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Dec 10, 2008 11:23 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

A love letter, by Vince Cannuscio

Dec 10, 2008 11:23 AM

My daughter Carolyn lives in Philadelphia with her family. Carolyn and I talk several times a week. Each conversation ends with Carolyn saying, “I love you, Dad.” My typical response is, “I love you, too, Carolyn.” However, at times I have said, “Carolyn, I know you love me—we don’t have to say that every time.”

Well, folks, I have been wrong.

Now is the time to say thank you, I love you, or any words of appreciation, respect and gratitude we feel for one another. Please allow me to share some thoughts with you.

My wife, Carol, and I built our family home in Hampton Bays in 1975. Our four children attended Hampton Bays schools, earned college degrees, married and blessed us with eight beautiful grandchildren, with the special gift of baby Ethan living in Hampton Bays with parents Heather McGinness and Tom C.

All along the journey, friends, acquaintances and strangers have been inspirational in demonstrating how and why a great community prospers.

When our sons, Mike and Aubrey, were 10, it was time for Little League, and I learned about George Skidmore and friends, who started the Hampton Bays Little League in 1963. George, with the assistance of Rick Martel and others, continues serving 45 years later, enriching the lives of young boys and girls. One of the best young girl ballplayers, Tara Fellingham, was on my championship team.

Tony Galgano and Mickey Shields, owners of the Boardy Barn, are good citizens who, quietly, for the past 38-plus years have probably contributed more than $1 million to local organizations, including the Dominican Sisters, Hampton Bays schools and other worthy causes. Our son Tom and hundreds of other young people have worked at “The Barn,” learned valuable life lessons and helped pay their college tuition through their employment with Tony and Mickey.

Does anyone remember Hampton Bays in 1995, before Maud Kramer, Maurice Goldman, Susan Von Freddi of the Hampton Bays Beautification Association and scores of other volunteers began work to beautify our community? HBBA stands out because they did not simply criticize. HBBA was and remains a “hands-on” organization. HBBA collected private funds, planned their projects, planted our medians, and did work necessary to improve both the beauty and spirit of our community.

During my tenure as supervisor, in approximately 2001, a great group of individuals came before the Town Board with a proposal to create Southampton Youth Services. A key spokesperson was Jay Andreassi. Mark Antilety of the SYS team threw a baseball to me. I am happy to say I caught it.

SYS wanted to build an indoor sports complex for the community and stated that SYS would raise the money to complete the project. Our Town Board decided unanimously to offer 50 acres of land on Majors Path for the SYS project. The SYS sports center is another tribute to the initiative and hands-on effort of those who saw the need and developed a private/public partnership that provides wonderful services to our friends and neighbors. Their selfless service is reflective of our community.

Please consider these other recollections, which fill me with gratitude:

The efforts made by our volunteer fire and ambulance services. These men and women and their families are the backbone of the Town of Southampton. Example: Brian Babcock, a full-time FedEx employee, responded to more than 200 emergency calls with Hampton Bays Ambulance.

Our Lady of the Hamptons. OLH provides wonderful educational opportunities to our community.

The extended family of Celestino Gambino demonstrates daily the beauty of family. Our community reached out in loving support at the tragic passing of Gabriella.

Our town employees. I loved serving as supervisor from 1995 to 2001 with the people who do so much to make our town function: Betty Gilliam at the front desk, Gloria Palmore, Richard Blowes, Dawn Tuthill, the men and women of the highway department. I revere these men and women for their good works.

My office: Lisa Dunlap, Janice Wilson, Lillian Blechman, Sandy Sullivan and Linda Kabot. We worked as partners, with each fully capable of serving on the Town Board.

Chief James Overton, for dignity in the face of criticism. Neil Tully, for the kind note he sent to lift my spirits. My buddy, Keith Tuthill for encouragement and needling.

George Mathys, the man who started delivering milk at 4 a.m. for Schwenk’s Dairy sometime in the 1950s. George decided to pick up garbage in his free time, and by his diligence, character and perseverance demonstrates the reality of the American Dream.

The best farrier in the world, Dave Birdsall, his wife, Sue, and Pat Kollhop, friends from the Wantagh Class of 1960. I thank you for enduring friendship.

Mary Schellinger—you have taught me the meaning of courage.

Drs. Easow, Shoten and Ariola—I thank you for your loving care.

Pastor Kenreich, Reverend Bryant, Father Alex, Bob Casola and the many individuals and congregations of every denomination who have blessed us with your prayers. Your faithfulness carries us.

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