Written by Marc Katz Friday, 16 December 2011 00:00
J. Leonard Samansky, the late mayor of the Village of Saddle Rock, was honored posthumously last Sunday when The Great Neck Arts Center named its School for the Arts Scholarship Fund in his memory.
Speaking to a large audience of supporters at The Arts Center’s Annual Gala at the New York Institute of Technology’s de Seversky Mansion, Executive Director Regina Gil said “the scholarship fund will offer classes in the performing arts at The Great Neck Arts Center for those children who are without the means to afford tuition and whose talent must be nurtured, a goal Leonard Samansky would surely have embraced.”
Mayor Samansky was a founder of The Arts Center and a member of its Board of Trustees until his passing earlier this year. Extremely active in the community, the mayor also served as the Nassau County commissioner of accounts, a confidential aide to the county executive, and the Nassau County emergency management chief. He was a member of the Board of Ethics, a director of the Water Authority of Great Neck North, chair of the Conservation Committee, president of the Great Neck Village Officials Association and president of the Nassau County Village Officials Association, in addition to being an active member of many other community and civic organizations.
His widow, Shirley, and son, Adam, were present when the scholarship fund was announced. “I immediately agreed to the naming of the fund in Leonard’s memory,” Mrs. Samansky said. “I thought it was a very fitting way to remember him and that he would have been pleased to know that his memory was attached to a fund that enabled children to study the arts.”
She said the late mayor was very artistic, himself. “When he lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, in his youth, he would enjoy going to The Narrows to sketch ships entering and leaving the harbor. He also loved cartooning. In addition, he was very musical and played both the violin and viola.”
A video presentation about Mayor Samansky, narrated by Arts Center Vice President and noted performer Shirley Romaine, was shown at the Gala. “The Arts Center Board felt that Mayor Samansky’s passing was a big loss to us all,” Mrs. Gil said. “He never hesitated to put himself out for The Arts Center as well as the entire community. He certainly stood proudly as a force for the good of our community.”
The Gala also presented Terri Carr Muran with its Woman of the Year Award, and Alexa Ray Joel with its Rising Star Award. Bill Plympton was named The Arts Center’s Artist of Distinction. Eileen and Alan Sarroff received the Gold Coast International Film Festival Pioneer Award.