Smithtown dedicates tree to beloved employee

Smithtown dedicates tree to beloved employee

Thomas Akerberg’s family, above, was on hand for the planting of a tree in his honor. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The Town of Smithtown’s Department of Environment & Waterways used Arbor Day to pay tribute to a beloved town worker.

A ceremonial tree planting was held April 30 on the town’s Public Safety Department grounds to pay tribute to deceased bay constable Thomas Akerberg. Each year, the E&W department hosts a ceremonial tree planting in celebration of Arbor Day. This year marked the second year in a row that a tree has been dedicated to a town employee. Last year urban forester James Cordray was remembered.

Joining Akerberg’s family members and town employees were joined by town councilmembers Tom Lohmann (R) and Lisa Inzerillo (R) and state Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James).

Lohmann read a proclamation from Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) who was unable to attend the event due to a prior commitment. The councilman described Akerberg as a pratical joker.

“Having known Tom for many years myself personally, he was just one of those types of  individuals you never saw without a smile on his face,” Lohmann said.

Inzerillo said Akerberg had a gift to make people laugh so hard that they couldn’t stop.

“There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t make my day, especially on those days I needed it,” she said. “He was just always there without even realizing it. He just naturally knew how to cheer people up.”

Akerberg, who died Feb. 2, was a Smithtown native and 18-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department. For more than two decades, he was a town employee. He started his career in Smithtown in the Department of Public Safety as a park attendant and worked his way up to dispatcher. He attended the basic course for peace officers at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department training academy and later was assigned to Smithtown’s Waterways & Navigation Division as bay constable.

At the end of the ceremony, family and town employees took part in planting a galaxy magnolia tree toward the front of the grounds.  The tree will grow 30 to 40 feet high and each spring will bloom pink flowers.