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Setauket

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The home of Capt. Joseph Swift and Capt. Charles B. Tyler families, circa 1900. Tyler died in 1899; his wife, Eliza, died in 1924. The house and property now belong to the Three Village Community Trust. Photo from Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

The date was Saturday, Feb. 19, 1848. The day began cold and clear but pleasant with no wind and a frost on the ground early. The weather had been about the same for the week before. (From the diary of Henry Hudson, 1791-1877.)

In the family room of a large farmhouse, two sisters — Eliza, age 15, and Mary, age 14, the eldest children of Capt. Joseph Swift and his wife, Amelia — were sitting at a table in front of the fireplace. Their five younger siblings — Cynthia, 11, William, 8, Ellen, 6, George, 4, and Harriet, 2 — were sitting closer to the warmth from the fireplace entertaining each other with games and storybooks. Eliza, Mary and their mother had been up just before dawn, as they were every day on their small six-acre farm, tending the animals and preparing breakfast. Their father had been away for a time sailing his cargo schooner along the Atlantic Coast. With the morning chores completed, Eliza and Mary placed their small portable writing desk on the table and prepared to write a letter to their aunt and uncle in New York City.

A recently discovered letter, on light blue paper, written in ink now faded to a light brown, was discovered in Tyler family papers. Both Mary and Eliza wrote the letter. Mary writing to their aunt Mary Bacon Stoney and then Eliza continuing with her own writing to their Uncle Henry Stoney. Mary wrote, “As I have a few moments I will devote it to the pleasure of writing to you although I have some melancholy news to write. The family are all well with the exceptions of Ellen who has been sick with the scarlet rash but is now much recovered. We have nothing from father since Aunt Mary left … ”

Mary continued the letter with details about the valentines the two girls received and how easy it was to figure out who sent them. Then she told her aunt the news. “Setauket is quite sickly. In less than ten days there have been five deaths. Hannah Howell, the young girl who went to school with Eliza died on Saturday with the Typhus fever. Mrs. Archibald Jayne died on Monday with the quincy after an illness of only ten days … Mr. Archibald died on Wednesday after being sick only three days with the pleurisy … Their funerals [at Setauket’s Caroline Church] were very large. Uncle William [Bacon] supposed there were 400 people there and more than 50 carriages and wagons. A great many aged people said they never saw such a sight before in a country place. Isaac Brewster died on Thursday morning with the consumption … Solomon Smith died about a week ago … Eliza will finish this sheet. Please give my love to grandmother [Cynthia Halsey Bacon], Uncle Henry and Ellen Fulton. Your affectionate niece Mary Swift.”

Henry Hudson, in his diary for 1848 also mentioned the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Jayne. “Monday Feb 28th 1848 … I hear yesterday that Archibald Jayne and wife both of them were buried in a day — Isaac Brewster too … I have fifteen scholars …” At the time Hudson, who lived in Setauket, was teaching school in Wading River, having walked there to begin the quarter.

Eliza continued the letter writing to her uncle, telling more about one of the valentines she received and the fact that her Aunt Eliza, possibly her father’s sister, was living with them and had a room upstairs. As there were just three bedrooms upstairs for at least two adults and seven children, it was quite different from sleeping arrangements for most families today. Eliza continued her letter with details on more family members, two weddings and the arrival back home of “Mr. Mills’s son,” who had been with Capt. Swift.

Eliza, my great-grandmother, married Capt. Charles B. Tyler in January 1851, at the age of 18. The couple joined the Swift household, and sometime before Capt. Swift died in 1860 at the age of 48, they purchased the home and farm. By 1870, my widowed great-great-grandmother Amelia Bacon Swift was living in East Setauket with her youngest son Joseph, age 24.

Mary, my great-grandaunt, married Capt. Benjamin Jones before March 19, 1858, and voyaged with him to China and Japan in the bark Mary and Louisa, built by her uncle William Bacon in his shipyard in East Setauket. They left New York’s South Street Seaport in September 1858. Mary’s letters home to her sister Eliza and her sister-in-law Ellen Jones Jayne are a wonderful glimpse into her life at sea and in China and Japan. They arrived back in New York in September 1861. Mary, by then seriously ill with consumption, died in October 1861 at the age of 26. She is buried in the Setauket Presbyterian Cemetery.

Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

File photo

Suffolk County police arrested six people March 30 for selling alcohol to minors at businesses located within Brookhaven Town in the 6th Precinct.

Police said they conducted several stings in response to community complaints, and 6th Precinct Crime Section officers conducted an investigation into the sale of alcohol to minors during which 17 businesses were checked for compliance with the law.

The following people were arrested and charged with unlawfully dealing with a minor:

  • German Estevez-Rodriguez, 40, of East Setauket, employed at Upper Main Street Deli, located at 1600 Main Street in Port Jefferson
  • Joseph Ragan, 18, of Coram, employed at Speedway Gas Station, located at 1445 Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station
  • Isaiah Tyler, 19, of Coram, employed at Speedway Gas Station located at 1956 Route 112 in Coram
  • Nurettin Keski, 45, of Brentwood, employed by Valero Gas Station,located at 1274 Middle Country Road in Selden
  • Buenaventura Benitez, 45, of Smithtown, employed at NY Food & Drinks, Inc. located at 2505 Middle Country Road in Centereach
  • Ervin Rhames, 21, of East Patchogue, employed at Speedway Gas Station, located at 501 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station

Eleven establishments within the 6th Precinct complied and refused to sell alcohol to minors.

All six people arrested were issued field appearance tickets and are scheduled to appear at first district court in Central Islip May 28.

Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

An East Setauket man faces a multicount indictment for allegedly receiving more than $400,000 through insurance fraud.

On Feb. 28, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini’s (D) office announced the unsealing of a 70-count indictment against former health care worker Joseph Basile, 50. It is alleged he fraudulently received more than $400,000 through a health insurance fraud scheme where he would file claims for unperformed procedures and list a former employer, a colorectal surgeon, on the forms.

“This was an act of pure greed,” Sini said. “He used his knowledge of the health care insurance system to illegally pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars, money that would have otherwise been used to care for people who were sick and in need.”

Basile was charged with insurance fraud in the first degree, three counts of health care fraud in the second degree, two counts of grand larceny in the second degree, health care fraud in the third degree, grand larceny in the third degree, scheme to defraud in the first degree and 60 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.

Basile was employed as an office manager for a private health care practice by a colorectal surgeon in Port Jefferson before the practice closed in 2013, according to the DA’s office. From January 2014 through July 2016, Basile allegedly fraudulently filed insurance claims for medical procedures, including colorectal surgeries, to Empire BlueCross BlueShield in excess of $3.8 million on behalf of himself and others, listing his former employer as the provider. The medical procedures had not been performed.

Basile then allegedly forged the signature of his former employer and deposited the checks into his own account. The more than $400,000 received was paid by both the insurance company and John T. Mather Hospital.

The former health care worker also allegedly filed fraudulent insurance claims on behalf of another individual whose health care is provided through Teamsters Local 1205’s welfare fund, according to Sini’s office. Basile allegedly stole more than $3,000 from the fund by filing false health care insurance claims.

Basile was released on $5,000 bond and is due back in court March 12. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

He is being represented by Legal Aid of Suffolk County attorney Kathleen Evers who could not be reached for comment.

Mary Speers says goodbye to a congregant of Setauket Presbyterian Church. Photo from Facebook

As the congregants of Setauket Presbyterian Church look to the future, one pastor has her mind on retirement.

The Rev. Mary Speers, 65, who pastored at the church for nearly six years, said her last sermon in Setauket Nov. 30. Temporarily taking over the role as interim pastor is Kate Jones Calone who is known for her work with the Open Door Exchange, an outreach program of the church created to collect furniture to distribute to those in need.

After members of Setauket Presbyterian conducted its most recent mission study and put together a five-year plan, Speers started asking herself if she wanted to work another five years, considering she was thinking of retiring in May when she turns 66.

The Rev. Mary Speers, left holding dog, at a past Christmas Eve Manger Service at Setauket Presbyterian Church. Photo from Mary Speers

The reverend said she was already researching houses in Baltimore. Speers said she wished to move there due to a lot of social justice work needing to be done in the city, along with her love for small-city life. The pastor said if she bought a home before she retired, she could rent it out.

When she decided it would be best for Setauket Presbyterian church members to find someone who would be there for the long haul, she called the Presbytery office in Maryland to see if there were any churches looking for an interim pastor. She said soon after her request, she received a call that congregants of a church in the city were looking for someone. Around the same time, her real estate agent found a home for her.

She said the church members of Setauket Presbyterian understood her need to move as soon as possible and for the small Maryland church’s need for a pastor after theirs left in July 2018.

“They said, ‘You know what, why don’t you let them have a pastor for Advent,’” she said. “‘We’ll be fine.’ That was really sweet of them.”

Speers said she’ll miss pastoring at Setauket Presbyterian Church, where she described the congregants as “putting feet on faith.”

“The congregation is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “They are so involved in the running of the place.”

The pastor said after working and living in Setauket since February of 2013, in addition to the church members, she will miss her time in the Three Village area where she kayaked and picked beach plums at West Meadow Beach, with which she made jam.

Debra Dwyer, an elder with the church, said she switched churches three years ago and credits Speers with her becoming a member of Setauket Presbyterian. She described the pastor as strong and passionate.

Dwyer said she and one of her daughters Emily visited the church on one Youth Mission Sunday during which young church members reported about their recent mission trip to Washington, D.C., to work with the homeless. Based on that visit, Dwyer and her daughter came back one day when Speers was preaching.

“She preached on social issues,” the church elder said. “She applied the bible and scripture in a way that I was so impressed. What she was able to do was get a message out that was truly Christian and that was truly socially just in a way that was not controversial so that everyone could hear it.”

While Dwyer will miss Speers, she said she admires Jones Calone for her peace and justice missions and looks forward to her pastoring.

“For us, this is just a family member getting promoted,” she said.

Speers said she knows Jones Calone will do great in her role as interim pastor because she knows the church’s dynamics.

“She has a great head on her shoulder,” she said. “She’s very pastoral, but she also has excellent boundaries.”

The members of Setauket Presyterian Church welcomed interim pastor Kate Jones Calone with a cake. Photo by Sandy Bond

Jones Calone, 44, who is a wife and mother of three children ranging in age from 7 to 13, has been involved in the church since 2011 when she started as an assistant pastor. She was in the role for nearly five years, and during that time, launched and became the director of Open Door Exchange.

“I’m incredibly so grateful and excited to be serving Setauket Presbyterian Church in this point in the life of the congregation,” she said.

During this transitional time, she said she is excited to help the congregants, whom she described as loving and dedicated, with their plans, which include figuring out how to help people connect with their faith in new ways. She said the church will continue its mission to learn how they can be good stewards of the funds they receive.

In addition to running the Open Door Exchange, every Wednesday the church members volunteer at Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen in Port Jefferson, which serves hot, homemade meals with volunteers from several area churches.

Jones Calone, who officially became interim pastor Jan. 9, said Speers will be missed, and she always appreciated her support when Open Door Exchange was initiated.

“Mary brought a real creativity in her leadership in a lot of different ways, including worship, and I always appreciated that,” Jones Calone said. “I also think about how I really appreciated when we came to her and said, ‘We have this idea for starting this new outreach program.’ She never hesitated and said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s figure out a way to make this happen, what kind of support do you need.’”

The former home of Brookhaven Cat Hospital is being renovated after an Oct. 7 fire destroyed the interior. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Three months after a fire engulfed one of the buildings that makes up the Setauket Commons former tenants are embarking on new paths.

Business were forced to close after a fire ripped through 60 Route 25A in Setauket, the night of Oct. 7. The fire took more than two hours to control, according to Setauket Fire Department, leaving smoke and water damage in its wake.

Veterinarian Dr. Anthony Nanton, owner of Brookhaven Cat Hospital, has been working at Paumanok Veterinary Hospital in Patchogue since the end of November. The Stony Brook resident said when he arrived on the scene Oct. 7 smoke was pouring out of the building. It’s still difficult for him to talk about that night.

“It was quite traumatic,” he said.

Nanton said three resident cats died in the fire from what appeared to be smoke inhalation. The animal hospital was the felines’ home since 2003 when it was located in Coram.

“They were like my children,” the veterinarian said.

While Nanton will now work out of Patchogue, Anne McLaughlin, president of Hayes Physical Therapy, said she and her staff will remain in Setauket. The business has operated out of the Setauket Commons since 2004 and McLaughlin bought the company in 2009.

Since the fire, McLaughlin has made house calls when she can and referred patients to her colleagues in the surrounding area.

McLaughlin said she signed a new lease Jan. 11, and Hayes Physical Therapy will be moving to the same shopping center as Mario’s Italian Restaurant — Heritage Corners East — in the storefront of the former music store. She is hoping to reopen within the next couple of weeks.

“There was no question that I was going to stay in the Three Village area,” she said. “It was just a matter of finding a suitable location.”

The employees of Advanced Research Media, which had an office in the building for 2 1/2 years, are now working remotely from their homes, according to the company’s vice president Elyse Blechman. The owners of Healing Massage could not be reached by this publication’s press time.

Dr. Edmunde Stewart had a passion for riding horses. Photo Courtesy of the Steart family

By Vicky Stewart

Dr. Edmunde Andrew Cameron Stewart, 80, died Dec. 6 in St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, surrounded by the love of his family. Stewart had been fighting pneumonia. For the past several years, after being diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his lungs were compromised.

The Stewart family is most known for living on Old Field Road for many years, where he and his wife, Norma, raised their three children. Stewart was an orthopedic surgeon working at St. Charles Hospital and Mather Hospital, serving as the chief of orthopedics at Mather, for many years, and as a past president of the medical staff at both St. Charles and Mather. He had a private practice on Elm Street in Port Jefferson.

Stewart was also an exceptional equestrian and had a passion for foxhunting. He was the master of the Smithtown Hunt Club and a president of the Smithtown Hunt Horse Show. He is remembered affectionately by fellow foxhunters as “Doc” as he would often help injured riders, during a foxhunt. For many years, he moderated the hunt breakfast, to benefit the museums at Stony Brook. He also served three terms as a trustee for the Village of Old Field.

Although medicine and horses were his passions, his greatest love was his family. Right until the end, with family by his side, he was letting them know how much he loved them.

His legacy will live on through his loving family, who adored him. He leaves behind his wife of 56 years, Norma; his son Greg; daughters Victoria and Gillian; and son-in-law Juan. He was a loving grandpa to his four grandchildren, Olivia, Cameron, Benjamin and Emilia, all who affectionately called him “Deda.”

Stewart was a native of Dundee, Scotland. He was predeceased by his father Andrew Stewart, mother Winifred Byrd Lennox and sister Winifred Lennox Govan.

Stewart entered St. Andrew’s University Medical School in Scotland at the age of 17. Upon graduation in 1961, he did two specialty residences in Scotland: internal medicine and orthopedics. In 1962-63, he taught anatomy at St. Andrew’s University. He came to the United States in 1963 and served his residency in orthopedics at Nassau Hospital, Meadowbrook Hospital and here at St. Charles. He became a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 1971, and the following year he received his fellow of American College of Surgeons. He also served in the Army Reserve, as a reserve commissioned officer  for the United States Army.

The doctor was a man of many talents. His children remember him playing the trumpet and the piano. Prior to entering medical school, he had spent many years on the stage, as a member of the Dundee Repertory Theatre, with starring roles in productions of “Oliver Twist” and “Great Expectations,” to name a few. At the same time, although busy on the stage and with his studies, Stewart managed to find some time to participate in one of his favorite sports. For two years, he was the junior champion of the West End Lawn Tennis Club, a prominent private tennis club in his native Dundee.

While at St. Andrews, Stewart was a member of the university’s fencing team, touring England, Ireland and Scotland and in the process obtaining his “full blue” for the university.

He was laid to rest Dec. 10 at the Caroline Church of Brookhaven in Setauket, on a beautiful sunny day, with a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace,” in the distance.

“Every man dies, not every man lives” is a quote he was fond of, by William Wallace, a freedom fighter from Scotland near the end of the 13th century. This quote is a great testament to the fact that Stewart truly lived and lived with passion, until the very end. His fighting spirit and love for life will live on in all who knew him.

Kings Park veteran Ernie Lanzer, on right, with his daughter, Claire, wrapped in his Quilt of Valor. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Nearly 70 years later, a Kings Park resident has been recognized for his service in World War II for the first time.

At roughly 12:05 p.m. Oct. 19, former Setauket residents Linda and Larry Heinz presented U.S. Navy vet
Ernie Lanzer with a Quilt of Valor to honor his service to his country. Now 91 years old, Lanzer recounted his time in the service as he was wrapped in the 80-inch by 60-inch handmade blanket in the colors of red, white and blue.

Ernie Lanzer dressed in his U.S. Navy uniform circa World War II. Photo from Claire Lanzer

“That was a lifetime ago, it’s ancient history,” he said humbly. “I was only a kid when I went in, 17, maybe 18.”

Lanzer said he registered under the draft and been called to serve near the end of World War II. He recalled fondly his assignment to the U.S.S. Antietam, an Essex-class aircraft carrier, as first-class seaman with the title of aviation machinist mate. His ship was stationed in waters off China and Japan during the period of occupation following the war.

“It really got my life started with aircraft; I went from fixing propellers to working on F-105, a real modern-day jet bomber,” Lanzer said.

Upon leaving the U.S. Navy, he worked on various planes for Farmingdale-based Republic Aviation. In 1961, he would continue to build a legacy of service by joining Engine Company #2 of the Kings Park Fire Department. Lanzer rose up the ranks of the firehouse, serving as fire commissioner from 2000 to 2006.

While recognized by the Kings Park Fire Department for more than 50 years of service in 2010, Lanzer said he doesn’t remember ever being thanked for serving his country before.

“We consider it a privilege to honor you,” his certificate from the Quilts of Valor Foundation reads. “Though we may never know the extent of your sacrifice and services to protect and defend the United States of America, as an expression of gratitude we award you this Quilt of Valor.”

Ernie Lanzer’s Quilt of Valor as boxed up and shipped from former Setauket resident Linda Heinz. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Heinz said she requested a quilt be made to recognize Lanzer for his legacy both of service to his country and community after she joined with the Quilts of Valor Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “cover” all service members and veterans who are physically or psychologically wounded. It started in November 2003 when a quilt was presented to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg serving in Iraq, according to its website.

“It’s to give them comfort,” she said. “A handmade quilt will always give you comfort no matter who you are.”

Heinz is a member of a volunteer group that calls itself The Myrtle Beach Shore Birds, a group of quilters that has taken up the mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. Together, they presented 33 quilts to veterans at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base July 3 and have made more than 1,400 such gifts since 2010.

There is no charge for a quilt and the organization openly accepts requests at www.qovf.org. The website also provides information for those willing to volunteer their time to make the quilts by supplying patterns and guidance.

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This skiff belonging to Wen Zhong Wang, 37, of Ronkonkoma, was found empty in the Long Island Sound. Photo from SCPD

A man spent 45 minutes treading water in the Long Island Sound Sept. 4 after being knocked off his small boat by a wake, according to Suffolk County police. The man was rescued from the water after his unoccupied skiff was spotted floating in the Sound.

Marine Bureau officers Cory Kim and Gregory Stroh responded aboard Marine Delta after a fisherman reported finding an unoccupied skiff floating in the Long Island Sound at about 12 p.m. Tuesday, police said. While officers were responding to that call, a 911 caller reported a person yelling for help in the water off Old Field Road in Setauket.

Officers Kim and Stroh located the man, Wen Zhong Wang, 37, of Ronkonkoma, approximately 1/10 of a mile from shore. Wang, who was not wearing a life jacket, had been in the water approximately 45 minutes after he was knocked off his 9-foot skiff when it was hit by wake from a passing boat. Wang was transported to the Port Jefferson boat ramp where he was evaluated by Port Jefferson Ambulance personnel and released.

The fisherman towed the boat to shore where it was secured by the Port Jefferson Harbormaster.

Setauket Elementary School students were ready for the first day of classes, Sept. 5. 2017. File photo by Rita J. Egan

It’s back to school time, and we want to help you commemorate the occasion. If your child attends one of the following school districts and you’d like to submit a photo of their first day of school attire, them boarding or arriving home on the school bus, or waiting at the bus stop, we may publish it in the Sept. 6 issues of Times Beacon Record Newspapers. Just include their name, district and a photo credit, and send them by 12 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5 with the subject line “Back to school,” and then be sure to check Thursday’s paper.

Email The Village Times Herald and The Times of Middle Country editor Rita J. Egan at rita@tbrnewsmedia.com if your child attends:

  • Three Village School District
  • Middle Country School District

Email The Times of Huntington & Northports and The Times of Smithtown editor Sara-Megan Walsh at sara@tbrnewsmedia.com if your child attends:

  • Huntington School District
  • Northport-East Northport School District
  • Harborfields School District
  • Elwood School District
  • Smithtown School District
  • Commack School District
  • Kings Park School District

Email The Port Times Record and The Village Beacon Record editor Alex Petroski at alex@tbrnewsmedia.com if your child attends:

  • Port Jefferson School District
  • Comsewogue School District
  • Miller Place School District
  • Mount Sinai School District
  • Shoreham-Wading River School District
  • Rocky Point School District

Happy back to school!

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Bev Tyler stands behind his daughters and wife, Barbara, before a bicentennial celebration in 1976. Photo from the Three Village Historical Society

Sometimes even a historian gets to enjoy a historic moment in his own life.

Historian Bev Tyler celebrates his 80th birthday at the Three Village Historical Society. Photo by Sandy White

Members of the Three Village Historical Society celebrated Beverly Tyler’s 80th birthday Aug. 15, a milestone the historian reached four days before. The society’s main office was fittingly the setting for the celebration as the organization has been a part of Tyler’s life for more than half of his 80 years.

In 1974, when he began to organize a local bicentennial committee in anticipation of July 4, 1976, Tyler said he joined the Three Village Historical Society. He asked Bill Minuse, the society’s president at the time, for seed money, and the members agreed to donate $1,000. During the two years of the committee’s existence, the members worked on projects that included planting Bradford pear trees along Route 25A from the Stony Brook train station to the memorial park in East Setauket and placing a memorial stone in front of St. James R.C. Church. The committee also published the “Three Village Guidebook” written by Howard Klein and illustrated by Patricia Windrow, which provided a summary of the historic neighborhoods in the area.

It was during this bicentennial year that Tyler first wrote for this newspaper, when it was known as The Village Times, to promote the committee. Later, he wrote biweekly history articles for once competitor The Three Village Herald, and after the two papers merged, he became the history columnist in 2002 for The Village Times Herald, as he is to this day.

During his decades with the historical society, Tyler said he has served in many capacities including president, chairman and newsletter editor. He became historian in 2003, when he began working with historical society education director Donna Smith.

“Bev has been instrumental in bringing local history to our students in Three Village through his program Founder’s Day and his field trips for students across Long Island about the Culper spies,” Smith said. “He relates so well to the students, from fourth grade to high school.”

A love for local history was instilled early in Tyler’s life — a passion he credits to his family and living in Setauket.

“This was always a community where history was right there in the forefront,” he said.

Bev Tyler in the early 1950s. Photo from the Three Village Historical Society

While the historian’s family tree has deep roots in the Three Village area, Tyler was born in Brooklyn at Methodist Episcopal Hospital in 1938. He said his parents moved back to their family home in Setauket when he was a year old. His father, a violinist, had moved to the city in hopes of finding work as a musician. When his father couldn’t find enough work, the family moved back, and they lived with Tyler’s grandmother until he was 11.

The historian said they soon moved to the family’s house on Main Street across from the post office where his mother lived until her passing in 2016 at 102 years old. After graduating from Setauket Elementary School, when it was open to students from kindergarten through ninth grade, he attended Stony Brook Boys School. He said his grandmother had written a letter to the school administrators when he was 3 or 4 asking them to hold a spot open for him. However, he said he didn’t like the school and then attended Port Jefferson High School for a year. The historian, who has written a number of books, admitted he was a lousy student, who didn’t even like history class because he said it felt like it was just about wars and dates.

“I wasn’t interested in school because it was too easy,” he said. “So, I read. I read voraciously.”

During his brief stint at Port Jefferson High School, he played in the school band with his now wife, Barbara, but he said they didn’t know each other well.

“She played the saxophone, and I played trumpet,” he said. “She didn’t like trumpet players because we always sat behind the saxophones.”

Tyler said he eventually attended and graduated from the military school Admiral Farragut Academy in Pine Beach, New Jersey, on the banks of the Toms River in 1957. He started dating Barbara in 1960 after they met once again at the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, where Tyler was running the club’s launch.

Tyler’s military education came into play when he joined the Navy. He served for two years and was a reservist for eight. The quartermaster, who worked on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, said he fell in love with travel while in the armed forces.

 Bev Tyler with Donna Smith, left, and Lindsey Steward, right, in the Nassakeag Schoolhouse on the grounds of the Long Island Museum in 2016. Photo by Heidi Sutton

“I took advantage of every single chance I could get,” he said. “I went to Rome, Paris, Venice, Lake Como, Barcelona, Madrid, Greece.”

His time on the high seas though would soon be replaced with a career in the air. After he graduated from SUNY Farmingdale with an associate degree in photographic technology, and a short stint as a photo chemist for a photography manufacturing company, he decided to get his private and commercial pilot licenses. Tyler said he worked at MacArthur Airport for an air service, and about a year or two later he applied to the Federal Aviation Administration to be an air traffic controller — a job he held from 1968 until he retired Jan. 3, 2002.

Tyler and his wife have two daughters — Jen, who now lives in North Carolina with her husband, and Amy, who runs Amy Tyler School of Dance and Harbor Ballet Theater in Port Jefferson. They also have eight grandchildren.

The historian said he is currently focusing his research on the shipbuilding era, 1844–1880, and the Revolutionary War, especially the Setauket Culper spies. When it comes to his favorite spy, the historian said it’s Caleb Brewster, who carried messages from Benjamin Tallmadge in New York City to the spies on Long Island.

“[Brewster] is self-starting and a risk-taker, and he is fearless and a proven leader who takes care of his men and follows orders well,” Tyler said.

When it comes to reaching the milestone of 80, Tyler has simple advice for those who want to follow in his footsteps.

“Do things you enjoy and enjoy things you do,” he said.

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