a lot in common: walking, dancing, visiting friends. We’re on the same page,” Angie said, as she turned to Bill to says “Is that a good answer?”

“Yes,” he replied, adding, “listening to a little music … we try to outdo each other in kindness.”

Asked what she thought were the main factors in a good marriage, Angie said she thought that having animals helped a lot.

“Our loving, therapeutic animals kept us together,” she said, adding that she believes they had a calming influence and can reset your feelings when emotions occasionally get out of hand.

And, of course, there is their faith.

“I remember in elementary school the nuns saying ‘marriage is not just a man and a woman. It’s God, man and woman,’” she said. “And I think we both felt that. We always forgave.”

Setauket Elementary students Julian McGrath, left, and Conor Matthews share a moment and a smile with their Jefferson’s Ferry friend, resident Betty Bangert. Photo from Kathleen Caputi

Spirits were high when 25 fifth-grade students from Adrienne D’Onofrio’s Setauket Elementary school class recently enjoyed a farewell lunch at Jefferson’s Ferry Lifecare Retirement Community.

Over the course of the school year, the students have partnered with Jefferson’s Ferry’s Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing residents, enjoying companionship, crafting, cooking, learning and fun.

Well-loved by students and residents alike, the Intergenerational Program was conceived 10 years ago by Setauket Elementary teacher Ellen Young, who is now retired but is still active in the program, with Jefferson Ferry Director of Therapeutic Recreation Jennifer Barrett.

Generally, a dozen or so residents engage with the children in small groups during monthly visits.

“You can’t even imagine how much the children look forward to seeing the residents at our visits,” D’Onofrio said. “It has really made an impact on both the students and the residents. Together they’ve written poems, played games, built candy houses, and cooked up a Thanksgiving feast. It’s been a great year.”

The farewell luncheon is always an emotional and memorable event, with barely a dry eye among the adults in attendance. The children get all dressed up, parents are invited, and a lunch is served in the rotunda at Jefferson’s Ferry’s main building. This year, on May 21, the children read aloud letters to the residents and performed Randy Newman’s song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

“The students and the residents become very close over the course of the year,” said Barrett. “We attended the school’s talent show and the kids ended up cheering for us. It made our residents feel loved and very special. We’ve also had numerous students return over the years, either to visit their friends or give community service. It’s very gratifying and a win-win for everyone.”

Student Harry Rosenzweig wrote a note to resident Jim Ardolino.

“I want to thank you so much for playing spoons with me that Thursday we came in April. You made me realize that my hair is way too long and that I can’t see with [it] in my eyes! I got it cut that weekend and I saw the world in a new way! The stories you told about how athletic your childhood was were so awesome and interesting. Thank you for being the coolest resident ever.”

Another student, Julianna Lorber, said that, “I’ve had such an amazing experience coming to see all of the residents. … Thank you for always making me leave with a smile on my face.”

Mary Bafundi, a 95-year-old Jefferson’s Ferry resident, has participated in the Intergenerational Program since she moved into Assisted Living more than five years ago. Today Mary lives in Skilled Nursing, but pilots her electric power chair to keep up with her young friends.

She’s helped plant flowers with the children, baked with them, attended their talent shows and told them her stories. As the oldest of 13 children, Mary spent most of her life first tending to her siblings and then her own children.

Joining Mary in the program are residents Giselle McGann, Dorothy Catania, Jim Ardolino, David Wooster, Nina Sloan, Betty Bangert and Lisa Goldschmidt. In addition to Henry and Julianna, D’Onofrio’s students are: Ashley Bunici, Hazel Cash, Jean Chung, Faith Curth, Melaina Gargano, Toni Amber Hemmerick, Kaitlyn Hernandez, Kristopher Furnari, Maia Le Lay, David Liang, Giani Mascolo, Conor Matthews, Julian McGrath, Mark O’Brien, Samuel Ribeiro-DiCanio, Lindsay Rodgers, Ben Sheline, Sohum Singh, Hannah Toirac, Melissa Vivenzio and Dylan Zummo.