Virginia Blakeslee, a longtime resident of Port Washington and devoted member of the League of Women Voters, who was honored as Port’s Woman of the Year in 1996, died Oct. 7, 2011 at her home in Santa Fe, NM. She was 93. The cause was complications from a fall she sustained 10 months ago, her daughter, Sandra Blakeslee, said.
Virginia was a league member for 59 years, serving as president of the Port Washington/Manhasset chapter from 1959 to 1962. In 1967, she wrote a comprehensive history of the chapter for its 50th anniversary.
Milton Heller, 89, and Dorothee Heller, 88, of Delray Beach, FL, passed away on Jan. 15 and June 8, 2011, respectively. They were married for 65 years. The Hellers were longtime residents of Port Washington, moving to the newly developed Soundview Village when a sand pit still bordered their back yard. WWII veteran Milton Heller was a health inspector with the New York City Health Department, and, upon retiring, started his own consulting firm, with many of New York City’s most notable restaurants as clients, as well as being corporate sanitarian for the Waldbaum’s supermarket chain. Similarly, he served as Commissioner of Sanitation for the Village of Port Washington North, 1964-75. He was very active in unions and professional organizations, as well as local Boy Scout troop 241. Over a decade from the mid 1960s to mid 1970s, Dorothee Heller served as PTA President for Guggenheim Elementary School and then for Sousa Junior High School; and subsequently, the couple served as joint PTA presidents for Schreiber High School. Dorothee worked close to their home for a decade at the Publishers Clearing House. The Hellers were longtime members of the Community Synagogue. They retired to Florida in 1994, reconnecting there with friends and neighbors from Port Washington. They are survived by sons Jonathan, Joshua, Robert, and Billy, and sisters Annette Slotnick of Searingtown and Sherry Schweitzer of Commack; along with eight grandchildren, and loving nieces and nephews in Port Washington, elsewhere on Long Island, Manhattan, and the northeast U.S.
Helen Bilanski (nee Michalowski), age 98, of Edgewater, FL, formerly of Port Washington, died on Sept. 30, 2011. She is survived by her children, Arlene Amato (Gerard) and Ronald (Susan), many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Helen was predeceased by her husband Alexander, her sons Edward, Alfred, Richard, Robert, and Gary, and her grandsons Michael, Edward Jr. and Barry. Funeral arrangements were handled by Austin F. Knowles Funeral Home, Port Washington. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Oct. 5 at St. Peter of Alcantara RC Church. The interment followed at Nassau Knolls Cemetery.
Roy G. Nester, a 53-year resident of Port Washington, died on Oct. 2, 2011 in Port Washington at the age of 90. Predeceased in 2005 by his wife of 60, Eleanor, he leaves behind his son John Nester (Marie), formerly of Glen Cove, who now resides in Lighthouse Point, FL, his daughters, Linda Cronin (Denis) of Manhasset and Carol DiConza (Peter) of Port Washington, 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He also leaves his sister Ruth Cox (Ken), the last of 14 children born to John and Bessie Nester of West Virginia, and 65 nieces and nephews.
Margaret S. “Peggy” Aitken died on Sept. 12, 2011, one day after her 86th birthday. Wife of the late Robert K. Aitken, she is survived by her sons, Robert Lee Aitken, Esq., and Mark Aitken (Linda); her grandchildren, Katy and Danielle; and her sister Ruth Lee Needham (Bob). She is also survived by many nieces and nephews. A lifelong resident, Mrs. Aitken was the 7th generation of her family to live in Port Washington and had many lifelong friends. Funeral arrangements were handled by Austin F. Knowles Funeral Home, Port Washington. She was interred at Nassau Knolls Cemetery after a graveside service on Sept. 16.
Thelma Sokoloff, of Sands Point, passed away on Sept. 11, 2011 after a prolonged illness. She was 86 years old and resided on Woodland Dr. for 56 years. Thelma is survived by her husband, Adrian, and their three daughters and three sons-in-law: Karen Sokoloff and Andrew Messinger of Short Hills, NJ; Claire Sokoloff and Robert Gifford of Newton, MA, and Gail Sokoloff and Howard Merkowitz of Newton, MA. She is also survived by eight grandchildren: Rachel, David and Eric Messinger; Benjamin, Alison, and Daniel Gifford and Alex and Lia Merkowitz.
Born on June 16, 1928 in Brooklyn, John graduated Boys High in Bedford Stuyvesant and then earned a bachelor of science at Long Island University and a masters in pharmacy at Columbia University. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army, John served in the Korean War and then continued military service in the US Army Reserve and the NYS Army National Guard. He achieved the rank of colonel and retired after 27 years of active duty and reserve duty as a brigadier general. Always a soldier, his assignments included commander of the famed 69th Infantry Battalion, aka the Fighting Irish.
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