Obituaries

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Randy Burr

Randy D. Burr, of Port Jefferson, died May 12. 

He was the beloved brother of Sandra (John) Hartig and Kevin (Cathy) Burr.

Friends may call at Bryant Funeral Home, 411 Old Town Road, Setauket. Visiting will be Thursday, May 16 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Religious services will be held May 17 at 10 a.m. at Bryant Funeral Home in Setauket with interment following at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Port Jefferson.

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

Tamra Stoller

Tamra C. Stoller, Planned Parenthood leader, school board member and longtime Port Jefferson resident, passed away April 3 and was laid to rest April 5. She was 76.

Teacher, philanthropist, artist and mother, Stoller was an active member of the Port Jefferson community for over 40 years. She died from a form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

From 1988 to 2011, she was a volunteer and leader at Planned Parenthood, serving on the board of directors of the Suffolk County chapter, chairing committees and acting as its first vice chair. She was board president from 1994 to 1996 when the Smithtown health center was purchased. 

She also played a leading role in the formation of Hudson Peconic Planned Parenthood, serving on its board of directors from 1998 to 2004. In 2017, Planned Parenthood honored her many contributions.

She was elected to the Port Jefferson board of education where she served from 1983 to 1989, and she is well-remembered by her son Mitchell and daughter Margot’s classmates at Scraggy Hill as the “singing French teacher.” She started her career as a French teacher in the New York City public schools, later earning a master’s degree in Spanish at Stony Brook. She was also an artist, creating works of fine jewelry for friends, family and for sale for over 30 years.

She is survived by her husband Dr. Gerald Stoller of Port Jefferson, son Mitchell (Eve-Alice), daughter Margot Brown (Bill), her brother David Cohen, sister Carol Levine and five grandchildren.

James Scalfani

James V. Scalfani, of Holtsville passed May 4. He was 67. 

Born in Queens, he was the beloved husband of Lisa and the devoted father of Jim, Elena, Vincent, Adam and Krystle. 

Services were held at Moloney’s Lake Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Lake Ronkonkoma. A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. John’s Lutheran Church with interment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram.

Funeral services were arranged by Moloney’s Funeral Home.

Bryan Thorvaldsen

Bryan M. Thorvaldsen, of Oakdale, passed April 9. He was 28. 

Born in Smithtown, he was the beloved son of Mark and Anita. 

Services were held at Moloney’s Lake Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Lake Ronkonkoma and interment followed at Washington Memorial Park in Mount Sinai.

Funeral services were arranged by Moloney’s Funeral Home.

Phillip Panzarella

Phillip E. Panzarella, of Holtsville, passed April 25. He was 74.

Born in New York, he was the beloved husband of Margaret and devoted father of Phillip and Angela.

Services were held at Moloney’s Lake Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Lake Ronkonkoma. A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Sylvester’s R.C. Church in Medford with interment following at Calverton National Cemetery.

Funeral services were arranged by Moloney’s Funeral Home.

Patricia Mennella

Patricia A. Mennella, of Hauppauge, passed April 23. She was 73. Born in Queens, she was the beloved wife of Anthony and the devoted mother of Christopher and Andrew. 

Services were held at Moloney’s Hauppauge Funeral Home, and funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph’s R.C. Church in Ronkonkoma. She was interred at Calverton National Cemetery.

Funeral services were arranged by Moloney’s Funeral Home.

Roy Gaskill

Roy Edward Gaskill, of Naples, Florida, passed April 17. He was 75. Born in Queens Village, he was the beloved husband of Carol and the devoted father of Christine, Michael
and Nicole.

Services were held at Moloney’s Sinnickson’s Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Center Moriches followed with a private cremation at the Nassau-Suffolk Crematory in Lake Ronkonkoma. 

Funeral services were arranged by Moloney’s Funeral Home.

Walter Langdon

Walter H. Langdon Sr., of Center Moriches, passed April 24. He was 88. Born in Rockville Centre, he was the beloved husband of Anita and the devoted father of Walter, Kelly and Victoria. He was preceded in death by his son, Edward. 

Services were held at Moloney’s Sinnickson’s Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Center Moriches followed with a private cremation at Nassau-Suffolk Crematory in Lake Ronkonkoma.

Funeral services were arranged by Moloney’s Funeral Homes.

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Robert May

Robert Graham May of Rocky Point died April 8 in Florida. He was 85.

May was born Sept. 23, 1933, in Brockton, Massachusetts, and was the son of the late William Richard and the late Mary (Graham) May. He served in the Army from 1956 to 1958 and was later employed by the Syosset Central School District as a teacher. 

May is survived by his beloved wife, Rose Heyman (Savasta) May; loving daughter Elizabeth May-McGrath of Bowdin, Maine; three loving sons Robert Graham May Jr. of Parksville, Arthur George May of Brooklyn, New, and Charles Andrew May of Hampstead, New Hampshire; and his six cherished grandchildren. 

He was preceded in death by his brother William Richard May Jr. of Georgia.  

Celebration of the Mass of Christian burial was held April 13 at St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in Rocky Point with burial following at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coral.

Faith Erbacher

Faith Erbacher of Rocky Point died April 5. She was 74.  

Erbacher was born Jan. 23, 1945, in Brooklyn, and was the daughter of the late Gus and the late Florence (Hazel) Sigelakis. She was the owner operator of the Children’s Garden Day Care in Medford.  

She is survived by her daughter Elizabeth (Richard) Mondello of Sound Beach; sisters Anne Gemellaro of Eastport and Daphne Sigelakis of North Blenheim; and her grandson Noah Mondello of Sound Beach.  

She was preceded in death by her husband Edwin Erbacher and brothers Thomas Sigelakis and Gus Sigelakis Jr.  

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated April 9 at St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in Rocky Point with burial following at Calverton National Cemetery. An online guest book is available at www.rockypointfuneralhome.com.

Keith DeVeau

Keith DeVeau, a lifelong resident of Port Jefferson, died April 8 in Mather Hospital, the same hospital he was born in just 70 years ago. 

DeVeau is survived by his wife of 41 years, Susan; his children Kathryn Lieu and Matthew DeVeau; grandson Charles Lieu and his sister Barbara Slingerland. 

The family said they will miss his voice over holiday meals, over the phone during long rides home, and every day when news is shared and plans are made. 

They said they will miss him when they see a NASCAR race, a muscle car and especially red Corvettes, his laugh when watching old British comedy and when reminiscing with his many cousins over childhood antics. 

They said they will miss his stories of boating, fishing, traveling and his history lessons about old Port Jeff and his family’s ties to early Long Island. They will miss asking for his advice, opinion and knowledge; the moments when a past friend would walk up to him and start chatting about when he worked at USAir or Lilco or security at Port Jeff High School. And they will miss him whenever they hear the phrase, “Mr. Mom” and recall the years he spent home when Matt and Katie were young. He loved and was loved and will always be remembered.

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

Carolyn R. Cuneo

Carolyn R. Cuneo of East Northport died on May 1 at the age of 89. She was the beloved wife of Victor N. Cuneo Jr.; loving mother of Linda Scoggins (James), Victor Cuneo (Suzanne) and Michael Cuneo (Deborah); dear grandmother of Tracey Michael (Chad), Lindsay Masella (Michael),  C.J. and Victoria Cuneo  and Ashley, Casey and Michael Cuneo;  cherished great-grandmother of Shane and Tyler Masella and Aiden and Jarret Michael. A memorial  prayer service was held at Nolan Funeral Home in Northport May 4.

Edward D. Kavanagh

Edward D. Kavanagh of Northport died on April 29 at the age of 81. He was the beloved husband of the late Virginia;  loving father of Tara; and dear brother of Mary Margaret Kavanagh. He was a proud New York City police officer of Emergency Service Unit 1. 

A funeral Mass was celebrated May 4 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport. Ed was  laid to rest with his wife at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in New Castle, Maine, a place that they visited yearly and loved. Arrangements were entrusted to Nolan Funeral Home of Northport.

Jon-Michael Lasher, of Selden, died of brain cancer April 22. He was 45.

Lasher, Connetquot Central School District’s director of fine arts and music, began his tenure in the district, his alma mater, as a band teacher in 2003 and was promoted to director in 2009. Right before his time at Connetquot, he was the band director at Newfield High School. From 1998 to 1999, he was band teacher at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park.

Jon-Michael Lasher

Dean Mittleman, assistant superintendent of Connetquot schools, notified parents and students of Lasher’s passing in a letter posted to the district’s website. He described the director as “the type of educator that instilled a love of learning in so many, and surely has helped to develop some of the world’s emerging talents.”

Mittleman credited Lasher with spearheading many initiatives and encouraging “young artists to pursue their passions.”

“A graduate from Connetquot, Mr. Lasher worked in the district for many years and was known to many as a champion for music and fine arts education,” Mittleman wrote. “As a young student, he possessed a true love of the subject, and therefore it was only a natural progression that he became an educator and worked to help shape the lives of the next generation of student-musicians and artists. His tenacity for a fine arts education resulted in elevating our robust programs to new heights and his unmatched dedication to his colleagues and students is one that stemmed from the heart — the best sign of a great educator.”

Mittleman’s sentiments were echoed by many on the Connetquot High School Band Facebook page, including John Leddy, Stony Brook University Athletic Bands director emeritus.

“Jon was a gifted and dedicated student, an inspirational teacher and an innovative administrator,” Leddy wrote. “He served the music program, a program that thrived under his guidance. He was a leader of consequence and significance. Connetquot is diminished with his passing as it was elevated with his presence. This is a sad day for our community.”

Leddy was a music faculty member when Lasher was a student at Connetquot, and later the two became colleagues. Leddy said in an email, when he retired, Lasher asked him to be an artist in residence for the jazz program at the high school for a week, something that meant a lot to Leddy. 

Lasher grew up in Bohemia and earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from SUNY Potsdam, where he met his wife, Susan. He earned a master’s degree in music performance from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and a certificate in school district administration from Long Island University.

Ten years ago, Lasher began showing neurological signs and was diagnosed with a brain tumor, according to his wife. He was the founder of Tumor Tacklers, which raises funds at the Long Island Brain Tumor Walk. Tumor Tacklers has raised more
than $30,000.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Maggie, 16; son, Thomas, 12; parents John and Lucille Lasher of Bohemia; and siblings Laurie Tramuta of Fredonia, Jacqueline Rizzuto of Bohemia and James Lasher of Hauppauge.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of East Setauket. A funeral Mass was held at St. Margaret of Scotland R.C. Church in Selden April 27. Visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guest book.

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Thomas Darrigan

Dr. Thomas Darrigan

Dr. Thomas Michael Darrigan of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and formerly of Port Jefferson died April 26. He was 83.

Darrigan was born April 30, 1935. He was the loving husband of Elsa, and was a respected oral surgeon in Port Jefferson Station for 33 years. 

He is survived by his children Thomas, Timothy, Terri Maillard, Gina Ingham and Lisa Stern; his siblings Maureen (Robert) Murphy, Diane Webb, Judith Murphy and Gerard (Patricia) Darrigan; beloved six grandchildren; and six nieces and nephews.

Services will be held in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and his final resting place will be at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in New Mexico.

Rose DeRicco

Rose DeRicco

Rose DeRicco of Rocky Point died April 4. She was 79.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Dominick DeRicco.

She is survived by her cherished children Joseph DeRicco, Michael DeRicco and Rich De Ricco; her grandchildren Gina, Mia, Sophia and Thomas; sisters Anna and Phyllis; and her many other family members and friends.

Funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in Rocky Point, and interment followed at Washington Memorial Park Cemetery in Mount Sinai.

James Marion Wilson

James (Jim) Marion Wilson, 65, died in his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 27 with his immediate family surrounding him.

Jim was born Feb. 1, 1954, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Tom and Patty Wilson. Spending his formative years in Warren, Ohio, Jim was the third of eight children. He was a former resident of  East Setauket and worked at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown.

He enjoyed many passions in life, among those being golf, Notre Dame football, fine Irish whiskeys, the family’s late yellow lab Molly and coaching his children in various sports. Above all though, Jim’s greatest passion was his family.

During his time in the Philadelphia area, Jim met his loving wife, Randi, formerly Randi Gaydos. In addition to Randi, Jim is survived by his five children, Jimmy, Erin, Ryan, Kelly and Meghan; his two sons-in-law Chris Koontz and Capt. Michael Falvey; his grandchildren Wilson and Nolan Koontz and Frances Falvey; his seven siblings Thomas, Michael, Mary Pat, Terry, Katherine, Patrick and Kevin; and his mother- and father-in-law Aggie and Don Gaydos.

Visitation was held May 2 at O’Brien-Egeebeen-Gerst Chapel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A Mass of Christian burial will be held May 3 at St. Roberts of Newminster.

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Edith Howard Petersen

Edith Petersen

Edith Petersen of Stony Brook died quietly in her home March 30. Her son Raymond, granddaughter Emily and friend Denise were with her. Edith was 94 years young.

Edith was predeceased by her loving husband Howard M. and is survived by her beloved children Lynn Kauffman (Nicholas), Raymond Petersen, Nancy Petersen (Brian Baker) and Ronald Petersen (Victoria). She is a cherished grandmother to Bonnie, Paul, Meridena, Keara, Kimberly, Emily and the late Christopher. She also leaves behind four great-grandchildren.

Edith grew up in a Scandinavian neighborhood in Brooklyn where she met her husband at a roller skating rink. Living through the Great Depression and World War II had a lasting impression on her, but she never lost her zest for life and enjoyed cooking and baking. She was game for the many family activities initiated by her children and grandchildren, including skiing for the first time at age 50.

When they moved to Stony Brook, she and Howard operated the Petersen Marine Towing and Tugboat Corporation and the Mattituck Marina and Fishing Station, which was later acquired by New York State for a public access marine park.

Edith was a constant reader and always ready for political discussion, especially in support of women’s rights. She was interred next to her husband, a World War II veteran, at the Calverton Cemetery.

In celebration of her life, donations can be made to Visiting Nurse Service, Hospice of Suffolk County and Emily’s List.

 

Constance Kohlmeyer

Constance Kohlmeyer

Constance “Connie” Kohlmeyer, of Port Jefferson, died April 22. She was  82.

Kohlmeyer was born May 26, 1936, and in life her hobbies included birdwatching, gardening and bowling.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Henry.

Left to cherish her memory are her daughters Carolyn and Kristie; son Kenneth; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; along with many other family and friends.

People may call at the Bryant Funeral Home, located at 411 Old Town Road in East Setauket for more information: 631-473-0082.

Visiting hours will be hosted April 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Prayer service will be held that day at 8 p.m. at Bryant Funeral Home. A private cremation will follow.

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

 

John Lopez

John D. Lopez

John D. Lopez of Smithtown died on April 6 at the age of 87. He was the beloved husband of the late Marjorie, loving father of John Jr. (Kathryn) and cherished grandfather of Natasha and Kayla. John was a proud member of the FDNY, where he last served as captain at Engine 62 in the Bronx. John also was a proud Army veteran and served during the Korean War. Services were held April 10.

 

William Michael Amatucci

William Michael Amatucci of East Northport died on April 9 at the age of 64. He was the beloved son of Catherine and the late Silvio, and loving brother of Rick and John. Bill was a longtime maintenance worker at Sunken Meadow State Park. Services were held April 13 with burial at Commack Cemetery.

 

Richard Tartaglia

Richard Tartaglia

Richard Tartaglia of Centerport died on April 14 at the age of 80. He was the beloved husband of Joan; loving father of Thomas (Suzanne), Debra Caporusso (Philip), Joanne Brieva (Art) and the late Elizabeth; cherished grandfather of Olivia and Jack Tartaglia, Philip and Richard Caporusso and Nicole and Frank Brieva; dear brother of Robert (Barbara) and brother-in-law of Jane Berman (Andy); and his beloved niece and nephews. Services were held April 24 with burial at St. John of God Cemetery in Central Islip.

 

Rose Mary Prestia

Rose Mary Prestia

Rose Mary Prestia of Kew Gardens died on March 31 at the age of 93. She was loved by her many nieces and nephews. Services were held April 3 at Nolan Funeral Home in Northport with a funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Kings Park. Burial followed at St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village.

 

Deborah Pecchia

Deborah Pecchia

Deborah Pecchia of East Northport died on March 28. She was 63 years old. Loving wife of Anthony. Caring mother of Lauren Pesce (Alphonse), Stephen (Amy)and Dan. Fond grandma “Bubba” of Stefano, Giuliana, Gabriella, Mikaela, Thomas and Brandon. Beloved daughter of Harriet and the late Henry Yost. Caring sister of Kenneth Yost and Cathy Goldfarb. Cremation was private.

 

Mark Schneider

Mark Schneider

Mark Schneider of Northport died on April 1. Born in 1958, he was the loving and devoted son of Mary Anne and the late Deacon Andrew and dear brother of the late Kenneth. Services were held April 6 at St. Philip Neri Church in Northport. Interment followed at the parish cemetery. Donations to the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry, 330 Main Street, Northport, NY 11768, in Mark’s memory, would be appreciated.

 

Stephen Scola

Stephen Scola

Stephen Scola of Fort Salonga died peacefully at age 84 on March 30. He was the devoted husband of Amanda; loving father of John (Stephanie)and Loren Kobus (Theodore); proud and caring grandfather of Owen, Greta, Luca, Audra, Ethan and Theo; and fond brother of Peter.

Stephen loved his chosen professional path as an accomplished orthodontist. After 39 years in practice, he continued working as an attending professor at St. Barnabas University in the Bronx. He truly loved working with the students and sharing his experience and love for orthodontics, which he did until his passing.

Stephen loved vacationing with family, biking, kayaking, swimming and experiencing all that New York City has to offer with his wife, Amanda. He was a true gentleman and loved talking about the economy/financial markets and family.

Services were held April 4 with interment of ashes at Locust Valley Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to MDS Foundation or Huntington YMCA in his memory would be appreciated.

 

Joseph Krupowicz

Joseph J. Krupowicz

Joseph J. Krupowicz of Centerport died on April 2 at 81 years of age. Retired from the FDNY, he was the loving father of son Joseph Jr. and daugher, the late JoAnn Schafer (Ken); beloved grandfather of Gina Krupowicz and Andrew Schafer; dear brother of Barry (Theresa), Fred (Joann), Vivian, and the late Loretta Janus. Joseph was also loved by his many nieces and nephews. A memorial Mass at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church was held on April 16. Interment of ashes followed at Pinelawn Memorial Park.

 

Gayle Tugendaft

Gayle Tugendhaft

Gayle Tugendhaft of Huntington Station died on April 5 at 82 years of age. She was the beloved mother of Ann (Vincent) Gagliano, Michael (Mary) Margulies, Lynn (Michael) Meyer, Joan (Bill) Muller and Margie (Michael) Bachner; loving grandmother of Eli, Gabriella, Julianna, Michael, Naomi, Olivia, Travis, Lowell, Ashley, Jillian, Stefan, Jenny, Ali and Brianna. Cherished great-grandmother of nine. Memorial services were held at Nolan Funeral Home in Northport on April 11.

 

Ellen Duffy

Ellen Regina Duffy

Ellen R. Duffy of Centerport died on Easter Sunday, April 21 at 81 years of age. She was the beloved wife of Gene; loving mother of Stacy Dougal (Cliff), Thomas, Jennifer Blue (Craig) and Eileen Pitfick; cherished grandmother of Jake and Sean Dougal, Connor and Waylon Blue and John, Thomas and Kate Pitfick; and dear sister of Jean Schneider. A funeral Mass will be held April 25 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport with burial to follow at Northport Rural Cemetery. Donations to Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Ellen’s memory would be appreciated.

 

Joseph Riccobono

Joseph Riccobono

Joseph Robert Riccobano, known as “Joe R.,” of East Northport died on March 31 at 68 years of age. He was the loving husband of Joan M. Convery and the late Donna Marie Riccobono; beloved father of Loretta (Dan) Hickman and Jodie (Bryan) Boccard; cherished grandfather of Aidan Daniel Hickman, Austin Joseph Hickman, Isla Donna Boccard and Leo Andrew Boccard; dear brother of the late Angela Wills; fond brother-in-law of Katie Gelormino, John Convery, Timothy Convery, Patrick Convery, Joni Michelis, Linda Liebl; and son-in-law of Joan B. Farrell. A funeral Mass was held on April 5 at St. Philip Neri Church with burial at Northport Rural Cemetery.

Times Beacon Record News Media publishes free obituaries as a service to our readers. Announcements may be emailed to [email protected] For further information, please call 631-751-7744, ext. 138.

Richard Dormer served the people of Suffolk County for for 38 years. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

By Donna Deedy

Former Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer died at age 79 Sunday, April 21 after a three-year battle with cancer. 

Dormer, an Irish immigrant, became a police officer in 1963 and was among the first 800 officers in the department’s history. He climbed the department’s ranks and retired after 30 years of service as chief. Dormer was then appointed in 2004 Suffolk County Police Commissioner and served in that post until he retired in 2011. 

“Commissioner Dormer dedicated his life to public service, and he should be remembered for his commitment to public safety,” said current Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart. “I extend my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time to his family, including his children, two of whom are continuing his legacy as members of the Suffolk County Police Department, and to the men and women in the department who are mourning his loss.”

While serving as commissioner, Dormer oversaw the department’s anti-gang policies and was involved in investigating a string of unsolved homicides, after the dismembered bodies of 10 people were found in bushes near Gilgo Beach. In 2006, Dormer implemented a novel approach to disposing of its confiscated gun arsenal: the department shredded the firearms it collected.  

“They’re going to go in a shredder and never harm another person in Suffolk County again,” he said after highlighting the new policy as a cost saving measure at a press conference. The department’s old system required transporting twice a year its seized weapons to a foundry in Pennsylvania, where the firearms were melted down. 

“During the tenure of former Commissioner Dormer, our department made great advances, including the creation of our Homeland Security Bureau, attaining New York State accreditation and incorporating modern concepts to respond to active shooter incidents,” said Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron.   

Dormer is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughters Kathleen Brady and Bridget Dormer; sons Michael, John and Richard Dormer; eight grandchildren; and siblings Frankie, Bridget and Maura. 

Visitations will be held at Nolan Funeral Home, at 5 Laurel Ave., Northport, Thursday and Friday, April 25 and 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Mass is Saturday, April 27 at 9:15 a.m., at St. Philip Neri Church, 344 Main St., Northport.  In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to www.giving.mountsinai.org.  

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By Donna Deedy

It was a life well-lived. A first-generation American, the child of Italian immigrants, born during the Great Depression and dedicated to public service.

“At the end of the day, I’ve done something for people. And that’s the guiding principle of my life,” said former Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio in a 2015 interview with The Times of Smithtown. 

“At the end of the day, I’ve done something for people. And that’s the guiding principle of my life.”

— Patrick Vecchio

Patrick Vecchio died Sunday, April 7, at age 88. For a record 40 years — nearly half of his lifetime — he held the Town of Smithtown’s highest office. During his tenure, seven different U.S. presidents held office, while the residents of Smithtown re-elected the same man to represent them again and again for 13 terms.

Roughly half of his years in office, he served as a Democrat, the other half a Republican. Today, people in both parties recognize his distinct leadership qualities. In fact, his portrait hangs in the Town of Smithtown Town Hall, and the building itself bears his name. The gesture, announced while Vecchio was still in office during a March 3, 2015 board meeting, surprised Vecchio and left him humbled and teary-eyed.

During the 2015 town hall dedication ceremony, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) made a point to say that Vecchio had served Smithtown the right way. At the same event, New York State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) was equally complimentary.

“He’s cheap, and he wears it like a badge of honor,” he said. “He never forgot, never forgets and never will forget where the money is coming from.”

Vecchio was legendary for his fiscal restraint. Town Historian Brad Harris said with a laugh that it’s more apt to call him “tight.” But Vecchio’s 40-year Smithtown legacy is rich and storied on a range of topics from open government policies to environmental conservation.

Under his leadership, Smithtown earned national recognition for many environmental and clean energy projects. The town pioneered a development rights program that enabled — at no cost to taxpayers — the preservation of important land such as the historic Harned Saw Mill site in Commack and the Saam wetlands at the headwaters of the Nissequoque River. Thanks to Vecchio, Smithtown was the first community in the nation to voluntarily convert its diesel-powered fleet of refuse trucks to run on compressed natural gas, which saved money and reduced noise and
air pollution.

“I’ve been here for 35 years; the Town of Smithtown never had a better friend than Pat Vecchio.”

— Russell Barnett

Smithtown was also an early adopter of wind generators and solar panels. Under Vecchio, the state awarded Smithtown in 2016 a $250,000 clean energy grant. Thanks to that award, solar electric projects are still underway at Smithtown Landing Country Club and town hall.

“I’ve been here for 35 years; the Town of Smithtown never had a better friend than Pat Vecchio,” said Russell Barnett, the Smithtown environmental protection director.

The community regarded Vecchio as a man with conviction. And people, whether they agreed with his position or not, said that they respected his opinion.

“He’s a feisty guy … ready to take on an issue or political opponent,” said Harris, after the town hall dedication ceremony. “He does battle for the people of Smithtown.”

People consistently note the leader’s commitment to the local community.

Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said that he recognized Vecchio as a true public servant. “In his historic time in office, he always did what he thought was best for residents … that was always at the forefront of his every decision,” he said.

December 12, 2017 was Vecchio’s last board meeting as Smithtown supervisor. The occasion drew a crowd that filled the board room and trailed through the hallways and down staircases. People bid farewell and thanked the supervisor for implementing his vision on their behalf. Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) noted during the tribute that Vecchio was leaving Smithtown with a budgetary surplus rather than debt.

“This town is in such good financial shape, it is all because of you,” Trotta said. “You should be a model for every other town in the nation, the state and certainly the county.”

Photo by Phil Corso
Patrick Vecchio, the longest-running supervisor for the Town of Smithtown, died on April 6 at the age of 88. The former supervisor served from 1977 until 2017. Funeral services will be held this week.

By Donna Deedy

This photo of Patrick Vecchio hangs in the Smithtown Town Hall’s boardroom

It was a life well lived. A first-generation American, the child of Italian immigrants, born during the Great Depression and dedicated to public service.

“At the end of the day, I’ve done something for people. And that’s the guiding principle of my life,” said former Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio in a 2015 interview with The Times of Smithtown. 

Patrick Vecchio died Sunday, April 7, at age 88. For a record 40 years — nearly half of his lifetime — he held the Town of Smithtown’s highest office. During his tenure, seven different presidents held office, while the residents of Smithtown reelected the same man to represent them again and again for 13 terms.

………………

December 12, 2017, was Vecchio’s last board meeting as Smithtown supervisor. The occasion drew a crowd that filled the board room and trailed through the hallways and down staircases. People bid farewell and thanked the supervisor for implementing his vision on their behalf. Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) noted during the tribute that Vecchio was leaving Smithtown with a budgetary surplus rather than debt.

“This town is in such good financial shape, it is all because of you,” Trotta said. “You should be a model for every other town in the country, the nation, the state and certainly the county.”

Read the full article and view photos that commemorate some of the former Supervisor’s local accomplishments in this week’s paper and on our website on April 11.

 

A photo of Jacob Donaldson from his baseball days. Photo from Victoria Espinoza

By Victoria Espinoza

Jacob Donaldson died this past weekend, leaving an incredibly rich legacy filled with public service and family memories. 

A Huntington Station resident, Donaldson, 90, served as a staff sergeant in the Army during the Korean War, and later as a fireman for the New York City Fire Department. He left his mark in other significant areas as well, including on the baseball diamond, getting signed by the Boston Red Sox organization straight out of high school at age 16 and raising nine children in Huntington with his wife Grace.

Known by most as Jake, Donaldson was born Monday, October 1, 1928 on a crisp, fall Brooklyn day. His parents, George and Helen, raised him and his younger brother George in the borough until Donaldson turned 16 and left Newtown High School in his hometown and was signed as an outfielder to the Milford Red Sox, a Boston Red Sox minor league affiliate which played in Delaware. 

In Donaldson’s first season in 1946 he hit .316 with 14 home runs in 116 games. For the next seven years he played for six other minor league teams, including several seasons with the Albany Senators. During his time on the ball field Donaldson rubbed shoulders with many prolific baseball players, including one hall of famer. 

Left fielder and Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame inductee Ted Williams had to borrow Donaldson’s glove once, after someone broke into the locker room and stole Williams’. Donaldson faced off against pitcher Don Newcombe when he was still in the minor leagues. 

After Newcombe struck Donaldson with one of his pitches, Donaldson told him to meet in the tunnel after the game. When they did, Newcombe said the only reason he hit him was because he was unable to get him out and asked to take the outfielder out for a beer, according to Donaldson.

While Donaldson was excelling on the baseball diamond, he could have fielded his own team at home. He and Grace first welcomed son Jim in 1954, followed by Bob, Kathy, Terry, Patty, Mary, Eileen, John and Joe completing the family of 11 in 1967. The family lived in Huntington Station where the children attended school in both the South Huntington district and Holy Family. 

Donaldson’s baseball career was interrupted after playing 113 games in 1950. He was drafted into the Army during the Korean War, departing in October 1950. He eventually rose to the rank of staff sergeant.

In 1955, the father of nine joined the FDNY as a firefighter. He worked as a motor pump operator and chief’s driver in his nearly 30-year career with the department, mostly working at Engine 3 in Chelsea. He was recognized for his bravery on multiple occasions by the fire department and once appeared on the cover of the New York Daily News on Nov. 23, 1961 following an incident in which a five-alarm blaze did damage to a building in Times Square. On the cover, he is pictured emerging from the building after battling a fire that claimed the lives of two fellow firefighters.

Even though his baseball career came to an end, Donaldson’s days on the field were not over. His daughter Terry said one of her favorite memories was attending an Albany Senators Old Timers Nostalgia reunion game at Hawkins Stadium in the summer of 1985. 

“It was so nice to see the old timers honored and it made my dad’s baseball days come to life for me!” she said. 

When his wife Grace suffered from a stroke in 1997, she was confined to a wheelchair and could no longer use one of her arms. Donaldson ensured his wife was taken care of and stayed right by her side until she died in 2017.

Donaldson was the proud grandfather to 11, and great grandfather to six. He loved spending time with his grandkids, whether it was sharing the sport he loved with them and teaching them how to throw a ball, or playing in the family’s beloved backyard and inground pool. Andrew Mayrick, one of Donaldson’s grandsons, said when he went to the local pub that his grandpa had frequented earlier this week, several people approached him to talk about how much they enjoyed getting to know his grandfather.

“There were a ton of people I had never met who were all upset, and the owner John said, ‘Jake was like a grandfather to everyone,’” Mayrick said. “He loved everyone he met and lived a life worth talking about, so much that strangers would just sit down and love listening to him.” 

Donaldson will be remembered by many as a larger than life personality, a friend to all who knew him, and someone who truly got the most out of life.

“Grandpa Jake had his own special language — a language of love reserved only for our family,” said granddaughter Mary Grace Donaldson. “He let us know ‘what a crew’ we were and had a number of other one-liners that will live on for years to come.”

Visitation will be held at M.A. Connell Funeral Home, 934 New York Ave., Huntington Station on Thursday, March 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral service will be held Friday evening at the funeral home. Interment will be at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.

John Edward Damianos died unexpectedly Feb. 25 in his home. Photo from Damianos Realty Group LLC

Attorney, real estate developer and longtime Three Village resident John Damianos was laid to rest March 4.

Damianos died unexpectedly in his Old Field home Feb. 25. The 67-year-old was the principal and legal counsel of Smithtown-based Damianos Realty Group LLC and a familiar face in the town.

State Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), who has known Damianos and his family for several years, described him as a cheerful, upbeat and sharp man. The assemblyman said he would always pick Damianos’ brain about local real estate when he saw him at events.

“He was just an all-around good guy,” Fitzpatrick said.

Christine Mazelis, owner of Niche Boutique in St. James and Mazelis Landscape Contracting Corp., met Damianos due to both of their families’ work with the Smithtown Historical Society and said he seemed to have a passion for everything, especially his cars.

“I always saw him as someone who lived his life with purpose,” Mazelis said. “Always giving back to our community.”

Priya Kapoor, executive director of the Smithtown Historical Society, said the Damianos family members are big supporters of the society’s annual Heritage Ball and Heritage Country Fair. John Damianos recently met with Kapoor to help with the landscaping of the historical society’s property, a project that he was not able to see transpire due to his passing.

“He wanted to do good for the community and wanted to beautify the property,” Kapoor said.

Rev. Demetrios Calogredes (Father Jim), pastor of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson, said Damianos was a devout Greek Orthodox Christian who served on the church’s parish council for many years.

“He would read with great care the Holy Bible every day and derive inspiration from the Holy Scriptures,” Calogredes said. “John also was a great philanthropist, helping people in need and supporting the local soup kitchens with food and contributions.”

Calogredes said Damianos was an active member of Port Jefferson American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association. The organization was formed in 1922 to help Greek immigrants assimilate into the American way of life and be successful while fighting discrimination.

“John will truly be missed by all our parishioners and friends who loved and admired him,” Calogredes said. “May his soul rest in peace and may others follow his sterling example.”

In addition to his work with the church, Damianos was involved with Middle Country Coalition for Smart Growth, Building Owners’ and Managers’ Association Long Island and the Real Estate Institute. Damianos was a recipient of the Association for a Better Long Island Developer of the Year Award in 2019 along with the Long Island Business News Redevelopment of the Year Award.

According to his family, Damianos quietly supported worthy causes and delivered food parcels to those in need on behalf of City on a Hill Community Church in Middle Island. He also loved working in his yard and on his vintage Porsche.

Damianos was born Dec. 19, 1951, in Plattsburgh to Dr. Xenophon and Virginia Damianos and was raised in Stony Brook with his five brothers and sisters. A member of the Suffolk County Bar Association since 1982, he was a graduate of The Stony Brook School and Long Island University. He earned a juris doctor from the California Western School of Law.

Damianos is survived by his two children, Elexis Zoe Damianos, Esq. and John James Damianos; his former wife and good friend Evonne Damianos; beloved brothers X. Cristofer Damianos (Helayne), Pelops Damianos (Marilyn); and sisters Bonnie Lee Rampone (Chuck), Elektra Gaebelein (Thad) and Beth Ann Damianos.

Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Bryant Funeral Home of East Setauket. A funeral service was held March 4 at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption and interment followed at St. James Episcopal Church Churchyard in St. James.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Monastery of St. Dionysios at 481 N. Country Road, St. James, NY 11780; City on a Hill Community Church at 629 Middle Country Road, Middle Island, NY, 11953; or Bideawee Animal Rescue at 118 Old Country Road, Westhampton, NY 11977.