2006-01-13 / Columnists

On The Beach

Lenihans Deserve Honor
With Beverly Baxter

Anyone who has ever hosted a party knows that it is quite a daunting task. Whether it be an intimate gathering of a few or a lavish fete for several hundred guests, the host is often the one who orchestrates all the details to ensure that the evening is a great success. There is much preparation that begins months in advance. If the event is to be held at a catered facility, there is the final count to the caterer, the menu, the wine and liquor, the linens, the contracting of a band, the florist, the announcements, tickets, or invitations. There are streams of lists for place-settings and seating arrangements. If awards are to be presented, then there is the contracting of an engraver. If the event is a fundraiser, then there is the daunting task of “chasing” money and collecting items to be auctioned. The litany of “things to do” is endless...

As a member of the Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association, I attended the Christmas Party at the Knights of Columbus; and as a member of its Board of Directors, I saw up-close and on a day-to-day basis just how hard the Lenihans worked to ensure that the evening was the extraordinary success that it was. For this reason, I feel compelled to respond to the Letter to the Editor authored by a “J. Brennan” in last week’s edition.

BEVERLY BAXTER I, too, attended both the RPHRA and the Belle Harbor Property Associations holiday parties and I don’t recall there being a “J.Brennan” on either guest list; therefore, it is difficult to take J.Brennan to task for the potent disparaging remarks without knowing to whom I am responding. I will tell you that the slanderous charges are unfounded, foolhardy, and cruel.

John Lenihan, a property owner for many years, has dedicated all of his free time for the betterment of the town he loves so well. When he is not working at his full-time job in Manhattan, he is out hitting the pavement collecting dues, cultivating new members, attending meetings, and being the eyes and ears of the community. Among his many initiatives is the D.O.E. Fund, which has had a profound impact on the cleanliness and general aesthetic of Beach 116 Street. His list of accomplishments on behalf of the community is endless. He sets a standard of integrity and community activism to which others could merely aspire toward. Together with his mother Mary, the Lenihans have done more for the association and the Rockaway Park community than anyone I know. It is because of them, and them alone, that the association remains fiscally healthy and relevant. So much so that the organization boasts a membership of more than 700 members and our general meetings are attended by all of our local elected officials.

The Lenihans are responsible for maintaining current membership lists, collecting annual dues, organizing the entire Christmas party, chasing money for tables, assisting in the newsletter, the mailing of the newsletter, the posting of meeting notices, the endless phone calls, and acquiring business donations for our auction. To quote my friend Mary Dever Kelly, the Lenihans don’t just “talk the talk”, they “walk the walk, literally.

This past year was a most difficult one for the Lenihans. Last winter Mary endured a major operation on her spine which could have left her paralyzed. The painful recuperative process took most of the year. During this time, she endured the sudden loss of her youngest sister; and nearly lost her beloved and only son John who suffered a massive heart attack while abroad in Ireland; yet despite all of this, she attended every single board meeting and worked hard for the association. I have never seen anyone endure so much pain and yet still continue to honor his or her commitments.

As for the association’s decision to honor John as its Man of the Year, the Executive Board voted unanimously as it could think of no one who is more deserving of such an honor.

The letter also went on to attack the association’s President Edward Re, Jr., stating that since he also serves as Vice President of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, that this suggests a “conflict of interest”! Mr. Re may reside in Belle Harbor; however, he owns many properties throughout Rockaway Park, as well. His vested interests do not begin and end within a ten block radius; but rather, extend to throughout the entire west end. It is ludicrous to think that one’s interest in their community should only extend to within a few block area. What J. Brennan cites as a conflict of interest is rather to the benefit of our entire community. We feel ourselves fortunate to have Mr. Re’s renowned expertise on areas of zoning and building codes. He was born and raised here, has a large prominent family who reside here, and he owns many properties here. I believe this more than qualifies him to inspire and lead our organization and have the interests of the neighborhood at heart.

The most deplorable charge made by “J. Brennan” was the notion that the board was stealing money! As we state in every meeting notice, we welcome the membership to review our books. I wish “J.Brennan” would come up to our office and have a look for himself. We would love to meet him and know his true identity rather than his guise behind a fictitious name. Remember, the eyes through which you see all of this negativity, are your own!

***Congratulations to Mary Lenihan’s granddaughter Meagan Dolan who has been accepted and awarded a four-year scholarship to the University of Rhode Island.

***The association would like to thank Danielle of Danielle’s Florist for the lovely centerpieces and Ed Deacy and his band for the festive dance music. As always, you were fantastic!

***The Rockaway Republicans will host their monthly meeting this week at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club where they will formally endorse former Yonkers Mayor, John Spencer in his bid against Hillary Clinton for the U.S Senate.

***Rockaway Republicans Chairman George Greco and President Tom Lynch dined with the esteemed former Governor Mario Cuomo and his wife Mathilde recently at The Progressive Era Association Club on Washington Place. 

Among the topics discussed are the “Fuggetaboutit” signs that litter both the Belt Pkwy. and B.Q.E. and are offensive to many Americans of Italian descent. The occasion which began as an impromtu meeting went on to become an evening of exhilarating conversation with one of our most beloved former Governors.

***On behalf of the RPHRA, I extend our condolences to the family of Margie Rice, a valued member of our board of directors who passed away suddenly.

She will be missed by many of those who had the pleasure to know and work with her.

***Happy Birthday wishes to Teresa Baxter and Terry Flynn, Jr.!

***A note to Pat Williams of Breezy Point: You and my mother have to stop meeting at Foxes!

From one shopaholic to another, I know the rationale. I lost so much weight; therefore, I really do need yet another pair of shoes!

See you....On the Beach!


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