*Members: If you have any announcements that you would like to post on the ROBS web site, please contact Nick Siciliano at
             News2@robsny.org. Announcements will be posted each month on this page. If you miss any previous month's announcements,
             you can view them at the Archives page of this web site. You can also read more news in our Newsletters. In addition, if you have
             your own web site, and would like to share it with other members, let us know and we can include the link on the ROBS site
  IN THE NEWS                                                                        JULY / AUGUST 2015

July 16
Executive Board Meeting

August 20
Executive Board Luncheon

Meeting Dates

Calendar of Events

POSTED 7/1/15

Click on photo to enlarge

     The Retiree Council 21 Annual Awards Luncheon was held on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at the West Sayville Country Club Meadowedge Restaurant. The luncheon honored the winner of the NYSUT Community Service Award and the winners of the NYSUT Journalism Awards. The guest speaker was Paul Pecorale, NYSUT Vice-President.
     ROBS was presented with several journalism First Place Awards and Awards of Distinction in the 2015 NYSUT Communications Competition for its newsletter and website. The following members were presented with awards: Carmela Criscione, General Excellence - July - August 2014 Newsletter; John Sherin, Best Article About Local or Chapter Issues - Dot Z: The Consummate Union Person; Phyllis Goodwin, Best Overall Graphic Design, - ROBS Holiday Luncheon flyer; Adrienne Eastman, Best Photo or Illustration - A Part of Brentwood History Finds a Home; Gloria Hannemann, Most User Friendly Web Site; Claire Geraci, Best Creative Writing - A Celebration of a Non-Party.
     Congratulations to all of our winners.
Please view the photos in the ROBS Meetings & Functions 2014-15 Photo Album on the Photo Gallery Page.

POSTED 7/20/14
Published in, Newsday, "Opinion", Monday, July 20, 2015, p. A29
By Claudia Gryvatz Copquin

     Seems no one is responsible after historic structure falls into disrepair.
     In 1857, the 150 residents of Modern Times, today’s Brentwood, raised a small fortune to build themselves a schoolhouse — no small feat as the community didn’t believe in money or taxes, but rather traded goods and services among its members.
     Still, residents collected $400 to erect a building as unique as their community: an octagonal, 31-foot-wide, cedar- shingled, glass-ceilinged struc- ture that was utilized as its first school between 1857 and 1907.
    Today, while the school is on the National Register of His- toric Places, one would be hard- pressed to see its former charm or, frankly, its value to the community. The windows and doors are boarded up, the siding appears rotted. The roof has caved in at points, a gaping hole allowing the elements to wreak havoc inside. It’s a sad testament to what it once was. Even sadder and more ironic, the little schoolhouse is decay- ing on the sprawling grounds of the Anthony F. Felicio Administration Center, home of the Brentwood school district. . . . . .More
You can read the entire article at Newsday Online.

POSTED 7/29/15
     It is with great sadness we inform you of the passing of Verne Gatewood, retired Brentwood instrumental Jazz and Band teacher from 1974-2007. He was truly a great man. A memorial service will be held Wednesday, August 5th at 7:30 PM in the Smithtown Tabernacle. 1 Higbie Drive, Smithtown NY. 11787
View Online Obituary

POSTED 8/3/15

Click on photo to enlarge

     This year Scholarship Night at Brentwood High School was held on May 20, 2015. We are proud to announce that ROBS was able to award college scholarships to three graduating Brentwood High School seniors who plan to pursue a degree in education. ROBS Vice President Kathleen Guleksen was there to present the awards and congratulate the winners. A new $1,000 scholarship, given in honor of ROBS co-founder Dorothy Zuckerman, who passed away this year, was awarded for the first time. The happy recipient was Catalina Benavides. The $1,000 Jack Zuckerman award was presented to Katherine Escobar and the $750 Lillian Kelly award was presented to Keyanae Miller. Thanks to all of our members who give so generously every year to make this an exciting night and help out our college-bound seniors.

How are we doing?
We'd like to hear from you.

Please visit our
Letters to the Editor

where you can share your views and comments

View the "In Memoriam" page
with the list of our Brentwood colleagues who have passed away. This list will be updated on a yearly basis.



Support VOTE-COPE with your voluntary contribution. Download the VOTE-COPE Contribution Card here.

June 7
Executive Board Meeting

June 23
Awards Luncheon

RC 21 Website:

Check out the Famous People and Events on that special day in July and August and see what else happened!
Historical People and Events for July

Historical People and Events for August

July and August 2015 Holidays, Bizarre, Unique, Special Days
Bizarre and Unique Holidays in July

Bizarre and Unique Holidays in August

All About July and August
July in History

August in HIstory

Why did we do it?
     What was our purpose in taking on such an open ended “History Project”; for which we evolved a script of questions and got answers from over 150 subjects for two decades?
     We couldn’t answer the question in 1994 when people would ask “What are you going to do with the interviews?” All we could say was that for educational purposes we had to document our record now or lose the chance to preserve so many poignant accounts, funny stories and touching tales told by exemplary educators. We knew these dedicated public servants might shortly, for reasons yet unknown, be leaving Brentwood for good.
     So, we decided to let time sort out the details. We began scheduling appointments. We asked questions and listened saving for generations the essence of what it meant to have been an educator or employed, in this large public school system during the second half of the 20th century. Brentwood remains an exemplar to all others; a diverse microcosm of America reflecting 124 districts on Long Island while simultaneously resembling thousands across the U.S. We’ve accomplished something here to be proud of. Whether we were interviewed or not, ours is a claim of service that few professionals in the State of New York or elsewhere have positioned themselves to share in the way we have.
     INITIALLY the practice of sitting with a subject for an hour and giving them a hundred percent focused attention seemed somewhat daunting to a number of friends and colleagues. So much so in fact that many declined our repeated invitations to speak with us as they left careers or retired from full employment. Despite all assurances that we were not about investigative journalism or invading privacy, they deferred. Now, twenty years after we began, some are saying they may be ready. “Better late than never” we say. However, to all among you who were willing to share not only your classroom experiences and personal stories, but precious memories from your lives along with your fondest hopes for the future, we say “Thanks”. Thanks for allowing us to continue the process by paying it forward as we share these interviews with the Brentwood community and countless professionals and researchers near and far. Through an acceptance of ROBS offer of collaboration with Archivist Dr. Geri Solomon and The Long Island Studies Institute at Hofstra University our History Project lives on in academia as well as in the collection of the Brentwood Public Library, thanks to Director, Thomas A. Tarantowicz.
   Enjoy unlimited visits to www.robsny.org where you can watch and listen to segments from featured Interviews in the ROBS History Project Section on our Announcements Page each month. Return here to listen and learn again and again.


Helen DeBellis
Wife of Michael DeBellis

     Helen Patricia De Bellis, who was 80 years old at the time of her interview, was the fourth child in the Barberio family of Elmhurst, Queens. She was born at home (with her mother assisted by a midwife) on March 17,1926 (St Patrick’s Day). She spoke of having had three sisters (Haydee, Hedwig and Enid) and a “wonderful brother” (Euclid). She recalled in detail all the games she played as a child and where each game was played. She talked about the old neighborhoods changing. 
        She gave a romantic account of how she met Michael De Bellis (who later became a Brentwood legend) at a Newtown High School dance. Their formal introduction, by a beloved teacher, Miss Grundy, began their courtship and they married after WWII in 1948. She spoke of how her nickname of “ Little Nell” (given by Mike) took hold.
        Arriving at maturity before the age of women’s liberation, she was shaped by her experience of being brought up in a traditional Italian Catholic home with an autocratic father (Frank Barberio). Helen’s mother (Nancy Piro Barberio) exerted a powerful influence on the developing personality of her daughter and Helen became an independent thinker and self confident woman due to her mother's influences.  Helen went to college after her children did and it was after her immersion in the literature of women’s liberation, and her own consciousness raising, that she learned to value women's intelligence and contributions. “The culture of America in the 40’s and 50’s saw life through a kind of tunnel vision”, she said.
     She and Mike lived in Queens, New York while he attended New York University pursuing a pre-med course of study. He then transferred to New England College in New Hampshire when he changed his direction. After graduation he taught Biology at Concord High School. It was during the time that they lived in New Hampshire that Claudia and her brother, Michael, were born. Helen would later refer to Claudia as being “more than a daughter”. “She’s a very intelligent person, who is also a good friend I can talk to”. When a family health crisis intervened she and Mike moved back to New York to live near his parents.
        When they returned he worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance.He made it to “the Million Dollar Club”, which earned them two weeks vacation in New Hampshire where they caught up with college friends. While back in New York he returned to education and became a science teacher at Brentwood High School. 
        He was promoted to Assistant Principal after their twin sons, Thomas and Davide were born. After two or three more years, he became a Principal at South Jr. High School. 
     After High School Helen never attended Cornell for the English degree as she had hoped. Rather, late in life as an adult, she attended Suffolk Community College, obtaining a certificate in Dental Assisting. Then she went on to Stony Brook University for three years. When Stony Brook’s school of education closed she transferred to Adelphi University where she completed an M.S. in Management in 1983.  She then found employment  with Abraham and Straus as a department manager.
     Helen had come from a business background: she’d been a beauty counselor, a legal secretary, a pre-school teacher, a crafter and arranger of silk flowers (which she then sold to order), and a department manager. In Concord, New Hampshire she’d been a jeweler (a silver worker).  
        Helen spoke of her father, who had Angelo Roncallo as a friend. When her father was a young boy he had taught him to play chess. Monsignor Roncallo went on to became Pope John XXIII. Her father was from Calabria and had worked in a glass factory in Middletown when he first came to America. He was later a highly successful manager in Metropolitan Life Insurance.
     Her earliest memories included one where she was sitting on her pregnant mother’s lap and was told by her mother not to worry, she would “always be her mother’s baby”. Her maternal grandparents (who had been born near Naples) were well-to-do, and had many servants. French nuns had taught her mother all manner of useful skills (but not, sadly, cooking).  
     Helen also recalled “Grandma Lipner”, who was the owner and landlady of the home where Frank and Nancy first lived and where Helen’s older siblings were born. Grandma Lipner taught the young mother (Nancy) how to cook Kosher food and how to keep a Kosher kitchen during the Jewish holidays. Helen continued many of these traditions in her own home.
   Helen’s family was gifted and talented in many facets of culture including art, music, banking and medicine. Both of her parents sang. Her father was a voice coach with a studio in the Metropolitan Opera House. She was required to attend his classes on Monday and Wednesday to vocalize with the others. Since she had perfect pitch, she was also required to be there on Fridays for his students’ musicales where they performed Italian, French and German operas. 
        Her family knew many Metropolitan Opera conductors and performers who she called her  aunts and uncles. They sang at her wedding.  
        She talked at length about her husband, Mike, and how “he could do anything”. He was “always involved with the lives of his faculty”. He was “a good counselor and listener”.  She spoke a lot about Mike’s experiences growing up. 
        His dad, who had been tolerant and giving, taught Mike to be patient, enabling him to learn how to learn and teach others. “He gave so much to everyone”, she said, “He even taught me how to cook.”     
        She and Mike traveled to Italy after the twins finished college. In other travels they went to Ireland and Blarney Castle. While there, Helen kissed the Blarney Stone, after which they visited a local pub where she sang the classic, Danny Boy and several Irish lullabies.
     Helen thought that she would have nothing much to talk about in her interview, but that was not true; having kissed the Blarney Stone she was an enthusiastic conversationalist.  


You can also view any of these past interviews by visiting History Project Interview Archives :
Baker Bernhardt, Ruth
Baker Bazata, Eleanor
Balinski, Wally
Brooks, Ronda
Carey, Dick
Carpenter, Beverly
Cerullo, Peter
Corkery, Florence
Cuneen, Ray
Curio, Rich
DeBellis, Claudia
DeBellis, Helen
DeBellis, Michael
DePlaza, Marilyn
Desoto, Edward
DiMento, Peter
Edwards, Richard
Efron, Martin
Fasullo, Mike
Felicio, Anthony
Filosa, Edith
Fiore, Marcy
Hannan, Edward
Helman, Harriet
Hodges, Shirley
Kirschner, Marge
Koehler, Florence
Lane, William
Lange, Joan
Laub, Dr. Herb
Martz, David
Mascaro, Barbara
McNicholas, Barbara
Monsen, Pattie
Moss, Ken
Mundy, Rick
Murray, Alma
Nanos, Jim
O'Conner, Thomas
Pace, Ron
Purcell, Joseph
Rosenthal, Ivy
Rosenthal, Ruth
Salerno, Hank
Scharf, Karen
Sekac, Evelyn
Sheele, Raymond
Sopp, Lorraine
Spencer, Franklin
Stuhler, Patricia
Sustrin, Letty and Sheila
Vannoy, Evelyn
Veech, Chris
Walker Lloyd, Shirley
Wolfe, Jeffrey
Zuckerman, Dorothy
Zuckerman, Jack

Sheila & Letty Sustrin
Children's Books Authors

John M. Sherin
Local /Regional
(Jigsaw Maps)600
Geography Manipulatives


Complete Team Building Kits
Teaching Cooperation/ Collaboration
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)


Alida Thorpe
Island Vision Photography, Inc.

Rick Mundy
Watercolor Prints of L.I., Adirondacks, NYC...

Gloria Hannemann
Hardwood Flooring and
Home Improvement


Elmon Kazandjian
NYC Art Gallery

Rose Marie Brousseau
Brentwood Rotary Club

Ronda Brooks
Children's Social Skills Groups
Rich Graziano
Mr. Graziano's Science Class
Academic Enrichment and Remedial Websit


    Classified Section
THE TOWN CRIER -  MarilynDePlaza@aol.com

Marilyn De Plaza
The Town Crier" was set up a number of years ago so that the retirees of the Brentwood School District could have an email center to stay in touch. Since I began to send out all sorts of information, retirees from all over the country have sent me their email addresses. Some have asked, "Do you have any idea where so and so is?" Others have sent proud news of their accomplishments, their family news, photos,etc. and sadly, we often get bad news. Many retirees whom I have never met write me to thank me for keeping this connection going, as everyone remembers the Brentwood years with warm feelings.

About Us | Executive Board Members | Meeting Dates Schedule | Calendar of Events
Photo Gallery | Newsletters | Announcements | ArchivesMembership/Join | Links | Contact |Home

Return to top of page