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Feature Stories July 2, 2009  RSS feed

Recalling Their Fellow Kiwanians

Garden Gathering Is Held As Queens Memorial Service
by Bill Mitchell

Some of the attendees at the Queens Kiwanis 46th Annual Memorial Service gathered at the memorial stone under a tree in the area known as Kiwanis Grove at Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing. The June 23 observance honored members of the Queens East and Queens West divisions who had died since last year's service. Shown from left: Joan DeCamp, Richmond Hill/Woodhaven Kiwanis; Noraida, guest; Bill Bellas, Woodside Kiwanis; Lloyd Hicks, Cambria Heights, Kiwanis; Christina Matias, Cambria Heights Kiwanis; Arthur Daigneault, Lefferts/Liberty Kiwanis; Jerry Berkson, Sunnyside Kiwanis; Bob Kane, Maspeth Kiwanis; John Stahl, Glendale Kiwanis; Rev. Philip Hardt, Glendale Kiwanis; Carson Johnson and Carl Edward Johnson, both of Cambria Heights Kiwanis. (photo: Bill Mitchell) Some of the attendees at the Queens Kiwanis 46th Annual Memorial Service gathered at the memorial stone under a tree in the area known as Kiwanis Grove at Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing. The June 23 observance honored members of the Queens East and Queens West divisions who had died since last year's service. Shown from left: Joan DeCamp, Richmond Hill/Woodhaven Kiwanis; Noraida, guest; Bill Bellas, Woodside Kiwanis; Lloyd Hicks, Cambria Heights, Kiwanis; Christina Matias, Cambria Heights Kiwanis; Arthur Daigneault, Lefferts/Liberty Kiwanis; Jerry Berkson, Sunnyside Kiwanis; Bob Kane, Maspeth Kiwanis; John Stahl, Glendale Kiwanis; Rev. Philip Hardt, Glendale Kiwanis; Carson Johnson and Carl Edward Johnson, both of Cambria Heights Kiwanis. (photo: Bill Mitchell) The Kiwanis clubs of Queens are well-known for coming together to recognize and show support for others, but Kiwanians gathered at Flushing's Queens Botanical Garden on Tuesday, June 23 to remember some absent friends.

The occasion was the Queens Kiwanis 46th Annual Memorial Service, to honor members of the Queens East and Queens West divisions who had died since the last such service.

Queens East honorees included John Acey Goudelock, Gloria Lynn and J.C. Reddy, all from the Rockaway Golden K Club.

The Queens West honorees included: Adolph "Pop" Alberici, James Donnellan, Sebastian Porazzo and John Wrede of Glendale Kiwanis; Steve Alonge of Lefferts/Liberty Kiwanis; Dolores Cole and Rev. Frederick Hinz of Maspeth Kiwanis; Realinda Farrell-McCoy and Al Stack of Richmond Hill/Woodhaven Kiwanis; and Buster Sabba of Sunnyside Kiwanis.

"They were dedicated Kiwanians," observed Mike Miller, a past president of the Glendale club who has the Kiwanis distinction of being a past lieutenant governor. "Just as everybody in Kiwanis takes up a certain task or responsibility that becomes theirs, each one of them had their own special task that they brought to the club.

The program was coordinated by Carl Edward Johnson of Cambria Heights Kiwanis, a distinguished past lieutenant governor, who opened the program; and John Stahl of Glendale Kiwanis, a past lieutenant governor.

Attendees shared a breakfast and their thoughts on those being remembered. In addition, they were led in prayers by fellow Kiwanians Rev. N.J. ("Skip") L'Heureux of the Queens Federation of Churches, and Rev. Philip F. Hardt, pastor of Glendale United Methodist Church. The clergymen are members of the Richmond Hill/Woodhaven and Glendale clubs, respectively.

Most from Glendale

Of the 10 Queens West honorees, nearly half had come from Glendale Kiwanis, which also had the strongest club representation among attendees, with five members on hand. In club representation, they were followed by the Cambria Heights, Lefferts/Liberty and Richmond Hill/Woodhaven clubs, with four members each.

Besides Stahl, Reverend Hardt and Miller, the Glendale contingent also included Joe Aiello, the club's president, and Tony Sauro, the club's treasurer.

In speaking with a visitor, the Kiwanians noted that the Van Wyck Expressway serves as the line that separates the areas of the two divisions. In the absence of the divisions' respective lieutenant governors, Joe Aiello spoke on behalf of Queens West, while Robert Witherspoon of the Rosedale/Laurelton club spoke on behalf of Queens East.

As many of the attendees rose, in turn, to offer some words about some of the honorees, the reminiscences ranged from laugh-provoking to ones that put a lump in the throat.

Tony Sauro of Glendale Kiwanis related a story about Sebastian Porazzo, who had been a funeral director on Myrtle Avenue. At one of the Kiwanis meetings, they had been seated next to each other when Kiwanian Mick Ennis announced the news that U.S. troops were leaving the Middle East.

Sauro—not knowing that a waitress was behind him with a tray of soup—responded with a burst of enthusiasm.

How he got a name "The soup went—mainly on Seb," Sauro said, as his fellow Kiwanians laughed at the thought. "And I ended up with a new name— 'Soupy.'"

He pointed out that the good-natured Porazzo, who also was active with the Knights of Columbus, took it all in stride.

Glendale's Mike Miller spoke highly of James Donnellan, a founder of the annual Halloween Parade in Glendale and an original member of the Glendale Boys Club, who sponsored youth sports teams in the area.

John Wrede was recalled by Miller as an educator and the longtime moderator of the Key Club at Grover Cleveland High School, making it a model for such Kiwanis-sponsored youth clubs.

Miller talked about Adolph "Pop" Alberici—the father of Glendale Kiwanian Vincent Alberici—who was an honorary member of the club. He was fondly recalled for his jokes and gadgets—one, in particular, fashioned from an antenna and a magnet. But in his younger days, "Pop" was known for a spirit of activism that inspired him and his wife to help others in the community, Miller advised.

John Stahl of Glendale reported that even as a nonagenarian, the elder Alberici had been staying active in Florida, giving swimming lessons to seniors.

Stahl recalled Alberici's joy in attending Kiwanis meetings and his fondness for ice cream.

"He just loved life, was full of happiness and smiles—and you couldn't help but laugh and smile when you were with him," Stahl said. "He really lit up a room."

Similarly, Steve Alonge lived a long life—95 years—and was wellremembered by members of the Lefferts/ Liberty club. Despite the tragic loss of his son, Alonge had carried on, ready to help others through Kiwanis.

Loved to dance

Angelo Maltaghati, a past lieutenant governor, shared this assessment: "Steve Alonge danced his way across every dance hall in Queens."

He also talked about his early efforts to have Alonge become a Kiwanian.

"He would say, 'This is not for me, Monte,'" Maltaghati recalled. "But he made it to ninety percent of the meetings."

Alonge, a president of the National Showman's Association, had been in the business of providing amusements for bazaars and similar events. Every time the Kiwanians held a fund-raiser, he donated the use of equipment, such as a sausage wagon, to boost the cause.

A star of their own

While some honorees were known to Kiwanians outside their own club, it seemed that one, in particular, had touched most, if not all, in the room.

Realinda Farrell-McCoy, a past president of the Richmond Hill/Woodhaven Club, was lovingly recalled by her husband, Antoine McCoy, of the Richmond Hill/Woodhaven Club. Prior to joining Kiwanis, the couple had been active in the Hugh O'Brian Youth Foundation.

Realinda had a special gift—a voice that was made to be lifted in song—which resulted in a career that began in church and led to parts in Broadway musicals. She appeared in Jesus Christ, Superstar, the original production of Hair and Ain't Misbehavin', among others. Realinda toured with drummer Buddy Rich, as part of a group with his daughter.

But, by all accounts, her star never shined more brightly than when she followed her husband in joining a certain community service organization in the Richmond Hill/Woodhaven area. Soon, Realinda would be singing the national anthem at Kiwanis conventions or during a Kiwanis-themed day at Shea Stadium.

"She was an all-out Kiwanian," Antoine McCoy told a visitor, adding that his wife would lend her voice to the birthday celebrations at the various Kiwanis clubs. "If you celebrated a birthday of the month, she came prepared—cupcakes, cakes, balloons and everything—so she would really dress the room up for the birthday occasions."

Joan DeCamp of Richmond Hill/Woodhaven cited an example of Realinda's thoughtfulness. DeCamp recalled that when it became known that the International Kiwanis president would be attending the club's Presidents Dinner, Realinda gladly accepted an invitation to welcome him with a song.

"She went so far as to find out the song of his country and learn it," De- Camp said.

Bill Bellas of the Woodside club noted that Realinda had sung at several Queens West sports awards dinners over the past decade.

Sunnyside's friend to all

Jerry Berkson of the Sunnyside club reflected on the contributions of Buster Sabba, the publisher of the Woodside Herald, and what had made him such an asset to Kiwanis

"Buster was primarily a family man—in the same way that many of us, if we're fortunate, are able to bring as a strength to Kiwanis," said Berkson.

He added that it was the same love of family that he had seen in Realinda Farrell-McCoy, which carried over to the way she treated her fellow Kiwanians.

"She loved you, Antoine, and she loved the girls," Berkson said, in a reference to the two young girls for whom the McCoys had been foster parents. "And Kiwanis is the better for it."

Remembering others Al Stack was remembered by Joan DeCamp as the communityminded owner of the Jamaica Avenue tavern known as Finally Al's.

"Al found out that in past lives, we had been on opposite political sides," she recalled with a smile, in discussing some of their conversations at the tavern following community meetings.

Bob Kane of the Maspeth Club remembered Rev. Frederick Hinz, the founding headmaster at Martin Luther High School as "a fine fellow" who had served as club president during the late 1970s.

The other Maspeth honoree, Dolores Cole, was described by Bill Bellas as "a very talented lady who had just passed away a few weeks after her ninetieth birthday." He talked about her eye for decorating, as evidenced by the store window displays she created.

Regarding honorees in the Queens East Division, Lloyd Hicks of the Cambria Heights club, a past Kiwanis president and lieutenant governor, warmly recalled his experience in working with John Acey Goudelock as part of an effort to rebuild the Rockaway Golden K Club.

Carson Johnson of the Cambria Heights club articulated similar praise for Goudelack as well as J.C. Reddy.

Those on hand for the event also included Catherine Muzio, Pauline Maltaghati and Arthur Daigneault of the Lefferts/Liberty club; Charles Zink of the Richmond Hill/Woodhaven club; and Christina Matias of the Cambria Heights club.

At the conclusion of the breakfast program, those whose schedules permitted them to do so walked out into the garden. From there, they headed to the area known as Kiwanis Grove, where a Kiwanis stone memorial sits beneath a tree.

Carl Edward Johnson explained to a visitor that originally, the annual observance had been an event conducted by the Flushing Kiwanis. Early on, trees would be planted for deceased members, but the grove area has a sufficient number of trees now.

Reverand Hardt said a few words and the Kiwanians paused for a final reflection, concluding the morning service to honor those no longer present to give more of themselves.