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Longtime Westbury Resident Turns 90

Elliot Ferebee built his family home on Cross Street in 1956

Throughout the 1950s, Westbury’s population was booming, skyrocketing from approximately 4,500 residents to nearly 15,000 – and one of those residents was longtime community member Elliot Ferebee, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday among family and friends in December. 

Ferebee, born on Dec. 18, 1922 in Switzerland, S.C., moved to Harlem, N.Y. in 1929 and kept active in stickball, baseball, softball and football while attending DeWitt Clinton High School. He recalls seeing Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Cab Calloway at the Apollo and the Savoy before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943. 

Ferebee’s first marriage to the late Willie Mae Ferebee (their ceremony was conducted by Adam Clayton Powell, the first New Yorker of African-American descent to be elected to U.S. Congress) produced his first daughter, Vallie Bray. His second marriage to the late Elizabeth Ferebee produced three daughters, Denise (deceased), Janice and Annette. 

In 1956, the Ferebee family built their home at 575 Cross Street and became one of the first black families to settle into the Village of Westbury, which became an incorporated village in 1932. According to Ferebee’s daughter, Janice, of Washington, D.C., Elizabeth became the president of Powell’s Lane PTA, Elliot became involved in the Westbury Community Church and the “Ferebee Girls” could be found on the honor roll, cheering various sports teams, in band, orchestra, chorus or even writing for The Westbury Times. The family was also part of several bowling leagues in the area. 

Elliot was a dedicated sports fan, who could be found supporting his daughters’ cheering or at the Westbury and Lutheran High School football and basketball games, rooting for greats like Lenny Kendall. Elliot also could be found on the New Castle Park tennis courts with his old friend, James Galloway. 

Attributing his longevity to “a good sense of humor, loving friends and family, staying active and faith,” Elliot shared two of his fondest memories from his days in Westbury: taking the family station wagon to the Westbury Drive-In Theater “to watch movies with the speakers hanging inside the car” and enjoying performances at the Westbury Music Fair. 

Elliot later became a trustee and member of the building committee to build the Westbury Community Church, now located on Prospect Avenue. Following the death of his second wife, Elizabeth, Elliot reunited with an old acquaintance, Virgie Blake, whom he dated in 1946. The loving couple enjoys bowling, traveling and visiting friends and family. Elliot remains connected to Westbury through old friends and visits the Westbury Community Church on occasion. 

On Dec. 8 at the Long Island Mariott, Nassau County Legislator Robert Troiano presented Elliot with a proclamation in celebration of his 90th birthday. Elliot’s passion for sports and love for his companions hasn’t waivered, as evidenced by the New York Knicks party favors and large turnout of family and friends in Uniondale. 

“We celebrate Mr. Ferebee’s life not merely because of the quantity of years he has lived, but mainly because of the quality with which he has lived those years,” Legislator Robert Troiano said. “We stand proudly on the shoulders of men of character such as Elliot Ferebee.”   

True to the village’s motto, “A Community for All Seasons,” Elliot has proven that though its residents come and go, pieces of Westbury remain in all of us throughout the years.

News

Westbury High School students are teaching younger children from Park Avenue Elementary School valuable life lessons about money and business skills through the High School Heroes program.

 

In this program, high school students that are taking Renate Johnson’s Junior Achievement class will go into first grade classrooms to teach 45-minute lessons.

 

“It is a program that gives high school and younger students confidence and teaches them about business and financial literacy,” said Johnson.

The Westbury Historical Society will host Dr. Natalie Naylor, professor emerita at Hofstra University and author of Women in Long Island’s Past: Eminent Ladies and Everyday Lives at their next meeting on March 9. 

 

Naylor’s presentation will focus on the place of women in Long Island’s history, including several prominent women from Westbury’s past.  


Sports

Albertson resident and Kellenberg sophomore Gabby Schreib qualified for the Millrose Games in New York City. Schreib qualified as a member of the Sprint Medley Relay along with Danielle Correia, Bridget McNierney, and Jazmine Fray. 

 

The Kellenberg relay’s close second place finish in January’s Millrose Trials has moved them closer to defending the title they won in the same relay at last year’s Millrose Games. Schreib and her teammates time is currently second in the United States for girls track and field performances.


Congratulations to Westbury athletes Michael Esposito, Eileen Harris, Brett Harris, and Michael Going, each of whom won awards in Race # 1 of the Jonas Chiropractic Run Nassau Series co-hosted by Nassau County and the Greater Long Island Running Club.

 

Michael Esposito, age 15, took home the second place award in the 15-19 age group with a time of 23 minutes, 6 seconds.  Eileen Harris, age 42, earned the first place award in the women’s 40-44 age group.  She completed the race with her 45 year old husband, Brett Harris, who was the third place award winner in the men’s 45-49 age group.  Michael Going, age 41, scored third place honors in the 40-44 age group with a time of 20 minutes, 51 seconds.


Calendar

Los Lobos - March 5

Coffee House - March 8

Meet the Mayor - March 8


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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