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Stony Brook

Leukemia survivor Aubri Krauss collected Band-Aid box donations for Stony Brook University Hospital’s hematology and oncology unit. Photo from Darcy Krauss

By Jenna Lennon

Three years ago, Jericho Elementary School student Aubri Krauss decided to start a Band-Aid drive to benefit Stony Brook University Hospital’s hematology and oncology unit.

She had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. At just over 3 years old, she toughed out the treatment, and when finished, decided she wanted to do something to help others.

“[I want to] bring smiles to other kids who are going through what I went through,” she said.

Leukemia survivor Aubri Krauss collected Band-Aid box donations for Stony Brook University Hospital’s hematology and oncology unit. Photo from Darcy Krauss

“We were at the pediatrician’s office, and she saw all the Band-Aids they had and she was like ‘You know what mom? We used so many Band-Aids when I was sick — wouldn’t it be great if we could get a bunch of Band-Aids for all the kids that are still sick?’” Aubri’s mother Darcy Krauss said. “When they have to get their finger pricked, those plain Band-Aids are boring. That was one of the great things for Aubri was she got to pick her own fun, kid Band-Aid.”

Last year, Aubri decided to try something different and hosted a wrapping paper drive for the events that the clinic holds for the children during the holidays.

Aubri decided to return to the Band-Aid drive this year because “she thinks it’s more personal to the kids,” Krauss said. When she began, she hoped to beat her collection of 700 boxes from her previous Band-Aid drive, and she’s done just that, collecting over 800.

“And they’re not all the little 20 packs,” Krauss said. “Some people brought boxes that have hundreds of Band-Aids, some people bought boxes that have 200 Band-Aids in it. So it’s a lot of Band-Aids.”

Middle Country Board of Education member Dina Phillips met Aubri in 2012 when her father was the assistant coach of her son’s baseball team.

“When I met Aubri, she endured countless tests, procedures, chemo treatments and much more, yet managed to do so without ever losing her sense of joy,” Phillips said. “She had to learn what it means to live part of her life in a hospital room, to lose her hair, and to lose some of the freedoms that other kids her age get to enjoy.”

“She endured countless tests, procedures, chemo treatments and much more, yet managed to do so without ever losing her sense of joy.”

Dina Phillips

She said she was blown away by how Aubri did not let her circumstances define her.

“With a maturity far beyond her years, Aubri turned her illness into an opportunity to help other kids like her, and turned her pain into a way to bring smiles to others,” Phillips said. “I am extremely proud of her. I hope we can all do a simple gesture and help her achieve her goal.”

Band-Aid drives were held at Aubri’s elementary school, Raymour & Flanigan Furniture and Mattress Store in Lake Grove, and Stagecoach Elementary School, where Phillip’s son goes to school. The students there decorated the box for a collection at Stagecoach’s 50th Anniversary celebration on June 9th.

“I think when you go through something so hard and you can come out on the other end and be empathetic and understanding … it just makes me very happy and blessed to be her mom,” Krauss said. “Everyone is like ‘she’s so lucky to have you as her mom,’ and I’m like no, I definitely think I’m the luckier one to have her as my daughter.”

New York State Senator Ken LaValle does not approve of the decision

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson is set to join Northwell Health. File photo from Mather Hospital

A Port Jefferson institution established in 1929 is set to undergo an unprecedented change, the likes of which has never occurred during its near-90-year history. John T. Mather Memorial Hospital leadership has signed a letter of intent to join Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care provider, which has 22 hospitals under its umbrella. Prior to the agreement, Mather was one of just two Long Island hospitals unaffiliated with a larger health system. Mather’s board considered affiliation with Stony Brook University Hospital, though ultimately decided on Northwell.

Mather Hospital is set to join Northwell Health. Photo from Huntington Hospital.

“I don’t think it’s a good decision,” State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said in a phone interview. LaValle is a fervent supporter of the university, often publicly spotted wearing a red SBU baseball cap. “For 50 years-plus there’s been a culture in place if people needed tertiary care they would go from Mather to Stony Brook. Stony Brook will still be in place, will still offer services and people still if they choose can go to Stony Brook.”

LaValle said he didn’t know why Mather decided to go with Northwell, and members of Mather’s board declined to discuss specifics of the agreement with Northwell because discussions are ongoing. The changeover could take place as soon as prior to the end of the year.

“I would have wished that the Mather board would have been considerate of the people in their area rather than for whatever other reasons they made this decision,” LaValle said. “I don’t know whether Northwell came in with a bag of cash and that’s why they made the decision; but if they were making the decision based on the people they serve in their catchment area they would have gone with Stony Brook.”

Mather Hospital Vice President of Public Affairs Nancy Uzo, said Stony Brook was considered an option for affiliation and offered an explanation by email as to why it was ultimately spurned.

“I don’t think it’s a good decision.”

— Ken LaValle

“Our goal through this process is to ensure that our communities continue to have access to advanced, high quality care and superior satisfaction close to home and to serve the best interests of our medical staff and employees,” she said.

Mather Board of Directors Chairman Ken Jacoppi and President Ken Roberts declined to comment further through Uzo.

“Our community, employees and medical staff have a deep commitment to Mather Hospital,” Roberts said in a press release. “We chose a partner that would support our culture of caring as well as our future growth.”

Stony Brook University Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine Ken Kaushansky declined to comment on Mather’s decision via email. President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. did not respond to a direct request for comment nor through a university spokeswoman.

In 2016 the American Hospital Association released research suggesting hospital mergers like the one Mather is set to undertake result in cost savings and quality improvements. According to the research, mergers decrease costs due to economies of scale, reduced costs of capital and clinical standardization among other efficiencies. An analysis showed a 2.5 percent reduction in annual operating expenses at acquired hospitals. Other benefits include the potential to drive quality improvements through standardization of clinical protocols and investments to upgrade facilities and services at acquired hospitals, an expansion of the scope of services available to patients and improvements to existing institutional strengths to provide more comprehensive and efficient care.

New York State Sen. Ken Lavalle did not agree with Mather’s decision to join Northwell Health over Stony Brook University Medicine. File photo

Huntington Hospital joined North Shore-LIJ in 1994, which became known as Northwell Health in February 2016. After the merger is official, Mather and Huntington hospitals will be the only Northwell hospitals on the North Shore in Suffolk County.

“Mather Hospital is known for patient-centric care both in the community and throughout the industry,” Michael Dowling, Northwell’s president and CEO said in a statement. “That deeply embedded sense of purpose is the type of quality we want to represent Northwell Health, along with an excellent staff of medical professionals and physicians. Together, Mather and Northwell will play a crucial partnership role expanding world class care and innovative patient services to Suffolk County residents.”

In what some view as a related move, Stony Brook announced in a press release Aug. 1 that Southampton Hospital would become a member of the Stony Brook Medicine health system.

“Today we celebrate a unique opportunity in which academic medicine and community medicine can come together to benefit our entire region,” Stanley said. “We will continue to build on successful collaborations achieved over the past ten years, which have already brought many new programs to the East End, including a robust number of internship and residency programs at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and where students enrolled in graduate programs in the health sciences on the Stony Brook Southampton campus can put their training to good use as the next generation of allied health professionals to help address the shortage of providers on the east end and beyond.”

The acquisition will result in new offerings at Stony Brook including a provisional Level 3 Trauma Center, with 24-hour coverage by emergency medicine doctors and a trauma surgeon available within 30 minutes, a Hybrid Operating Room with sophisticated imaging capabilities and a new cardiology practice in Southampton with Stony Brook cardiologists, among other benefits.

LaValle declined to classify Mather’s decision as a “loss” for Stony Brook and added he expects Mather and the university to continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship going forward.

“Stony Brook is close by and they will reach out and still try to encourage both local physicians and people to come to Stony Brook,” he said.

This version was edited Aug. 7 to include comments from Michael Dowling.

Legislators and community leaders, above, at a July 25 press conference make a plea to the New York State Department of Transportation to extend sidewalks along 25A in Stony Brook west of the train station. Photo by Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

Local legislators are doing their part to create a safer Route 25A for Stony Brook pedestrians.

At a July 25 press conference held at the Stony Brook Long Island Rail Road station, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) made a formal plea to the New York State Department of Transportation to install sidewalks along Route 25A, a state roadway, from the train station heading west to Stony Brook Village’s Main Street.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and representatives from the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, Three Village Civic Association, Three Village Chamber of Commerce and Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners joined Romaine and Cartright to show their support.

“We are blessed to have the largest state university in the state of New York here,” Romaine said. “It provides jobs, it provides culture, it provides academics, but it also provides a lot of kids who are looking to do something off campus. We don’t have a problem with that but we do have a problem with the safety of this road.”

The supervisor said there are sidewalks to the east and west of the station but they stop approximately 500 to 1,000 feet from the location. He said pedestrians are forced to walk on the roadway, and through the years, there have been three injuries and one pedestrian death along Route 25A. While the town has reached out to the state DOT in the past, they have been told that the funds are not in the budget and the installation of sidewalks in the area is not a priority.

“The state DOT has done a number of great projects throughout Long Island,” Romaine said. “We’re asking them to do one more project that may be expensive but would greatly improve pedestrian safety.”

Cartright said Brookhaven Town is completing a corridor study of Route 25A from Smithtown to Poquott, and in the beginning of the year, she attended community visioning meetings.

“Time and time again I hear from our constituents that walkers, students and residents are fearing for their safety in this particular section of 25A,” Cartright said. “Given these safety concerns, the accidents, the fatality that was mentioned, we ask that the DOT prioritize doing work, providing sidewalks in this particular area.”

Gloria Rocchio, president of WMHO, and Bruce Sander, co-founder of  Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners, both described issues with the roadway. Rocchio said there were problems with speeding, especially at night. Sander said many students walk in the roadway in the dark and don’t wear visible colors.

Englebright estimated that installing sidewalks would cost about $5 million and supported the initiative.

“If you’re a student at the university and you want to go to the namesake of your university, which is the village itself, you literally have to take your life in your hands,” he said. “This shouldn’t be.”

Stony Brook women's lacrosse head coach Joe Spallina rounds up his team. Photo from Stony Brook University athletics

Joe Spallina has done what many would deem impossible.

In six short years, the Mount Sinai resident and Stony Brook University women’s lacrosse coach has turned the university’s program from a U.S. Lacrosse Magazine RPI-ranked No. 62 team, into the No. 2 team in the country.

“He knows what he’s doing,” said Frankie Caridi, 2014 Stony Brook graduate and former goalkeeper for the Seawolves. “His coaching style, his philosophy and his ideas are allowing them to get to where he wants to bring that program.”

Stony Brook women’s lacrosse coach Joe Spallina talks plays with his Seawolves. Photo from Stony Brook University athletics

Caridi played under Spallina as a freshman at Adelphi University. He had the opportunity to make the move to Stony Brook and encouraged Caridi, now associate head coach for the Adelphi Panthers, to make the move with him during her playing career.

“He was a great coach straight from the beginning,” she said. “Just playing for him at Adelphi that one year was amazing. The fact that he believed in the few of us that went with him that we’d be able to change the program pretty quickly — he sold us.”

Caridi said she was not only sold on making the switch because of his vision of building a national championship caliber team, but because he was honest about what he was looking for from his players and what he thought they could be.

“He shot the truth,” she said. “He’s someone who is able to get the most out of you. He demands you to be the best you can be … every single day. I respected him so much as a coach, because he respects us as players.”

Her first conversation with him when being recruited to play for Adelphi was about if she wanted to win a national championship and be an All-American.

“He told me the opportunities that I had, and he let them play out,” she said. “I credit all of it to him.”

Caridi became one of the most prolific goalies in Stony Brook program history. Her .514 career save percentage is tops in the school’s record book, while her 5.91 goals-against average is the best among any goalie with at least 1,500 minutes played.

Stony Brook women’s lacrosse head coach Joe Spallina speaks with attack Kylie Ohlmiller. Photo from Stony Brook University athletics

The East Northport native won two America East championships and qualified for two NCAA tournaments, earning International Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Third-Team All-American status in 2014. She was also named the Lacrosse Magazine and ILWomen.com Goalie of the Year, picked as the America East Defensive Player of the Year and nominee for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the most outstanding American lacrosse player.

Current Stony Brook attack and soon-to-be senior Kylie Ohlmiller also bought what Spallina was selling.

“He told me I could live out my dreams here,” she said. “He told me I could win a national championship in my time here, I’ll be the face of women’s lacrosse and on the cover of magazines. And it’s all happening now. He painted my dream in my head for me and has been making it all possible.”

She agreed with Caridi that he’s been able to shape the athletes to get the program to where it is today.

“I think if I were to go anywhere else, and a lot of my teammates would say the same thing, that we might not be the level of lacrosse players that we are or even the people that we are,” Ohlmiller said. “We want to give our fans — all the little girls who play lacrosse — the dream of coming to Division I lacrosse games and watching a good, Top 5 Division I program play and compete for a national championship.”

“He’s someone who is able to get the most out of you. He demands you to be the best you can be … every single day.”

— Frankie Caridi

The Islip resident said she wants to be a coach one day, and Spallina is the inspiration.

“He’s able to be stern and be authoritative, but at the same time he can throw a joke in there like he’s one of your best friends,” she said. “He’s able to make it fun, and that’s ultimately the reason we play. It’s to have fun and win.”

He and Ohlmiller were big proponents in recruiting her younger sister Taryn, who will be a sophomore in the upcoming school year. As the leading scorers on the team, the two are referred to by their head coach as a couple of the “big dogs” on the team. Kylie Ohlmiller’s 164 points shattered the previous Division I record of 148. Her 86 assists are also a new DI record. She was American East Offensive Player of the Year, was named a Tewaaraton finalist, also an IWLCA ILWomen Attacker of the Year. Her younger sister led all Division I freshmen and ranked seventh in the nation with 98 points last season. The attacker was named America East Rookie of the Year and an IWLCA All-American.

“Once you’re one of his big dogs he wants to be closer to you,” Taryn Ohlmiller said. “He does one-on-one workouts with us, he gets you out there early, doing shooting drills. He cares about you as an individual as much as he cares about the team.”

Stony Brook women’s lacrosse head coach Joe Spallina walks the sideline during a game. Photo from Stony Brook University athletics

The team-first mentality that the Ohlmillers and the Seawolves have bought into under Spallina, who is also the head coach of the Long Island Lizards, propelled Stony Brook to new heights in 2017, as the Seawolves went 20-2 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals – all new high-water marks in program history. The team broke Division I single-season records for assists (222) and points (576) in 2017 while leading the nation in scoring defense (7.27) and scoring margin (8.82).

For his leadership, in turning the program around and becoming the winningest coach in program history, Spallina has been named America East Coach of the Year in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and was named IWLCA Coach of the Year for the Mid-Atlantic Region following this season. He also garnered several coach of the year honors with the Lizards.

“He deserves all of the recognition — he deserves the world and so much more,” Kylie Ohlmiller said of her head coach. “Last year we were ranked second in the nation behind No. 1 undefeated University of Maryland, and that’s just in a couple of years — it takes decades for some coaches to do. He’s doing what a lot of coaches can’t or haven’t done, and it’s really cool to see. It’s insane how he’s flipped the culture of Stony Brook athletics.”

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro stand on the newly paved Quaker Path in Stony Brook. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) recently announced the completion of the resurfacing of Quaker Path in Stony Brook, from Route 25A to the Old Field Village Line, just south of West Meadow Road.

“Quaker Path is a main arterial roadway, leading to both Stony Brook University and the Long Island Rail Road Stony Brook train station,” said Losquadro. “I am glad that we were able to provide relief for residents, motorists and pedestrians in this area, while removing this roadway from our high priority list.”

The total cost for this extensive paving project, along a nearly two-mile stretch of roadway, was $413,000. Crews replaced 240 square feet of aprons, nearly 300 linear feet of curbing, 1,350 square feet of sidewalk, and installed three, new ADA-compliant handicap ramps.

“Numerous residents have contacted my office requesting that Quaker Path be paved,” said Cartright. “I am happy that Superintendent Losquadro and I can announce the completion of this paving project, which alleviates major quality of life concerns in this neighborhood. I look forward to continuing to work with the community and the Highway Department to improve roadways in our town.”

Three Village Chamber of Commerce executive director, David Woods, has been a member of the organization for nearly 10 years. Photo from David Woods

By Jenna Lennon

During his time with the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, executive director David Woods is most proud of the new signs welcoming people to the Three Villages and Stony Brook University, placed around the community and  along Nicolls Road.

“Before they went up, I can remember, for example, one of the former directors of the university hospital was talking at one of the chamber meetings, and he said that it had taken him an hour and a half to get from the airport to the university,” Woods said in a phone interview.

The former university hospital director flew into the airport in Islip, just twenty or so minutes from Stony Brook, but he drove around for another hour trying to find the university and its community, according to Woods.

“One of the things that I never would have thought of is putting up a sign like that because in the days where I first came to the community to work for the university, there was a sort of invisible fence between the campus and the community,” Woods said. “There would have been opposition. And those beautiful signs have helped a lot.”

Now after nearly 10 years with the chamber, Woods is retiring on June 30 at the end of the organization’s fiscal year.

Charles Lefkowitz, vice president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, worked with Woods nearly his entire time with the chamber.

Woods has “a unique style and passion to bring the business community together. He was never afraid to try something new or even borderline what would be deemed outrageous,” Lefkowitz said.

Woods started with the chamber after retiring from the “regular work world” and having just finished his novel “Buffalo Snow Day” — “a sort of comic novel about Buffalo turning into Aspen.”

Woods spent 17 years as assistant to the president at Stony Brook University. For 20 years after that, he worked in Manhattan “in marketing communications as secretary of the New York City Press Club, the Deadline Club, doing things like introducing the hit board game Pictionary and then an unknown new radio talk show host, now for better or worse a household name, Rush Limbaugh.”

When the chamber needed a manager, they called Woods.

“It was, still is, a great job because we were sitting here like ships passing in the night, our historic community on one side of the railroad tracks, Stony Brook University making new history on the other side and convergence clearly needed,” Woods said. “Since then, leaders on both sides of the tracks have been bringing our two worlds together and doing a lot of it at the monthly chamber meetings.”

Andy Polan, chamber president alongside Woods for the last four years said Woods’ “historical knowledge of the community is pretty amazing from the university to the local history.”

Polan is looking to fill the vacancy with someone who is outgoing, social media-savvy and “interested in developing the chamber to grow to our next level.”

Woods and his wife, Desiree, are taking some time off to go upstate to his hometown of Dunkirk on Lake Erie with their daughter and granddaughter for a family reunion.

Woods will keep in contact with the chamber and continue to support the new director for the upcoming 18th annual chamber beach barbecue, a networking event in July.

For now, Lefkowitz will miss Woods’ “smile and grin at the other side of the table.”

Interested applicants for the executive director position with the Three Village Chamber of Commerce should send their resumes to jobs@backofficemail.com.

The temperature was high May 19 but that didn’t melt the enthusiasm of the nearly 7,000 students at Stony Brook University as they anticipated the moment they could turn their tassels and throw their graduation caps in the air.

The milestone event was chock-full of memorable moments including honorary degree recipients, Michael J. Fox — actor and advocate for a cure for Parkinson’s disease — and Jonathan Oringer — Shutterstock founder and a Stony Brook alumnus — clad in traditional caps and gowns, joining the students. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree for his acting career as well as establishing the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The university honored Oringer with a Doctor of Science degree for creating Shutterstock, the first worldwide subscription-based service for acquiring images, as well as his other contributions to the tech industry.

The first degrees awarded were to Oringer and Fox. Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. introduced Oringer, a 1996 graduate of the university, as one who has “personified technologic innovation.”

As Fox approached the podium to deliver his speech, someone yelled, “Marty McFly.” The actor cleverly responded with a line from his 1985 movie, “Back to the Future.”

“You’re just too darn loud,” he said.

The actor said before that day he didn’t hold a degree from college or high school. He said he respects the university for its dedication to the sciences and its research.

Described by Stanley as a “fierce warrior in the fight to cure Parkinson’s disease,” Fox said he’s optimistic about the future.

“When I look out at the sea of red, I am filled with hope for you represent endless possibilities,” Fox said. “Among you may be the first human to walk on Mars, the engineer who will revolutionize the world’s energy technology, the next great investigative journalist who exposes political corruption, or the scientist who discovers a cure for Parkinson’s.”

U.S. Sen. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D), also addressed the graduates and their families. Schumer advised the graduates to always take risks in life even when feeling uncertainty. He said to always “go for it.”

“The key is not to fear the unknown,” Schumer said. “Embrace it, relish it, soak up every possibility it has to offer.”

Among the nearly 7,000 graduates, ranging in age from 19 to 65 years old, in attendance, 42 states and 71 countries were represented. The degrees awarded included 4,292 bachelor’s, 1,999 master’s and 449 doctoral degrees.

Vietnam-born Hakin Lienghot, the subject of Eileen Davenport's first novel, was 'adopted' by Three Village community

Eileen Davenport, on right, is writing a novel about Hakin Lienghot, on left, who was adopted by the Three Village community following his immigration to the United States from Vietnam. Hank Boerner, at center, worked for American Airlines and helped the then-13-year-old get a flight to his new home. Photo from Eileen Davenport

Eileen Davenport has embarked on a writing journey, and she’s hoping local residents will join her on a trip down memory lane. The Setauket resident is working on a book about Hakin Lienghot, better known as Kin, a young man adopted by Three Village community members when he immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1967. She is reaching out to the community asking for stories involving her longtime friend.

Davenport said Lienghot, who now lives in Rhode Island, was a Montagnard child from Da Me in the Central Highlands of Vietnam whose people were mistreated by their fellow Vietnamese. When James Turpin, an American doctor, visited his village with the independent relief organization Project Concern, he met Lienghot and discovered the teenager dreamed of one day going to college. When the doctor returned to the United States, he addressed the members of the Three Village Jaycees, a junior chamber of commerce where members were between 18 and 35 years old. He asked the community to help him bring the young man to the states.

Hakin Lienghot arrives at John F. Kennedy airport and is greeted by the Fleeson family, who he stayed with over winter break. Photo from Eileen Davenport

“All these people in Three Village started to stand up and say, ‘We will help this boy to get here,’” Davenport said in a phone interview. 

She said she’s not certain of all the details, but Lienghot was offered a five-year scholarship to The Stony Brook School, and members of the Jaycees offered additional help. A clothing store owner said he would give Lienghot clothes, others said he could stay at their home during school breaks. Hank Boerner, who had just moved to Stony Brook and worked for American Airlines, offered to approach the company to arrange Lienghot’s transportation.

When the 13-year-old landed at John F. Kennedy Airport, the Jaycees, his future schoolmates, the local public school band and the Stony Brook Fire Department were there to greet him. She said the young man carried two bows and two arrows in his hand.

“His father said, ‘Here take this to your host family as a gesture to say that we are so happy and proud that they took you,’” Davenport said. “It was just this big hospitality thing.”

Lienghot said he was overwhelmed when he arrived at the airport, as he didn’t expect to be greeted by so many people, and his knowledge of English consisted basically of “yes,” “no,” and “thank you.”

“I didn’t expect anything like that so I was overwhelmed; I was frightened,” Lienghot said. “But I was cool on the outside, and I was frightened on the inside. I didn’t know how to talk to people or communicate. They had someone from the Vietnamese consulate to interpret for me.”

He remembers it snowing when the Fleeson family of Stony Brook drove him to their home where he stayed with the family until school began after winter break. He remembered that first night trying Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and not liking the  taste of it, and the next day throwing snowballs with the neighborhood children, and the Fleesons taking him to Sears in the Smithhaven Mall.

Eileen Davenport and Hakin Lienghot dance at his wedding. Photo from Eileen Davenport

He said he tried his best to fit in with the American children he met, so much so that it wasn’t until he matured that he realized the significance of his experiences here.

“I would love to hear about what people remember about me, because I was so focused on fitting in,” he said.

Lienghot, who is now a clinical social worker specializing in children with ADHD and autism has fond memories of his time in the area. He said he would walk down Quaker Path to go to West Meadow Beach and Christian Avenue into Stony Brook Village. From his walks to the village, he remembers looking out into the harbor and going to the shops, and he got his first American haircut from a Stony Brook Village barber.

He started at The Stony Brook School during a time when there were only 47 boys in the prep school, and Davenport said the students came from some of the most elite families, such as Edmund Lynch from the Merrill Lynch family.

While the original plans were for Lienghot to return home during summer vacation, circumstances in Vietnam prevented it. The Viet Cong attacked his village, and people were shot at point-blank range. In the attacks, he lost his brother-in-law and cousin as well as 36 others in his village. When he did get home in 1969, he was almost drafted when he was stopped while riding a scooter. He said he pretended to only know English, and for identification he just showed his Stony Brook School ID. After that, he knew he couldn’t return to his village again. 

The Three Village Jaycees, who already helped Lienghot with food, clothing and books, now opened up their homes to ensure he would have a place to stay during every school break and summer vacation.

“It was a collective community thing, really kind of parenting him,” the writer said.

Hakin Lienghot arrives at John F. Kennedy airport with flight attendants. Photo from Eileen Davenport

Davenport said she hopes Three Village residents can help her with the story of Lienghot, because her family only became a part of his life after he left The Stony Brook School. She said it was in the early 1970s when her father, Ed McAvoy, joined the Jaycees and was the newly elected president of the group. Lienghot was graduating from high school at the time, and her father decided to go to the graduation ceremony.

As her father was leaving, her mother Mary Ann said to him, “Just make sure he has somewhere to go.”

When Davenport’s father saw Lienghot, the young man didn’t know where he was going for the summer, and McAvoy invited him to stay at his home for the summer with his wife and four children.

While Lienghot was at the McAvoys they helped him pack for college and obtain his green card since his student visa ended. The young man had a four-year scholarship playing soccer at Barrington College and eventually went on to Boston University. Every college school break he came back to the McAvoy family, and through the decades has visited the family regularly.

“He kind of adopted us as family and we adopted him,” Davenport said.

The new author said many have told Lienghot to write a book, and but he never believed anyone would be interested in his story. She said while she has no experience in writing books, she’s an avid reader of memoirs and non-fiction inspirational stories, and she believes many would read a book about a community coming together and taking in an immigrant child during war.

The future author said to her adopted brother,  “I read stories like this all the time, and I know it’s a good story to tell.”

Those who remember Lienghot can email their stories to info@kinshipmemoir.com.

Police say this man entered Chase bank in Stony Brook and demanded cash. Photos from SCPD

A robbery occurred at Chase bank on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook on the morning of April 20. Suffolk County Police Major Case Unit detectives are investigating.

A man entered Chase, located at 2210 Nesconset Highway, at about 8:45 a.m. and demanded money from a teller. The teller complied and the man fled on foot.

The man was described as white, between 25 and 35 years old, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall and between 180 and 200 pounds. The man was wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt with gray pants. The suspect’s face was covered by a gray bandana and he was wearing gloves.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this case to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

 

James Riordan posing by a display of the Lunar Excursion Module used in Apollo 13. Photo from Jessica Frisina

By Rita J. Egan

When James Riordan, 82, died in 2016 after battling lung cancer, many would think his greatest contribution to the world was his involvement with the Apollo 13 space mission. But to his relatives, it was his sense of family and kindness that touched others most.

Inheriting his sense of generosity, the former Stony Brook resident’s family participated in the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb April 1 for the second straight time, raising $1,512 for the cause in his memory. This year’s event included 600 participants climbing the 55 flights of stairs at One Penn Plaza, a New York City skyscraper, the equivalent of 1,210 steps.

Granddaughter Jessica Frisina, of Rocky Point, organized Team Apollo in honor of her fond memories of the aerospace engineer with the Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Jessica Frisina, on right, with her aunt Kathy Bern, stepfather Bob Riordan and stepbrother Matt, who started Team Apollo to raise funds for the American Lung Association in the memory of her grandfather James Riordan. Photo from the American Lung Association

“He was completely humble,” she said. “He was so willing to help anybody and everybody. He just wanted to lend a helping hand to anyone that was willing to take it — just a generous and kind person. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

Riordan, who lived in Stony Brook with his wife Ruth since 1964, was an integral member of the Apollo 13 mission. Due to his work helping to direct the team on the construction of the Lunar Excursion Module and its safe return, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Richard Nixon in 1970 along with his fellow members of the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team.

His son Bob Riordan, Frisina’s stepfather, said while growing up he and his siblings didn’t realize just how important their father’s job was. It wasn’t until they were going through their father’s books, or hearing from friends who worked at Grumman, that they realized just how much he had accomplished.

He said they were amazed that their father was in the control room during the Apollo 13 mission and treasure the book “Race to the Moon,” where James Riordan is pictured in a control room with astronaut Neil Armstrong.

“We can’t believe we had a father who did this for a living,” Bob Riordan said.

The son said he isn’t surprised his father didn’t talk much about his work though, because of his modesty.

“He never cared about keeping up with the Joneses,” he said. “All he ever cared about was his family.”

James Riordan suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the early stages of emphysema, and about a year before his passing, he was diagnosed with stage 0 lung cancer. His son said his father smoked for decades, starting as a teenager.

Frisina said she got the idea to start the Fight for Air Climb team after her grandfather’s death, and Riordan said he wasn’t surprised.

“He was so willing to help anybody and everybody. He just wanted to lend a helping hand to anyone that was willing to take it — just a generous and kind person.”

—Jessica Frisina

“I was so proud of her for doing that, but that’s the kind of person Jessica is,” he said.

Frisina said while the Riordans are her stepfamily, she considers them family all the same. Riordan said his father and stepdaughter hit it off as soon as they met when she was 7 years old.

“They took a liking to each other the first day they met,” Riordan said. “I always felt kind of emotional when those two were together. He was the type of man that any children who came into his life just took to him — that’s just the type of guy he was.”

While joining the Fight for Air Climb was a last-minute decision in 2016, with only a few relatives being able to come out and cheer them on, this year she said almost a dozen family members came out to show support for her, Riordan, her stepbrother Matt Riordan and her aunt Kathy Bern, who traveled from North Carolina.

Frisina said she looks forward to participating in the event again next year and knows participation from the family will only continue to grow.

Her uncle Jim Riordan was on hand this year to show support. He said Frisina always had a great appreciation for his father.

“She is by every definition a grandchild in this family,” he said.

Bob Riordan said he was in better shape for this year’s event after finding out how difficult the climb was last year.

“The first time I did it, I thought I was going to join my father,” Riordan joked.

Frisina said climbing the 55 flights of stairs is supposed to simulate how it feels to have a lung ailment, and once you pass flight 10, it becomes more and more difficult to breathe.

“It initially feels amazing to complete something like that,” Frisina said. “But in reality, it makes you think as you’re doing it. [My grandfather] had to deal with this every day — feeling like this and overcoming walking and not being able to breathe. It makes you put yourself in somebody else’s shoes who’s dealing with it.”

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