Written by Senator Jack Martins Thursday, 03 April 2014 00:00
I wanted to write something poetic here. My intention was to memorialize a good friend with words that would strengthen those of us who loved him while capturing his extraordinary spirit for those who didn’t know him. But I got stuck, starting and stopping a good half a dozen times as no words seemed to be doing my sentiments justice. Then, as providence would have it, I came across a quote from the American essayist, E.B. White, who wrote “To achieve style, begin by affecting none.”
So I will affect none. I’ll do away with flowery phrases and just tell you a little bit about my good friend, John DaVanzo. who passed away on March 21 at the age of 92. He wouldn’t have wanted anything written about him anyway, but if it was to be, my plainspoken friend would have told me to “say what you mean and mean what you say.”
“Mr. Mineola,” as he was affectionately known, was born and raised here in our hometown and he never left. He was a rare, four-letter man at Mineola High School: football, baseball, basketball and track. Not long after he graduated in 1939 he enlisted in the Navy and served on the American destroyer, the U.S.S. Glennon, during World War II. Just two days after D-Day, as they patrolled the coast of Normandy, his ship hit a mine. Listing, it then took three direct hits from a German artillery battery the very next day. A total of 25 of his friends lost their lives and 38 were wounded, but John managed to survive and eventually returned to Mineola where he married his sweetheart and settled down to raise five children.
In 1955 this young man decided to serve the village he called home and was elected trustee, embarking on a lifetime of public service that would eventually make him Mineola’s most beloved citizen. Whether it was overseeing the construction of the village pool that now bears his name or designing the village logo that’s become a powerful symbol of community pride, John was nothing if not pure energy. He was motivated by his belief that Mineola was a little slice of heaven and he dedicated his whole life to keeping it that way. He served on the board for 10 years, five of which were spent as the deputy mayor. He was also a town clerk and a 54-year member of the Mineola Fire Department. But his selflessness extended far beyond our village boundaries. John volunteered in numerous local organizations including the Kiwanis, the Sons of Italy, the VFW, and the Knights of Columbus, to name just a few. And even into his 90s, when he was certainly entitled to leave it to someone else, John dutifully showed up week in and week out to volunteer at
St. Francis Hospital in Port Washington.
You see, John didn’t believe in passing the buck. He understood that he had unique, God-given gifts that could be shared with friends, neighbors and even strangers. His smile, his warmth and his good-natured conversation were free for the taking. He always had a
“How do you do?” for everyone – and I mean everyone – that he met. I’ll never forget the vice-like grip of his handshake or how he never let anyone pick up a check. I’ll also never forget how I once snuck over to our waiter to pay the bill before he could. I came close to wearing my meal on my head that day.
The best part of all this was that his kindness, his joy was real. Whether it was as public servant or simply being a pal in the diner with friends, John loved to give. He got a charge out of it. It kept him motivated and happy and that was contagious. And he never complained or sat back and told others what to do. If there was anything going on anywhere in Mineola, you could be sure that John DaVanzo was right in the thick of it, sleeves rolled up and working furiously at his task. He walked the walk and if you have a pleasant memory of anything in or around Mineola, rest assured that he had a hand in shaping it. I really wish you could have known him.
John DaVanzo did immeasurable good for countless people. He was part of what we now call the “greatest generation”. But it wasn’t just how these men and women pulled together during the war that gave them that reputation. It’s how they came together after it ended, with optimism, goodwill and service to build our communities and our country. There were probably thousands upon thousands of people just like John across our nation and it’s just a crying shame that we’re losing them. They offer us a dignity and civility that’s on the decline these days - qualities that make a sometimes ugly world just a bit more palatable. For over 35 years John did that for me. So, if you know anyone like this, savor every moment that you have because they just don’t make them like that anymore.
Thanks, John. Rest in peace, dear friend.
Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:00
The Village of East Williston was recently ruled against in the second round of lawsuits with neighboring Village of Williston Park involving the latter’s water rates—establishing a 13 percent increase from $3.83 per 1,000 gallons of water to $4.33.
Village of East Williston Mayor David Tanner said that the lawsuit, “still does not resolve the underlying problem between the villages, which is we feel that we’re being charged too much for water—the cost is excessive.”
Tanner said the village is still calculating the financial impact will be, and that the village has been making payments in escrow for every water bill received.
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00
Only once a year a 25-foot movie screen sits in the middle of Wilson Park in Mineola, ready to entertain residents. This year’s Movie Night in the Park feature The LEGO Movie, sponsored by the Village of Mineola and Mineola Chamber of Commerce on Friday, July 18.
The event, which was free of charge to all of the moviegoers, was meant to help promote local Mineola businesses, according to president of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce Bill Greene.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the American industry, and we feel that this is a great way of giving back to the community with hopes that they’ll remember to shop locally,” said Greene.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Runners from all over Long Island came to run at the fourth annual Katie Oppo Memorial 5K on Sunday, June 15. The runner first across the finish line was Mineola resident Michael Mariotti, general manager, owner and host of the famous local restaurant Cafe Continental in Manhasset.
The day was glorious as the runners and walkers began their trek through Flower Hill from the starting line at Flower Hill Park. Organizers of this year’s event made the race a USATF Certified 5K race, timed by Long Island Race Timing.
Thursday, 17 July 2014 00:00
Mineola Hurricanes lost a battle of the bats on Sunday, June 29, at St. Joseph’s Field in Kings Park, falling short in a 9-8 ball game against the St. Joseph’s Saints in the first game of a doubleheader.
The top of the first saw the Hurricanes take an early 2-0 lead. The runs came home for the Hurricanes when T.J. McManus scored on an error and Connor Eakin scored on a fielder’s choice. The Saints never surrendered the lead after the first inning, scoring five runs on two errors and an RBI single by Jonathan.