Tags Posts tagged with "Obituary"

Obituary

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Joan Boyd

Joan H. Boyd, of Wilmington, North Carolina, died Jan. 22 at Liberty Commons Nursing Center. She was 90.

She was born in West Haven, Connecticut, on March 15, 1929, and was the daughter of the late Walter Charles Hoffmann and Janet Blenner Hoffmann.

She was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington. She was a volunteer with The Literacy Council, The Red Cross and at First Presbyterian. Boyd loved to cook, having been the author of four cookbooks, knitting hats for preemies, sailing, reading and swimming. She loved volunteering at The New Hanover County Library. 

She is survived by her husband, James Boyd of Wilmington, North Carolina; three children, daughter, Janice (Peter Purcell) of Milford, Connecticut, son, James (Denise) of Port Jefferson and daughter, Jocelyn (David Pinson) of Wilmington, North Carolina; nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren; and one brother, Charles Hoffmann of Thomasville, North Carolina.

A memorial service was held Jan. 26 at First Presbyterian Church
in Wilmington. 

Memorials may be made to The American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37839, Boone, IA
50037-0839.

Condolences may be shared at www.andrewsmortuary.com.

Joan Schiemel

Joan Marie Schiemel, of Stony Brook, died Nov. 13. She was 83.

Schiemel was born June 19, 1936, the daughter of Florence and Frank Schiemel. She was a local resident for the past 20 years, and formerly of Huntington Station.  

She was a member of the Air Force Association and a member of the Choir at the Setauket Presbyterian Church. She enjoyed reading, math and automobiles, especially her Corvette. She worked as an aerospace engineer and mathematician at Fairchild Republic and later at Northrop Grumman. She was a member of the team that designed the A-10 Aircraft. She graduated from Concordia College and Queens College and after she received a master’s degree from C.W. Post.   

She is survived by her brother Ray; nieces Robin and Julia; and nephews Andrew and Robert.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Robert.

Services were held at the Bryant Funeral Home on Nov. 20. Interment was at the Northport Rural Cemetery.

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

Contributions made to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in her memory would be appreciated.

Richard A. DeBree

Richard A. DeBree, 73, a longtime Stony Brook resident, died unexpectedly Dec. 9.

Rich was born and raised in New Jersey. He earned his degree in business administration from Monmouth University. He began his career with Humble, Esq., was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970. Upon completion of his service, he rejoined the then Exxon Corporation where he would work in various sales, marketing and management roles for the next 38 years.

Rich had been a Little League coach and was a member of the Mill Pond Fishing Club and enjoyed fishing, golfing, traveling and gardening. During the last few years, he planted large sunflowers each spring for all to enjoy as they walked or passed by into Stony Brook Village. He advocated community service as a volunteer at his church food pantry each week and assisted with plantings at his church, historic gardens of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization and Heritage Park in Mount Sinai.

He is survived by his loving wife, Barbara; brother, Paul; sons Mike (Angie) and Justin (Brittany); stepdaughter, Kathleen (Scott); and five grandchildren Tristan, Sebastian, Legend, Jack and Kate. 

Rose M. Boccia

Rose M. Boccia, of Northport, died Jan. 2.

Beloved wife of the late Fred, she was also the loving mother of Fred (Elaine), Anthony (Lisa) and Joseph (Kristine); cherished grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of six.

Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Nolan Funeral Home. A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Philip Neri R.C. Church and interment followed at St. Philip Neri Cemetery in East Northport. 

Donations to the VNS Hospice of Suffolk, 505 Main St., Northport, NY 11768 in her memory, would be appreciated.

William J. Cicio

William J. Cicio, of Northport and formerly of  Setauket, died Jan. 23 at 89 years of age. 

He was the loving husband of the late Helen,  beloved father of Laura (Kevin) Cicio-Healion and William (Cristina) Cicio. He was also the cherished grandfather of Jessica (Chris) DiNapoli, Cammi Healion, James Healion, the late William Cicio, Alyssa Cicio and Ryan Cicio; and dear great-grandfather of Aiden, Landon and Haileigh.

Visitation was held at Nolan Funeral Home, Northport, with full U.S. Marine Corps military honors. Cremation was private.

In lieu of flowers, donations in William’s memory may be made to VNS Hospice of Suffolk, 505 Main St., Northport, NY 11768.

Kenneth J. Naughton

Kenneth J. Naughton, of Smithtown and formerly of Northport, died suddenly Dec. 30, at 60 years of age.

Ken was a graduate of Northport High School, class of 1977, and Georgia Southern, class of 1986. He was an avid baseball player and fan and a true outdoorsman.

He was the beloved husband of In-Sun (Mina) and loving father of James. He was also the dear son of the late James and the late Grace Naughton; beloved brother of Kathleen (Robert) Donovan and Leanne (Jeffrey) Cole; and caring uncle of Zachary, Christopher and Jack. 

A graveside service was held Jan. 7 at Trinity Cemetery, Rainbow Lane, Amityville.

Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania is also where Kobe Bryant went to school. Photo from Google Maps

By Benji Dunaief

People sometimes ask, “Where did you grow up?”

I grew up in Lower Merion, an unassuming quiet suburb about 20-30 minutes outside of Philadelphia. I attended the local public schools, including Lower Merion High School, or just “LM” for short. Most would probably agree that LM is an above average public school, but they’d also probably agree that it’s not particularly extraordinary, except for one reason. Kobe Bryant went to Lower Merion High School.

Benji Dunaief

My freshman year coincided with the opening of LM’s brand new school building. The old building had been there for over 100 years, and the district had decided to start anew. On my first tour of the new school when I was still an eighth grader, one feature stood out to me above the rest – the soon-to-be-named Kobe Bryant Gymnasium. The gym, paid for in part by a substantial donation from Kobe, was to be a testament to the storied history of Lower Merion sports over the century since the school’s founding.

Of course, that history is heavily punctuated by Bryant’s own legacy. The perimeter of the gym is plastered with murals of Kobe in LM jerseys, his name is scrawled in massive cursive over the entrance and a glass case housing memorabilia from Kobe’s LM career is located just outside the gym. A very well-vacuumed LM embroidered rug was placed at the foot of the case, and my friends and I used to joke that its real purpose was for students to pay respects by bowing down to the “Kobe shrine.”

A few months into my freshman year, LM planned a gym dedication ceremony for the ages. The ceremony was scheduled to coincide with a matchup between the Lakers and the Sixers in Philly, so that Kobe would already be in town. The black-tie event featured a performance from popular local rapper Chiddy Bang, and a myriad of celebrities were in attendance, including several members of the Philadelphia Phillies who showed up to support Kobe, and nearly the entire Lakers team came too. Tickets for students and community members were in the hundreds of dollars.

I’m not going to lie, when I first saw everything, I thought it was way over the top. I thought he was just another celebrity personality in the middle of a big publicity stunt. But then I heard the stories from old teachers who had taught him way back when. Stories about how friendly and eager he was to learn — he still kept in touch with his English teacher. Stories from former classmates and students who had seen him in the halls — always smiling and laughing — or had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him — he always made time to talk with alumn. Then I joined the basketball team, the Aces, (to film games and create video highlights and definitely NOT to play) and saw how he still guided and influenced that team 18 years after he took his last fadeaway in the maroon and white. He aided the team both physically, by gifting crates upon crates of his branded warm-up attire, jackets, and sneakers (even creating special “Aces Edition” Kobe’s), and spiritually, by frequently tweeting to support the Aces and inviting them to his basketball camps. His relationship with head coach Gregg Downer remained strong, and the two frequently talked. Kobe called Downer the most influential coach in his entire career. Studying Downer’s gritty, give-everything-you-got coaching philosophy, it’s not hard to see that helping to shape the scrappy and relentless style of play Kobe became famous for.

Most high schools have notable alumni. For example, Cheltenham High School, which is just on the other side of town, has an insane number of famous alumni, including Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, 15-time Grammy Award winner Michael Brecker, and rapper Lil Dicky. But you would probably not have first associated those people with Cheltenham. When I’m out somewhere wearing Lower Merion apparel, whether in Europe, Canada, Chicago or Los Angeles, people will recognize the name, and it’s usually followed by a “huh, Kobe.”

Kobe Bryant isn’t just an alum of Lower Merion. Kobe Bryant took an active role in shaping the culture and the ideals of Lower Merion and he simultaneously allowed himself to become shaped by it, to the point where there was hardly a way to separate one from the other. Kobe Bryant made Lower Merion his own.

When people ask me “Where did you grow up?” I say, “Lower Merion, I went to Kobe Bryant’s high school.”

Benji Dunaief is director of TBR News Media produced films “One Life to Give” and its sequel, “Traitor: A Culper Spy Story.”

Paul Greenberg. Photo from Miller Place Fire District

One of the Miller Place Fire Department’s longest serving captains, Paul Greenberg, died Jan. 22. He was 78.

Greenberg was born July 4, 1941 in Manhattan to the late Sidney and Ida Greenberg. 

Paul Greenberg. Photo from Miller Place Fire District

Greenberg has been captain for 10 years, according to Commissioner Larry Fischer, and has been with Miller Place fire for around three decades. In addition to his service with the department, he also had a 37 year career with the Civil Service Department of Suffolk County, according to his obituary from O.B. Davis Funeral Home. In his free time, it was said he enjoyed building model boats.

Miller Place Fire Chief Rick Batchelder said he had known Greenberg since 2004, saying that he “has always been involved in department functions.” 

“He was always a great guy, and he always approached me with questions that needed answers,” the chief said.

He had especially been involved with the Miller Place Fire Police. Lieutenant Tom Van De Kieft served with him for several decades in the fire police section, adding that Greenberg was active as one of the ambulance drivers.

“He was good with all the members,” Van De Keift said. “He was very active as a leader — well liked.”

He was the husband of Tasha Greenberg (née Hewett), who is the secretary for the fire department; the father of Glenn (Anna) Greenberg and the late Diana Hewett-Ridgewell; the adoring grandfather of Michael Greenberg and his fiancée Tiana Rooney and Brian Greenberg; the brother of Marty (Jo Ann) Greenberg; the uncle of Mark Greenberg and great uncle of Tyler and Caleb Greenberg; and brother-in-law of Charles Hewett and his partner Charles Olbricht.

A memorial visitation for Greenberg will be held Sunday, Jan. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at O.B. Davis Funeral Homes, 1001 Route 25A, Miller Place, NY 11764.

 

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Josephine Geronimo Johannes, formerly of Port Jefferson, passed away Jan. 11 surrounded by family, and friends in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was 94.

Johannes was born Aug. 7, 1925 and grew up in Jamaica, Queens in the loving, extended-family home of her parents, Madeline and Raphael Geronimo, along with her four sisters, one brother and their families.

She graduated from John Adams High School in Queens. After attending Secretarial School, she worked in Manhattan until her marriage to Ronald P. Johannes in 1948. Jo and Ron raised five children while living in Levittown, Port Jefferson and later Naples, FL.

Jo was an active member of the St. Charles Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers in Port Jefferson and a Librarian’s Assistant at Earl L Vandermuellen High School. Johannes retired from The Collier County Public Library in Florida, and she quickly began volunteering again at consignment shops and St. Williams Church.

She enjoyed beaching, dancing, playing tennis, bowling, tea parties, reading, Beanie Baby collecting, traveling, and playing cards. Some of her all-time favorite groups she was a part of were The Gourmet Dinner Group, the Platinum Girls Dance group, and Martini Card Club.

Johannes is survived by her five children, Diane (Tim), Lauren Johannes-Mihalek, Sandra Ellis (Emory), Debra Novak (Tom) and Glenn Johannes (Cindy). In addition, Grandma Jo adored her eleven grandchildren and their spouses, Tim, Emory, Ben, Rebecca, Ryan, Aleah, Keith, Michaela, Alex, John, Michael, Nolan, Dylan, Tyler, Eryn.

Family and friends are welcome at Hodges Funeral Home at Naples Memorial Gardens, 525 111th Ave N, Naples, FL on Sunday, Jan. 26, from 2 to 4 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be 10 am on Monday, Jan. 27 at St. Williams Catholic Church, 601 Seagate Dr, Naples. She will be laid to rest at Naples Memorial Gardens immediately following.

Memorial donations may be made to Conservancy of Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org or Friends of the Library of Collier County Inc, www.collier-friends.org

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Stock photo

When, last autumn in Rhinebeck, New York, Lorraine Barbra Lindner exited this earth, little did she know what a stir she would cause locally in her beloved home of some 40 years.

Lorraine Barbra Lindner

She was 92. She was my mother, and all her life she served the poor.

She taught me that and she taught me how. She also instructed me about the niceties of giving gifts, her favorite activity. For this, she always kept a calendar, besmirched with the daily jottings of people for whom she cared — always sending them presents for their every occasion. She did this faithfully and methodically. In fact, never did a day pass that she did not give someone something.

And, guess what she left behind for me? Her only silver crucifix ring! Now I display it handsomely upon that left-hand pinky finger where she also used to wear it. In truth, it is my only connection to her, this little silver memento, and I shall always cherish it.

Moreover, I still mourn her and her cause, which was to give gifts to what seemed to be all the living world.

Despite her practice of generosity, she lived in a world of her own — always thinking about the little guy, while indulging her fantasy of Christian hope and charity to all. She did this one blessed person at a time, as I also want to say and do. For mom was a great neighbor to have; everyone who visited her home in Port Jefferson village was treated with utmost courtesy and welcome. 

But all of this is ended now that she has greeted eternity. Therefore, as her son, I now praise this 5 foot 2, blue-eyed Irishwoman and solemnly swear it has been a distinct privilege to have shared your friendship and expert care. 

For caring would be the best thing you would do. So, I reached out at your Infant Jesus funeral Mass of Christian burial, touching your casket with both my hands. Now I bid you a fond goodbye — even as you, gift giver, say so long to friends and family, knowing as we all do how very true it is that — just as you taught us all during your long life. And we shall all meet you again upon our own lives’ end. 

But for now, it will have to be goodbye, gift giver, my friend. See you in
heaven, Mom. 

George Lindner is a Port Jefferson Station resident.

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Frank Henn

Frank J. Henn of Holtsville passed Dec. 31, 2019. He was 93.

He was a proud veteran of the U.S. Army in World War II and was the beloved husband of the late Elaine.

In addition, he was the cherished father of James (Virginia), Pamela (Patrick) O’Keeffe, Joanne (Thomas) Dethloff and Kevin (Theresa); the loving grandfather of 12 and great-grandfather of five; and the dear brother of Dorothy Leskody, Joan Ruberti and Donald (Barbara). He is further survived by many other family members and friends.

A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Mark’s R.C. Church in Shoreham, and interment followed with military honors at Calverton National Cemetery.

Arrangements were entrusted to the care of Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place. An online guest book is available at www.branchfh.com.

Robert Desmond III

Robert T. Desmond III of Miller Place passed Dec. 5, 2019. He was 37.

He was the beloved son of Robert and Patricia; the cherished brother of Allison (Alan) Gandt and Kyle (Jennifer); and the loving uncle of Drew and Molly Gandt.

He is additionally survived by many other family members and friends.

A religious service was held at First United Methodist Church in Port Jefferson, and interment followed at Sea View Cemetery in Mount Sinai.

Arrangements were entrusted to the care of Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place. An online guest book is available at www.branchfh.com.

Kaitlyn Schaal

Kaitlyn Anne Schaal of Mount Sinai died Oct. 15, 2019. She was 19.

She was the cherished daughter of Doreen Kremens and Richard; the beloved sister of Megan, Richard and Ryan; and the loving granddaughter of Virginia (the late Richard) and the late Nicholas and the late Dolores Roche.

She is additionally survived by many other family members and friends.

A religious service was held at the Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place, and interment followed at Calverton National Cemetery.

Arrangements were entrusted to the care of Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place. An online guest book is available at www.branchfh.com.

Karen Johnston

Karen Johnston of Ridge passed Dec. 23, 2019. She was 45.

She was the beloved wife of Richard; the loving mother of Timothy, Matthew and Megan; the adored daughter of Nancy and the late Harold Rischowsky; and the devoted sister of Mark (Lisa) Rischowsky. She is further survived by many other family members and friends.

Service was held at Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place, and interment followed at Washington Memorial Park cemetery in Mount Sinai.

Arrangements were entrusted to the care of Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place. An online guest book is available at www.branchfh.com.

Vincent Juliano

Vincent Juliano of Rocky Point passed on Dec. 29, 2019. 

He was a proud veteran of the U.S. Army during World War II. In life after the war, he became an avid RC airplane modeler, a New York City special education teacher and an Alcon Canadian sales manager.

He was the beloved husband of the late Lillian; the cherished father of John (Jennifer), Vincent (Sharon), Linda (Jeff), Ken and Chris (Cathy); and the loving grandfather of six. He is additionally survived by many other family members and friends.

Service was held at Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place, and interment followed with military honors at Calverton National Cemetery.

Arrangements were entrusted to the care of Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place. An online guest book is available at www.branchfh.com.

John Lynch

John (Jack) Lynch died Dec. 9. He was 96 years old.

Jack was born in New York City. He studied at Catholic University of America and Manhattan College. He joined the Levittown school district in 1952. He later became a principal in upstate New York. He opened the Cherokee Street Elementary School in the Connetquot Central School District in 1969. 

After retirement, he played softball with the Brookhaven softball league and tennis at the Old Field Club. He was a member of the Stony Brook Yacht Club, enjoying leisure times with fellow retirees. He sang in the choir at St. James R.C. Church in Setauket and served as a Eucharistic Minister. Jack loved spending time with his nine grandchildren. During the last year, he danced with three of his granddaughters at their weddings.

He is survived by his wife, Mary; daughter, Maryellen; and two sons, John and Brian, and their wives, Nancy and Susan.

Isabel Stevens

Isabel L. Stevens (née Farrell) of East Northport died Dec. 18. Stevens was a former switchboard operator at Carillon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and an active member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, 899 Court Morning Star, and a devoted lifelong N.Y. Mets fan. Beloved wife of the late Robert; loving mother of Robert (Joanne), Jean (Peter) Sabia and Susan (Kevin) Luning; devoted grandmother of Andrew Sabia, Steven Sabia, Kelley (Ryan) Nimmo, Sean, Jessica Luning and Melissa and Kevin Luning; cherished great-grandmother of Declan Nimmo; and caring aunt of Eileen (Arthur) Fredrickson. Repose was held Dec. 22 at the Nolan Funeral Home in Northport. A funeral Mass was celebrated Dec. 23 at St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church, East Northport. Interment followed at St. Philip Neri Cemetery. 

Clifford E. Bishop

Retired Norwood Avenue Elementary School Principal Clifford E. Bishop died Dec. 23 at 85 years of age. He served as principal for the Northport school for over 25 years. Beloved husband of the late Margaret; loving father of Bruce (Chantal), Mary Ann (Richard) Duryea, Joan (Stephen) Perrone and Kelly (Terrance) Motherway; cherished grandfather of Sean, Matthew, Julie, Jillian, Anthony, Jack, Declan and Maggie; dear twin brother of Robert (the late Ellie); and fond brother of Virginia (the late Billy) Killoran, Dorothy (Arthur) Capeci, George (Kathy) and the late Warren (Mary). Visitation was held at Nolan Funeral Home in Northport Dec. 26. A funeral Mass was celebrated Dec. 27 at St. Philip Neri Church, Northport. Interment followed at Calverton National Cemetery. In Cliff’s memory donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research would be appreciated: www.michaeljfox.org/donate/our-goal-urgently-needed-cure?smcid=ap-a1b1R0000086fHf.

Selden residents lay out candles to spell Jenna’s name on the Newfield High School football field. Photo by Kyle Barr

On the green turf football field at Newfield High School, the Selden community, also swaddled in different shades of green, laid out candles in the grass. The crowd came together like a tide. As they stepped back, the candles spelled out the name “Jenna.” Underneath her name, the flickering yellow and green electric candles and tealights also framed a heart.

Community members hold candles at the Aug. 31 vigil. Photo by Kyle Barr

Jenna Perez, 17, a Selden resident who worked at the Five Guys in Port Jefferson Station was killed Aug. 24 while crossing Route 347 southbound at around 9:25 p.m. She crossed around 300 feet west of Terryville Road, police said. The driver who hit her sped off, and police said they are still searching for that person.

“She was one incredible kid from the day I met her,” said Scott Graviano, the Newfield High School principal. “A very quiet spirit, but always with a smile on her face, always saying hello. And with that sweet, soft quiet personality, she gained the love of support and respect of this entire community.”

For the hundreds of community members looking for ways to heal, remembering Perez as the loving and outgoing high schooler was the best way to deal with their pain. Wearing green, Perez’s favorite color, friends, family, faculty and more from the community held glowing electric candles while the sky slowly darkened Aug. 31. Several friends spoke for her, talking and remembering her fun-loving personality.

“She lived a short life but clearly left a significant imprint,” said Asia Austin to the crowd gathered at the vigil. “As someone who has been grieving recently, I want those to understand that we should not follow down that road in thinking we have no purpose … with support from family and friends, you will find yourself and you will be OK.”

Community members hold candles at the Aug. 31 vigil. Photo by Kyle Barr

Donna Austin was her guardian for the past three years, taking care of Perez and her twin sister Janell in Selden. She had met the twins in 2008 when they were 8 years old living in the Bronx as she went there to take care of one of their relatives. Austin would eventually run a community center out of the building where the Perez family lived, and the twins would always be there to decorate her offices for whatever holiday came up. When their grandmother died, she took both sisters in to live with her back in her hometown of Selden.

“Jenna’s face would have lit up, and she would have been smiling, looking at all of her friends who had come to her like this,” Austin said.

Their caretaker said Jenna thrived in Selden, making innumerable friends and rising higher at Five Guys. She was set to take up her first supervisor training sessions at Five Guys on her birthday Sept. 6. Austin said she had been extremely excited and proud. 

Naziyah Dash, one of Perez’s high school friends, said she has been heartbroken since she learned of her friends death.

“Your story will always be cherished,” she said. “I will keep you alive in my heart.” 

The community is helping monetarily with three separate GoFundMe pages that have been set up in  Perez’s name. The first, which is donating funds to twin sister Janell, has reached close to $9,500. The other two GoFundMe pages are for funeral expenses.

Newfield High School Principal Scott Graviano speaks at the Aug. 31 vigil. Photo by Kyle Barr

“The Newfield community is an amazing place — deep rooted, full of love and support, and that’s evident here tonight,” said the principal. “Janell, we love you very much as a community, I hope you know that. We will continue to love and support you.”

An additional memorial service will be held Sept. 14 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Church on the Sound, 335 Oxhead Road in Stony Brook.

A funeral for Perez will be held at Ortiz Funeral Home, 524 Southern Blvd. in the Bronx Sept. 11 from 4 to 9 p.m. Burial will be at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx Sept. 12 with a time still to be determined.

Eleanor Kra

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

This week’s column is dedicated to courage, the particular courage of one person. That person was one of my closest friends, and she died last week. Even though she suffered for five years with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and we all knew that the end was coming, it is hard to imagine life without her.

And isn’t that the height of selfishness, to think of her death as my loss? What about her loss? Never again on Earth to hug and kiss her husband, her children and grandchildren, to cheer when they enjoy victories and to commiserate when things don’t work out as they had hoped. Never again to join friends for an evening at the opera. Never again to enjoy cooking delicious dinner for those lucky enough to be her guests. Never again to exchange insights about the political turmoil through which we are living. Never again to share a deep belly laugh. For her, it has ended.

We met as freshmen at college. She was impressive for her strongly held viewpoints during classroom discussions of world affairs, asserting that the Cold War was not just about two superpowers but also included a third bloc of underdeveloped and uncommitted nations. She was also delightfully funny, laughing at the incongruities of life. When we were both assigned dorm rooms on the same floor of the same dorm, I got to know that she was born in Poland in the Warsaw ghetto in 1941, hardly a choice time and place, that she had escaped from the ghetto with her mother and another woman and child thanks to her father’s resourcefulness, and that she had lived out World War II in Warsaw with false papers, both mothers being under extreme duress.

My friend went on to be elected editor in chief of the college newspaper, and she sometimes wrote about my actions as class president. We laughed about how it was a microcosm of the fourth estate, that is the public press, commenting on the executive branch. We served on the student council together and became close friends.

After graduation, when my husband and I were looking to settle somewhere in the New York area, it was she who I called from Wichita Falls in northern Texas to ask if Stony Brook, where her husband was a mathematics professor, was a good place to live. Little did I know that this one night she and her husband had decided uncharacteristically to retire early to bed, and with the one-hour time difference between Texas and the East Coast, I would wake them up with my question. But she waved me on. “It’s home,” she responded in her usual direct fashion, telling me all I needed to know. That is how we happened to move to the North Shore of Long Island.

After my husband died and my children all left for college, she stepped in with a surprising offer: How about joining them with an opera subscription? “Where?” I asked. “Why at the Metropolitan Opera, where else?” she smiled. “We would drive into NYC each time?” I responded disbelievingly. “Yes, and have dinner beforehand,” she said with a gleam in her eye. And that is how I discovered one of my great passions.

But before she died, here is her most important gift to us. She was the embodiment of courage. Even as the quality of her life deteriorated, she fought to maintain normalcy, for her sake and the sake of those around her. She went from a cane to a walker, accompanied by her husband, then to a wheelchair, then to a scooter wheelchair that she drove at breakneck speed down Broadway from their West End apartment to Lincoln Center for her subscription performances and more. And as her muscular ability to verbalize diminished, she used the internet and her computer keyboard to stay connected to the rest of us as long as she could control her hands.

Watching her struggle was a gut-wrenching anguish. It was also an inspiration. She was not going into that dark night easily. She fought for every inch of the life her parents had saved and she and her husband had made together, and in so doing she showed us not only how to die with valor but especially how to live life to the max.

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Melissa Marchese proved herself in sports, was set to graduate June 28

Shoreham-Wading River senior forward Melissa Marchese battles in the paint Feb. 11. Photo by Bill Landon

A community that has become much too familiar to tragedy was left reeling June 14 as Melissa Marchese, 18, a Shoreham resident and senior at the high school passed from her injuries received in a car crash the day before.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Melissa Marchese During an April 22 Softball game. Photo by Bill Landon

Suffolk County police confirmed her death Saturday,  June 15.

Marchese’s father Charlie Marchese posted a lengthy eulogy on his Facebook page. He called his daughter “… brilliant, she was magnetic,” and said she fought long enough in order for doctors to donate her organs, something she had always wished to do.

“She would light up the room with her smile and make everybody burst with laughter,” Marchese’s father wrote. “Melissa was a remarkable athlete. Fierce, determined, and focused. Just try to slide into her at home plate or try to battle her for a rebound. She did not lose. She was a born leader in all facets of her life. Whether barking instructions on the softball field or leading her friends in a dance or a song, everyone would follow her. She did not lose.”

Marchese was in the backseat of a car turning left onto Route 25A from Miller Avenue June 13. The high school was having its senior honoring ceremony. Another vehicle, driven by Ridge resident Michael Troiano, 34, went through a red light and struck Marchese’s vehicle. The two other students in Marchese’s car, Evan Flannery, 17, and Caroline Tyburski, 18, both of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Marchese was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where she died a day later.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district released statements Friday and Saturday.

Melissa Marchese battles Mount Sinai senior Gabby Sartori for a loose ball under the boards Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

“We extend our deepest condolences to the individual’s family and friends, and we continue to keep all those involved and impacted by this tragedy in our thoughts during this very difficult time,” the district wrote on its website.

Marchese was well known in the district for her work on the basketball court and the softball field.

Adam Lievre, Marchese’s basketball coach, said he would watch Marchese move around the court and be awed at her tenacity. It was that tenacity, he said, that had her fighting death until the time they could donate her organs.

“She was willing to throw her body anywhere and everywhere to get every rebound,” he said. “I’ve never coached a kid who wanted rebounds so badly, and she went after every ball with this relentless effort. It was contagious when the other kids saw how hard she worked, was an example she led on the court.”

He remembered two cases of her caring personality. One was on the court where she saw eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard get knocked over, and she “sprinted” over to help her up. The other was in the locker room after the team’s heartbreaking playoff 42-41 loss against Sayville Feb. 12. 

“She was sitting right in front of me in tears, so emotional about losing but so thankful, she said how thankful she was to be a part of the team and how great it was,” Lievre said.

Marchese was known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and was committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

Once it became known of Marchese’s hospitalization, a GoFundMe page was started, and within a day raised nearly $20,000. By Tuesday, June 17, the site had raised over $60,000.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and the Marchese family,” Joseph Dwyer, the GoFundMe organizer, wrote to the page. “Thank you all for your generous donations during this time of unthinkable sadness and utter despair. God Bless.”

The school district canceled senior finals June 14 and made mental health staff available. The district also invited students to the high school library Saturday for staff to support them.

Melissa Marchese. Photo from SWR School District

Shoreham has become well known for tragedies of this kind. In 2014 the community grieved for Tom Cutinella, who died due to a head injury on the football field. In 2018, the community wrapped hundreds of red ribbons on flagpoles to memorialize Andrew McMorris, who was killed by a drunk driver while out on a hike with his Boy Scout troop. 

The Andrew McMorris and Tom Cutinella memorial foundations both shared their condolences on their Facebook pages.

“No one should ever have to go through this,” a post to the Tom Cutinella Memorial Foundation Facebook page read.

Marchese’s wake will be held at Branch Funeral Home, located at 551 Route 25A in Miller Place, on June 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. and June 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. and at 7 to 9 p.m. Marchese’s funeral procession will leave the funeral home at approximately 9:30 a.m. on June 22. A Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. at St. Mark’s R.C. Church, located at 105 Randall Road in Shoreham.

This article has been updated to reflect the name of the eighth-grader who Marchese helped up.

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.