Marie Knight in the town board hearing room, after accepting her award from former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor, Councilman Angelo Delligatti.
Marie Knight was, so to speak, "knighted" by the Oyster Bay Town Board, for what she has done for the hamlet. She was one of eight "Women of Distinction" honored at their March 19 meeting. In the case of Marie Knight of Oyster Bay, their comments were "up close and personal," in that she interacts with them on a regular basis.
The citation said Ms. Knight was honored as a distinguished woman of community and civic affairs. She is a lifetime resident of Oyster Bay who has devoted her time, efforts and energy to causes designed to improve the hamlet and the quality of life of its residents.
Former Town Supervisor, Councilman Angelo Delligatti, presented Ms. Knight with her citation and a special pin designed to commemorate the occasion. Mr. Delligatti said she phones him and tells him when he's right and when he's wrong. He mentioned her positions as president of the Oyster Bay Civic Association, a member of the Main Street Association board, a member of the Quality Communities Steering Committee, as well as her work with "Chairman" Joe Barnao in running the annual St. Rocco Feast of Oyster Bay.
"It's not just about titles," Mr. Delligatti said. "It's about the thought, time and care she puts into her concern about the community and her work has made the hamlet a better place."
Supervisor John Venditto said, "She calls him (Mr. Delligatti) three times a week but she calls me 10 times a week."
"And I get through," piped up Marie, not to be daunted by the occasion.
Mr. Venditto told how the Women of Distinction awards began. He said when he came to office, four years ago, in 1997, after working as the Oyster Bay Town Attorney since 1991, there were changes in the community. "All of a sudden women were involved at all levels in our communities: in civic, veterans and athletic groups. It's really a good thing to see. It's fabulous and so one of the first things we did was to name Women of Distinction." This is the fourth annual honoring of women.
Ms. Knight said, "I thank you all. It was an unexpected honor, especially since I harangue you, and I don't think I'll stop." She added, "But you come through for the community. We are a little hamlet, an unincorporated village. I was very surprised by the honor. Thank you very much".
Mr. Venditto still had something else to say about his appreciation of the women honored. He said, "I was in a Veteran's Advisory Board meeting this morning and Arlene Howard is a member. (She was one of the honorees.) A controversial issue came up and I was getting lost and Arlene Howard said something only she had the guts to say."
He looked at the women and said, "You are marked women. Whenever we see you we will say, you are a woman of distinction. We have set the bar a little higher," he said.
"I challenge you to never stop calling us; never stop showing up at meetings and telling us what's wrong. Thank you. You earned your distinction."
It was time for the official picture taking and Councilman Anthony Macagnone stepped down from the dais to take Marie's arm and bring her over to have her picture taken with the other women and the elected officials. It was a sweet moment.
Among those attending to support Marie were Oyster Bay Historical Society Director Tom Kuehhas, Robbie Hallock, past Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce president, and a current board member of the Main Street Association, and "chairman" Joe Barnao and his wife Jean as well as Frank Scalera, vice president of the Oyster Bay Civic Association.
While introducing the Women of Distinction, at the March 19 meeting in town hall, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto spoke about a Town of Oyster Bay resident honored by President George Bush on September 20, Arlene Howard of Hicksville. Her son George Howard was one of those lost in the attack on the World Trade Center.
Councilman Joseph Muscarella made the presentation. He said Ms. Howard served as a Navy WAVE during World War II. She is past commander of the American Legion who has spent decades working to improve the lives of veterans, is president of the Nassau Unit of Waves International, and is the only woman member of the Town of Oyster Bay Veterans Advisory Council.
As a volunteer she has cared for elderly residents and those in need. She speaks to elementary school children about what it means to be a veteran and distributes literature on flag education.
Mr. Muscarella said she goes to the Northport Veterans Hospital and volunteers there. He added, "There is a reason why volunteers aren't paid. It isn't that they aren't worth it, it's because they are priceless."
Mr. Muscarella talked about Ms. Howard's son George. "He was in Hicksville when the World Trade Center was attacked. It took him an hour to get to the site. He was a Port Authority Policeman, and a former captain in the Hicksville Fire Department.
"He was doing something he always had done. No one saw it and there were no witnesses, but God reached down from heaven and took George home," said the councilman.
"When President Bush came to see the site of the WTC tragedy at Ground Zero, she gave him the shield of her beloved son."
Mr. Muscarella said he was watching TV on Sept. 20 when he saw the president mention the shield Arlene Howard gave to him. It was while the president spoke to a joint session of Congress, about the attack on the World Trade Center. Mr. Muscarella recalled the president's message: "Some of us will carry the memory of a face or voice, gone forever, but I will be carrying the shield of George Howard who gave up his life in remembrance of those lives that ended in the September 11 tragedy and as a reminder of the task that never will end."
Councilman Muscarella said, "She has so much courage. She lives with the spirit of God in her."
Ms. Howard was a Navy wife, and she and her deceased husband raised their children with the concepts of patriotism and duty as primary forces in their lives. She is the past County Commander of the American Legion. During the celebration of the 350th anniversary of Hicksville, Ms. Howard was extremely active serving as treasurer in an official capacity and doing many other jobs in an unofficial capacity.