“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” ~Google tells me this quote is attributed to Nelson Henderson but to me it belongs to Ken Christensen, who spoke those words often and took them deeply to heart.Continue reading
“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” Shakespeare
I have an announcement! Many, actually, but this comes first: After 10 years as Vice President of Laible & Fitzsimmons Inc, Trudy is retiring. I feel a bit like Dumbo without his feather. Even more, I am grateful for Trudy’s friendship, support and more as we’ve worked together in one capacity and another for over 20 years “to serve and celebrate folks who care for Art, Science and the Common Good on LI and Beyond.”
As Founder Emeritus of the Synchronicity Network Newsletter, Trudy will be the first member of an honorary advisory board that we look forward to inviting others into soon. For now, though, let us focus on Trudy.
She will tell you that since coming into this world in 1952 she “has done every crazy job that was legal and moral.” In the last 20 years I’ve known her to serve as a field manager, a seamstress, an architectural assistant, interior designer, bus driver, snowplow operator, cleaning lady, and a receptionist. She has worked with microchips and in product testing. She often serves as a poll worker during election season. In 2009, she informed me that she “wanted to volunteer somewhere she was really appreciated.” She then proceeded to become a nanny that gave Mary Poppins a run for her money, magic carpet bag and all. It was around then that she also became my business partner.
That story actually begins in 1997, three years before I met her when Charles Agius of Cablevision went through Long Island’s only community leadership program, Leadership Huntington. As he was her employer, Trudy ended up learning a lot as she assisted his participation. The nine-month intensive program was designed to Develop, Connect and Engage diverse community leaders using the Town of Huntington as a living laboratory, fostering stewardship across diverse perspectives. Once graduated, Charlie came back to Trudy – who was already an entrenched volunteer in her church, for local theater and in organizations surrounding her children — and said he would nominate her to go through the young program.
She did it, while at the same time fighting cancer.
Trudy became an ardent volunteer for Leadership. She attended in her own way to every class, save a few when she was caring for her mother and after completing her service in 2014. She was a board member for years. In 2010, when Leadership was suffering the Great Recession, she found herself almost single-handedly coordinating the program. She and Dianne Parker pulled me in. Trudy and I quickly ended up becoming Program and Acting Director together. She got to know many graduates of classes she’d missed and for a long time also volunteered in diverse capacities for the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce whose Chamber Foundation founded the organization. In 2015 the Chamber bestowed upon Trudy its prestigious “Klaber Award” to honor her deep and enduring service to the Town.
Through Leadership, Trudy became involved in Vision Long Island, a regional force for Smart Growth with a particular focus on down towns and local endeavors, and a champion of education and relationship development across interests. One of her Class of 1999 fellows, Ron Stein, was planting the seeds of this organization that first germinated as Vision Huntington. As a founding Vision Board Member, Trudy tended to every Board and Huntington Smart Growth Steering Committee meeting and did a lot of the organization’s early videography. I myself became involved when they hired me in 2000. Trudy played a meaningful role in early community planning processes and provided thoughtful, practical support to the development of the Smart Growth Awards and Summit. Since Vision’s maturation as a regional force for smart growth planning and policy, Trudy has served Vice President, Treasurer, and now Co-Chair. The role she really plays, tho, and probably always will, is deeper…
Trudy also served as Chair of the Ladies Auxiliary of both the Huntington and Suffolk County VFWs. In addition to much basic support to both bodies, she played a key but quiet role in securing State funding for much needed roof, electrical and other repairs to her local VFW Hall. She then served on the board of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, as well as the Huntington Housing Authority. She was also an early board member of The Moonjumpers Charitable Foundation, which was founded by Larry Kushnick, Robert Benson and Peter Mazzeo.
In the worst of circumstances, Trudy has been there for her community with soup, a blanket and informed guidance. FEMA certified, she served Suffolk Country Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), acting as both a trainer and a support provider in times of local crisis, as well as assisting in the creation of the organization’s Standard Operating Procedures. While Superstorm Sandy came the same day as her latest grandchild, she still did not hesitate to also lend a hand to that monumental cleanup effort.
Trudy Fitzsimmons is a loving mother, grandmother and an extraordinary friend. She has been a dearly appreciated sounding board and guide to countless folks who have endeavored to make a positive difference on Long Island. I am grateful for this opportunity to celebrate her, and look forward to great things going forward. I love you, Trudy.
When poet, teacher, newspaperman Walt Whitman set out to find his brother, who had been wounded in the Civil War, the experience inspired another vocation:Continue reading
Photo of Gus with Eagle Scouts from Syosset Troop 205 by Katheryn Laible
Speaking of Veteran Testimonials…we remain eternally grateful for getting to document this one. Over and again we read it, realizing something new each time. We miss you, Gus.
There will be more about Gus when the website launches. We also look forward to being able to once again share a timeless and invaluable piece by another favorite veteran, Dave Vollmer, Lt Col USAF (ret,), PhD, on what it means to be a good leader.
Here’s the story we wrote about Joy Squires, Huntington’s Environmental Sage in 2016. She’s been chair of the Huntington Conservation Board since 1979, and also long-led the NYS Conservation Commission, where she continually endeavors to help others better steward their own open spaces and to encourage new generations to be actively engaged in environmentalism.
If you know her, you have probably been informed about parks in your area and opportunities to serve as their steward. We are delighted to hear that Manor Plains Park will now be renamed in honor of her!
When: Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 12:30pm
Where: Manor Plains Nature Park, 91-93 Manor Road, Huntington
Gus Scutari with Eagle Scouts from Troop 205 in 2019. Photo by Katheryn Laible
Today, a portion of Underhill Boulevard in Syosset was renamed in honor of one of Long Island’s most ardent champions of Americanism and good citizenship, the passionate organizer of the Syosset Memorial Day Parade, Gus Scutari.
You can read about it on the Nassau County NY webpage.
You can find images from the event taken by Gus’ friend, whom he smartly recruited to join the Syosset American Legion, Terri Squires on the Legion’s Facebook Page.
Gus passed away early this spring at the age of 99. Here is the piece we got to write with him: Gus Scutari: Syosset’s Humble Champion of Americanism. He had a number of interesting things to say that we are still thinking about.
He is dearly missed and greatly appreciated. Thank you, Gus.
Photo of Gus Scutari at 2019 Memorial Day Parade by Katheryn Laible
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Costantino “Gus” Scutari, shortly after his 99th birthday.
Gus dedicated his life to promoting good, thoughtful citizenship, love for our country and properly honoring our nation’s fallen military service folk. The proud Americanism Chairman of Nassau County, Gus is perhaps best known in Syosset for his dedication to the Memorial Day Parade. Among our Scouts, he was also well known for faithfully attending every Eagle Ceremony, where he would honor all those who achieved that high rank with an American Flag pin.
It was an honor and a privilege to have this gentleman as a fundamental part of our community. Here are stories of his life, things that mattered to him, and bits of his wisdom that he shared with us a few years ago.
Here’s a little video from the 2019 Syosset Memorial Day Parade, which, with a little help from his friends, he organized from his room at the Cold Spring Hills Nursing Home last year. Here are some photos from that day.
Here is Gus, in his own words, telling the story of when his destroyer, the U.S.S. Haynsworth was hit by a Kamikaze during World War II. He always counted himself very lucky that he didn’t have to see the worst of that, and was ever mindful of so many – during that conflict and others – who did.
We feel we are better people for having known Gus. Our hearts are with all who love him. He will be dearly missed.
Thank you, Gus.
We are grateful the rain held off as we traipsed about the site of Nikola Tesla’s last and only surviving laboratory, “Wardenclyffe.” There, board member Neil Baggett talked about the great scientist and his time on Long Island, and plans to advance his legacy. While nothing can replace an in-person tour – we highly recommend taking one if you can! — here is a bit of what we learned:Continue reading
We read this over and over and learn something new each time — WWII Veteran, Memorial Day Parade Organizer, and ardent booster of continuing to endeavor to be a good American in all sorts of ways, Gus Scutari reflects on life.Continue reading
Gus Scutari represents the best that Syosset has to offer. He is simply a local treasure.
Actually, Gus is a national treasure too, but for the moment we will keep things local.