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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

Wide range of issues covered by

Stewart Manor Board

The Stewart Manor Board of Trustees began its most recent meeting in high spirits, presiding from the newly-renovated, cherrywood justice’s bench in village hall.

Mayor Tangredi offered up thanks to the court system for providing the grant that paid for the improved bench. Trustee John R. Egan also was in fine fettle in his return after missing previous meetings due to health issues.

Focus groups to continue this fall

The Garden City Public Library’s Board of Trustees and Library Director Lisa Paulo are dedicated to continuing the patron-friendly atmosphere in the library. It is an experienced and dedicated panel, who with a knowledgeable staff under the direction of Library Director Lisa Paulo, will continue to develop interesting innovations. The trustees anticipate many productive years ahead.

The library’s successful focus groups will continue in 2014. All patrons are invited to attend. The board, however, is reaching out to parents of school-age children to round out the participants. Anyone interested in contributing their time and experience is welcome. Please call the library at 516-742-8405  x210 and leave your name and telephone and/or email address.

Gloria Weinrich is the vice chair of the Garden City Library Board of Trustees


Sports

Garden City gals lead FLG

to three championships

The FLG 2018 girls have established themselves as one of FLG’s premier teams of the summer. Garden City’s Julia Kavan and Anna Mandaro at the midfield and Megan Sprotte and Ann Sullivan defensively led their team to three championships this summer. The girls “really started to gel and play as a unit,” said Coach McGinty, successfully executing new plays, transitioning well and crashing on defense. With the improvements across the board, the team hasn’t lost a game since the first tournament of the summer. These girls were leaders on and off the field and are taking FLG Girls Lacrosse to the next level.

Two friends get back on track through running

The other day I woke up to this text from my Garden City friend, Claire LoRusso: “I need help. I am running a half marathon in October. I have not run in years. Where do I start? Miss you.” I got giddy, in a dorky way, because I always get excited when someone wants to run.

In this case, however, it was more of a “Welcome back, Claire.”


Calendar

Friday Night Promenade

Friday, August 22

The Little Mermaid JR

Saturday, August 23

Getting Your Feet Wet

Tuesday, Aug. 26



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