As part of their 55+ Club series, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) and Burner Law Group will welcome Bernadette Castro to speak on her illustrious and diverse career at a Master Class on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Among her countless achievements, Castro was named commissioner of the New York Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation in 1995 by Gov. George Pataki (R) and her 12-year term included assisting in the protection of one million acres of parkland across the state.
Castro ran for the New York State Senate in 1994 winning 42 percent of the vote, and in 2002 Castro helped to bring the first U.S. Open Golf Championship ever played on a public golf course to Bethpage Black at Bethpage State Park. Currently, she serves on the 2019 PGA Championship Executive Committee, which will also be played at Bethpage Black. Castro was even a recording artist in the 1960s, appearing on the “Clay Cole Rock & Roll Show” singing one of her hits, “His Lips Get in the Way.”
Today she is the chairperson of Castro Properties, the commercial real estate company owned by her family. She is also still the spokesperson for Castro Convertibles, the very company she was the face of as a 4-year-old starring in the brand’s legendary television commercials from 1948 and beyond. Those appearances earned her the distinction of being the “most televised child in America.”
With seemingly limitless drive and energy, Castro, a Suffolk County resident, has won a multitude of awards and supports a number of organizations and charitable causes. She is on the Advisory Board of Volunteers for Wildlife, hosts “Tomorrow’s Hope,” for the Catholic Faith Network (formerly Telecare) and is very involved in raising funds for the INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network), the largest private social service agency of its kind on Long Island helping those challenged by hunger, homelessness and poverty.
Castro is also an advisory board member of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. She graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism and a master’s in educational administration. She became the first woman to receive the university’s School of Journalism Distinguished Alumnus and last month was inducted into the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication Hall of Fame. Castro also holds an honorary doctor of law degree from St. Joseph’s College, an honorary doctor of law from Dowling College and an honorary doctor of humane letters from Daemon College.
Castro will offer a Basket of Life raffle at this event, which will include items such as her senate race bumper sticker, her 45 rpm record, Norman Vincent Peale’s book, “The Power of the Plus Factor,” which mentions her father, Bernard Castro, an Italian immigrant who never finished high school but went on to become very successful with the creation of Castro Convertibles. She is the proud mother of four children and eight grandchildren and says, “What really matters is what my children and grandchildren will remember about me. Hopefully, that I was kind and generous and helped not only people that I knew, but also those I would never meet.”
The program is free and will take place at WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook on Nov. 28 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. To reserve your seat, call 631-689-5888.