*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                                                                        MARCH 2015
March 6
General Membership Meeting

March 26
Executive Board Meeting

Meeting Dates

Calendar of Events
POSTED 2/26/15
     It is with heartbreaking sadness that we inform you of the sudden passing of Dr. Joel Ratner, on February 23, 2015.
   Funeral services will be held on Thursday, February 26, at Temple Emanu-El, 123 Merrick Avenue, East Meadow, at 10:00 AM. Burial will follow at Mt. Golda Cemetery, 500 Old Country Road, South Huntington.
     Shiva will be observed at the home of Jody, Leslie and Eric Ratner, 460 Clearmeadow Drive, East Meadow on: Thursday, February 26, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, with a minyan service at 8:00 PM;  Friday, February 27, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM; Saturday, February 28, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, with a minyan service at 8:00 PM; Sunday, March 1, 1:00 to 4:00 PM.
    If you are so moved, please send a donation in Joel’s memory to: Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56 107th Street, Corona, NY 11368
   Dr. Joel Ratner Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Brentwood High School
2 Sixth Avenue, Brentwood, NY 11717
    He was deeply loved and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

POSTED 3/3/15
     Please mark your calendars for June 4, 2015 to join us in celebrating Vicki Regan's Retirment. We are gathering to celebrate a new beginning for our Director, Victoria Regan at the Brentwood Country Club 6:00 to 10:00.
     Download details and Invitation here.

POSTED 3/1/15

     Our first General Meeting of 2015 will take place on Friday, March 6th at 10:00 AM in the Brentwood Public Library .
     1. Note a change in May meeting date. It is May 8th NOT May 1st.
     2. We are in the midst of our annual scholarship drive. Please consider donating any amount to support this worthwhile program. You can bring your check to the meeting or send it made out to ROBS. On the memo line indicate scholarship and send them to:
Nick Siciliano
39 Jeremy Circle
Nesconset,NY 11767
     3. Remember to bring any canned or dried goods to each meeting to give to the PRONTO Food Pantry.
     Thank you for your kind and continued support.

POSTED 3/2/15
From the Office of the Governor

POSTED 3/5/15
    The Reed Performing Arts Academy would like to invite you to: Its Black History Month Celebration this Friday March 6, 2015.
     “The Beauty of Black on Broadway” an Evening Concert featuring two Broadway stars: International Tap Dancer Baakari Wilder and Original cast member of the Toni Award winning musical "Fela" Iris Wilson .
     The family friendly show is filled with the sounds of music, dance, poetry and song. This event will be a night to remember, so dress to impress. Doors open at 6:00 pm to the Michael Jazz Trio Live Band and a progression of African Dance, African Hip Hop, Afro-Latin, Tap, Lyrical and Jazz. We are pleased to recognize our 2nd year performing arts students in lead roles.
     We invite the whole Central Islip school community to come out and support the Reed performing arts students. Get dressed up, bring your friends and family to our show this Friday March 6, 2015 at 6:00 pm at the Reed School Auditorium. Let’s make it a success!!!
     Tickets sold at the door are a steal at $3.00 per C.I Student and $5.00 per adult. Hope to See You There!!!!?

Yvette Brideau
POSTED 3/7/15

     Dabney Montgomery is among the last of the Tuskegee Airmen from New York. On Feb. 24, 2015 he spoke about his experiences to students at Brentwood Sonderling High School. He captivated them with his "tales of war" and "protest".
      View this short video and read about his extraordianary past.
(Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware and Joie Tyrell))

POSTED 3/1/15
     Bellow are flyers about two rallies:
Suffolk on March 5, 2015 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm and Nassau on March 12, 2015 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm
     These forums are opportunities for parents and educators to voice their concerns about the governor's budget proposals and policies with regard to education. It's essential that these rallies be well-attended to show public displeasure with the governor's actions.
    We  encourage our members to attend one or both of these meeting.

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.

March 10
Executive Board Meeting

March 24
General Membership Meeting

RC 21 Website:
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

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

March 2015 Holidays, Bizarre, Unique, Special Days
Bizarre and Unique Holidays

All About March
March 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.


Michael Eugene DeBellis, Sr

     Michael Eugene DeBellis, Sr. was born in the City of New York on May 5, 1924, and in later years he took a great deal of fun in celebrating "Cinco de Mayo" as his birthday. Named after his maternal grandfather, Michael Guerriere, his nickname as a youngster was "Mickey". His middle name was the first name of the doctor who delivered him. It was his mother, Matilda's practice to name children after the doctor who brought her children into the world. He had an older brother, Pat De Bellis, as well as two sisters, Roseanne (Barberio) and Dolores (Schwagerl).
     Both parents' families were Italian; Matilda was born in New York, his father, Frank, was born in Italy. They met in New York. They lived near the old St. Patrick's Cathedral on Mott Street in the lower east side and were married there. Mike was Baptized there as well.
      Eventually the young family moved to a residence at 148  8th Avenue between 14th and 15th Street on the West Side of Manhattan. He remembered his mother rocking and singing the children to sleep in that house. Mike remembered shopping with his grandmother and seeing the push carts on the lower east side. She drove a hard bargain, he said, in spite of her lack of familiarity with the English language.
      At the time of this interview on October 15, 1999, Mike was seventy-five and a half years old. He had retired in 1987. One week prior to the interview he'd just returned with his wife from a visit to Italy to trace family roots. While there they'd met a number of former students from Brentwood who had lived on Ohio Avenue back in the 60's.
      It was his Grandfather, Pasquale DeBellis, who had pushed education for all the members of the next generation of family. His Uncle Hannibal,was a physician who became one of the founders of the College of Cardiology at St. Vincent's Hospital. Also a talented sculptor, in the Spellman wing of St Vincent's can be found examples of his work including one of Mother Cabrini. He also did sculpture of Ghandi for the Indian Consulate and created many US Navy bronze medallions, some of which are in the Smithsonian. In 1956, after the Hungarian uprising, he created a bronze Pieta for the Freedom Fighters which depicted his feelings about their sacrifice. The statue's whereabouts
is unknown.


     His father had 7 brothers and 2 sisters. The oldest of the boys, Henry, made stringed instruments from salvaged wood timbers even though he was a diamond dealer by trade. Most of the children in the family had been involved in the arts. Another uncle, Vincent De Bellis, a barber by trade, was also a noted painter.
      When Mike was five and a half years old in 1929 the family moved to the "country" in Corona, Queens. Their new home was a three story brick house on 102nd Street. Mike had  a lot of favorite teachers growing up and recalled them fondly.
      Throughout his life Mike's one and only love was his wife Helen Barberio. She was born in Elmhurst, Queens. They met at a Newtown High School dance in Elmhurst. During this interview Mike walked us through his vivid earliest memories, his recollections of growing up and his Aunt's railroad flat, close family relationships, celebrating holidays, the family wine making tradition, prohibition and the Great Depression. He spoke of WWII, his time in Service in what was then the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific, his college years at New England College which followed, learning to cook, a growing family and his first part and full time jobs.
      After he came home from his World War II duty in the South Pacific he and Helen were married in 1948. They moved to New Hampshire where he attended New England College. While he was in college they had two children, Claudia and Michael.  He became a beloved teacher of Biology  in Penacook High School for several years. When the young family moved to Huntington, Long Island to be closer to family, Michael spent several years as an agent with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.  He then went back into teaching in Brentwood.
      When the fast growing Brentwood School District opened up what was then named South Junior High School he was made Assistant Principal and then a year later, principal.  This began the longest part of his career in education. For decades he was the beloved principal of the school.  Hundreds of teachers learned to be better teachers from "Mike" and thousands of children looked on him as more than "the boss of the school, he was my friend." Several years before retirement he was moved from what was now named "South Middle School" to the Freshman Center, the 9th Grade building of Brentwood High School.       
     He learned a lot from his students when he first began his teaching career at Penacook High School in New Hampshire. Those students prepared him, he said, for his experiences in Brentwood. He told about his arrival in Brentwood and his memory of Ed Sonderling and respect for Guy DiPietro.
      He was hired to teach Social Studies even though he'd matriculated as a pre-med student in college. Fred Weaver and Beryl Nott interviewed him for his Brentwood position. At that time Joe Graff supervised all elementary grades in The Village School. Before the Ross Building was completed (following Mike's arrival in the district) 11th and 12th grade students went to Bay Shore High School to complete their requirements.
     Prior to his B.P.S.O. service he was an active member of the Brentwood Teachers Association serving the B.T.A. as Treasurer for several years and helped guide it through a Constitutional revision. The revision was needed in order to move with changing times and a rapidly growing membership. Summers, however, were spent on or near the water. He was a passionate fisherman who could catch Blues with baloney.  He and Helen belonged to the Centerport Yacht Club where they had their boat, the "Playtonic," moored for many wonderful years.
      Following retirement he and Helen headed south to Florida.  The settled in Fort Pierce, made many new friends, re-found old ones and discovered the fun of going on the road in their RV They made their second home there for about 17 years.
     Declining health brought him home with Helen to Huntington; he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease.  On the evening of the 22nd of December he was taken to the hospital with an intestinal distress. However, he apparently had other complications and died in the early evening of the 23rd.  He is survived by his wife, Helen, children: Claudia, Michael, Davide and Thomas and by his grandchildren: Frank, Adrianna, Michael George, Alicia, Jason, Darryl, Julianna,Steven, Michael IV and Katy.
     Mike died before any of us were ready to say goodbye, at the age of eighty years on December 23, 2004. His mark in Brentwood was unique and indelible. His service in the Brentwood Public School District is remembered and honored by many thousands of former colleagues, students and their parents. He rests in Huntington Rural Cemetery in Huntington, NY.
      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


    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.

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