Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 11 February 2011 00:00The William Gill Theatre has always rested atop New Hyde Park Village Hall and years ago it was the scene of many plays and musicals. But, over the years, as technology became so much more sophisticated, the theatre became obsolete.
However, with the diligence of New Hyde Park Village Clerk/Treasurer Patrick Farrell, the theatre has been renovated and is all set to feature many wonderful events including plays and musicals.
The village held a grand ribbon-cutting gala the other evening with many dignitaries on hand to celebrate the momentous event.
The theatre was originally named after former New Hyde Park Village Mayor William Gill, Jr. He was the mayor of the village from 1977 to 1988. He and his wife Madeline moved to the village in 1949 on Gilford Avenue. There they raised their three children Judi, Genny and William and all three were present at the ribbon cutting.
Gill was employed as a credit manager at Fairchild Publications. He retired in 1982 at the age of 62. He was elected mayor in 1977 and re-elected twice. He and his wife Madeline were dedicated to the success of the community and both worked tirelessly to make the village a better place to live.
In 1988 Mayor Gill passed away while in office. His sudden death shocked and saddened his family, his village family and the New Hyde Park community.
In honor of his dedication, self-sacrifice and years of community service, then Mayor Robert Bogart and the New Hyde Park Village Board of Trustees named the community theatre, “The William Gill, Jr. Theatre.”
The new theatre became the home for the New Hyde Park Players, under the direction of Marilyn McClean and Mimi Jaye and for other local community groups for practice and performing events.
The newly renovated and upgraded William Gill Theatre will not only continue, but expand a tradition of local community theatre, musical performances and cultural events.
The Master of Ceremonies for the event was New Hyde Park Village Deputy Mayor Robert Lofaro. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by trustee Lawrence Montreuil and the National Anthem was led by Anna Garvin. Gloria Dei Lutheran Pastor Romeo Dabee and New Hyde Park Baptist Pastor Daniel Olson gave the blessing for the new theatre.
A representative for County Executive Edward Mangano presented the village with a proclamation.
New Hyde Park Village Mayor Daniel Petruccio welcomed the crowded audience that included so many dignitaries, to the event saying how proud he was to be able to show off this beautiful renovated theatre that retains the honor of Mayor William Gill.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto was on hand to deliver some very personal memories of New Hyde Park. In fact, his wife Christine, who he has been married to for 34 years, grew up in New Hyde Park, and was a very good friend of the Gill children and they all became very close friends and, in fact, Venditto said, “We all grew up together.”
Supervisor Venditto said in those days of formality you would only refer to William Gill as Mayor Gill or Mr. Gill but he said he so enjoyed being with the Gill family and getting to know them all and being welcomed by them. He added, “Mayor Gill was a very wise man and what you saw is what you got. He would say what he meant. He was a great husband and a great father and a dedicated mayor.”