Monsignor John J. Wiest
Monsignor John J. Wiest, who marked his 65th anniversary as a priest earlier this month, died after a long illness on June 13, 2006. He was 88 years old.
Born in Brooklyn on Nov. 9, 1917 to the late Augustus and Margaret Heffernan Wiest, John Wiest attended Public School 97 and St. John's Prep in Brooklyn. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1937 from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, a Master of Arts from New York University's School of Education in 1944, and studied for the priesthood at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Thomas Molloy at St. James Pro Cathedral in Brooklyn on June 7, 1941.
After a year as an associate pastor at Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Hempstead, Father Wiest was asked to teach speech, English and religion at Cathedral College in Brooklyn. Eight years later in 1950, he returned to parish work as an associate pastor assigned to Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Brooklyn. In 1953, he was transferred to serve as an associate pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Church in East Northport.
Shortly after the creation of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1957, founding Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg established a "minor" or "preparatory" seminary. The six-year curriculum at St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary included four years of high school classes and two years of college coursework. Father Wiest was selected to be the prefect of studies and taught English at the new school which opened in temporary headquarters in a former Greek Orthodox church in Hempstead in 1958. He was also the founder of the school newspaper. In 1963, Father Wiest was named the second rector of St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary in Uniondale. As rector, Father Wiest prayed the invocation at the graduation ceremony for the first graduating class in 1964.
Father Wiest returned to parish work as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in West Islip in 1967. Two years later, he was named pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Manhasset where he would serve until his retirement in 1987.
Father Wiest served on the board of directors of St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn from 1974 to 1987, two of those years as director. He also served as a trustee of the Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, on the board of Catholic Charities, as a delegate to the Priests' Advisory Council, a member of the Priests' Senate and as a member of the Priests' Retirement Board. In 1980, Father Wiest was named an Honorary Prelate to his Holiness by Pope John Paul II with the title of Monsignor.
A wake for Monsignor Wiest was held on Friday, June 16, 2006 from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Marian Room of the Parish Ministry Center of the Church of Saint Mary in Manhasset. A Mass of Transferral was celebrated that evening at 7:30 p.m. by Monsignor John McCann in the Church of Saint Mary. Father Kevin Smith was the homilist.
Bishop William Murphy was the principal celebrant at the funeral Mass on June 17 in the Church of Saint Mary. The homilist was Father Peter LeJacq, MM._Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn.
Lee Strickland, the chief of the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department and U.S. Army Veteran of the Vietnam War, passed away early on Saturday, June 17, 2006. The sudden passing was due to cancer which was only recently diagnosed.
Lee was a third generation Great Neck resident and graduated from Great Neck High School in 1962. He also graduated from SUNY Farmingdale, the Academy of Aeronautics, SUNY Empire State College and New York Institute of Technology with a master of science (magna cum laude). He was a professor at the College of Aeronautics in Queens.
Strickland enlisted in the US Army in September 1966 and completed basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He attended Primary Flight School at Fort Walters, Texas and Advanced Flight School at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He graduated as an Army Aviator, Helicopter Pilot and promptly was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam. While serving in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, he specialized in aircraft recovery. This elite unit recovers any aircraft that goes down anywhere in the world.
Upon returning to the United States with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer, he attended the Army Aviation School for Helicopter Flight Instructors. Upon graduation he served as a helicopter flight instructor.
During his service in Vietnam he earned the Bronze Star with V for Valor, eight Air Medals, The Vietnam Service and Vietnam Campaign medals with three stars, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal and a Meritorious Unit Citation.
He also earned several civilian commercial pilot ratings for airplanes and helicopters including multi-engine airplane, instrument ground instructor and power plant mechanic.
Strickland joined the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department in 1975 as a probationary fireman. He served as a firefighter for 10 years and became a second lieutenant in 1985, progressively rising in rank to captain in 1989. He served as deputy chief beginning in 1997 and became chief of the department in 2005.
He was awarded the Fire Department Medal of Valor for placing himself in harms way by driving his car in front of a speeding motorist who would have struck several firefighters controlling traffic while an apparatus was backing into a firehouse on Northern Boulevard in Great Neck.
Lee Strickland was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars serving as commander of Post 372, a life member of The American Legion, and a life member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.
He is survived by his wife Madeline, daughters Jacqueline and Tiffany, and son Thomas who is currently on active duty in the United States Marine Corps and by his brother William.