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Naomi Solo

John Lutterbie and Naomi Solo with the sign designating Port Jefferson as a ‘green’ village.

By Naomi Solo

The Port Jefferson High School Environmental Club sells reusable water bottles at a previous Go Green event.
The Port Jefferson High School Environmental Club sells reusable water bottles at a previous Go Green event.

A decade ago Ann Kaplan and John Lutterbie from the Stony Brook University Humanities Institute formed a university community group in order to inspire positive thinking about the environment. When the group wanted to choose a target area to begin its work, the Village of Port Jefferson was selected. The Humanities Institute joined forces with the local government and Port Jefferson schools to make the village a model for environmental awareness.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, the community is invited to to learn more about these joint efforts at the 9th Annual Go Green Information Fair. This year the free event will be held in the cafeteria of the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School at 350 Old Post Road in Port Jefferson from noon to 3 p.m. Creative projects initiated by local students will be the highlight of the day along with musical presentations by the elementary school chorus and a special musical performance by high school student Cole Fortier.

Come learn about Port Jefferson High School’s new Green Roof project, located on the roof of the boy’s locker room. A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. Sierra Club members will be on hand with information on where to hike and explore on Long Island, and members from the Long Island Native Plant Initiative will demonstrate the many ways to cultivate a garden using indigenous plants. A fine example of this is the native plant garden Go Green, LINPI and Port Jefferson Village have developed on the green triangle at the intersection of Spring and High Streets.

An environmental-themed student art show, organized by Lynn Edsall, chairperson of the high school art department, will also be on view to add to the richness of the day and don’t forget to stop by the “Green Elephant” table where, for no money, you can be part of yet another recycle team by taking home whatever items you wish. You may also contribute items while cleaning your closets and cabinets. Call Barbara at 631-642-3048. Please no clothes, linen, electronics, or books.

For further information, call 631-473-3549.

Chris Ryon photo from Naomi Solo

By Naomi Solo

Chris Ryon has officially been appointed Village Historian for the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson. Chris brings to this position a very interesting historical story. His parents were introduced to one another by Rob Sisler who was the village’s first historian. At the time Chris’ father had been teaching in Port Jefferson High School along with Rob. Chris’ mother Theora Newcomb was a personal family friend. Theora’s father and his brother Spurge owned the very well known Newcomb Brothers Automobile dealership located where the present ferry dock is.

Back in the 1980s I was fortunate to interview Andrew Newcomb, Chris’ grandfather. I was doing research on the building of the schooner Palestine. I got some of my earliest history lessons of the village from him.

Chris’ interest in our local history comes naturally to him because he was raised in a family where history was the conversation during dinner. Chris has for several years been the historian for the Village of Poquott. His appointment to this additional position comes at a time when he has just retired from a career in teaching and is excited about the possibilities of expanding and enriching the Archive of Port Jefferson Village.

To that purpose he cordially invites any residents in the area to stop by the Archive room in the Port Jefferson Village Center on Saturdays or Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and share stories and/or photos with him.  He fully realizes that the enrichment of the Archive room necessitates villagers’ participation and he is eager to talk to many of you.    

Chris succeeds Ken Brady who held the position and was largely responsible for the development and rich holdings that the Archive room now possesses. Ken welcomed one and all from Port Jeff and surrounding communities to drop in and visit to share old photos and to chat. Chris wants to follow that same pattern.  Preceding Ken Brady in that position was Rob Sisler, and it was Rob’s idea that the Village Center have a Mezzanine/Gallery. Because of this we are able to have continuing art and historical exhibits. It is through Rob’s efforts that two of our historic buildings were moved and restored and have become the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce office and the Zinna house at West Broadway.

  In chatting with Chris, he said that history exists in the rich memories of the families living in and around the village. For the 150th anniversary of Cedar Hill Cemetery Chris worked on the photo exhibit. Recently my husband has passed away and when I go up to Cedar Hill I see so many of the local family names. I learned most of their histories  from Ken and Chris.

A historian’s job goes beyond simple knowledge and is enriched by the contributions including stories and photos that provide a more complete picture. The job of a historian is to be the gatherer of information where people can come and share their stories.

Those wishing to speak with Chris are welcome to call 631-802-2165 and/or email him at [email protected].

Dick Solo photo from Naomi Solo

Richard Solo, known as Dick or Doc to those he loved, died on Nov. 27 at age 79, after a four-year struggle with cancer.

Solo was the beloved husband of Nomi for 56 years; father of David, Julie and Michael (Susan); and brother of Marge Seltzer.

Friends remember Solo walking around in nature, Stony Brook University, his beloved Port Jefferson or other parts of the world, camera in hand, ready to photograph, in his special way, the world around him. He loved his family, students, nature, the Red Sox and a good bowl of  chili.

Solo had a joyous and productive and giving life. From his early days in Brookline High in Massachusetts to his years earning a bachelor’s at MIT and his Ph.D in chemistry from Berkeley, he was involved with student life, sports, and music.

When he moved to Port Jefferson in 1970, he became involved in the village and was an integral part in the development and building of the Village Center.

Solo came to the SBU on its opening day in August 1962, after a research stint at Aerospace in Los Angeles. Since that time, he had dedicated his heart and soul to it, beginning as an assistant chemistry professor. He set up a first-rate lab, but his main love was the student body. For 10 years, he taught chemistry classes of 110 to 150 students, including an introductory seminar on science and ethics before it was fashionable. The blend of teaching and research was a source of excitement, fun and satisfaction, and he was a first-rate teacher and communicator.

He became an integral part of student affairs, getting involved in counseling and helping to create an orientation course for incoming freshmen, ultimately developing an orientation program that was lauded throughout the state. He affected the lives of thousands of students, leading to his role as director of new student orientation, one of the first contacts an incoming student had with the university after admission. To the end, students who went through the program visited and corresponded with Solo and have used it as an example of how it made them grow as individuals.

Any student or faculty member who worked with Solo’s orientation program would agree that the spirit of genuine empathy is what made all the difference in the effectiveness of the program. Solo, along with his carefully chosen administrative assistants, molded freshmen and transfer orientations each year to the changing needs of incoming students. The process went beyond just registering for classes — there were social activities and workshops that included food, films, sports and a family-like spirit. His goal was to reach the attendees, to make a difference in their lives by caring about and understanding them.

His service to the SBU community spans half a century, during which Solo served on and chaired numerous committees and boards, including the University Senate, the first Student Affairs Affirmative Action Committee, the presidential search that chose Jack Marburger, the president’s advisory board on the disabled, and the Faculty Student Association. He was the unofficial photographer of Stony Brook history in the making.

Solo cared about every facet of the campus and students, attending many athletic events each season. After he semi-retired, he went back to teaching chemistry and did student advising at both summer and winter orientation programs.

Rabbi Joseph Topek from the university described Solo as a pioneer. He introduced many new ideas that have become university tradition — it was Solo who first thought of the Roth Pond Regatta.

A memorial visitation will be held on Wednesday at Bryant Funeral Home in East Setauket, from 4 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Good Shepherd Hospice or to the Staller Center for the Arts via the Stony Brook Foundation.