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The "Teddy" Roosevelt Achievement Award - 2003 was presented to Erasmus "Raz" Tafuro at the South Syosset-Woodbury Republican Club dinner, held at the Woodbury Country Club on Sept. 25. Mr. Tafuro is a Muttontown resident and is the village highway commissioner.

Raz Tafuro with his wife Harriet, the Muttontown deputy village historian. Photo by Vivien Van Wagner

The "Teddy" Roosevelt Achievement Award is named for Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919). Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States from 1901 until 1909. Mr. Roosevelt as a youngster established a reputation for perseverance and hard work. As an adult he turned those traits toward his strong desire to serve the public through politics and government.

This award is to be presented annually to those persons who have demonstrated their commitment to public service through government or service organizations. This is the seventh annual TR Achievement Award event hosted by the club. Town of Oyster Bay Councilman Chris Coschignano also received the award. (See separate article.)

Mr. Tafuro received an award from Mitchell Kaufman, emcee of the event and South Syosset-Woodbury Republican Club chairperson. Senator Carl Marcellino introduced the honored guests and Mr. Kaufman made the presentation, which included a bust of TR.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Tafuro thanked the people who worked with him over the years. "You don't get an award like this by yourself," he said. He thanked the Old Brookville Police Department, the Nassau County Police Department, the New York State Department of Transportation, the Nassau County Department of Public Works, the Town of Oyster Bay Department of Public Works, the Jericho Fire Department and the Syosset Fire Department for all their help and quick response to his calls for help during emergencies.

Mr. Tafuro also thanked his wife Henrietta for all the times he left home in the middle of the night after hurricanes, storms and blackouts came their way. Mr. Tafuro has often been praised by Muttontown residents as the friendly face of the village - the person they most often see involved in keeping the roads in great condition, and seeing that fallen trees and ice don't block their way.

"The dinner was a great success. There were 80 reserved seats and while 100 guests were expected to attend, the final number rose to 130, as people bought their tickets at the door. It really was a nice event in every way and very well attended," said Muttontown Village Clerk/Treasurer Vivien Van Wagner. Mrs. Tafuro is the village's deputy historian.

Raz Tafuro was born and raised on Long Island. He graduated from Westbury High School and attended Farmingdale College. His wife Henrietta, another Long Islander, graduated from Sewanhaka High School, Floral Park and C.W. Post College in Greenvale.

Mr. Tafuro worked for Grumman Aircraft before being drafted into service during World War II. He served his country well in Germany with the 5th Armored Division in the Battle of Central Europe. After the war, he met and married Henrietta (1954).

The Tafuros built their own home on Kirby Lane in Muttontown 42 years ago, where they raised their four children, Eileen, James, Jacqueline and Janet. The children had a fine education at the Jericho Schools. The Tafuros now have two sons-in-law, Jim and George, and five grandchildren, Leah, J.J., Kimberly, Lindsay and Emily.

Mr. Tafuro established Tafuro Building Supply in Westbury in 1949 and then opened a second location in Syosset in 1953. After retiring from the business in 1969, he made a career change and studied at C.W. Post College in order to obtain a real estate license. He then established a real estate business in Syosset and is still active in real estate.

Mr. Tafuro has always been active in community organizations and affairs and has worked enthusiastically for many charities. He worked on the first fund drive for the expansion of Nassau Hospital, Mineola (now named Winthrop Hospital). He was involved in fund raising for St. Paul the Apostle Church in Brookville. He also coached the CYO girls basketball team and the boys softball team. He and his son, James, helped build the five softball fields at St. Paul's. He is an usher at the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Paul's. He was pleased also to sponsor community softball teams when he owned Tafuro Building Supply.

Mr. Tafuro is a life member and past commander of the Westbury VFW. He is treasurer of the Sons of Italy, Guiseppe Verdi Lodge and also is a member of the D'Ella Sunta Society, Westbury. Mr. Tafuro has served as deputy police commissioner, Old Brookville Police, for 18 years and as highway commissioner in Muttontown since 1965. He is also coordinator for Muttontown for the East Norwich Fire Department.

Mr. Tafuro was on the board of directors and was Republican Committeeman for the Town of North Hempstead. After moving to Muttontown, he became an active member of the Syosset-Woodbury Republican Club and was on their board of directors.

In his free time, Mr. Tafuro enjoys golf, music, traveling, hunting, mushroom picking and cooking. "He grows giant eggplants," said Mrs. Van Wagner. An ad in the dinner dance journal says "to our friend and greengrocer, Raz, on a well-deserved award." It is signed "Gladys, Dayle, Vivien, John, Ari, Mike and Marian," the family of Mrs. Van Wagner.

The ad from Village Attorney Peter P. MacKinnon, Esq. and his friends at Humes & Wagner, said "Congratulations Commissioner Raz, 'The Heartbeat of Muttontown."

A good reason for all the honors for Mr. Tafuro is his philosophy of life which is: "'Don't be passive - be active in your community, in your life and in the lives of your family and others...'You can make a difference,'" is his motto.

Councilman Chris Coschignano Honored

The "Teddy" Roosevelt Achievement Award - 2003 was presented to Oyster Bay Councilman Chris Coschignano at the South Syosset-Woodbury Republican Club dinner dance, held at the Woodbury Country Club on Sept. 25. The event was well attended, with 130 guests, friends and club members.

The "Teddy" Roosevelt Achievement Award is named for Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919). Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States from 1901 until 1909. Mr. Roosevelt as a youngster established a reputation for perseverance and hard work. As an adult he turned those traits toward his strong desire to serve the public through politics and government.

This award is to be presented annually to those persons who have demonstrated their commitment to public service through government or service organizations. This was the seventh annual TR Achievement Award event hosted by the club. The Village Highway Commissioner Erasmus "Raz" Tafuro also received the award. (Please note the separate article on Mr. Tafuro.)

Chris Coschignano is a lifelong resident of the Town of Oyster Bay, a councilman on the town board, a practicing attorney with an office in the center of Syosset. He serves on the defense litigation panel of the MTA and, coincidentally, serves as chairman of the Theodore Roosevelt Park Advisory Board.

Mr. Coschignano was recently re-elected to lead the North Syosset-Woodbury Republican Club. His wife, Elizabetta, has a long and distinguished history of serving the community and in helping all in need.

Mr. Coschignano is a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Sons of Italy, the Syosset Chamber of Commerce, the Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset and the North Syosset Civic Association.

New York Senator Carl Marcellino, the executive leader of the South Syosset-Woodbury Republican Club presented the award to Mr. Coschignano.


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