June 20, 2016 -- At a ceremony held on June 12, Sea Cliff residents John Distefano, Leslie Guerci, Don Kavanaugh and Ernie Longobucco, were each presented with a White Cap Award, the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s most prestigious honor, bestowed each year upon individuals, groups or organizations that have demonstrated repeated outstanding volunteer service to the Sea Cliff community. Bill and Anita Long, owners of the Metropolitan Bistro, hosted the event and generously contributed an extensive and delicious assortment of hors d'oeurves for the occasion.
“We are gathered here tonight,” said Civic Association President Ann DiPietro, “to honor those community members who have served above and beyond what would normally be expected of a citizen of Sea Cliff - and much, much is expected of citizens of Sea Cliff.”
She then invited Jack Pierce, a 2009 White Cap Award recipient to speak on behalf of John Distefano.
92 years old, and a lifelong resident of Sea Cliff, Mr. Distefano joined the fire department just weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Mr. Pierce explained, and has continued to serve the department and the Village ever since. After serving in the Air Force during the War as a gunner in a B17, he returned to Sea Cliff where he married and raised a family, and for 30 years along with his brother Gene, owned and operated the Sea Shell Service Station at the corner of Glen Cove and Ransom Avenues. During that time, Mr. Pierce said, the two proudly sponsored Sea Cliff Little League teams. Mr. Distefano was recently honored by the Sea Cliff Fire Department for his 75 years of service.
“Community service and a willingness to lend a helping hand is a part of Don Kavanaugh’s character,” Gwynne Lennon said, who, along with her husband Mike (both 2007 White Cap recipients), nominated their long-time friend.
“Sometimes in the spotlight, often behind the scenes, Don has served the community of Sea Cliff for over 25 years, ” she said, pointing out Mr. Kavanaugh’s pro bono legal assistance to local groups and individuals needing help.
However, she explained, “Don’s esquire appearance is a wafer thin guise for a man with a true sense of adventure and humor.” His service to the community, she continued, have included over the years actively helping the leadership of Boy Scout Troop 43, performing with Silly Shakespeare, volunteering for numerous Landmarks tours, serving on the board of the Landmarks Committee for 12 years, being an active leader within the Sea Cliff Civic Progress Party, and serving as the Architectural Review Board President from 2000 through 2014. Last year, Mr. Kavanaugh joined the Sea Cliff Fire Department.
It is that most recent experience that Mr. Kavanaugh addressed in his remarks as he thanked the Lennons and the Civic Association. Speaking of the Fire Department, he said, “I’m so humbled to be in this company. I’ve never been with a group of men and women so dedicated to this village. You should join.”
Last year’s White Cap Award honoree, Carol Vogt, offered words of support for nominee Leslie Guerci. “She has volunteered hundred of hours to preserving our Village history and architecture,” she said highlighting Ms. Guerci’s work on the Landmarks Committee and her efforts to restore the Stenson Memorial Library.
Additionally, Ms. Vogt explained that she has contributed in many other ways as well, whether it has been as an active member of the PTA, a volunteer with the Sea Cliff Beautification Committee, an associate member of the Good of the Village Association, a founding member of the Viking Foundation, or “in her spare time,” volunteering as a mentor to a North Shore High School Senior intern.
“She has served this village with love and passion,” Ms. Vogt continued, “she is a volunteer whose focus is always on the work. She is hands on, using her extensive and diverse skills to get the job done. If she sees something that needs fixing, she steps up. If there are insufficient resources, she volunteers to find some. If no one else can help, she just does more herself.”
The 1999 White Cap Award recipient John Reali spoke on behalf of Ernie Longobucco.
Born in 1928, Mr. Longobucco has been a lifelong resident of the Village, attending Sea Cliff School, and raising a family here. During World War II, as a young teenager, Mr. Reali explained, he served as a civil defense messenger transferring information to and from a spotter on the roof of Sea Cliff School. After the war, in 1946, Mr. Longubucco joined the Sea Cliff Fire Department, where he has served continuously for 70 years. For 50 years, he and his brother Ralph owned and operated the Pine Tree Bar and Grill, affectionately known as Longo’s, where Mr. Reali said, servicemen were always welcomed and received complimentary meals.
Three of Mr. Longobucco’s children served in the Fire Department, and his grandson just finished a stint as Chief. Just recently, Mr. Longubucco was recognized for his 70 years of service to the Sea Cliff Fire Department.
In addition to recognizing community members who have gone above and beyond volunteering their time and energy to making Sea Cliff what it is, the Sea Cliff Civic Association too has been a pillar of the community for decades sponsoring events around the year. They include: the Ice Cream Social at Spooky Park, the Newcomers Reception, the Progressive Dinner, the Cider Social, the Headless Park Turkey Hunt, the Scrooge Stroll, the Meet the Candidates for Village Board Forum, the Village-wide Garage Sale, the Memorial Day Breakfast, the Flag Day Concert at Clifton Park, the Sunset Serenade Concert Series, the Fourth of July Declaration of Independence reading, Mid-summer Movie Madness, and the latest addition - the James Joyce Jaunt.