Arthur Engoron

January 3, 2023


Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 134

Dear Wheatley Wildcats and Other Interested Persons,

Welcome to The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 134.

According to Substack, in the first 24 hours after publication, Newsletter # 133 was viewed 3,411 times, was “liked” 25 times, and received six comments. In all, 4,721 email addresses received Newsletter # 133. In December, the Newsletter was accessed 13,000 times.

All underlined text is a link-to-a-link (or, occasionally, an email address). Clicking anywhere on underlined text, and then clicking on the link that pops up, will get you to your on-line destination (or address an email).

The Usual Words of Wisdom

Thanks to our fabulous Webmaster, Keith Aufhauser (Class of 1963), you can regale yourself with the first 133 Newsletters (and much other Wheatley data and arcana) at Wheatley School Alumni Association Website .

Also, thanks to Keith is our search engine, prominently displayed on our home page: type in a word or phrase and, wow!, you’ll find every place it exists in all previous Newsletters and other on-site material. I use it frequently; it usually works!

I edit all submissions, even material in quotes, for clarity and concision, without any indication thereof.  I cannot and do not vouch for the accuracy of what people tell me.

We welcome any and all text and photos relevant to The Wheatley School, 11 Bacon Road, Old Westbury, NY 11568, and the people who administered, taught, worked, and/or studied there. Art Engoron, Class of 1967


District and ‘Hood History

Writes James Turco (1960) - “Hi Art, I lived in East Williston in the late 1950s in the only legal two-family home allowed there in the one square mile of the town. A few months back I took a ‘Google’ street stroll from my old home on Sagamore Ave. down Sumpter and continued down past North Side School. At that point I was getting lost with the changes that had occurred. I think if I went any further I would have been lost! Summing this up, all I can say is ‘Nothing ever remains the same,’ as I can attest to as my 82 years of life that are creeping up on me! Thank you for the past peeks into life back then from all that have contributed to the ‘now and then.’ Best of the New Year, Jim”



Joan Catena Wathey - Deceased

Formerly of Woodbury, NY and Scottsdale, AZ, Joan passed away peacefully in her sleep on December 16, 2023 at the age of 96. She was predeceased by her husband of 72 years, Walter W. Wathey. She is survived by sons Wes (Jan) of Huntington, NY; Scott, of Surprise, AZ; and Drew (predeceased by Dede) of Phoenix, AZ. She is survived by grandchildren, Christopher (Caroline) of Cold Spring Harbor, NY,; Kimberly (Ben) of Philadelphia, PA; Kevin of Phoenix, AZ; and Lauren of Los Angeles, CA. Great-grandchildren Reese, Campbell and Joseph; and many nieces and nephews.

Born on August 2, 1927 in Manhattan, Joan was an original "Bobby Soxer" and a lifelong fan of Frank Sinatra. She earned both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Education from NYU. She was a two-sport athlete for the Violets, earning varsity letters in both basketball and lacrosse. Her career in education included physical education positions in the Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor School Districts as well as Farmingdale State College, where she taught Phys Ed and coached volleyball. She also worked at United Airlines' Red Carpet Room, where she assisted VIP's at JFK airport. "She was a very outgoing person and made friends with many of the celebrities of the day, including Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Frank Gifford," according to her son, Wes, Jr. Joan retired from teaching in 1979 and moved to Scottsdale, AZ, where she continued her career in education in the Office of Admissions at Arizona State University. She continued to be involved in many community activities after her time at ASU. She will be missed by all who knew her. A private family ceremony to honor Joan will be held at a later date. Condolences can be sent to,, or or at

Published in Newsday on Jan. 3, 2024.


Faculty Appreciation

Leslie James Runestad - Deceased

Writes his son- “My dad, Leslie James Runestad, has kicked the bucket. He was 89, at the end, surrounded by family, love and laughter. If I’m funny, it was because of him. If I’m easy-going, it’s because of him. If I’m intelligent, it’s him. He originally married Marti Issing and had two children, me and my big sister, Gretchen Runestad Daugherty. He was a high school biology and earth sciences teacher, and a tennis aficionado. For years I’d give people 10 chances to guess the three high school sports he coached—nobody has ever gotten them all. Now it can be told! Track, cross-country, bowling. He was the last of his generation, the last of his kind, the youngest of nine kids to Bertha and Lars, who came over from Norway in 1917 and bought a large ranch in South Dakota. Les grew up in a one-room house on the prairie where he shepherded sheep and left home at age 14 to move into town and go to school. He was teacher of the year in Colorado in 1964, which he parlayed into a teaching gig in the new suburbs of New York on Long Island at The Wheatley School. He was a beloved teacher, so well-liked by students that they wanted to call him by his first name; he said no, that would be inappropriate, so he was affectionately known for years by successive generations of students as “L.R.” He retired approximately 30 years ago to Venice, Florida, on the Gulf Coast, with wife Ellen Runestad, where they played tennis, had scotch rocks at 5 o’clock, and had a good social life with lots of friends. His old world Dakota upbringing made him unique in the world, especially back East; he never had any hard feelings for anyone, he was always of good cheer, he would yodel, a real charming funny light in the world, always quick with a unique one-liner or a turn-of-phrase that made you laugh, and enjoyed being a bit of a flirt. He leaves 2 grandchildren, Summer and Cassidy, on my side, 3 more, Sage, Cheyenne and Dalton, on my sister’s, 1 more, Raymond, on Robin Schindler’s side, and 2 more, Maya and Jacob, on Marc Schindler’s side. The Dakota cowboy and Viking king is gone—long live Les the Best!”

David Heckendorn - Music Teacher at The Wheatley School 1985 - 2006

Writes David - “Taking Art Engoron's advise to ‘Please send me your autobiography before someone else sends me your obituary,’ attached is my statement in this regard.

I began teaching music in 1970 at Jamaica High School in Queens after receiving my undergraduate degree from NYU. There, in addition to my responsibilities as conductor of the junior band, music theory instructor, and teacher of music appreciation, I developed a unique and vital program in jazz, with the development of the Jamaica High School Jazz Ensemble.

Before I came to Wheatley, I taught music at Marist College for three years and wrote the play, words and music for my musical Graffiti, which was produced at Marist in 1981, my third year.

I came to The Wheatley School in 1984 and began a 21-year tenure as the Band Director, the orchestral conductor of the yearly musicals, and composer, having written scores performed as part of the following Wheatley stage productions: music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Crucible, Romeo and Juliet, and Dracula. In 1987 I collaborated with colleague Bernie Kaplan in creating, staging, and recording an original musical theater piece called Ode To Celebration.

My love and experience in jazz continued in producing my yearly Valentine’s Day Jazz Assembly, which brought talented, active members of the NYC jazz community to Wheatley to perform a concert for the entire school and to workshop with the student jazz band.

In 1995 I served as Production Music Coordinator, Orchestrator, and special advisor to Richard Dreyfuss for the motion picture Mr. Holland’s Opus. As a follow-up to the film’s release, I composed music, contracted an orchestra consisting of professional musicians and talented students, and conducted this 45 piece orchestra in an evening’s performance entitled Mr. Heckendorn’s Opus. This event was produced by David Israel, Bob Bernstein, and myself, and brought in proceeds that helped kick off the creation of the EWTA Scholarship Foundation.

Upon leaving Wheatley in 2006, I produced one final performance, which featured talented students from the Music and Drama Departments in a one-act musical called Why Not?. For the play I brought in the talented actor and Wheatley graduate Kevin Reed to direct. In addition, a number of faculty members gave graciously of their time and talents. The second half of the program featured my professional ten-piece jazz band. The evening’s event was called Heck’s Farewell.

Since leaving Wheatley I have devoted my time to composing and producing CDs (of which I have over 30) and recitals of my work. In May 2018, I was featured with the Galarie All Stars, a jazz band in Hamburg, Germany for a week of performances. I have received a number of commissions and composer residencies, including one from St Patrick’s Cathedral, and a Texas State University composer residency, concert performance, and recording.

Interestingly, an example of life imitating art - much like the story told in Mr. Holland’s Opus, just last year former Wheatley student David Krauss, principal Trumpet with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, was the featured soloist for a recording I produced of my Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Symphony.

Thank you, Wheatley, for opening doors of friendship, talent, scholarship, and fond memories.”


Faculty Disapproval

Writes Karen Strumpfler Tucker (1962) - “I took the PSSC Physics Class with Mr. Zaros in 1960-61, and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. There were two girls in the class, and when I look back on it, Mr. Zaros hated women. He hated me and my very existence. I was offered an ‘option’ to take HIS end-of-year exam rather than the NYS Regents Exam, because he didn't think I was capable of passing the Regents Exam. I told him that there was no way in hell that I would take an exam that he would create, capitalizing on my weaknesses, rather than the State Exam. Needless to say, I did very well on the Regents Exam, went on to ace all my Physics Classes in college, earning Magna Cum Laude when I graduated with a Mathematics Degree. Some things you never forget.”


1961 - Leonard Jacobs - A Varied Life

Writes Len - “After Wheatley I had a strange and eventful freshman year in Cleveland, as the Cuyahoga River caught on fire due to pollution. As a member of the tennis team I travelled around Ohio, and one day there was a shooting at Kent State (“Two dead in Ohio”). My dad ran out of money, so I had to transfer to the U of Florida, as my dad said that he was a resident and, therefore, the tuition was very low. I joined a fraternity and loved the parties with The Hot Nuts Band and discovered that I was a good dancer. I dropped out and went back to NYC and got all kinds of jobs while going to night school at NYU. I made friends in the city who had an apartment, and then I  became a dedicated New Yorker. I got a job at Paramount Pictures on Columbus Circle as a publicist, and I met many stars (like Jane Fonda), but I was restless to do something else. Some college friends of mine started a water bed company in Miami and invited me to come down and join the team, so away I went. The first thing I did was to move into a small house in Coconut Grove with a pal. Then bought a Triumph motorcycle. A few months later we went out of business due to one of the partners having stolen the payroll. He fled to Spain, where he was arrested and spent five years in jail.”

1963 - Rita Silverstein Levin - On Facebook

No photo description available.


1965 - Louise Kampa Triano - “The Class of 1965 is heading into Number 60! I think we have to do something before we can do nothing. Yes?”

1965 - Jeffrey Orling - “I am the only living member of my family.... not something I like. I am looking forward to a reunion to touch base with some wildcats again. Are there any from "our time" who still live in the school district?


1966 - Claude Levy - Maestro

Writes Claude - “I was surprised when Art asked to publish these photographs, as I thought this was history. But after all, the Wheatley Alumni Association Newsletter is often about history, and I’m happy to elaborate about the context.

As those of you who have known me for a while are aware, I’m a musician. You’ll find a full page about me in the 1966 Aurora Yearbook. I’m still grateful to The Wheatley School for offering me my first chance ever to perform with an orchestra as a pianist, in a concert organized as a fundraiser by the American Field Service Club (hi, Karen!) with the discreet support of my American family and my “brother,” Bob Gross (1967). I am grateful for the help of ‘Doc’ Wills, Mr. Signorelli, and everyone else who helped produce that concert.

In France, I made a career as a music teacher and doubled as a choral conductor, founding a choir that will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. When I made New York my home, I sang in various choirs, and often I substituted or even was hired as a conductor. This picture was taken when I led a concert organized by the Renaissance Chorus Association of New York.

No photo description available.

f you’re interested in my work as  a conductor, I’m happy to share this video:

Antoine Miannay, Human Rights 


Two prior issues of the Wheatley Alumni Newsletter:

Wheatley Alumni Association Newsletter # 10 and Wheatley Alumni Association Newsletter # 65 told how I met Roslyn High School Senior Laurie Lefferts in 1966, explaining that we split up the next year and only reconnected in 2006. It then took us another six years to marry. One of her hobbies is dancing and the photograph below was taken at City Hall that very day. It’s been a little more than 10 years. Nothing to impress those of you who have been married for dozens of years. And no worries, we don’t intend to beat any records.”


1967 - 20th-Year Reunion - Friends World College - Long Island, NY

L-R - Larry Baum, Jack Wolf, Richard Friedman, Mitch Stephens, Art Engoron

Fast Forward 37 years:

At a Japanese restaurant, the Iron Chef House, in Brooklyn Heights, 1/5/2024


1967 - Amy Pastarnack Hughes - “Art - I have so many memories of so many classmates that I could go on and on! Hearing from Johnny Mok ‘68 made me so happy! I loved hanging out with him and his sister Rose ‘67 - and their whole family. Their mother was amazing with all of her accomplishments.

And the shout-out from Robin Brinn ‘69 made me laugh!! We will always have gym class! Hahaha! And I loved being her big sister at college. We really had such a good time. She is a terrific person.

I am in constant contact with Jill Simon Forte ‘67 and Bob Forte ‘65, and it is like the years melt away. They are a fabulous couple.

Hearing from so many classmates is really so so nice!”


1975 - Deidre Lorraine Coulthurst - Deceased

Ms. Deidre Lorraine Coulthurst, age sixty-six, departed this life and entered into eternal rest Thursday, December 28, 2023 at Person Memorial Hospital in Roxboro, North Carolina. She was born August 23, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York to the late Lionell and Julia Mayhems Coulthurst, but made her home in Roxboro, North Carolina and was a Veteran of the U.S. Army.
She leaves to cherish precious memories siblings: Linda Coulthurst-Jay of Roxboro, North Carolina, Lloyd Coulthurst of Phoenix, Arizonaand Meryl Coulthurst of Queens, New York; her step-mother, Katherine Coulthurst of Fayetteville, North Carolina; nephew, Michael Coulthurst of Frankfort, New York; niece, Dr. Alexandra Jay; devoted sister-friend, Pasanda Gentry, also of Roxboro; and a host of other nieces, nephews, other loving relatives and friends.


Fan Mail

Faculty (David Heckendorn) - “Keep up the good work on this very entertaining and worthwhile Newsletter, which keeps the Wheatley family well-connected.”

1962 (Karen Strumpfler Tucker) - ❤️

1963 (Mark Friedman) - ❤️

1964 (John Sullivan) - “Art - thank you for the Newsletter. Much appreciated. Are there any plans for a 60th-year reunion for the Class of 1964, either 1964 only or with other classes?”

1965 (Jeffrey Orling) - Art, I’m closing out 2023 with your wonderful collection of memories. It's a real hoot to read them. I’m waiting for the next edition of the Wheatley School Alumni Newsletter.”

1967 (Amy Pastarnack Hughes) - “I enjoy these newsletters! Thank you, Arthur!”

1967 (Barbara Smith Stanisic) - “Thank you, Art. Great job. 👍

1969 (Maddy Nathanson) - ❤️

1969 (Jo Anne Newman Abraskin) - “Great info, thank you!”

1972 (Robin Freier) - “Thanks for another great newsletter! I love the memories. ❤️ We are all so lucky to have you, keeping us all connected.”

1973 (Todd Luttinger) - ❤️

1974 (LauRha Frankfort) - “Thank you so much for sticking with this record of friends. Something very special happens when you touch your roots.  Wishing everyone a healthy and happy New Year filled with lots of peace and kindness.”

1974 (Laura Herbst) - ❤️

1974 (Nicole Pastarnack) - ❤️

1974 (Elyse Rame Beyer) - ❤️

1977 (Nanette Asimov) - “Thanks for the fabulous Wheatley Alumni Newsletter!”

1977 (Laura Slaski Rabinowitz) - ❤️

Friend - “The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 133 was a great read on Day One of 2024. I enjoyed Scott Frishman ('67)'s use of your slogan (refrain?) to send an autobiography before someone else sends an obituary! And it was fun to see the festive photos of Alex Estis's engagement.”



That’s it for The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 134.  Please send me your autobiography before someone else sends me your obituary.


  Arthur Fredericks Engoron, Class of 1967