Dear Wheatley Wildcats and Other Interested Persons,
Welcome to The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 33.
Thanks to our fabulous Webmaster, Keith Aufhauser (1963), you can regale yourself with the first thirty-two newsletters (and other Wheatley data and arcana) at Relatively new, and also thanks to Keith, is our handy-dandy, super-duper search feature, prominently displayed on our home page: type in a term or phrase and, voila, you’ll find it in all previous newsletters and other on-site material. Wow!
Conversely, if you are completely uninterested in Wheatley matters, please ask me to remove you from my distribution list.
I edit all submissions, even material in quotes, for clarity and concision, without any indication thereof. I do not censor ideas, which often are not the same as mine.
Former Principal Norman Boyan – Going Strong at 97
Writes Wheatley’s first Principal – “Dear Art, I am most grateful for the Wheatley Newsletters because of their connection to a long ago past that has remained so wonderfully clear in this old head (97 years old last April 11; I recently celebrated my 76th wedding anniversary). Just great to learn that Wes Wathey is still with us, a truly treasured colleague who set his own special stamp on Wheatley. Be well and please continue your special work. Norm”
Former Principal Walter Wathey – Going Strong at 95
I received the following voicemail from Mr. Wathey - “Hi, Arthur, this is Wes Wathey. Thank you very much for remembering my birthday. I’m 95, pushing towards 100. Do you think I’ll make it? I don’t know (laughs)! While we’re on the subject, I enjoy the Wheatley newsletters so much. They are insightful, clear, and contain wonderful information, and none of us will ever forget the history. My family and I celebrated my birthday quietly here at home. That my family was here was most important to me at this stage of the game. Thanks again. Bye now.”
Former Principal Rick Simon – Riding the River
1958 – Roberta Kaufman – Memorial Service
A memorial service for Bobbie Kaufman was held on Saturday, July 13, 2019. She died this past Feb. 2nd.
1958 – Barbara Newman – Still Winning
Writes Barbara – “Me with my woman’s doubles partner accepting our 4th place winner ribbons at the Albuquerque National Senior Games……..great fun!
1959 – Matthew Sanzone – Early Years at Wheatley
THE WHEATLEY STORY
Willetts Road School
“We’re moving;” these few words are unsettling words for most adolescents. For me over the first eight years of my formal education, three such pronouncements were uttered, which fostered some degree of turmoil in my life, so when we finally settled in East Williston, Willetts Road School was to become the fourth different school system in my pedagogic trail. I was not a North Sider, as our parents believed that the only way we, their three sons, would reach salvation was under the tutelage and hand (literally) of nuns in the local Catholic school. St. Aidan’s was the penultimate landing place once we moved to East Williston, the third Catholic school in my resume, concluding with grades seven and eight there. Now they probably had a good point in thinking that we needed a solid dose of religion, accompanied by a generous sprinkling of guilt, along with a heavy hand, to help us grow and mature into responsible citizens, and I am not second guessing them. However, three different orders of nuns, cloaked in three different habits in three different Catholic schools ,was more than enough.
By the time I reached St. Aidan’s I was well into wearing my black motorcycle jacket, which didn’t seem to endear me to the sisters of Halifax, but I was determined to continue the “hood” persona that I had been cultivating for the last two years while living in Queens Village. That jacket was my security blanket through my early adolescent miasma. St Aidan’s was the final destination, and the end came not a moment too soon as far as I was concerned. One very positive element of these pedagogical experiences is that they have provided a rich and unusually deep well from which to write satirical essays and humorous stories, a number of which I have penned. The ritual of confession, alone, is teeming with “tales of the box” that would make one shake one’s head in disbelief.
So, I was so happy to learn that my “Catholic” education was not to continue, and that I would be attending the Willetts Road School in September of 1955. My mother brought me to register early that fall, and it was agreed that I would take English, Social Studies, French, Science, Algebra, Physical Education, and lunch. It is said that first impressions and experiences can be lasting ones, and for me that is certainly true. My life in school was about to change in ways that I could not have predicted. First, I was going to have six different teachers and move about the school day into five different classrooms, plus the gym. I was to be free of the one classroom routine that I had labored through for eight years, each year staring at the bromide printed in bold letters on the top of the front blackboard: “An Idle Mind Is the Devil’s Workshop.” Further, I was moving from playing stickball on the asphalt streets in Queens to baseball on the grass and dirt of public school fields.
Ms. Bodnar, Mr. Visco, Mr. Frisone, Mr. Lineweaver, Mr. Devlin, and Mr. Brightman were my teachers, all brilliant and engaging. One thing I learned after a teaching career myself is that students remember not so much what you have taught them but how you taught them, and this was so true for all of my Wheatley School years. Dr. Boyan was our principal.
I found it awkward fitting in, for so many of my new classmates had bonded through their North Side years. It was almost like I parachuted into the class without any knowledge of the environment. Luckily for me, my new teachers and new classmates made my adjustment relatively easy. “Adjustment” is an interesting descriptor. For me, after eight years of one classroom environment with forty plus pupils in every classroom, the freedom of my new schedule was overwhelming, and I didn’t handle it so well. First, there was no longer any fear of being wacked with a ruler or having my hair pulled or ear twisted, which are just a few of the medieval learning-reinforcement techniques employed by the “Sisters of Mercy.”
Then there were teachers who actually had a sense of humor, and it was OK to laugh in class and not be laughed at for mispronouncing or misreading a word. My biggest problem was the poor fundamental education I brought with me to Willets Road School. I will always remember sitting in Mr. Lineweaver’s science class on my first day when a student asked if Mr. Lineweaver believed that science was still in its infancy. Well, right there and then I knew I was in over my head. Algebra may just as well have been hieroglyphics, because arithmetic was the extent of my background in that discipline. French! Not even close. I probably had a better chance studying Latin after all the Catholic masses I attended over my first fourteen years of existence, eight of them in a classroom in which my music education consisted of singing hymns in Latin. Ms. Bodnar was terrific and provided my first exposure to poetry. I actually wrote one that shocked her, causing her, I am sure, to scan the poetry indices of all her anthologies looking for my suspected plagiarism. My first and only “A”. Mr. Brightman encouraged me to join the track team, and that was a game changer for me. Lunch hour featured rock ‘n roll music played over the PA, and dancing was a regular activity. Imagine such a scene in Catholic school where rock ‘n roll was banned.
One lunch period I’ll never forget happened early in the school year. I mentioned that fitting in initially was not easy, and I did face one challenge that was unexpected, but one many boys encounter at some point in their adolescent lives. For some reason a classmate whom I did not know, and with whom I had little interaction (name omitted), was often teasing and mimicking me, until one day a “fight” was arranged by his friends (some of whom I wanted to befriend). Meet in the locker room during lunch was the challenge! I admit I was pretty nervous about it, because I still felt somewhat of an outsider, but I didn’t really have any choice. I decided to eat lunch first then go to the locker room. Miss lunch? Not a chance! Ken Goldman, future class president, kept me company, knowing that I was in the minority for this engagement. Word soon filtered back to the cafeteria that I was “chickening out,” so I went to meet my fate. There were six or seven friends of “he who will not be named” present. No punches thrown, but we wrestled a bit before I pinned him to the locker room floor. He gave up and no blood was shed. You could say that wrestling had some promise for me in the future. I was in fact accepted into that group of boys, so I had my cake (lunch) and ate it too!
All things considered, I found the year at Willetts Road School a new world. I had broken with my friends from St. Aidan’s and found new ones who became lifelong friends. All the while, a scant few miles north, ground had been broken on Bacon Road, the future site of an adventure, a bold experiment, the Wheatley School, that few if any Wheatley alums will ever forget.
1960 – Diane Cohen-Alpert - Deceased
1960 – Dennis J. Harrelson – Deceased
“Dennis J. Harrelson, 69, born December 21, 1940 in Flushing, NY died unexpectedly June 22, 2010. Dennis was raised on Long Island, NY, enjoying hotdogs at Jones Beach, old Westerns, and Mets baseball. Dennis joined the U.S. Army in 1962. This was followed by years in the finance world and Chase Bank in Manhattan. Knowing early he was ‘born to retire,’ Dennis did, and focused on being a devoted, dutiful son and companion to his beloved mother, Eleanor. After relocating to Tucson with her in 1997, Dennis attended services regularly at St. Frances de Sales Church. Tucson life allowed Dennis to indulge his love of golf, shopping at Costco and time with his extended family. Dennis was preceded in death by his mother, Eleanor; and brother, Stan. He is survived by his extended family of nieces, nephews, grand and great-grand nieces and nephews, as well as friends and neighbors who loved him very much. We will all miss Dennis' laid-back attitude, his fashionable golf hats, and his ever-present ‘care package’ offerings of salami, peppers and provolone. Even more, we will miss the time and love he shared with us.”
Writes Robert Wechter, Wheatley Class of 1975 – “The Harrelsons lived directly across the street from my family on Amherst Road, in Albertson, in a nondescript white Levitt house. Dennis and his brother were older than my sisters and me. Growing up I used to see Mrs. Harrelson, Eleanor, outside in front of her house every morning, in her bathrobe, sweeping or tidying up the garden, even in the winter. I would see Dennis a lot, since he lived with his mother her entire life (she died on her 100th birthday; he died shortly thereafter). Occasionally I would see the older brother, Stanley, who worked in NY, but lived in Maryland and commuted on weekends.
Being a former journalist, and one with an insatiable curiosity, I always wondered what happened to Mrs. Harrelson and Dennis. During the latter stage of my parent's life, after I relocated them from Nevada to the D.C. metropolitan area, we were discussing former neighbors one day. So I did a little research and that's when I discovered obituaries for Eleanor and Dennis.
I also remember coming home from school one day and seeing a complete set of kitchen cabinets sitting out on the Harrelson's front lawn. Apparently her sons wanted to install a complete brand new kitchen for her, as a surprise gift when she was away on summer holiday. They had sought my father's advice, as he was in the kitchen business. He advised them to abort their plans, absent Mrs. Harrelson's participation from start to finish in the process. He warned the sons that if they went ahead with their surprise, she would most likely have the brand new kitchen torn out and trashed. My dad also said that he would not do the kitchen, since he knew their mother well and was sure what her reaction would be. Well, sure enough, she returned from vacation and promptly had the expensive surprise kitchen torn out and trashed. This was an unusual experience on a quiet street where nothing of note ever really happened. Dennis Harrelson was a good guy and a considerate and thoughtful neighbor.”
1960 – Four Gals in Del Ray Beach
Writes Elaine Kent Abrams – “A few Wheatley gals having lunch in Delray Beach, FL. From left to right, Maddy Ardell Bloom, Elaine Kent Abrams, Renee Gershen Nadel and Jane Brody Baker. We had a lot of laughs and enjoyed reminiscing about 3rd grade through high school. How fast the years fly by. Elaine”
1960 – Mini-Reunion at the Home of Ken & Cheryle Martin
From left to right: Norm Coffey, Eileen Murphy, Lucy Mullman, George Howell, Cheryle Martin, Pete Koole, Linda Beattie Koole, Nancy Moncure, Ken Martin. In total, 18 people attended.
Writes Ken – “The warm glow from that wonderful weekend remains with Cheryle and me. What an outstanding event?! A number of you have commented that it might have been our best one yet, and I concur. And from my perch, that’s not because of the venue, but due to the very warm relationships we have rekindled in attending these mini-reunions with the knowledge that time keeps marching on. We looked that evil and pernicious hour-glass right in the eye, stared it down, and won again. For now.
Our class is not necessarily the best to come out of The Wheatley School, but we are most certainly different and, I believe, special. And to me one of the best benefits coming from the mini reunions is how the spouses of our graduates have melded into our group. Cheryle, Pete, Becky, Mary Ellen, Pat, Nancy and others are now an important component of our merry band of brothers and sisters, and I look forward to seeing and visiting with them as much as I do our classmates. I know Cheryle looks forward to the minis perhaps more than I do.”
1961 – Patricia Kirk Hefferan – Looking Back
Writes Patty – “There have been a number of comments from Wheatley students of the past who either disliked the school or felt they had not taken advantage of what the school had to offer. I am one of those people. I will always regret missing out on a unique education and lots of fun. I wore black on Red and White Day.
Some of us are late bloomers. I went on to earn an ADN, a bachelor's, and a master's degree. I will, however, always regret that part of me that could not seem to fit into the Wheatley School and what it had to offer. The newsletter keeps me in touch, Thanks to Arthur and Keith.”
1962 – Philip Christensen – Letter to Principal Wathey
“Dear Mr. Wathey, I was delighted when I found out that I could write to you. I don’t recall ever meeting with you (probably a good thing), but my last two decades in college administration reminded me of why so many of your former students revere you as the ‘Legendary Mr. Wathey.’
I recall so many excellent Wheatley teachers. Elsie Bodnar, 12th grade English, undoubtedly influenced my later decision to pursue a PhD in English Literature. I was conflicted in those days as a budding liberal in a ‘Rockefeller’ Republican family (that is, socially liberal and fiscally conservative), but I joined a student group that invited Norman Thomas to campus. I will never forget that day. In my senior yearbook, Laurence Levin wrote, ‘To the only Conservative Socialist I know.’ For geometry, I had Joe McCormack, who advised me correctly to stay with my first answers. I changed over half in the last two hours, but he was delighted to tell me I scored 100%. My homeroom and physical education teacher was Irwin August, who instilled the value of fitness in an awkward teenager, and I achieved one of the highest scores on the John F. Kennedy physical fitness test.
My school social life was centered in music, where I played in the concert/marching band for Bob Pearson and the orchestra for Sal Signorelli. Especially memorable was a concert that combined the Herricks High strings with the Wheatley strings and wind instruments. It was my first experience playing in a symphony orchestra, but not the last. Several years after graduating from college, I was appointed trumpeter for the Great Neck Symphony, and I was delighted to discover that Sal was a member of the string section.
Art has done an excellent job recruiting many of us who spent far too long on the sidelines. What I’ve discovered is that high school students are often unhappy in high school, but our Wheatley unhappiness had nothing to do with The Wheatley School (I was taught well and still remember to use the definite article in the school name!). Like many of my classmates, I wish I could go back and become the high school student I think I never was back in the early 1960s. Thank you for putting up with so many ‘gifted and talented’ adolescents who often missed the landscape for the weedy clutter in our brains.
I’m glad it isn’t too late to get acquainted, or to say thank you!”
1962 – Willets Road Photographs
Writes Richard Weiss – “These photos are of the Wheatley School Class of 1962 from Miss Stevenson‘s third grade class (top photo) and Mr. Fihn‘s fourth grade class (bottom photo). They are compliments of Madeleine Wild, who is a neighbor of mine now that I moved to Sonoma California. Fortunately, she and I look exactly the same as we did then.”
Oh, and here’s proof:
“Madeleine and me in Sonoma, meeting for lunch last May.”
1963 – Steven Rushmore – Times Have Changed
Writes Steve – “I am the son of Carly Rushmore, who was on the East Williston School Board when Wheatley was built and was its first female President. She was good friends with Walter W. Wathey. One of the School Board stories my mother told me while I was growing up was a meeting she attended of all the New York State school board Presidents that was being held at the Harvard Club in NYC. At that time Harvard was all-male, and the club had strict rules limiting access to females. When my mother arrived at the club for the meeting she was denied access. However, after some negotiations she was ushered in via the service entrance and took a service elevator to the meeting rooms, where she joined her male counterparts. Times have certainly changed. Incidentally, I am presently a member of the Harvard Club.
In spite of the fact that my mother was very active on the EWSD Board, I went to boarding school at Proctor Academy in Andover, NH for my Junior and Senior years. I got lost in the highly competitive environment at Wheatley, and my parents thought a smaller school would be better for me. It turned out to be the right strategy - I got into Cornell (hotel school), which led me to create the largest hotel consulting firm in the world, HVS, with 50+ offices all over the globe. We specialize in appraising hotels. I have written all the books (8) on this topic, as well as 400 articles. I have testified in court over 80 times and have given hundreds of depositions. I was the appraiser on the landmark Saddlebrook case in NJ tax court that sets forth the proper procedure for valuing hotels for property tax appeals.
A bit of Rushmore history in Roslyn. The property which is now the Roslyn Country Club area was my grandfather’s 100-acre farm, which he sold to Levitt in 1948. I was born in a large 28 room farm house that was at the southeast corner of Roslyn Road and the Northern State Parkway. More information can be found at
The substitute teacher Mrs. Rushmore was a relative of mine – like a second cousin?? I had her a few times and she was a tough cookie.”
1964 – Elvira (“Vivi”) Cilmi Kunz – “Wonderful Wheatley”
Writes Vivi – “I always treasured my years at Wheatley. There were so many years of enjoying friendships that come to mind. Mostly, I remember my time in the music department, with Dr. Wills and Mr. Margolf giving lessons on life and ways to enjoy them. My time in the gym with Ms. Erickson and Ms. Wilson bring happy, fulfilling memories. In the academic world, Peter Witt was always there to listen and give sound advice. So many teachers gave us skills to succeed and an appreciation for learning! I still incorporate the ELA directives from junior year English as I prepare my students for State Tests!
The friends that surrounded these experiences made every day a day to look forward to with great positive energy. I am sure that my time at Wheatley greatly colored my eagerness to enter the world of education. I am presently still employed as an elementary level educator in a school that has become a second family over 45 years. Wheatley people helped me to become a lover of learning in every aspect possible. I have enjoyed teaching students that learning is essential to life and that where I learned that still brings a smile to my face!
I have been happily married for almost 52 years. My amazing husband, Tim, carries the joy of learning in his heart as well. We have three children and eight grandchildren, who now teach us more about life every day! We both are very active in our church and community, and we appreciate all the diversity our life experience thrusts at us. Wheatley taught me that, too!
So thank you, dear friends, who still remain in my heart and mind. Wheatley is remembered fondly because of you. Seeing many of you at reunions always refreshes the joy of being a Wheatley Wildcat! I wish you all joy and peace. Vivi Cilmi Kunz, Class of 1964”
1964 – Susan Obrant – Original, Creative, One-of-a-Kind
“Artist Susan Obrant in her Cortland Manor Studio, not only surrounded by her own work, but wearing fashions of her own making.”
“Susan is known for her own-of-a-kind crocheted wearable art.”
“Fashion, accessory and costume designer; painter; illustrator; museum exhibitor… Susan Obrant basically embodies the word ‘creativity.’
Stepping into her Cortlandt Manor home, an eclectic, expansive space on the former grounds of a fabled hotel and spa, one quickly realizes these are also surroundings like no other.
Dressed in fashions of both her own design and making, Obrant offers first a warm welcome and then a tour, which seems quite natural.
After all, her home is where she meets potential – and many repeat – clients by appointment. But it’s also home to her studio, an airy space that anchors the three floors that serve as both informal art galleries and, taken together, a de facto career retrospective.
There is not an inch of unadorned space – and that’s not a complaint. A walk through her home is a walk through her history, each painting, drawing, shawl or dress telling a story.
Together, it might trigger a remembrance of “A Serious Art Discussion,” Obrant says in reference to her two-year installation at Hudson Valley MOCA in Peekskill, in which mannequins wearing Obrant’s crochet designs studied her paintings on the wall.
Such an integrated display is clever and unexpected and totally works, drawing one completely into Obrant’s life in art.
Born in Philadelphia and growing up in its suburbs – though she’s been “in Westchester forever” – she would start out as a psychology major but transferred to Parsons School of Design “based on a summer’s worth of (art) classes.” In her 20s, Obrant worked as an illustrator, one whose work would go on to include a nomination for the 1971 Grammy Award for Best Album Cover for “The Music of Erik Satie: Through A Looking Glass.”
Her art would come to encompass countless other media, from magazine illustrations to designing T-shirts for the Metropolitan Opera to paintings, including portraits by commission. Her paintings are continually inspired by family, travel, history, music and even sobering subjects such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Local scenes are no exception, such as a work devoted to the Croton Dam: “I knew it was done when I could hear the roar of the water.” Movement and depth are key to her fine art. “I like the idea of a video camera, for a painting to do what a still camera cannot.” That sense of movement, of vibrancy, is found in her fashion and costume work, which is noted for its daring use of colors and textures.
Obrant pauses as we walk through her home to show off a particular purse: “This is the bag that began my business.” She was asked about its origin – and then asked to start making them. From then on, it’s been a whirlwind of dresses and vests, shawls and bags, hats and gloves, all one-of-a-kind yet clearly of her signature approach. “Performers love them because there are no seams. It’s like wearing air,” she says.
She knows what works from experience. “I trained as a dancer, which is why I dress dancers. Everything has to move.”
Obrant has dressed Audra McDonald and her dancers for the musical movie “Hello Again,” creates performance wear for classical-rock violinist Daisy Jopling, and has worked with numerous dance companies. She credits her grandmother for teaching her “one stitch” when Obrant was 8 that was the seed for her work in yarn, which she calls “couture crochet.”
“I have no fashion training,” she says, before adding with a laugh, “I couldn’t follow a pattern to save my life.” Thought fashionable, her work is hardly created with trends in mind. “They’ll never be out of style. They’ll never be in style. They just are.” And they are for anyone, young or old, male or female. “There’s no appropriate age or style,” Obrant says. “If you put it on and you feel good,” as she says, then it’s for you.
While Obrant sees many clients one-on-one, she enjoys showcasing her designs in shows, as well. A favorite is Crafts at Lyndhurst, which gathers some 300 of the nation’s leading contemporary craftspeople, artists and makers twice a year to the grounds of the historic mansion in Tarrytown. Laura Kandel, director of Artrider Productions, which is the longtime producer of the show, shares that Obrant has been participating in Artrider events since 2007. “Susan has found a way to take the very traditional and often undervalued craft of crocheting and make it modern, hip and wearable by women and men of all ages,” Kandel says, also recognizing her work in fine art. And, Kandel adds, Artrider shows are designed to offer the unexpected. “We are able to blow our customers’ minds because of artists like Susan who take traditional media and turn them on their head.” Obrant would appreciate those words, since her life in the arts has been all about creating her own path. And, she tells us, “The main thing is to trust yourself as an artist.”
Susan Obrant is scheduled to exhibit at Fall Crafts at Lyndhurst Sept. 13-15 in Tarrytown. For more on the show, visit . For more on Obrant and her work, visit , call her at 914-734-7490 or call/text 914-356-6135.
1964 – John Sullivan – Helping the Homeless
Writes John – “I chair a Homeless Ministry on the East side of Midtown Kansas City, MO, a difficult area with drugs, prostitution and shootings the norm. Our small (up to 2000 people per month) Ministry provides comfort, food, clothing and other items to our guests, M-F, 9-1. They continuously thank us for being where we are. Unfortunately, our funds to keep our doors open are very low. Without significant cash inflow, we will be shutting down by the end of September. If anyone wants to help, they can contact me at 913-219-3123 or ”
1966 – James (“Jimmy”) Carillo – Medicine Man
Writes Jimmy – “I received an MS degree from Columbia University in Human Nutrition in 1973. Then I began medical studies in Italy, after which I transferred to the University of Iowa, where I received an MD degree in 1981. I moved to the greater Los Angeles area (Long Beach), where I completed a residency in Anesthesiology at USC in 1984. I was in private practice for 34 years in Southern California. I decided I wanted to finish my career in academia, teaching and doing research. I currently live in Iowa City, Iowa, but still have a residence in Long Beach, CA. Currently, I am working at the University of Iowa as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesia. I have been married to a wonderful woman for 36 years, having met her at the U of Iowa as a medical student. We moved to California and were married. We have 4 children. My email address is .”
1966 – Jacqueline Perrone Cassaniti – Enjoying Upstate New York
Writes Jackie – “I only spent two years at Wheatley, but I remember some students and teachers. I now live in Ithaca, NY with my husband, Joe. We have 3 children, who have been on their own for a long time, and we take advantage of many things offered by Cornell and Ithaca College. I'm not sure if people realize how beautiful Ithaca is, with the colleges and 3 state parks close to us, but the Finger Lakes are a tourist destination and we live here!”
1967 – Art Engoron – Preliminary Decision
1967 – Joseph Tartaglia – Sad Loss
Writes Joe – “Arthur, with deep regret I write to inform you of the passing of my wife, Anne Marie Flicker, Wheatley Class of 1966, on April 28, 2019. Annie suffered for many years after being run over by a car and dragged through a parking lot. She was in the Hospital on and off throughout the rest of her life. Annie suffered from strokes, Alzheimer’s and other ailments. May Annie Rest In Peace🙏✝️”
1967 and 1969 – Steven Presti and Rhoda Garfinkel – Son Sam Presti Doing Well and Good
Oklahoma’s News 4 writes as follows: - “The executive vice president and general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder and his wife are donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to The Children’s Hospital at OU Medicine.
Officials with The Children’s Hospital announced on Thursday that Sam Presti and his wife, Shannon, are giving the hospital $600,000.
Hospital officials say thanks to the donation, two procedure rooms will receive renovations and technology upgrades in the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Children and the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at The Children’s Hospital. It will also create “a nurturing and interactive space in the east lobby of The Children’s Hospital, transforming both indoor and outdoor areas for patients and families that will foster creativity and healing for patients during their stay.”
“Sam has been an engaged supporter of our mission and efforts and approached us last fall to determine how he and Shannon could most effectively make a positive difference for our patients and their families,” said Jon Hayes, president of The Children’s Hospital. “Sam had a resolute sense of gratitude toward the community and wanted to reciprocate in a way that would benefit all Oklahomans irrespective of location, socioeconomic status or any other barrier. The Prestis see a strong children’s hospital that endures well into the future as an essential aspect for all citizens of the state. We are so grateful for their generosity. At The Children’s Hospital, our highest priority is to provide quality patient and family-centered care and to improve the lives of children throughout the region. The Presti family’s gift helps us make every patient and family’s hospital stay as comfortable as possible, thereby improving their recovery and healing process.”
Writes Rhoda – “Sam has done an amazing amount of charity and community work. Google him and you will see what I mean. I have always been proud of Sam; this is this kind of act of which I am most proud.”
1967 – Jack Wolf – With Sister Jill (1970)
1968 – Ken Gallard and Gary Kenton – Down-Home Visit
Writes Ken – “Gary and his son arrived at my ranch (in New Mexico) just in time for the latest snow storm, and Gary had to duck into a thrift store just across the street from his hotel to purchase a much needed long-sleeve shirt and a wool hat. LOL! Ahhhhhh...the Rockies in the spring time. They stayed for 3 days and we all had a blast”
1968 – Mitch Laskey – Majoring in Music and Sports
Writes Mitch – “Your mention of an upcoming Newsletter # 33 got me thinking about how ‘33’ was the number I wore for the Wildcat Football team! I found a couple of photographs that I want to share with you:
The Oxfords Band - 1966-68 with Paul Waltzer, Rick Sherry, Mitch Laskey, Harlan Rieders, Lee Fein (1967), and Harry “The Horn” from Hicksville
The Wildcat Football seniors 1968 - Richard Perlin, Mike Lonegan, Mitch Laskey, Mike Wohl, Richard Frankfort, and ?
Thanks again and best regards, Mitchel Laskey”
1968 – John Mok – Summer Abroad
Writes John – “This summer finds me in China, next stop will be Hong Kong before returning home. Jen and I went to Zhongshan Mountain National Park, where Dr. Sun Yat-sen's mausoleum is located, to enjoy our 4th of July ‘fireworks display’ yesterday; it is the mating season for fire flies, and they light up the mountainside after sunset.”
1968 – Todd Strasser – Author Extraordinaire
Todd’s latest book, The Summer of ’69, has received rave reviews:
“ Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. Featuring Sir Lucas of the Round Table(t). Astonishingly autobiographical. Remarkably personal. Profoundly irresponsible.”
"The Holden Caulfield of the hippie generation."
"Strasser perfectly captures the golden haze of youth and life on the cusp of adulthood. Readers fascinated with this time period will find much to enjoy... Vietnam, Woodstock, road trips, and acid trips: a sweetly bittersweet, surprising, even melancholy bildungsroman set against a world in flux. Groovy, man." -- KIRKUS
"Drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll… are all here, but there's so much more… the story captures the mood and spirit of the times… the Woodstock music festival shows the dark side of peace and love…The best part… transcends eras: Lucas' introspection as he contemplates his place in the world." -- BOOKLIST
“Summer of '69 rings absolutely true to the Vietnam era in ways most people have forgotten. It was an absolute delight to revel in Strasser's sparklingly dark prose, with its elegant turns of phrase and inventive combinations of words.” – BOOK CENTRAL
Writes Todd - Dear Arthur, I want to let you know that I'll be speaking about my new novel, Summer of '69, on August 7th at 7 PM at the North Shore Historical Society Museum, 140 Glen Street in Glen Cove. Much of Summer of '69 takes place around our old stomping grounds in Roslyn and Westbury, and there is a scene set in the Wheatley quadrangle.”
1969 – Rhoda Lyn Garfinkel – Proud Parent and Grandparent
Writes Rhoda – “In addition to my 4 year old Grandson Nicholas, Steve Presti and I are proud Grandparents of 9 month old twin girls, Millie and Elise. Our son Sam is father to the 3 of them. Sam has been the GM of the OKC Thunder NBA for 11 years. He is well known in Ok as a philanthropist, a teacher of Leadership and thru the University of Penn, a teacher of ‘Positive Psychology.’”
1969 – Robert Rosenthal – Academic Success at Wesleyan University
Writes the Wesleyan University News – “Rob Rosenthal, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, is serving as interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. His appointment began on July 1.
Rosenthal previously served as provost from 2010 to 2013, after which he directed the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, becoming an emeritus professor in 2018. Rosenthal also was a founding director of Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships and Service-Learning Center.
“Rob has long been an extraordinary Wesleyan citizen, whose loyalty to Wesleyan is evident to all who know him,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth in a campus-wide email. “He is much respected for his work as an administrator, chair of the faculty, and celebrated teacher-scholar.”
Now, for a period of time as interim provost, Rosenthal again assumes the responsibility for matters relating to the faculty, the curriculum, continuing studies, athletics, and the library.
Rosenthal joined the Department of Sociology at Wesleyan in 1987, writing and teaching in the areas of housing and homelessness, community-based learning, and the use of music in social movements. His most recent book, co-edited with his son, Sam, and titled Pete Seeger: In His Own Words, was published in 2012 to great acclaim.”
1970 – Nina Galerstein – A Question We All Have Gotten
Writes Nina – “A few days ago I was talking to a guy I've known for years who, I just discovered, went to Mineola High School. When he asked where I went, I replied, "Wheatley," and he'd of course heard the name. And then the next thing he asked was, ‘Is that a private school’? And then I remembered how many times I've been asked that question over the years. Do all/any of you get that question, too?”
1970 – George Nierenberg – Gospel Music Documentary
Writes George – “My film Say Amen, Somebody will be opening at Lincoln Center on September 6th and playing there for three weeks before it is released in theaters nationally.
Say Amen, Somebody
George T. Nierenberg, USA, 1982, 101m
“One of the most acclaimed music documentaries of all time, Say Amen, Somebody is George T. Nierenberg’s exuberant, funny, and deeply moving celebration of 20th-century American gospel music. With unrivaled access to the movement’s luminaries, Thomas Dorsey and Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith, Nierenberg masterfully records their fascinating stories alongside earth-shaking, show-stopping performances by the Barrett Sisters, the O’Neal Twins, and others. As much a fascinating time capsule as it is a peerless concert movie, Say Amen, Somebody returns to Film at Lincoln Center in a gorgeous 4K restoration by Milestone Films, with support from the National Museum of African American History and Culture. An NYFF20 selection. A Milestone Films release.”
1973 – Denise Paine Radow - Serendipity Strikes in Eugene, OR
Denise Paine Radow, 1973 (L), and Judy Goldstein, 1964 (R)
Writes Denise – “Surprisingly, I met another Wheatley graduate at a garage sale this beautiful morning in Eugene, OR. I heard her remark about some schmutz on a shirt, and something clicked. We got to talking and discovered our Wheatley connection. See the photographic evidence!”
1974 – Linda Jordan – Loss of a Spouse
Linda’s husband, Tom Campiglia, passed away on June 8, 2019, after a long battle with glioblastoma.”
1975 – Keith Rohman – An Unusual Path
Writes Keith – “I am not the sort who would write into an alumni publication, but I have been drawn in by your newsletter, which has covered everything from the social/religious history of The Willets Road School to a poignant exchange between a Wheatly Vietnam Veteran and his social studies teacher.
I graduated from Wheatley in 1975 and took an unusual path, which led to a fascinating but fulfilling career. Here is my story, for what it is worth.
I dropped out of Vassar in my sophomore year to work as a community and union organizer in poor communities in Memphis, Philly and Detroit. Those places were where I learned the critical skills of how to listen and talk to people from many backgrounds.
I did that into my early 20’s, when I moved to Los Angeles with my then-girlfriend (now wife) and began working as a private investigator. I found that my listening skills were useful in many different areas.
My firm, Public Interest Investigations, Inc., has been here in LA for 35 years; we have a staff of ten investigators. It is not like what you see on TV; we work for lawyers, governmental agencies, colleges, and corporations, with a focus on civil rights, sexual harassment and discrimination. We have been involved in some notable cases over the years, including the Rodney King case, the Abu Ghraib torture case, and over 40 death penalty murder cases, working for defense lawyers. We have also worked on investigations of mayors, police chiefs, and corporate executives. I am never bored at work and am not thinking about retirement.
Like others, I have had joys and sorrows. I have been married for 35 years to Connie, a wonderful Canadian woman who became an artist in her 30’s. We had two great kids. Tragically, our son Jack took his own life nine years ago at the age of 21. He was a brilliant, creative person with many friends, but he suffered from schizophrenia and our best efforts to treat him did not succeed. His death changed our lives forever, but my wife, my daughter, and I have survived, with the help of good friends and good therapists.
For the last six years, I have had the joy of having my daughter, Nora, working for me as an investigator on our capital defense cases and our sexual harassment and campus sexual assault cases. She will surpass me in skills someday soon.
I still have Wheatley connections. Patrick Burke (’76) and I became friends when we were 11 or 12 years old, and we have shared a lifetime of joys and sorrows. Pat, Ed Han (’76) and Steve Solow (’76) were my crew at Wheatley, and I am glad to still be good friends with each of them. Re: teachers - I remember “Bullet” Bob Bernstein and Merle Sy Levine with particular fondness.
The photograph above is a recent picture of me and Nora at Dodger Stadium, one of my happy places.”
1975 – Daniel Weiss – Dan Takes a Stand
1976 – Yearbook Wanted
If anyone is interested in selling (donating?) a 1976 Aurora, I know someone (not me) interested in buying one.
1978 – Bradley Feuer – Law and Medicine
Writes Brad – “June 30 was my last day as a Director of Medical Education/Designated Institutional Official for HCA Healthcare, after 28 years in the role; 33 total working for the company. I started with an internship after medical school, and I continued with contract work in quality assurance through law school. I then became a member of the senior management team, with responsibilities including physician recruitment and retention, quality assurance, and graduate medical education (GME). I chaired a market-wide medical ethics committee, and I served as an additional risk manager and medical director of employee health at multiple facilities. I grew a single-facility internship program into a four-hospital, seven-program academic institution affiliated with multiple medical schools. I provided nationwide consultation on developing community-based GME programs, and I held two "fly-ins" for leadership. I represented HCA as a member of the Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter Situational Working Group and as a participant/subject matter expert in the United States Department of Health and Human Services/Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Workshop on Critical Infrastructure. In 2002, I was awarded the Frist Humanitarian Award. Along with more than 20 CEOs, great program directors/administrative staff, and a mission dedicated to the quality of our graduates and care rendered to their future patients, our residencies have maintained 100% first-time board pass rates. It was my honor and privilege to have played such a role in the training of the next generation of physicians. Going forward I will focus on my volunteer role as Chief Surgeon and Medical Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, as well as consulting in healthcare law and the cruise industry (in which I have served as owners’ representatives in new-build ship design, provided confidential quality audits to cruise line senior management, and have sailed on nearly 200 cruises).”
1979 – Class Reunion This Fall
The Class of 1979 is holding a 40th-year reunion near Wheatley during a Saturday evening in early October of this year. The plans will be finalized in the coming weeks. Expect to hear from the planning group soon. For further information please contact Amy Gould at
1981 – Alan Littman – Member, East Williston School District Board of Education
Front Row (from left to right): Mark Kamberg, President, Robert V. Fallarino, Esq., Vice President
Back Row (from left to right): David Keefe, Alan Littman (Wheatley 1981), Leonard Hirsch (Wheatley 1982)
Faculty (Robert Brandt) – “Thank you again for news of the ‘family.’ It is a monthly treat, looked forward to and savored when it arrives. I join with the many others who deeply appreciate the work that you and Keith put in to keep us connected.”
1959 (Beth Davidson) – “Thanks for all your hard work. I love looking at your newsletters, and sometimes I purchase books written by Wheatley students when I learn about them that way.”
1960 (Jane Brody Baker) – “Thanks for doing what you do…...much appreciated.”
1960 (Jay Cummings) – “Keep up the great work with the Wheatley newsletters.”
1960 (Joanne Festa) – “I appreciate the time and effort you put into the ever-growing newsletters.”
1960 (Al Jerome) – “Thank you, as always, for your dedicated and valuable service to all of us. I enjoy reading your monthly reports. Over and above the great labor of love you are giving to all alumni, you are amassing much valuable insight on how Wheatley has affected its graduates over its long history.”
1961 (Patricia Kirk Hefferan) “You have helped a lot of people like me to see The Wheatley School through different lenses. I wish they were not so far distant, but knowing that I was not the only oddball kook is remarkably energizing and forgiving. The newsletters are good, Arthur. They really are. They pull all of us into a circle of understanding and sharing. They make us one rather than a bunch of scattered, forgotten many.”
1962 (Richard Buzen) – “I very much appreciate your work on the newsletters.”
1962 (Lois H. Kass Kleinberg) – “Thank you for publishing the alumni newsletter. I look forward to receiving it.”
1962 (Carol Keister McCormick) – “Thanks as always, Art!
1962 (Naomi Klotz Obie) – “Thanks, Art, I’m happy to say that I receive and enjoy reading the newsletters! I appreciate your hard work.”
1963 (Donna Harmelin Rivkin) – “Thank you for all that you do for The Wheatley School and its alumni!”
1963 (Martin Kay) – “Hey Art- the newsletters are fine & thanks for performing this thankless job!!”
1963 (Donna Kenton) – “Thanks again, and again, etc., for all the time and effort and love that you give to the Wheatley community. My non-Wheatley friends are amazed at how much we’re in touch. So thanks.”
1963 (Steven Rushmore) – “Love your newsletters - I read them cover to cover. Keep up the good work.”
1964 (Ronald Iannotti) – “Thank you again for all your work on this.”
1964 (Vivi Cilmi Kunz) – “I enjoy the Wheatley Newsletters, and I am always thankful for your work”!
1964 (Ellen Genat Hoffman) – “Thanks for all you do for us. The newsletter is clearly a labor of love. I truly appreciate it.”
1964 (John Sullivan) – “Art - many thanks for your dedication & diligence is providing Wheatley information on an ongoing basis, a monumental task.”
1964 (Wendy Wolf) – “Thanks for all you do.”
1965 (Ike Evans) – “Hi Art - Wow - another fantastic piece. Thanks so much.”
1965 (Carolyn Stoloff Judkoff) – “Thank you so much for your hard work on the Wheatley School Alumni Newsletters. My husband, Ron Judkoff, and I, both Class of 1965, love reading the news of our old (pun intended) classmates. The older we become, the more we appreciate our amazing high school experience.
1966 (Philip Heller) – “I cannot thank you enough for your tireless and passionate efforts to stir up so many countless memories and bring back a time in our lives which I certainly value enormously.”
1966 (Jackie Perrone Cassaniti) – “Thanks for the newsletters about Wheatley, I enjoy reading them.”
1966 (Suzanne Stone) – “Dear Art, You continue to amaze...love the "Wheatley Vodka" 😉
With appreciation, Suzanne”
1967 (Seth Bardo) – “Thanks for the recent Wheatley update.”
1967 (Lois Ertel Hara Burdge) – “Thanks again for keeping me in the loop and for all your hard work.”
1967 (Scott Frishman) – “Thanks, Art. Great as usual!”
1967 (James A. Seaton) – “As ever, your passion for all things Wheatley never flags. We all are grateful.”
1967 (Jill Simon Forte) – “Thank you again Arthur. Always appreciated 🙂.”
1967 (John Warde) – “Thanks for the newsletters!!”
1967 (Carl Wirth) – “Thanks for helping us all keep in touch.”
1968 (Peter Barrow) – “Thank you, Art. I really enjoy your newsletters. Please keep them coming.”
1968 (Joan Edelstein) – “Art, you are amazing. Thank you so much for everything you do to keep us in touch and up to date. Your hard work on our behalf is truly a blessing.”
1968 (Ken Gallard) – “We all appreciate the newsletters.”
1968 (David Hechler) – “As always, thanks for all the great work that you do!”
1968 (Mitch Laskey) - “Thanks for all your continued hard work leading this effort.”
1968 (Ilene (“Cookie”) Levine) – “Thanks, Arthur, for all you do!”
1968 (John Mok) – “I enjoy reading each Newsletter.”
1968 (Tom Polevich) – “Thanks Arthur!”
1968 (Jonathan Rosenbloom) – “I enjoy reading the newsletters - thanks for all your efforts. I have only fond memories of Wes Wathey, Wheatley’s own JFK. I particularly remember him throwing a football around with kids in the bus circle at lunchtime. A nice guy.”
1968 (Laurence (“Laurie”) Schiller) – “Awesome work.”
1968 (Bill Shechtman) –“Thank you for all your hard work. Sounds like Wheatley classes stayed very closely knit, not like other high schools’ classes.”
1968 (Todd Strasser) – “Really appreciate it, Arthur. Keep up the great work!”
1969 (Rhoda Lyn Garfinkel) – “Hi Art, I just went onsite and rediscovered the newsletters. I will join the others in thanking you for your efforts so we can all remain ‘Wheatleyites.’ Thank you again for your generous endeavors.”
1969 (Edward H. Curland) – “Keep up the great work. I love your newsletters!”
1969 (Jo Anne Newman Abraskin) – “Thank you for helping us keep our world small enough for us to keep in touch!”
1969 (Paula Panzeca Foresto) – “Thanks for all you do!”
1969 (Deborah Willard Goldenberg) – “I thank you and Keith Aufhauser for all your hard work”
1969 (Liz Siegel Mullen) – “Thanks for the newsletters and for all you do to keep us informed.”
1969 (Steve Wolfert) – “Thanks for everything you do.”
1970 (James Doyle) – “To a great Bengeyfield Drive friend and neighbor, think of the thousands of renewed friendships you have made possible.”
1970 (Gary Simel) – “Thank You for everything you do on behalf of The Wheatley School alumni!”
1970 (Victoria Unger Hochman) – “Thank you for the wonderful newsletters that I so enjoy.”
1971 (Merrie Sesskin) – “Many thanks for all you do for us producing the newsletters.”
1972 (Gail Biggs Russo) – “I love getting your newsletters. Thanks for all that you do for us Wildcat alumni.”
1972 (Steven Starr) – “Thanks so much for all you do!”
1973 (Kim Christian Werfel) – “Thank you for this newsletter and the work you do!
1973 (Judith Gross Garner) – “Thanks for your dedication to keeping the connection strong between former Wheatley-ites and for your amazing newsletters. I greatly enjoy reading them.”
1973 (Edward B. (“Woody”) Ryder IV) – “Receiving your newsletters is a privilege.”
1973 (Kevin Shumelda) – “THANK YOU AND KEITH FOR WHAT YOU DO REGARDING WHEATLEY NEWSLETTERS.”
1974 (Melanie Artim) – “Thank you always for the Gargantuan effort to ‘gather us’ as our times become nigh, and as our youthful years pass further and further behind.”
1974 (Gregory P. Cave) – “Art....If not for you......Caveman 1974”
1974 (Richard Romash) – “I enjoy the Newsletters.”
1975 (Sallie Burch) - I would like to say how much your publication means to me. Being in East Williston was the best childhood my parents could have provided to me and my brother, Tom Burch (1974). Reading the Newsletters allows me to reconnect to people and places from long ago. I appreciate all your efforts.”
1975 (Ann Forstenzer) – “I love reading these, although I don't always know the folks writing, especially if older than myself.”
1975 (LeAnne Grillo) – “Thanks….I look forward to the next issue.”
1975 (Keith Rohman) – “You are doing something great here.”
1975 (Robert Wechter) – “Thanks for all your efforts.”
1976 (David M. McLean) – “Thank you for the painstaking effort that you put in to every newsletter. Your dedication is most appreciated.”
1976 (Cathy Nelkin Miller) – “Thank you for all you do.”
1977 (Peggy Cooke Centore) – “Thanks for all you do to keep me and all the other alumni up to date on Wheatley News.”
1977 (Barbara Cramblitt Szego) – “Thank you for putting the newsletters together and sharing them with all of us. Your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed……GREAT JOB!”
1977 (Christine Trozzo Savidge) – “Thanks so much for keeping us up-to-date.”
1977 (Linda Watnick) – “You are the best, Art!”
1978 (David Rogers) – “Thanks for your newsletters.”
1981 (Alan Littman) – “Excellent work. Thanks for keeping everyone in the loop.”
1982 (Patti Carroll) – “Thanks for your excellent Wheatley work!”
1982 (Chris Leonardi) – “I love the newsletters and reading all the updates. I’m looking forward to the next edition.”
1985 (Matthew Littman) – “I am sure I speak for many when I say I appreciate what you do for Wheatley.”
1987 (Mark Leonardi) – “I must say, you’re doing a great job; many thanks.”
1987 (Sarah Steinbaum Dubovy) – “As always, thank you for keeping us all apprised of the latest Wildcat news.”
1988 (Jonathan Pagliaro) – “I really enjoy the newsletters! It’s tremendous to read about all of the alumni and their impressive achievements.”
1990 (Kathleen Carney Kille) – “I really enjoy your newsletters.”
That’s it for The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 33. Please send me your autobiography before someone else sends me your obituary.
Arthur Fredericks Engoron
The Wheatley School Class of 1967