2005-11-18 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter Remembrance And Recognition

With Beverly Baxter
Remembrance And Recognition

Words simply could not adequately articulate what I felt standing with all of you at the Tribute Park dedication on November 6th. I felt both proud and humbled to stand amongst those who organized the ceremony for those whose lives will be forever memorialized in this beautiful park. The program was tasteful and dignified and exceeded my expectations. Its poignant effect will resonate with me, as well as I imagine with others, for a long time to come. To Dan Mundy, Patrick Clark, Geoff Rawling, Nadia Murphy, Joan Omeste, et al, all of the beauty that you are is evident in the loving details throughout the park. Well done.

As we enter into the holiday season, there are many upcoming worthwhile community events where we will honor the exemplary service of certain distinguished individuals who have enhanced our community. The Rockaway Homeowners and Residents Association will host its Holiday Party on December 17th at the Knights of Columbus.

This year, the association is proud to honor the work of one man, John Lenihan; as well as an entire organization, The Graybeards. I suppose that John Lenihan best exemplifies what one man can accomplish when he is steadfast and devoted to a particular cause. The Graybeards, as an organization, represent what an entire group of people, comprised of people like John Lenihan, can accomplish when they band together this passion toward a particular cause. In honoring John Lenihan, we are honoring the spirit of an individual’s community activism; while in honoring The Graybeards, we pay tribute to the spirit of activism in its most potent form: a true civic organization that gives back to the community. 

John Lenihan, who will be honored as the homeowners and residents association’s Man of the Year, is well known and deserving of this recognition. Together with his mother, Mary Lenihan, John initiated the founding of The Rockaway Homeowners and Residents Association more than ten years ago. He single-handedly grew the organization to where it now boasts an active membership of over 750 participants. He is a member of Local 32BJ and is employed by Douglas Elliman Property Management. John has been involved in the association endeavors to improve quality of life issues throughout the west end, particularly along Beach 116 and Beach 129 Streets. He was an active participant in bringing the Doe Fund to Beach 116 Street, as well as the obtaining of more garbage cans, better lighting, and the clearing of catch basins. In a world of mediocrity, John Lenihan’s efforts have been extraordinary! 

The Graybeards was founded in the wake of two horrific events that struck the core of our beloved community: 911 and the crash of AA Flight 587. In his book, Braving The Waves, author Kevin Boyle describes The Graybeards as a group of 40-something and over guys who, regardless of what they do for a living, or what kind of car they drive, or how big their house is, or whether it is in upper upper Rockaway Park or lower Belle Harbor, are equalized on the court (and your team better make the championship finals!). When Steve Stathis first approached Monsignor Geraghty of Saint Francis de Sales on what the organization can do for the community in response to the tragedies, Monsignor Geraghty, in his dry wit, responded, “Aren’t you the guys who drink beer and play basketball?” and Steve, in his even drier wit, replied, “Yes, but not necessarily in that order, even though we may look that way!” Although many of the Graybeards can still make those 3-point shots, there are those who are beginning to show signs of dribbling-the ball- that is. One thing’s for sure: none of these guys are content to simple “ride the pine,” sitting on the sidelines when it comes to their beloved community. Their mission is to help and assist those in the community who need help. They have put their might and flexed their muscles on such projects as the renovations of The Claddagh Inn and The Rockaway Theatre Company, homes that needed repair, their annual blood drives; and of course, hosting charity basketball games against the RIBs, to name just some of their fun and worthwhile endeavors. Graybeards President Steve Stathis will be presented with the association’s Recognition Award. The occasion promises to be a great evening with entertainment by the great Deacy and Casey Band.

Tickets are selling fast.

Contact Mary or John Lenihan.

The parade committee will host its first benefit of the 2006 parade season this Sunday, November 20 at The Beach Club from 6-10 p.m. This is the occasion where our slate of honorees will make their debut.

NYFD Chief Peter Hayden is our Male Honorary Grand Marshal. Chief Hayden will also be joined by Kelly Casey, Assistant Chief of the Crimes Against Children bureau of the Brooklyn D.A.’s office.

The James Conway Sullivan Gael of the Year will be Inspector Michael Morley, former Commanding Officer of the 100 and 101 precincts.

Each year the committee votes on a slate of those who have distinguished themselves within the Irish community.

This year we will honor as Deputy Grand Marshals: Thomas Flood, Homeland Security Director at JFK; Dr. Timothy Rohrs, of Sands Point Physical Therapy; John Duddy, renowned Irish Boxer; Ann McGovern; activist and beloved Crossing Guard; Mary Rooney, Attorney and former Bank Manager; Edward O’Hare, Republican District Leader; and Joe Murphy, Breezy Point resident and activist. Congratulations! 

***In other parade committee news, President Mike Benn was recently received at the Upper East Side home of Irish Ambassador Tim O’Connor. Among the other 80 guests was Mary Hanafin, Ireland’s Education Secretary who addressed the U.N. On behalf of the committee, Mike Benn extends his condolences to the family of former Deputy Grand Marshal Frank Connelly, of Cabra Construction, who passed away recently.

***Sheila Schwartz, whose favorite adage is “Let’s get militant! Let’s get crazy!” is always enthusiastic about all things Peninsula Hospital. She is a natural “cheerleader” on behalf of the many worthwhile events that benefit the hospital. As Co-President, along with Anne Levine, of the PHC Auxilians, Sheila described their most recent Book Sale in the Lobby as a “great success.” From PHC President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Levine, who brought a big bag of books to donate, to Doctors, Nurses, and Staff, everyone was involved and ensured its success. The Auxilians meet at noon on the first Tuesday of each month at the hospital. Their next meeting on December 6 will feature Maritza Mure who will have her beautiful jewelry on display, just in time for the holidays.

Proceeds will go toward the hospital. 

***P.S 114 will host a Holiday Book Sale this Saturday at the school where you will find treasured classics that make great gifts.

Happy Thanksgiving!          


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