Obituaries

Marilyn Simons, left, and Jim Simons, third from left, toast the announcement of a $500 million contribution to Stony Brook University’s endowment with SBU President Maurie McInnis and Simons Foundation President David Spergel. File photo from John Griffin/ Stony Brook University

By Daniel Dunaief

James “Jim” Harris Simons, the founder of Renaissance Technologies and former Mathematics chair at Stony Brook University whose foundation donated over $6 billion to scientific and other causes, died on May 10 at the age of 86.

Simons, who was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, to Marcia and Matthew Simons, touched the lives of many across Long Island and the world. He shared a dry sense of humor with those fortunate enough to interact with him, compassion with those who, like him, had suffered painful losses and a readiness to contribute personally and financially in a host of settings, including creating the beloved Avalon Preserve in Stony Brook.

Simons developed an early proficiency in mathematics that helped him earn prestigious distinctions and awards and after he left academia, helped him develop an investment approach that enabled him to amass personal wealth estimated at over $31 billion. Simons, whose cause of death wasn’t released, was the 55th richest person in the world, according to Forbes.

In 1994, Simons co-founded the Simons Foundation with his wife Marilyn. He provided much more than financial support to numerous efforts around the world, including to local institutions such as Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Indeed, last year, the Simons Foundation gave a $500 million unrestricted gift to Stony Brook University, which is the largest-ever unrestricted gift to a public institution and over the course of seven years, will more than double the endowment for the school.

“Our university is infinitely better because of [Simons], and his passing leaves an enormous hole in the hearts of all who were fortunate to know him,” Maurie McInnis, president of Stony Brook University wrote in a letter to the campus community.

Simons served on the boards of institutions like BNL and SBU, offering well-received advice to leaders of these institutions and to the scientists conducting the kind of work that could one day help combat diseases and improve the quality of quantity of life for future generations.

“He really applied his talents toward trying to better [Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory] and to other area institutions,” said David Tuveson, director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center.

In addition to funding a range of scientific research, the Simons Foundation also supported research into autism. The Simons’ daughter Audrey was diagnosed with autism when she was 6 years old.

The Simons Foundation committed over $725 million to support autism research for more than 700 investigators in the United States and around the world, according to the Simons Foundation.

Simons was “the largest private funder of autism research in the world,” Matthew Lerner, formerly an SBU research associate professor and now an associate professor and life course outcomes program leader at A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, explained in an email. Lerner added that the “impact of his loss will be enormous.”

‘Smartest and richest guy in the room’

When Simons was part of the board at Brookhaven National Laboratory, he offered insights that benefited the institution and the talented researchers who came from all over the world to contribute.

“He always had hard questions,” said Sam Aronson, the lab director of BNL from 2006 to 2012. “That was really stimulating and scary at the same time, talking to the smartest and richest guy in the room.”

Aronson recalled that Simons never needed a cheat sheet from the staff to know what to ask people giving reports when Brookhaven Science Associates, which is a combination of members from Stony Brook University and Battelle and oversees BNL, met to discuss strategy and science.

During fiscal year 2006, a reduction in funding for the nuclear physics program meant that BNL would likely have to cut staff. Simons stepped in to contribute and help raise $13 million to ensure the continued operation of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, or RHIC.

“That was showing evidence that the board who knew what we were doing scientifically really cared about us getting it done and were not looking for someone to fire,” said Aronson, who became director at BNL just after Simons helped spearhead the financial support.

In addition, Simons, who was committed to educating students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, took time to speak with students about his life experience and these fields.

Doon Gibbs, who retired as lab director at BNL last year, recalled coming to the facility early on a Saturday morning with one of his sons.

Simons was at the lab early on a Saturday morning, telling these students to follow their interests and to rely on their own judgment and decision-making and interests, rather than what other people advised or told them to do.

“That demonstrates the commitment he had personally” to education and to inspiring students, Gibbs said.

Simons inspired leaders at the top of their fields, offering inspiration and encouragement.

Stony Brook “went from the concept of being a great math and physics center to being a great university and [Simons] was all on board for that,” said Shirley Kenny, who was SBU president from 1994 to 2009. “There’s no question that I could dream bigger for Stony Brook because of [Simons].”

The geometric path

A gifted math student who first attended Brookline High School in Massachusetts and then moved to Newton High School, Simons earned his bachelor’s degree in three years from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1958.

After he graduated, Simons and friends from Colombia decided to ride motor scooters from Boston to Buenos Aires. At the time, he didn’t own a motor scooter and had never ridden one.

After seven weeks, he and his friends got as far as Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. Recalling the harrowing trip, Simons had said he came perilously close to death and was sure his mother wouldn’t have allowed him to take such a trip had she known of the risks.

After his motor scooter adventure, Simons chose to attend the University of California at Berkeley because he wanted to work with Shiing-Shen Chern. When he arrived at Berkeley, Simons, who hadn’t met Chern at that point, was disappointed to learn that the Berkeley professor was on sabbatical for the year.

While Chern didn’t serve as thesis adviser for Simons, the two mathematicians did work together, producing the Chern-Simons theory, which has applications in math and physics.

After earning his doctorate, Simons, who regularly smoked cigarettes and preferred to wear loafers without socks, split his time between lecturing at MIT and Harvard and working at the Institute for Defense Analysis in Princeton, where he served as a code breaker for the National Security Agency.

Publicly expressing opposition to the war in Vietnam cost him his job at the IDA.

In 1968, Simons, who was married to Barbara Bluestein, made the fateful decision to join the then 11-year-old Stony Brook University, enticed by President John Toll to become the chairman of the Math Department.

Irwin Kra, who joined the Math Department at Stony Brook the same year as Simons, suggested the two mathematicians became “good friends immediately.”

Building on a passion that Simons would share with friends and colleagues throughout his life, Simons and Kra shared time on a small boat that Kra described as a “putt-putt.” The motor on the boat regularly broke and Kra’s job was to hand Simons tools while he went under the engine trying to repair it, which he successfully did many times.

Kra and Simons, who are both Jewish, got into trouble with Irwin Kra’s wife Eleanor when they brought lobsters to a lake the night before Yom Kippur, which is the holiest day of the year in the Jewish religion and does not typically involve consuming shellfish prior to the Day of Atonement.

As a mathematician, Simons won the American Mathematical Society Veblen Prize in Geometry in 1976, which Kra described as a “very distinguished award in differential geometry — he attacked extremely difficult problems.”

In 1974, Simons and his wife Barbara, who had three children, Elizabeth “Liz,” Nathaniel and Paul, divorced.

Simons married Marilyn Hawrys in 1977. Jim and Marilyn Simons had two children, Nicholas and Audrey.

Birth of Renaissance

In 1978, Simons left the Math Department at Stony Brook to start a company that would later become Renaissance Technologies.

Recruiting mathematicians rather than typical stock pickers or money managers, Simons, who was well ahead of his time in his approach to the market, wanted to develop computer programs that would analyze the markets, deciding when to buy and sell commodities, at first, and then stocks.

The so-called quant funds used the early equivalent of artificial intelligence to find trends in the way the investments they bought and sold — sometimes within a single day — moved, profiting from gains that didn’t rely on typical fundamental Wall Street research.

Over time, Renaissance Technologies’ Medallion Fund established a spectacular track record, with annualized returns of 66% before fees and 39% afterward from 1988 to 2018, according to Gregory Zuckerman, author of “The Man Who Solved the Market,” a biography of Simons.

Simons retired from Renaissance in late 2009, with an estimated net worth of over $11 billion.

Empathetic friend

Simons, who lost his son Paul at the age of 34 from a bike accident in 1996 and his son Nicholas in 2003 when he drowned off Indonesia, gave from his wallet, his intellect and his heart.

In the late 1990s, when Shirley and Robert Kenny were managing through the difficulties of leukemia treatments for their son Joel, Simon sent them on a trip to the Caribbean aboard his yacht.

The boat took them to St. John’s, St. Croix and other islands, providing them with a “wonderful vacation,” Shirley Kenny said. “It was just heavenly. It was a very, very happy memory. We had this joyous time before we had this terrible time and that’s thanks to [Simons.]”

Simons was also known to connect with the families of friends who were experiencing medical challenges or coping with grief.

After his son Paul died, Simons was searching for a way to memorialize him. He reached out to The Ward Melville Heritage Organization to purchase land in Stony Brook. Gloria Rocchio, president of the WMHO, took Simons on a tour of the property that would become the first parcel of land for Avalon Preserve. Simon stood on top of the hill and said, “This is it,” Rocchio recalled, leading to the first land purchase of the Avalon Preserve.

Since then, Simons has added to the preserve, which now includes about 216 acres of property.

Up until this year, Simons remained involved in the preserve, as he wanted to build a tunnel so people wouldn’t have to walk on the road to go from one piece of property to another.

That tunnel, which took years of planning, will be completed in August.

In describing the growth of the preserve, Rocchio recalled how Avalon had added 15 acres, which included a run-down house the donor stipulated couldn’t change.

One day, the trustees arrived and walked through a plastic curtain in the house and discovered the rest of the house was missing.

Simons explained that there were too many termites and the house had to come down.

“That was [Simons],” Rocchio said. “He found out the house was structurally not able to be saved.”

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) recalled how important it was to protect that land.

“I have seen most of the nature preserves around the state,” Englebright said. Avalon is not only the “finest in the entire state” but one of the “best I have ever seen anywhere.”

While Avalon is a memorial to Simons’ son Paul, it’s also “a memorial” to Simons, Englebright added.By remaining undeveloped and continuing to protect the old growth forest, the Avalon Preserve prevents the water of Stony Brook Harbor from the kind of pollution that runoff from developed property might otherwise carry.

Simons “turned a terrible tragedy into a living legacy,” Englebright said.

Simons also honored his son Nicholas, creating the Nick Simons Institute in 2006. The institute provides training, support to district hospitals and advocacy for rural health workers in Nepal.

Jim and Marilyn Simons visited Nepal regularly, traveling to remote parts of the country and visiting eight hospitals that would become a part of the Nick Simons Institute.

A humble legacy

Despite the many ways Jim and Marilyn Simons, who earned her bachelor’s degree and her doctorate in economics at Stony Brook University, contributed to science and to the area, they remained humble and accessible.

Aronson suggested to Simons that he wanted to honor him personally for his timely and important contributions to the RHIC at BNL.

When Simons declined, Aronson asked if he could name one of the roads on-site after Renaissance, which Simons approved.

On one of the Stony Brook buildings that bears their name, the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Simons focused on the student and faculty experience. He wanted to make sure people in the building had a place to eat and didn’t have to trek to the dining hall.

“He wanted a good restaurant there,” recalled Kenny.

Apart from ensuring the building served food, Simons found a problem he wanted to fix. At the opening of the center, he noticed that the elevators were too slow, so he hired the person who built the center to create a separate, faster elevator which was attached to the building after it was completed.

Still contributing

Despite stepping away from the world of academia to become one of the most successful fund managers in history, exceeding the returns of titans like Warren Buffett, Simons still found time to contribute to the world of math.

Bruce Stillman, CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, visited Simons’ office about six years ago. Stillman noticed a copy of a geometry journal on the coffee table and expressed his surprise that Simons was still reading math literature.

“What do you mean reading?” Simons replied, according to Stillman. He told the CSHL leader to open to a particular page, where he had co-authored an article.

“He was still publishing mathematics after being an extremely successful hedge fund manager,” said Stillman, who added that Simons was the largest contributor to CSHL. “He kept a lot of balls juggling in the air.”

Several people shared their appreciation for the opportunity to share relaxing and meaningful time aboard the various boats Simons owned over the years, including the 222-foot yacht called Archimedes.

Aronson took a trip around the harbor aboard the Archimedes soon after Simons had purchased it, describing the ride as akin to a “floating cocktail party.”

While on board, Aronson met famed Kenyan anthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey. Aronson wound up going on a number of trips to Kenya to work on ways to apply green energy.

As for Kra, he recalled a time when he was supposed to take a trip aboard Simons’ boat. One of the engines broke and Kra suggested he postpone the journey.

Simons refused to cancel and suggested the boat would come in slowly to Miami and would travel slowly to the Caribbean, navigating in calmer, shallower waters, which it did.

Numerous people shared their admiration for a man who contributed and continues to contribute to the lives of educators and students.

Famed actor Alan Alda benefited from his interactions with Simons. He was “a huge force in so many people’s lives, including mine,” Alda wrote in an email. He was “as generous as he was smart. And he was scarily smart.”

With the help of the Simons, Alda helped found the eponymous journalism school at Stony Brook.

“I’ll always be grateful for his and his wife Marilyn’s contributions to the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook,” and of course, he will have touched countless lives through his landmark gifts to Stony Brook University, Alda added. “He certainly put his love of knowledge to good use.”

Simons is survived by his wife, three children, five grandchildren, and a great grandchild.

Stony Brook University plans to celebrate Simons’s impact in the coming months.

 

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Charles Precht. Photo courtesy Nolan Funeral Home

Charles V. Precht of Huntington Station, formerly of Centerport, Greenlawn and Riverhead passed away on May 7 at 86 years old. 

Loving husband of the late Elaine Marie Precht. Devoted father of Steven Precht and Doreen Skipper. Beloved grandfather of Randal Skipper, Jr., Jennifer Reidy, Chelsea Skipper, Samantha Germain, Cody Precht and Harrison Precht. Cherished great grandfather of Lilly, Emmy, Logan, Colton, Laine, Blair and Savannah. Dear brother of the late Frank E. Precht. 

Visiting hours were held at Nolan Funeral Home in Northport on Friday, May 10, from 3-7 p.m. Family and friends gathered at the funeral home on Saturday, May 11, before processing to Northport Rural Cemetery for the interment.

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Rocco J. Mazzotta

Rocco J. Mazzotta, of Huntington, passed away on May 3. 

Beloved husband of the late Vivian. Loving father of Thomas Mazzotta and Angela Mazzotta. Cherished grandfather of Luke and Paul Mazzotta, Natalie Justinger and Corey Reddy. Dear brother of Louis Mazzotta. 

A funeral Mass was held on Wednesday, May 8 at St. Philip Neri Church in Northport, with Rev. Peter C. Dooley officiating. Entombment to follow at Pinelawn Memorial Park, Farmingdale. Donations to Tunnel to Towers Foundation (www.t2t.org), in his memory, would be appreciated.

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Robert F. Arnold

Robert F. “Bob” Arnold, a longtime resident of the area died suddenly Friday,  April 26 at the age of 92.

Bob Arnold was born in Brooklyn, the son of Frederick and Matilda Arnold. His family came out to Farmingville for the summers where they camped and later built a bungalow.

By the mid-1950s Bob had moved out to Suffolk County, living in Setauket, Port Jefferson, and Miller Place. He opened his own decorating firm, which he ran for over 60 years.

Bob’s love of the area and interest in fine homes and décor developed his well-known reputation for restoration, rehabilitation, and decoration. His clients from Coconut Row in Palm Beach to the historic Roe Tavern in Setauket respected his talents, admired his work and called him a friend. 

He gave his time and talent to many civic endeavors and historical societies. Everyone enjoyed his participation in the holiday house tours where he worked tirelessly for the community. Bob enjoyed being part of the Infant Jesus Parish and served on the Town of Brookhaven’s Historic District Advisory Committee for over 30 years. He will be missed by all who knew him and by the communities he served.  

In addition to his many friends, Bob is survived by his longtime companion, Louis Reda; his sister Theresa Pavloski, her children and grandchildren. Arrangements were handled by the O. B. Davis Funeral Home.  

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PREPARED BY TIMOTHY HAGGERTY 

Jacqueline Ann Haggerty, 89, passed away Saturday, April 6, in Simsbury, Connecticut.

Jackie was born in Flushing, Queens, to Mathilda and John Brown in 1934. She attended the School of Nursing at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City, where she met Denis Haggerty, who was attending Columbia University. 

Jackie later received her bachelor’s degree in public and community health from St. Joseph’s University. She enjoyed a second career as a Girl Scout camp nurse in New York, Massachusetts and Wyoming. She sang at a Papal Mass in Rome with her church choir. An avid member of the League of Women Voters, she also helped found a nursery school and volunteered for a variety of community groups.

Jacqueline is predeceased by her husband, Denis; her son, Christopher; and daughter, Mary Lynn King. She is survived by her sons, Peter and Timothy, as well as her granddaughters, Caroline and Kathleen King and Gina and Jessie DeMarco, and her great-grandson, Enzo Penna.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. James R.C. Church in Setauket on May 17 at 10:45 a.m. followed by a burial. Donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at www.jdrf.org.

John Connell. Photo courtesy M.A. Connell Funeral Home Inc.

Prepared by Caitlin Berghela

John Joseph Connell, affectionately known as “Eddie” and “Pop Pop” by his grandchildren, passed away on Friday, April 26, surrounded by his family. 

Born March 18,1937, to Michael and Florence Connell, John was a lifelong resident of Huntington who deeply loved his community. Growing up, he attended St. Hugh’s School and Huntington High School, where he met the love of his life, Elizabeth “Betty Ann” Class, daughter of William Class, John’s physical education teacher and the first athletic director at Huntington High School. After high school, John made frequent trips to visit Betty Ann at Cortland State University, while working at the M.A. Connell family funeral home in Huntington Station and serving in the Navy Reserve. 

In 1960, John and Betty Ann married and began building their family and a life filled with love in Huntington. In 1961, the high school sweethearts welcomed their son, Michael and, soon after, John’s Navy service was activated to defend his country during the Cuban Missile Crisis. John was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1962, and in the following year, he and Betty Ann welcomed their daughter, Debbie. 

As he and Betty Ann raised their family and planted deeper roots in Huntington, John proudly ran the funeral home for decades with his brother Peter, furthering his family’s legacy and eventually working alongside his son, Michael, and son-in-law, Nicholas Berghela Sr. In 2018, his grandson, Nicholas Berghela Jr., joined the funeral service, making him the fourth generation that has served the Huntington area now for over 100 years. John’s commitment to his work was seen and felt by every person he served, so much so that he never officially retired, and would come to the funeral home nearly every day, right up until the very final days of his life. 

While John was able to accomplish so much in his life, it is without question that family was at the core of his existence. As his children grew and started families of their own, John welcomed his son-in-law, Nicholas, and his favorite daughter-in-law, Anne Penders, into his family and loved them as if they were his own children. In turn, his children blessed him with four grandchildren, Krysti (Josh), Nicholas Jr. (Caitlin), Edward John and Grace, and three great-grandchildren, Oliver, Myles and Nicholas III. Becoming a grandfather, and eventually a great-grandfather, was one of John’s greatest joys in life and something in which he took immense pride. Alongside Betty Ann, they loved supporting their grandchildren and great-grandchildren by attending every concert, sporting event or graduation. To add to his list of loving nicknames, John proudly donned the title of “El Grande de Grandisimo Great Papa” upon welcoming his great-grandchildren. 

Beyond being supportive parents and grandparents, John and Betty Ann filled their days by traveling the country and the world together. From their summers in Montauk, to trips to Ireland, Switzerland, Germany and Bermuda — John and Betty Ann loved every moment of their travels with their children and grandchildren. For many years, they split time between their home in Huntington, with their homes in Florida, from Palm Coast and, eventually, Fort Myers, ingratiating themselves into their communities, and making lifelong friends. Some of their favorite time spent in Florida were the many trips they made to Sanibel Island, either by themselves or with family and friends.

Perhaps the only thing that could rival the deep love that John felt for his family and community was that of his sharp wit and cunning sense of humor. John could be counted on to make everyone laugh, no matter how serious a situation whether that was by busting out some dance moves, offering one of his signature one-liners that were sure to stop you in your tracks (like offering to lend a hand, and then proceeding to clap), or by making a clean (and sometimes questionable) joke. His ability to keep the party going, lift spirits or soothe a troubled heart, was unparalleled. 

As John rejoins his bride, who passed in 2020, he will be loved and missed by his family, extended family, many friends and the community in which he dedicated his life. Viewings to celebrate John’s life will be fittingly held at M.A. Connell Funeral Home, 934 New York Ave., Huntington Station, Wednesday, May 1, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs R.C. Church, 53 Prospect Road, Centerport, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 2, with graveside burial to follow at St. Patrick’s Cemetery, 183 Mount Pleasant Road, Huntington.

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Prepared by the Thurau family

Liane Thurau (née Lowenheck) was born in Vienna July 17, 1929, and died Jan. 17 in East Setauket. 

She was the third child of Polish immigrants from Lemberg and Kraków who opened and ran a successful hat shop. In January, 1939, after the Anschluss and Kristallnacht, her parents placed her on a Rothschild Kindertransport to England. On the way to England, an aunt and uncle living in Strasbourg took her off the train and cared for her as they lived in hiding in France. There, Liane quickly mastered French as her second language. 

After the war, she attended the Sorbonne and pursued her interest in Russian at L’École des Langues Orientales, making lifelong friends and learning how to read her favorite 19th-century Russian novels in the original Russian. Upon graduation, she became a translator working for various political causes. 

On a vacation in Germany in 1955, she met her American husband, Norman, who was also fluent in German. They married and came to New York in 1957. 

After teaching in Long Island junior high schools, she spent most of her career teaching French, German and Russian at Suffolk County Community College. When interest in those foreign languages diminished, she obtained a master’s degree in English literature from SUNY Stony Brook. 

In the 1990s Liane joined the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University where she was an avid participant and workshop leader. She is likely remembered by all students for her strict discipline, strong accent and scent of lavender. 

She and her husband loved to travel. They explored France, Germany, Holland, Poland, the former Czechoslovakia and England, the USSR, including its central republics before they were opened, as well as India and China. In addition to being steeped and conversant in politics, she enjoyed reading literature from all over the world, excelled at French and German cooking and had a green thumb.

Liane loved her family passionately. She is survived by two children, Lisa H. and Thoma E. Thurau, and four grandchildren, Emma, Daniel, Sophia and Gabe. Liane’s home was decorated with dozens of framed pictures of her grandchildren whom she loved very much and worried about constantly.

A memorial in her honor will be held on Saturday, April 27, at 2 p.m. in The Gillespie Room in the Carriage Museum at The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook.

Those seeking to honor Liane, can send gifts to the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation (at 1 Old Field Road, Setauket, NY 11733), which maintains the ponds in Setauket, a place where Liane loved to walk and find peace.

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John Kleppe

Prepared by Brian Kleppe

John Robert Kleppe, 82, a Long Island resident for 75 years — residing in Port Jefferson, Centereach and Calverton, peacefully passed away on Feb. 17, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, surrounded by his loved ones. He entered this world on Jan. 23, 1942, in Queens, bringing joy and warmth to those around him.

John was a cherished individual who left an indelible mark on all who crossed his path. His endearing sense of humor and contagious laughter brightened countless lives. 

Throughout his journey, he exemplified selflessness through his dedicated military service, volunteer endeavors and unwavering devotion to his family. The time he spent with his two sons was a source of boundless happiness, and his family held an irreplaceable space in his heart.

He is lovingly remembered by his sons, Brian and John; daughter-in-law, Tracy; grandchild, Braden; sister, Cookie Caraftis; and brother, Theodore. John was preceded in death by his mother, Daisy Moraitis; brother, Nicholas; and father, John.

A celebration of life honoring John was conducted on Thursday, April 25, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Bryant Funeral Home, at 411 Old Town Road, East Setauket. 

Military services paying tribute to his service was held on Friday, April 26, at 11 a.m. at Calverton National Cemetery, at 210 Princeton Blvd., Calverton.

In lieu of floral tributes, contributions can be directed to www.combatwarriorsinc.org (Wyoming Chapter) serving as a poignant gesture to honor John’s memory and perpetuate his spirit of giving.

Richard Lusak. Photo courtesy Randi Dewitt

Prepared by Randi Dewitt

Richard Lusak passed away peacefully on April 7 at the age of 83 in the company of his family just nine days away from his birthday.

He was born on Long Island to Catherine and Nestor Lusak. He attended Seton Hall High School, then received his bachelor’s degree from C.W. Post College and a master’s degree in library science. 

Richard married his beloved wife, Rosalie, in 1963 and moved to Port Jefferson, where they raised their three children. He founded the Comsewogue Public Library in a portable classroom in 1966, and in 1969 led the efforts for a permanent building located at Terryville Road in Port Jefferson Station.

Over the years, Richard oversaw the expansion of the library to what it is now. He was a charter member of the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce and sat on the Town of Brookhaven Youth Bureau board and the Ethics Board. He was also a past president of the Port Jefferson Rotary Club, a trustee on the Mather Memorial Hospital board and a trustee of Island Nursing & Rehab Center board. 

Richard retired in 2002 so he and his wife could enjoy traveling and spending time with their family. He will be dearly missed by this beloved wife of 60 years; his sons, Robert and Russell and daughter, Randi; his grandchildren Alex, Rebecca and Emma Lusak, Matthew, Aaron and Jordyn Lusak, and Lucy and Brady DeWitt.

A memorial service was held on April 13 at Moloney’s Port Jefferson Station Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation is kindly made in Richard’s memory to Shriners Children’s Hospitals at www.shrinerschildrens.org.

Irene Friedman. Photo courtesy Pamela Friedman

Prepared by Pamela Friedman

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Irene Veronica Friedman. Irene passed peacefully in Palm Harbor, Florida on March 5, with her children and grandchildren by her side. 

Irene was predeceased by her husband of 58 years, Ernest L. Friedman. She is survived by her children; daughters Pamela Friedman Horner and Deborah Irving; sons David Friedman and Gregory Friedman; daughter-in-law Virginia Friedman, as well as her grandchildren: Taylor, Thomas, Ashley, Brianna, Cameron, Aaliyah, Cassandra and Gregory. Irene is also survived by her brother, Robert Hilliard, as well as many nieces and nephews.   

Born in Port Jefferson on January 24, 1936, to loving parents Anne and Frederick Hilliard and one of four children, she grew up in East Setauket. Irene graduated from Port Jefferson High School. She also graduated from the City University of New York in Manhattan, earning a teaching degree in Cosmetology, and continued her education, graduating from Valley College of Los Angeles, CA. 

She worked as a stylist with a celebrity clientele before marrying her husband Ernie in 1959. They moved back to her hometown, where she raised four children, and was an integral part of the family retail business. Later in life after moving to Florida, and her children were grown, she received her Real Estate License. 

Then at 55 years old, she went back to school to earn a bachelor’s in nursing from St. Petersburg Junior College and became a practicing Registered Nurse for Hospice of Florida Suncoast. It was perhaps, other than her children, her proudest accomplishment. She was dedicated to caring for terminally ill patients with the kindness, patience and empathetic care that came so naturally to her.  

Irene will be remembered for her dignity, courage, strength, generosity, devotion to her family, and unwavering faith. Her grace, warmth, playful spirit, endless love, and kindness will be deeply missed. She will be forever in our hearts. 

Services will be held at Serenity Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens in Largo, FL on April 6. A Celebration of Life will be held in the summer in Setauket. 

In lieu of flowers, charitable donations in memory of Irene Friedman may be made to Suncoast Hospice Foundation/Empath Health or St. Matthew Church in Largo, FL.