CSD 27 Superintendent
Colman Genn, 68, former Community School Board 27 Superintendent and the man who many in the education community called “The Education Serpico” for his actions in bringing down a racist and corrupt school board, died last week at North Shore Hospital of respiratory problems.
Genn was the superintendent in 1989, when he became nationally famous for wearing a wire that caught discussions involving cronyism, racism and misuse of public money. He became the star witness in the Gill Commission hearings into corruption in New York City school boards.
In January of 1991, Genn retired from his job, saying that he was smoking too much, that he feared that there would be retribution for his testimony before the Gill Commission and that he was suffering from his asthma, which had been exacerbated by the tension of his job.
For the past several years, Genn has been a Senior Fellow at the Center for Educational Innovation.
He was born in 1935 in the Bronx. His father was a ritual slaughterer of Kosher meat. He was one of five children and was educated in Jewish schools through high school.
He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education from Brooklyn College and a Master’s Degree in the same field from Michigan State University.
He became Superintendent in July of 1987 after a long career as a teacher and supervisor.
Izabella Slobodoff, whose last major artistic effort will be a key element in Tribute Park, died on July 20. She was 70.
Slobodoff, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, came to the United States in 1992. A world-class artist, Slobodoff worked in an array of media – her sculptures, paintings and drawings have been shown from Rockaway to Russia, throughout Europe. She was a charter member of the Rockaway Artists Alliance and a member of the National Sculptor’s Society. Slobodoff’s stone carving of a firefighter’s helmet is the crowning element of the firefighter’s tribute rock, a major element in Tribute Park.
Friends described Slobodoff as a special person who was talented, artistic, kind, gracious and generous.
She is survived by her husband, Alexy Ivanov; son, Roman Ivanov; grandson, Alexander; brother and sister in law, Michael and Alla; sister and brother in law, Bella and Vitale.
Interment was at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, in Ridgewood, Queens.
Faith Alicia Clemons
Certified Nurse’s Assistant
Faith Alicia Clemons, who attended Far Rockaway High School and who has family here, died on July 14. She was 38.
Clemons, who was born in Brooklyn, was a certified nurse’s assistant.
She is survived by her sons, Joseph, Christopher and Nathaniel; mother, Mary Alice Clemons and husband Deosaran, of Far Rockaway; brothers, Alois Clemons (Gail) and Thomas; sisters, Lynn, Stellar and Lillian; aunts, Annie Horn, Gassie Kluttz (Edward) and Mable Thompson; cousins, Sonta Long (Sherman), Sharon, Gregory, Andre, Patricia, Van Kluttz and Andre Kluttz; nephews, Jason and Perry Clemons; and other relatives and friends.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Jeremiah C. Gaffney’s Funeral Home, with a service at Gaffney’s Friendship Chapel. Disposition was at Oxford Hills Crematory.
William J. Lachner
St. Francis Basketball Coach
William J. Lachner, a Belle Harbor resident for 45 years, died on July 17.
Lachner, who was born in Manhattan, was a parishioner at St. Francis de Sales. He served in the United States Navy during the Korean Conflict and later worked as a back ram operator and for a private stock brokerage. He coached basketball at St. Francis de Sales for 15 years and was a past member of the Philip Port Cancer Unit.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Brannigan Lachner; sons, William J. (Benita) and Charles B. (Janel); daughters, Jane C. (Victoria) and C. Elaine McDonnell (John); and 15 grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to the Denis S. O’Connor Funeral Home. Burial was private.
State Health Administrator
Catherine McIntyre, a lifelong Rockaway Park resident, died on July 19.
McIntyre, who was born in Queens City, was a parishioner at St. Camillus Church. She worked as an administrator for the New York State Department of Health.
McIntyre was preceded in death by mother, Genevieve McIntyre and father, Andrew McIntyre.
She is survived by her brother, Herbert McIntyre (Rosemary); aunt and uncle, Marie and Jack Esquirol; and nephews, Brian and Christopher McIntyre.
Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Denis S. O’Connor Funeral Home. Interment was at Mt. St. Peters Cemetery.
Mother Marcelina Maysilin McNiesh
Mother Marcelina Maysilin McNeish, a Rockaway resident for nearly 20 years, died on July 15. She was 89.
McNiesh, who was born in St. Ann, Jamaica, West Indies. She was a Deaconess at Grateful Hill Baptist Church in Jamaica and Beth-El Temple Church of God In Christ, Far Rockaway.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Austin, of St. Ann; and her husband, Aubrey McNiesh.
McNiesh is survived by her daughters, Agatha, Sarah and Sylvia; grandchildren, Clifton, Marlene, Donna, Doreen, Barbara, Yvonne, Bedeliah, Karen, Warren, Ann Marie and Ricardo; great grandchildren, Jacqueline, LaToya, Nicole, Raymond, Tanya, LaTisha, Travis, Tyrone, Mark, Shanice, Shanel, Anthony, Monique, Victoria, Edward, Rebecca, Alicia, Danielle and Jayden; great great grandchildren, Tyanna and Alexis; and other family members and friends.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Jeremiah C. Gaffney’s Funeral Home. A service was held at Bethel Temple. Disposition was at Rosehill Cemetery, Linden, New Jersey.
James Lawrence Simpson
James Lawrence Simpson, who worked on homes and businesses in Rockaway for more than 50 years, died on July 12. He was 90.
Simpson, who was born in Manhattan, was an electrician.
He was preceded in death by his parents, James L. and Victoria Simpson.
He is survived by his son, Kasseem Kent Simpson; daughter, Barbara hazelwood; stepson, Keith Victor Cummings; stepdaughter, Linda Collins; son in law, Josephine Phwates and Doris Watson; and other family members and friends.
Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Jeremiah C. Gaffney’s Funeral Home. A service was held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, in Rosedale. Disposition was at Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx.
Early Thompson, who worked in Rockaway many times throughout his years, died on July 13. He was 77.
Thompson, who was born in Jacksonville, Florida, served in the United States Army and Navy. He worked as a contractor.
Thompson was preceded in death by his parents, John and Ruth Thompson; and his wife, Julia.
He is survived by his children, Beverly, Kim, Kenneth and Sharon; sister, Mary Hobson-Dverton; brother, Albert; grandchildren, Shalon, Damen, Shanae, Shanita, Duane and Douglas; great grandchildren, Jonathan, Damen Jr., Kristian, Jason, Dante and Shalae; niece, Norma Green, brother in law, Sherman; son in law, Norman; grandson in law, Karis; granddaughter in law, Onesia; and other family members and friends.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Jeremiah C. Gaffney’s Funeral Home. A service was held at Springfield Gardens United Methodist Church. Disposition was at Calverton National Cemetery.
Vera Mary Varello
Ret. Administrative Assistant
Vera Mary Varello, a former Arverne resident, died on July 11. She was 86.
Varello, who was born in Brooklyn, was a resident of Beach 66 Street for more than 50 years. She was a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima Church and was a former president and lifetime member of the Ladies Auxiliary of Peninsula General Hospital. Varello was retired from her work as an administrative assistant in the health services industry and lived in Miami, Florida at the time of her death.
Varello was preceded in death by her parents, Mary and Paul Pastuchoff; and her husband, Joseph Varello.
She is survived by her children, Carmen and Paul Varello and Ronnie Ann Kaplan; six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Funeral services were held at St. Charles Cemetery, Farmingdale. In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations sent to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Mary Wayne, a Roxbury resident for nearly 45 years, died on July 16.
Wayne, who was born in Pennsylvania, was a parishioner at St. Genevieve. She worked as an office manager for Arista Imports.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Dimitri Wayne.
She is survived by her son, Gregory Wayne; and a grandson, Timothy Wayne.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to the Denis S. O’Connor Funeral Home. Interment was at St. Charles Cemetery.