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Obituary: Gerard L. DeFina

Gerard L. DeFina, a longtime educator in the Garden City schools, passed away at age 73 on April 12, 2012 in Delaware. A beloved teacher for the 34 years he worked here, Jerry was constantly involved in creative projects: he was a pioneer in open education and helped design and teach in the “Mod Quad” at Stewart School, which was modeled on the schools he had studied about while in England in conjunction with Oxford University. Later, he helped found the Gifted and Talented program at Stewart, which he taught in for many years, with both programs emphasizing independent as well as group study. He and Frank DeMonaco were also known for their annual musical productions involving the entire graduating class of Stewart School. After an 11-year tenure at Stewart, he moved to the middle school, where he taught collaboratively in various units, finally returning to Stewart in his last year, where a retirement tribute was held in his honor. Many former students returned to surprise him with reprises from Stewart shows they had performed in under his direction. (Since his shows had become such a long-standing tradition, after his retirement he was invited back to continue his yearly productions at both Stewart and Stratford schools).

A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in education, he was also very involved in the theater program there, performing alongside Madeline Kahn, Lainie Kazan and Francis Ford Coppola who called him “one of the most talented people I ever met.” After graduation, Jerry continued to act in many Hofstra productions, his last performance there being a starring role in the play Next. For many years he also directed regional theater, as well as being involved in other aspects of stagecraft.

Jerry’s graduate degree was in educational administration at Queens College and he did post-graduate work at the University of Connecticut in gifted education; working with children, however, was always his first love. He had a huge capacity to reach every student on an individual basis, to empathize with the child having difficulties adjusting, and he strove to protect every child from bullying before it became fashionable to do so. A master teacher, he was able to nurture the creativity in every one of his students, to see their potential and help them fulfill it. His sense of humor and booming laughter filled the classroom, while he also demonstrated an integrity and work ethic that were his hallmark.

Jerry is survived by his long-time companion Frank DeMonaco of Newark, Delaware, and his brother, George DeFina of Woodstock, VT. A celebration of Jerry’s life will be held on Friday, May 4 from 3 to 6 p.m. at Donohue-Cecere Funeral Parlor, Post Avenue, Westbury. In lieu of flowers, donations may be contributed in his name to City Meals on Wheels, 355 Lexington Ave., NY, NY 10017.

News

Resurrection Church raises money

with Xmas-themed event

On Saturday, July 26, all roads lead to Lutheran Church of the Resurrection and the magical merry world of trains at the 4th Annual Christmas In July Fundraiser. Festooned with glittering lights, the gym will be transformed into a winter wonderland of delight as you enter a snow-flurry world of inflatable Santas, reindeer, snowmen and mysterious nutcrackers—replete with holiday songs and music.

Rediscover the joy of childhood with a dazzling display of classic model trains from Resurrection’s own collectors and hobbyists: Jay Campson, Doug Hoffmann, Doug Kurz, Joe Mecchella, John and Jim Mesloh, Ken Meyn, and Gerhardt Muller.

Mineola-Garden City Rotary

honors Suzie and Rob Alvey

The ballroom of the Garden City Country Club was packed with Rotarians, family, friends and associates of Suzie and Robert (Rob) Alvey as they were recently honored with the Mineola-Garden City Rotary Club’s 24th annual “Community Service Award.” Both residents who were raised in Garden City, the Alveys have been recognized many times over as integral members of the community. Suzie Alvey is a professional artist, writer, award-winning photographer, and board member of the Garden City Historical Society. She was appointed village historian by Mayor John Watras in 2013. Alvey’s paintings and drawings are in private collections throughout the United States and internationally and can be locally viewed at village hall and at the Garden City Chamber of Commerce Toll Lodge.


Sports

The Best Secret In Town!

Did you know that each of our neighbor hood parks runs a playground program every summer? Children entering 1st through 8th grades who are residents of the Village are invited to come to the park during the summer to find out what activities are taking place.

Each park has its own “flavor” and “favorite” activities. The park directors and their staff run games, sports, tournaments, and arts and crafts activities during the day and into the evening. Trips are also run through the parks.  

Thousands throng Garden City for

Annual Jay Gallagher Tournament

The Seventeenth Annual Jay Gallagher Memorial Lacrosse Tournament recently took place on Garden City’s lacrosse fields. The ‘Gallagher’ has been a key fundraiser, with well over $750,000 collected throughout the years for the Andy Foundation, the Mollie Biggane Melanoma Foundation, the Miracle Foundation and the Cancer Center for Kids at Winthrop University Hospital.

With more than 120 teams and 5,000 players, coaches and fans from the tri-state area, the annual tournament provided high level competition in both the boys and girls groups from the third grade up to and including the eighth grade.


Calendar

Summer Concert: Six Gun

Thursday, July 24

Fivestone Returns To Friday Night Promenade

Friday, July 25

Marvelous Movie Matinee

Monday, July 28



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com