Obituaries

A Walmart customer donates to Stan Feltman’s fundraising efforts for fellow veterans. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Stanley Feltman of Coram, a 2019 TBR News Media Brookhaven Person of the Year and World War II veteran, died Sept. 23. He was 95.

Stan Feltman was a B-29 tail gunner in the United States Army Air Corps.

Feltman was known to many as the veteran who sold poppies at the Middle Island Walmart to raise money for his fellow veterans. Often he would have a shopping cart filled with articles and wartime photos. Some days he would take a break from his regular location and collect money at the Walmart in Centereach or East Setauket.

In a 2019 TBR News Media interview, Feltman said he had met so many generous people through the years. He usually would collect between $80 and $100 after standing there for two hours. One day a gentleman shook his hand and noticed he was cold and bought him a jacket from the store. One woman gave him a $20 bill one day saying it was for him to keep.

“I took the $20, and when she left, I threw it in the pot,” he said. “I don’t need the money.”

A member of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA Col. Mickey Marcus Post 336, Feltman would bring the donations to the post’s monthly meetings where he and his fellow members decided where the money should go. Post Comdr. Norman Weitz said over a few years they have been able to donate more than $21,000 thanks to Feltman’s fundraising efforts. The post is a regular contributor to many veterans causes, including the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University.

“My father was more proud of what he did with selling poppies for the veterans than anything he did in the war,” his son Richard said in a recent phone interview. “That was to him most important — selling poppies was his lifeline.”

His son said he and his brother Scott were proud of his father not only because he was a WW II vet but also because he gave back to other veterans.

“The fact that he was giving back to other veterans who might need help and providing them money to be able to give them things that they may have needed — especially those vets coming back from the War on Terrorism and not necessarily getting what World War II vets got when they returned — I couldn’t be happier with my father,” Richard Feltman said.

Stanley Feltman, who was born April 5, 1926, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, was a B-29 tail gunner and double ace in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which he joined after he graduated from high school in 1944. Feltman one time after being shot down had to escape on a raft. When a fellow soldier slipped off the raft into shark-infested waters, Feltman dove down to save him and grabbed him by the collar. Feltman earned the Bronze Star Medal for saving the man’s life. The medal wasn’t the only one earned during his service, as he gained more medals in total throughout his time in the Air Corps, even though they were no longer in his possession.

Richard Feltman said local elected officials helped the family reissue many of his father’s medals when he was inducted into the Four Chaplains Society in 2020 for the work he had done selling poppies.

During this time in the Army Air Corps, he became an amateur boxer. One day when he was being bullied by another soldier for being Jewish, he punched him. When a drill sergeant witnessed the fight and Feltman’s skill, he encouraged Feltman to take up boxing where he was undefeated. After his time in the service, Feltman went on to become a carpet salesperson.

In addition to raising money for veterans, Feltman participated in lectures at schools and senior groups, including Erasmus Hall High School where he attended while growing up in Brooklyn. He also was interviewed for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, an initiative established to collect and preserve firsthand remembrances of wartime veterans.

Feltman was predeceased by his wife, Marilyn. He leaves behind his two sons Richard and Scott and five grandchildren. Funeral services were held Sept. 24 at New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon.

by -
0 136
Former Setauket Fire District commissioner Jay Gardiner recently received a proclamation for his service from Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn. Photo from Kara Hahn’s office

Jay L. Gardiner, of South Setauket and Bonita Beach, Florida, passed away on Oct. 15, 2021 after a hard fight against cancer.

Jay Gardiner

Born in the Bronx in 1951, he lived in Queens and Manhattan before moving to South Setauket in 1986.

Jay received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from CUNY Queens College and an MBA in management from Stern School of Graduate Business Administration from NYU in 1986.

A well-known figure in the plastics industry, having founded Gardiner Plastics in 1991, he was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 2012.  The company became a well-known resin distributor and strategic consulting service.  He also was a Distinguished Member of the Society of Plastics Engineers, having served as president from 1996-1997.  He was also president of the Plastics Academy, Chair of the Plastics Institute of America, the Plastics Pioneers Association and member of the Board of the National Plastics Center and Museum.

Jay had a lifelong passion for emergency medical services as both a volunteer and educator. He served with the Setauket Fire Department for over 30 years and in numerous positions including EMS Director and Lieutenant.  His last five years he served as a member of the Board of Fire Commissioners and chaired that board for the last three years. He taught at Suffolk County Community College and attained the rank of associate professor. He also served on the New York State EMS regional faculty, the training center faculty of Saint Francis Hospital and several other institutions. He chaired the Suffolk County Regional EMS Association from 2012-2013. He believed that his best learning came from his students, many of which went on to careers in medicine, and he was very proud of that.

Jay was an avid golfer and sports fan, following the New York Yankees, Islanders and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Notre Dame football. His greatest love, however, was spending time with his Diane, traveling, dining, playing golf and visiting places all over the world. His only regret was not having enough time to finish his life with those that he loved.

He is survived by his wife, soulmate and best friend, Diane (Mush).  He is also survived by his four children Shawn (Marggorie), Sarah, Evan (Kristy) and Jeremy (Carly); three beautiful grandchildren, Zoe, Colton and Jack, as well as Cassidy and Buddy, two very loyal Jack Russell terriers.

Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Bryant Funeral Home of East Setauket. Visitation is Wednesday Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.  A firematic service will be held at 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

A former St. James resident, who is remembered for saving an 8-year-old plow horse from a slaughterhouse and turning him into a champion, died June 25 in Stanardsville, Virginia, at the age of 93.

Harry de Leyer’s work and the bond with the horse named Snowman was documented in the 2011 book “The Eighty-Dollar Champion” by Elizabeth Letts and the 2016 film “Harry & Snowman” where the skill and heart of both were celebrated.

The well-known tale of him and Snowman, who was also known as “The Cinderella Horse,” began in 1956 when he saved the animal from a slaughterhouse in Pennsylvania for $80. De Leyer was late for a horse auction, but when he saw one of the last horses he knew the animal had potential to train young riders at The Knox School in Nissequogue where he worked.

“I came to this country with nothing in my pocket. Then I met Snowman and he made my name in this country.”

— Harry de Leyer

The equestrian and horse trainer would go on to turn the worn-out workhorse into the winner of the United States Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year in 1958 and land the “triple crown” of show jumping in the same year. Snowman also made history in 1959 as the first horse to win the Open Jumper Championship two years in a row. In 1983, de Leyer went on to represent the United States at the World Championships.

“I came to this country with nothing in my pocket,” de Leyer said in the 2016 documentary film. “Then I met Snowman and he made my name in this country.”

In the documentary, de Leyer talks about the time he attempted to sell Snowman to a doctor who lived a few miles away. A couple of days later, Snowman showed up at de Leyer’s property. The horse trainer thought the doctor may have left a gate open, but the new owner said that Snowman had jumped the gate. A few days later, after the doctor heightened the gate, Snowman once again came back to de Leyer. It was then the trainer realized the horse’s jumping potential and bought him back.

De Leyer was born in 1927 in Sint-Oedenrode, Netherlands, according to his obituary from Moloney Funeral Home. He was the oldest of 13 children, and his family was part of the underground during World War II and helped many Jews escape the Nazis through the Netherlands. De Leyer and his first wife, Johanna, came to America after de Leyer’s family sent the dog tags of a deceased soldier that they never met home to his parents.

He and Johanna were sponsored by the soldier’s family when they arrived the United States. His first job in the country was working on his sponsor’s farm in North Carolina where his talents for training and jumping horses were recognized.

Soon after they arrived in America, the couple headed for Long Island and raised eight children in St. James. In the 1970s de Leyer and Johanna divorced. Later in life, he had a farm in East Hampton and then moved to Virginia. He also married again to his second wife, Joan.

While living in St. James, in addition to being the riding instructor at The Knox School, he also gave lessons at his St. James home, Hollandia Farms.

After his passing, The Knox School posted on its Facebook page.

“Mr. de Leyer came to Knox in 1954 and was a beloved trainer and member of the school community,” the post read. “His legacy lives on in the hearts of those who remember how Mr. de Leyer saved Snowman from slaughter and turned a gentle giant of a plow horse into a champion jumper.”

The post announced that a stall in the school’s historic equestrian center will be dedicated to the memory of Harry and Snowman in the future.

Jackie Bittner, owner of Hidden Lake Farm Riding School in Southold, attended The Knox School for four years and took riding lessons from de Leyer. She said she was fortunate to keep in touch with him through the years and considered him a best friend. As a trainer, Bittner said, de Leyer was strict.

“Rightfully so,” she said. “He really wanted you to do the right thing and to be a good rider. He tried to make everyone a good rider.”

She said sometimes she would doubt if she was able to do a trick on a horse.

“He asked you to do all kinds of things, and I say, ‘Oh, I don’t know,’ but you would do whatever he asked with the horse, because he was just the type of person that you wanted to please.”

Janis Lando remembers taking lessons from him at Hollandia Farm when she lived in Smithtown.

“I rode as an early teen and remembered flying over fences without hands on the reins,” she said. “He believed in the soft-mouth approach and more control with one’s legs. I also recall him slipping a quarter under the knee, and he expected you to hold it there as you rode.”

When Laurette Berry was 13 years old and her family first moved from Manhattan to Stony Brook, she said her father signed up her and her siblings for lessons with de Leyer after a neighbor recommended him.

“The very first lesson we were jumping,” she said. “We had never been on a horse before in our lives. With Harry, you either were a daredevil or he wasn’t interested.”

“You were sitting on the horse’s back, but he was in full control of them. He was such a good trainer, and the horses just did whatever he wanted them to do.”

— Laurette Berry

After a few lessons, their father decided to go to another trainer as he was afraid his children would get hurt, but Berry remembers how in control de Leyer was of his horses during the short time she trained with him.

“He was like the ringleader in a circus where the animals just went,” she said. “You were sitting on the horse’s back, but he was in full control of them. He was such a good trainer, and the horses just did whatever he wanted them to do.”

A few years later, Berry became involved in the Smithtown Hunt Club where she encountered de Leyer once again. The club would conduct hunts all over Suffolk County from St. James, Old Field and even in the Hamptons. She remembered one time during a hunt being in the water in Head of the Harbor and seeing pieces of ice. She said de Leyer forged ahead as he did in other hunts as he wasn’t afraid of anything.

Barbara Clarke, of Bridgehampton, also was involved in the foxhunts with de Leyer in the ’70s.

“He was always enthusiastic and brought a lot of riders with him,” she said. “He loved it. He loved nothing better than following a pack of hounds through the woods.”

Clarke remembered de Leyer from when her sister-in-law Janice attended The Knox School, and Clarke would go to some of the horse shows to see the students compete, including at Madison Square Garden. She said he always made sure the girls were safe on the horses and described him as the “Pied Piper.”

De Leyer is predeceased by Johanna and Joan and his sons Joseph, Harry Jr. and William de Leyer. He is survived by his children Harriet de Leyer, Martin and Debbie de Leyer, Andre and Christine de Leyer, John and Maria de Leyer and AnnMarie de Leyer as well as his grandchildren Charissa, Cassandra, Johnathon, Kyle, Jason, Travis, Dylan, Michaela, Andre, Johanna, Emma, Philip, Heather, Jeffery and Shane; great-grandchildren Brayden and Addison and great-great-grandchild William Harry.

Frederick J. Gumbus “Pop”, 97 years old of Port Jefferson, died May 9.

He was born May 5, 1924, in Stony Brook, the son of Anetah and Joseph Gumbus.

Fred served in the U.S. Navy from 1942-1945 and was stationed in Okinawa. He was a tail gunner who flew a B24 bomber. Fred was a retired machinist – Mill Right for LILCO.  Fred was a 73-year member of the Port Jefferson Fire Department, where he was an ex-captain and honorary chief of Hook and Ladder Company 1.

Left to cherish his memory are his daughters Betty and Carol; his sons Fred Jr, John, Henry and Frank; 12 grandchildren; 25 great grandchildren; and many other family and friends.

His parents along with his wife, Geneva, who was his high school sweetheart, preceded him in death. His son Joseph passed away shortly after.

Services were held at Bryant Funeral Home May 16. He was afforded full military honors at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Port Jefferson.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of Setauket. Visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guest book. 

by -
0 437
Stock photo

Gordon F. Davis, 94, of Port Jefferson, NY passed away on June 29, 2021. 

Born Aug. 10, 1926 he was predeceased by his parents, Raymond and Gladys, brother Roger, twin sister Katherine, first wife Rose Marie, second wife Helen Marie and sons Michael, Kenneth and Timothy. He is survived by his loving son Daniel, Daniel’s wife Estine and granddaughter Shannon, daughter of the late Michael Davis. 

Photo from family

After graduating from the Port Jefferson School District, he enlisted in the United States Navy at age 17, going on to serve in Okinawa, Japan. After his resignation from the Navy, he received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri. 

Upon learning of his father’s failing health, he and his family returned to Port Jefferson, where he purchased the Long Island Heating Oil company — later named Long Island Comfort Corporation — and formed his own mechanical engineering company. 

While living in Port Jefferson, he served on the Port Jefferson School Board, Village and County Library Boards, Mather Hospital Board and was president of both the Port Jefferson Rotary Club and the Empire State Petroleum Association.  

A licensed pilot, his favorite pastime was flying across the country in his single engine aircraft, which led him and first wife Rose Marie to begin vacationing in, and ultimately retiring to, Fort Myers, FL where they lived until her death in 2001. After his remarriage to Helen, they divided their time between Fort Myers and Dublin, GA and permanently moved to Dublin to be closer to her family in 2017.   

Gordon was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church worshipping at the First Presbyterian Church of Port Jefferson and then the Cypress Lake Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers.  

A private graveside service will be held at a later date at the family plot at Sea View Cemetery in Mount Sinai, NY. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to the First Presbyterian Church of Port Jefferson, PO Box 397, Main and South Streets, Port Jefferson, NY 11777.

by -
0 669

By Marilyn Temkin

Max Temkin, right, with his wife Sara. Photo from Marilyn Temkin

Holocaust survivor, Max Temkin, most recently of Setauket, who was part of a delegation that brought back soil from concentration camps to place under the Eternal Flame of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, died May 22, several weeks after suffering a stroke on his 99th birthday, March 27.

Max was born in Lodz, Poland, on March 27, 1922. He started his life in a large Jewish family consisting of his mother, Paula, father, Jacob, two brothers Chaim and Ephraim, and his sister Lisa.

When the Nazis invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, his world changed forever.  All of his family members were eventually killed in the concentration camps. Max was separated from his family on Sept. 19, 1939, never to see them again. He was 17 years old.

Max described his experience as “hell
on Earth.”

In 1940, he was transported by cattle car to Auschwitz, where he was immediately given striped prison garments and tattooed with the number 142538 on his left arm. He would always say “This meant that 142,537 people were tattooed in Auschwitz before me!”

He was forced into slave labor; his primary job was in construction. He helped build the Autobahn, a public works program promoted by Hitler for the purpose of providing quick transportation for vehicles carrying troops. He also worked as an electrician and coal miner. Max had no formal training in these fields but always complied with orders. As he put it, “When the Nazis asked me to do something, I did it. Otherwise, they would kill me.”

Max was surrounded by starvation, sickness and death as well as the constant stench of cremated bodies. He was shot randomly by a German guard — “just for the hell of it.” The large wound on the back of his right leg did not become infected, and he survived.

On Jan. 18, 1945, with the Russians fast approaching, the Nazis forced the prisoners to march out of Auschwitz, to erase any evidence of their inhumanity. It was bitterly cold. Max ate snow to survive. Any person who stumbled or slowed down was taken to the side of the road and shot. The prisoners were freezing and infected with lice from head to toe, having not showered in weeks. Sixty thousand prisoners were forced to march from Auschwitz to other camps in Germany. The death toll was staggering.

Max arrived in Buchenwald in late January, weary but alive. Conditions there were not any better than at Auschwitz.

He was immediately put to work cleaning bunkers where there were bodies of dead German soldiers from previous bombardments by English forces.

Late in the afternoon of April 11, 1945, Buchenwald was liberated by General George Patton’s Third Army Unit. “This is a day I will always remember and cherish.”

Max is in the famous photograph by Life magazine photographer, Margaret Bourke-White (The Living Dead at Buchenwald, 1945), taken hours after liberation. He and fellow prisoners were still behind barbed wire when the photograph was taken. Max is the second prisoner from the right in the second row.

The Living Dead at Buchenwald was not published in Life Magazine until December 1960, in a special double anniversary issue. Titled “Grim Greeting At Buchenwald” the caption reads: “In Margaret Bourke-White’s grim comment on man’s inhumanity to man, survivors of Buchenwald stare out at their Allied rescuers like so many living corpses, barely able to believe that they would be freed from a Nazi camp where the only deliverance had been death.”

After liberation, while in the Zeilsheim displaced persons’ camp near Frankfurt, Germany,  Max met and fell in love with Sara Braun, originally from Ozorkow, Poland. Sara also lost her family in the Holocaust. They worked as volunteers for the United States Army, Max primarily as a cook.

They promised each other to get married
in America.

Max always said that he was “at a loss for words” to describe how he felt when he first saw the Statue of Liberty as his ship, the USS Marine Flasher, pulled into New York Harbor. Although it was dusk and the Statue was hard to see, “her silhouette will always be preserved in my memory.”

He married Sara on May 8, 1948 (Mother’s Day) in the Bronx. Their wedding guests were members of their foster families and American soldiers who liberated Max from Buchenwald. The soldiers came from all parts of the country.

Although Max and Sara had the good fortune to live with two wonderful foster families, life after marriage was challenging. They lived in a tenement on the Lower East Side, shared one bathroom with the other tenants, worked full time during the day and attended English classes at night. They had to pass an English proficiency exam to qualify for U.S. citizenship.

Max had the opportunity to start a six-year apprenticeship to become a photoengraver at Intaglio Corporation of New York. The training would ultimately lead to a prized union job. Most of these jobs went to sons or brothers of employees, so this was indeed a lucky break for Max. A group of very understanding men guided him through his training. He was the only Jew and immigrant in the company when he started.

Max demonstrated a unique visual aesthetic and soon assumed responsibility for the preparation of advertisements that appeared in the Sunday supplement, Parade Magazine, which is still in publication and distributed across the nation with local newspapers. Max worked as a photoengraver at Intaglio Corporation for 32 years and it became his second home.

In November 1992, Max was part of a delegation from the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., which included survivors, US Army liberators and museum supporters, on a 10-day journey to Western Europe. The delegation, sponsored by the Museum in cooperation with the Department of Defense’s 50th Anniversary of World War II Commemoration Committee, visited Holocaust and military sites in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. As part of their mission to gather soil for the Museum’s Hall of Remembrance, Max was given the honor of bringing back soil from Buchenwald, where he was liberated in 1945.

He placed the soil from Buchenwald under the Eternal Flame in the Museum’s Hall of Remembrance during the Soil Dedication Ceremony in February 1993.

Fellow Jewish Holocaust survivors brought back soil from the 37 other concentration camps and participated in the ceremony as well.

Max was active in the Lodzer Young Men’s Benevolent Society, where he was a member of the executive board for 20 years and served as president from 1994 to 1998.

After retirement, Max and Sara traveled to middle schools and high schools on Long Island to talk to students about their Holocaust experiences. On the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, they were invited to Ward Melville High School on two occasions, April 11, 2002, and April 17, 2008. In 2002, their older granddaughter, Stephanie Pollack, who was a junior at the time, was sitting in the audience. In 2008, their younger granddaughter, Ilana Pollack, also a junior, was sitting in the audience. They spoke to students at Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School, at the invitation of Mrs. White, Ilana’s eighth grade English teacher, also on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

They were invited by Jeffrey Sanzel, executive artistic director of Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, to join the theater’s traveling troupe at middle schools when they performed “From the Fires: Voices of the Holocaust,”  the widely acclaimed play Jeffrey wrote. This gave Max and Sara another opportunity to talk to students about their Holocaust experiences.

They also spoke frequently at Islip Middle School at the invitation of now-retired teachers Adina Karp and Paul Tapogna, whom they met in the audience when they first saw “From the Fires: Voices of the Holocaust” at Theatre Three.

At the end of each talk, Max would say:

“I want to leave you with this message: Never, never hate. Hate is the enemy. The Nazis were a vehicle of hate. Hate is like a cancer, it will destroy you as well.

Hate is the enemy but for those of my generation, time is also the enemy. I am an elderly man and I want to share my story with as many young people as possible before I am no longer able to.

So, go home today and hug your parents and siblings. And never take the Statue of Liberty
for granted.”

Max enjoyed attending the monthly meetings of the board of directors of the Port Jefferson Ambulance Corps with his daughter,  Dr. Marilyn Temkin. It reminded him of his many years of service as an EMT and later as a dispatcher in his former neighborhood of Little Neck-Douglaston, Queens.

Max was a vibrant, elegant man who always kept a positive attitude. He made friends everywhere he went. He always lived in the moment but never forgot the past.

“Papa Max” is survived by his wife, Sara; his children,  Dr. Marilyn Temkin (the late Dr. Mitchell Pollack) and Dr. Jay Temkin (Beata Drachal), two granddaughters, Dr. Stephanie Pollack (Matthew Perle) and Ilana Pollack (Dr. Zachary Wolner);  U.S. Army Specialist Tyler Nussbaum and U.S. Army Sargeant Jade Nussbaum, to whom Papa Max was a beloved grandfather-by-choice; cousins Yoram Tiomkin (Nava), Adina Tiomkin (the late Raffie), and Chaim Tiomkin (Ofra) and their families in Israel and California; U.S. Army Corporal veteran and foster brother Bernard Kleinman (Lila) and family in Florida; and cousins-by-marriage Cantor Bruce Braun (Dianne) and family in Canton, Ohio.

Funeral services were held May 24 at Star of David Memorial Chapel followed by burial at New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon, New York.

Photo from Melyssa Cornell

Longtime Belle Terre resident Joanne Wright Cornell passed away on May 16 at 80 years old. 

Born on Jan. 31, 1941, in Staten Island, she leaves behind a vibrant legacy in the Port Jefferson community after decades of service.

Starting off as a model in Manhattan and working on Wall Street with stock and bond traders, she moved to Long Island in the early 1970s where she entered the world of real estate. 

“Her emotional intelligence was incredible,” said her daughter, Melyssa Cornell.

Joanne formed a lifelong friendship and business partnership with Eileen Petsco, together forming Cornell/Petsco Real Estate. The duo started their firm in a modest small office space, eventually growing into a larger building on East Main Street that lasted almost four decades. 

“Joanne was a perfect partner,” Petsco said. “In 37 years, we never had a serious argument. She was a tireless worker and a valued friend.” 

Their friendship lasted long after their firm shutdown. 

Photo from Melyssa Cornell

“A few years ago, we were kidding around about what epitaph we wanted on our gravestones,” Petsco added. “We settled on this for Joanne: ‘My candle burns at both ends, it shall not last the night, but oh my friends and oh my foe, how brilliant was the light.’ The world will be a dimmer place without Joanne to light the path. She will be deeply missed.” 

While building up her real estate business, Joanne was also a single mother who worked hard to create a successful life and business, and gave back to her community in a multitude of ways.

“The early 1970s wasn’t the easiest time for a woman to launch a business,” Melyssa said, “But she and Eileen did an incredible job creating an extremely successful company.”

Joanne was vice president and then president of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, and president of the Belle Terre Community Association. She supported a multitude of the area’s charities and civic functions.  

Along with her other hats, Joanne was a founding member of the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, and chaired the ladies day golf outings at the country club for many years.  

She immersed herself in community pride chairing the Fourth of July committee and was known as the Easter Bunny and Mrs. Claus for years in the parades.  

“She made the community a better place because of the professional and civic leadership she demonstrated over the years,” Melyssa said. “Her legacy is extraordinary — she lived life to the fullest with an incredible zest for life, a mischievous twinkle in her eye and her dancing shoes on. She was always the life of the party, the first on the dance floor and the last one off — life to her was not a dress rehearsal.”

Melyssa added that her mother should be remembered for her strength, fierce loyalty, honesty and that she welcomed all. She was a true friend to everyone — and still had so many lifelong friendships going back to elementary school.

“Joanne Cornell was a professional, a dedicated member of her community, a warm, welcoming and generous friend and a gracious hostess on all occasions,” said Denise Adler, one of Joanne’s closest friends. “She believed in making life more joyful for all those she touched.”

Melyssa said that her mother “knew how to make a moment last and always believed that the best of times is now. … She did what she said she would do — always.”

She is remembered by TBR News Media publisher, Leah Dunaief for her sense of community and service. 

Photo from Melyssa Cornell

“Joanne had a great sense of fun even as she was very good at her job,” she said. “I enjoyed working with her on the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, where she gave many hours on behalf of helping the business community and the village. She and Eileen Petsco were a dynamic duo, personifying successful business executives at a time when not many women were in business. They were the founders of Cornell/Petsco Real Estate, and their race horse weather vane was a frequently seen icon.”

Joanne leaves behind her daughter Melyssa, and a grandson, Ryan Cornell Thorpe, 17, who both live in Virginia. She is survived by her sisters Leslie Ellerbrook and Judy Repage, both of New Jersey.

“We found fun and laughter in every adventure,” Melyssa said. “We loved Broadway, and, to her, life was a cabaret. My mom made every moment special. When I was super young, and she was working hard to make it in real estate, we didn’t have much money, but we would always sit down and have dinner by candlelight — usually Chunky soup. She didn’t wait for the special moments to happen — she created them.”               

A Celebration of Life will be held in honor of Joanne at The Country House in Stony Brook on June 30 from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. 

“A life so beautiful deserves a special celebration and we welcome anyone who would like to come and share in the memories, the love and the laughter of her life that was lived to the fullest with us,” Melyssa said.

by -
0 678
Stock photo

Elisabeth Kaalund Russell died peacefully on March 31, 2021, in her home on Merritt Island, Florida. She succumbed to cancer after a hard-fought battle. 

A loving mother and grandmother, she lived a full life and will be greatly missed.

Photo from Tina Myers

Born in 1941 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Elisabeth shared many memories growing-up as the youngest of five siblings in a country recovering from a world war. 

As a young woman she decided to immigrate to New York as an Au Pair. Soon after, she met her first husband, Charles Helenius. They eventually settled down in Baldwin and had two children, Peter and Tina.

Many years later, including a couple of years living in Copenhagen, she moved to Port Jefferson with her children. 

She had a second daughter, Ingrid, and in 1987 found her favorite home on Puritan Path.

As a young mother, Elisabeth went to college to become a registered nurse. She started her career at Hillcrest Hospital in Queens in the labor and delivery department. 

Over the years she worked at Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen, Brookhaven Hospital in Patchogue, North Shore Hospital in Manhasset, Stony Brook Hospital and then ended her career at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson. 

Liz met Dr. Frank Russell in the operating room, and they became lifetime companions outside of the hospital. 

One of her proudest moments was being the attending nurse in the first surgery performed at Stony Brook Hospital.

After a few years of retirement in Vermont, Elisabeth found her “paradise” in Florida. She loved the warmth and sun there. 

As usual, she found a local Danish group to socialize with and maintain Danish traditions. 

Liz enjoyed working in her yard and swimming in her pool during the day and knitting at night.

Her joyous spirit and endless energy will continue to inspire everyone she knew and loved. 

She will be remembered when her loved ones are reading, painting, knitting, cleaning and entertaining.

Liz always set a beautiful table and made everyone feel special. She is survived by her son and daughter in-law, Peter Helenius and Margaret Luckey of Mastic Beach, daughter and son-in-law, Tina and David Myers, of  Beaverton, Oregon; daughter and son-in-law; Ingrid and Larry Pike, of East Middlebury, Vermont. 

She is also survived by her brother and sister in-law, Karl and Lis Kaalund; brother and sister in-law Per and Marianne Kaalund; sister and brother in-law Inger and Gordon Campbell. 

In addition, Elisabeth has seven grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews in the United States, Canada, Denmark and Australia.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to the American Diabetes Association

Obituary from Tina Myers 

Miriam with great-grandaughter, Ella. Photo from Jeff Remz

Miriam (Groman) Remz, a long-time resident of Belle Terre and former business manager of the Port Jefferson school district, passed away from COVID-19 on Feb. 21 at the age of 94 in Brookline, Mass.

Miriam was born on Dec. 15, 1926 in Czestochowa, Poland, the only child of Israel and Gertrude Groman. She moved with her parents to Brussels, Belgium at the age of 2, where she lived until emigrating to New York on March 1, 1938, avoiding the terrible fate that awaited most of the remaining Jews in Europe.

Miriam considered that date her second birthday, special to her because it represented the beginning of her new life in the United States.

Miriam graduated from City College of New York in 1946 with a degree in business administration and accounting. She then worked in a New York City accounting firm where she met Louis (Leo) Remz. 

Miriam and Leo Remz. Photo from Jeff Remz

After he popped the question and was told “I’ll get back to you,” (she said “yes” a week later), the two were later married on Feb. 17, 1948 in the Bronx.

They moved to Port Jefferson in 1949 where Louis worked with his brother, Morris, at M. Remz (later Louis Remz Supply), a feed and grain business —which eventually added bakery ingredients, as well — located next to the Port Jefferson train depot. 

Having moved to Cliff Road, Belle Terre where they built a house, Miriam took time off from work to raise a family of three boys. The Remzes were among the founding families of the North Shore Jewish Center, then in East Setauket. 

Miriam would later become president of the Sisterhood and a member of the Board of Trustees of the synagogue.

Miriam returned to work in 1963, spending her career with the Port Jefferson school district. She worked first as an account clerk and later became the business manager, a position she held until she retired in 1991.

Miriam was a world traveler — visiting more than 150 countries and all 50 states (North Dakota was the last that she visited — not to mention all U.S. territories. 

Her final major international trip was in August 2016 at the age of 89 for the wedding of her granddaughter in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

Miriam had a keen sense of adventure, enjoying interactions with people from other countries and cultures and enjoyed learning history. But sometimes her love of travel got the better of her judgment. 

On one occasion, already well into her 80s, she visited eastern Turkey at a time when the Syrian civil war had spilled into that region, very close to where she had planned to visit. When asked by her children why she would go there, she said she had already been to western Turkey three times, so she had to see the rest of Turkey.

After her husband Leo passed away in 1994, Miriam continued traveling at an even more frenetic pace, doing about six trips around the world each year.

In addition to her travels, Miriam was passionate about many things in life, including education, her family, Israel and the Jewish people, theater and the arts. 

A formal photo of Miriam Remz. Photo from Jeff Remz

She often went on trips to New York for theatre and dance with friends and sometimes meeting up with her grandchildren. She always enjoyed a good time, dancing, celebrating and socializing with family and friends, and making new acquaintances. 

Miriam wanted to pass that on to her family and made sure her children and grandchildren would have every opportunity that she could provide, whether in supporting their educational endeavors or taking her grandchildren on special trips abroad upon them becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah including London, Paris, Italy and Brazil/Uruguay/Argentina.

She moved from Belle Terre to Brookline in 2014 to be near two of her sons, Jeff and Sandy. She continued her love of lifetime learning by attending lectures about politics, current events, history, literature, art and Judaism and reading history and biographies. 

Almost exactly two years before she passed away, she attended a Dolly Parton tribute concert by Berklee College of Music students in Boston.

Miriam is survived by her three sons, Harvey (Mary Jane) Remz of Huntington, Conn.; Sandy (Arlene) Remz of Newton Centre, Mass. and Jeff (Judy) Remz of Newton Centre, Mass., six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 

Burial took place at Washington Memorial Park in Coram. 

Obituary from Jeff Remz

Helene Bowler, Charles Gerace, Reilly Orlando and Tom Walsh honor Michael Bowler. Photo from Bowler family

“Circumstances the way they were, the ball just didn’t bounce our way today.  I hate to say it but that is the way life is, it isn’t always fair. And it takes a good man to lose and then to come back from it. You guys have your whole lives ahead of you, you have nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of — even though we didn’t win everything, in my book we did. Because guys are everything. Not the trophy, not the wins, it’s you guys.” 

On Dec. 6, 2019, Michael Bowler eulogized the special memory of his father Michael P. Bowler who was a noted teacher, coach, club adviser, and administrator at Rocky Point High School since 1973. 

This powerful speech was given at Infant Jesus R.C. Church in Port Jefferson, in front of a packed crowd of family members, neighbors, teachers, friends, former lacrosse players, coaches and parents.   

 For decades, he spent countless hours in his classroom, administrative office, and on the practice and game fields.  

This week, Rocky Point High School honored Bowler with a large picture frame with his trademark coaching jacket, hat, whistle and pictures that showed his more-than forty 40 years of service to this North Shore community. 

Always armed with a big smile and a can-do attitude, Bowler was the epitome of commitment toward every type of student and athlete who crossed his path during his life in education. 

Even up to his death, as he fought cancer, Bowler expected to coach his players, where they were never far from his mind.  His life focused on the love of his family, service to his church, , and the devotion to the students and residents of Rocky Point.  

Helene Bowler, Kevan Bowler and Michael Bowler. Photo from Bowler family

Helene Bowler rarely missed a lacrosse game at Rocky Point and was the anchor of support toward the entire Bowler family. Like her husband, she can quickly describe the players, teams, and games that her husband coached, since he established this program.  

 “Mike loved everything about the game of lacrosse — the skill, the speed, the plays and strategies, the physicality,” she said. “He loved the challenge and excitement of being a coach and considered it an honor and a privilege to mentor these young men at Rocky Point.” 

All the Bowler kids played lacrosse on the college level, they all coached their own teams and children, and three of the boys are teachers and administrators. Bowler’s third oldest son, Kevan, connected lacrosse to the makeup of his parents and said, “I know many schools or programs like to think of themselves as a family, but I know that my dad, with the help and patience of my mom, looked after his team as if they were part of the family. Whether that meant trying to keep them on the right path academically, asking my mom to help wash the uniforms so the team looked sharp or trying to find the best possible college fit for them, lacrosse was not just a spring sport to him.” 

Since their earliest days of growing up in Hicksville, Bowler was a beloved brother to his siblings. His younger sister Meg Malangone, of Lake Grove, described her brother as being, “protective, caring and gentle. I could always talk to him and he always had time for me, even if I was being an annoying younger sister. When my husband died suddenly, Mike was there to share the load — helping with my kids, whether talking sports, watching movies and just laughing with them.”  

Stephanie Bowler described her brother as being “an unsung hero who was always in the background, waiting to be of assistance to anyone in need, great or small. No one was beyond his notice or care. Others always came first, be it a family member, student, athlete, community member or even a stranger.” 

A lasting impression was made on his fellow teachers who have long retired from Rocky Point. Vincent Basileo was an American history teacher who vividly remembered Bowler speaking to the students on a class trip to Quebec.  

“We were in a historic church and Mike had the students mesmerized through his description of the religious artifacts that these young men and women were learning about,” Basileo said.  

For 25 years, Bruce Mirabito taught and coached next to Bowler.  He saw his friend as being a “goal-orientated man who always led by example within all of his endeavors.”  

High school guidance facilitator, Matthew Poole, was a young counselor who worked closely with Bowler handling the administrative tasks for the junior high students within the mid-1990s.  Poole watched as “Bowler disciplined and advised students to help them find better decision-making.  

He was also a man who understood the college recruiting process to help his players enroll into the best possible schools.”   

Athletic director, Charles Delargy, often spoke with Bowler, where these two “Irishmen” enjoyed each other’s company.

Delargy believed that “Bowler was a true professional and gentlemen.  I was very lucky to have him as a good friend.”  

Longtime athletic secretary, Rose Monz, had the routine of seeing Bowler and said, “Never has there been a kinder gentleman. A man with old-fashioned values with a faith strong enough for everyone. I think of Mike every day for many different reasons — for the kids who seem lost, for his kindness and generosity to all the secretaries. And most of all,  I miss Mike for just being Mike.” 

It is impossible to put a number on the players who participated on the lacrosse teams since Bowler’s first competitive year in 1978.   

 “As a player of his and then watching as a fan as he coached two of my sons, he never lost the passion or dedication that he had for not only his teams, but all of the kids coming up,” said Peter LaSalla, a 1982 Rocky Point graduate. “He is missed greatly.”   

John Fernandez praised Bowler, too. 

“He treated his players with respect and wanted to get the best out of them,” Fernandez said. “He loved the game and studied it to be the best possible coach.”   

Michael Muller, a 2010 graduate, was a pallbearer for his beloved coach who helped him get him accepted to Dartmouth College.  According to Muller, “The world needs more people like Mike Bowler. He changed the course of my life and countless others for the better.  His legacy will live on forever.” 

For years, entire neighborhoods have been tied to the Rocky Point lacrosse program. Nicky and Vin Loscalzo graduated in 2011 and 2012 and they grew up with several boys living next to their home. Nicky always laughed when Bowler jokingly yelled at the six boys who made up the “Dana Court Crew.”

Kevin Fitzpatrick was a “crew” member who wanted to thank Bowler “for always teaching me to hold myself accountable for my mistakes and to have pride in the things I work hard at.”  

Nicky LoManto, a 2005 graduate, said, “Bowler provided an outstanding environment for student athletes that emphasized teamwork, respect for opponents and personal life skills for life.” 

During the unveiling, Chris Nentwich spoke about the difficulties of leaving Rocky Point to coach his own son and being away from the presence of Bowler. 

Dave Murphy touched on the loyalty of Bowler and thanked his family for allowing all of us to have special moments with him.  

James Jordan addressed the sincere messages that people wrote when they learned Bowler was named a lacrosse national coach of the year.   

Family friend and a lacrosse coach Brian Buckley spoke of Bowler’s knowledge and how he always loved to talk about his sport. Rocky Point lacrosse coach Tom Walsh cherished his moments with Bowler and would like to carry on many of his traditions within this school.   

And Rocky Point lacrosse senior captain, Reilly Orlando, mentioned he is one of three brothers who all played for Coach Bowler.  

 It is not easy to speak about a loved one who has passed away but, when it is about Michael P. Bowler, his legacy is easy to address and will be difficult to duplicate.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College.