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Remembering Betty Rosenzweig

For all of our devoted, longtime readers, we sadly report that a very special columnist and reporter, Betty Rosenzweig, died last week. Betty, who had lived in Great Neck for years and years, raising her children here, along with her husband, Marty, who predeceased her many years ago, had moved to Boston in later years, to be closer to her children.

Human interest stories, right on-target news stories (always with a human point of view) and Betty’s famous “Round the Clock” column were high spots each week in the Great Neck Record. Her absence at the Record was noted as soon as she retired and moved away. Even today, her many still-loyal fans are often reminded of Betty’s special touch as they read an article about red fox on the peninsula, hear of chickens walking freely on some of our streets at times or learn of a unique Great Neck family.

Betty Rosenzweig was special, as special as the memories that Great Neck shares.

Gerard Varlotta Dies At 87

Gerard A. Varlotta of Great Neck, died suddenly on Feb. 27, 2015. He was 87 years old. Mr. Varlotta was born on June 8, 1927, in lower Manhattan and attended St. Joseph’s Parochial School and Stuyvesant High School. After high school, at age 17, Mr. Varlotta enlisted in the U.S. Navy and then attended NYU, earning a degree in mechanical engineering. After college he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study engineering in many European countries and went on to earn his NYS professional engineering license. Returning to the U.S., he worked for the NYC Department of Water Supply.

In 1960 he established GDL Construction Corp. and specialized in all facets of subterranean construction. GDL Construction evolved into Varlotta Construction Corp. Mr. Varlotta ran Varlotta Construction until his retirement in 1992. After retirement, he continued to work as a consultant. Varlotta Construction installed all the water mains for the original World Trade Center. Variotta Construction completed all underground utilities and infrastructure, street and sidewalks for the World Financial Center in Battery Park City. The company was also called upon to assist with the clean-up aftermath the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

For 18 years, Varlotta Construction was responsible for all emergency water main repairs in the five boroughs of the city, from the 1970s through the 1990s and was also responsible for snow removal at the city’s major airports, sections of Manhattan and all the parking lots of the Brenden Byrne Arena in New Jersey.

In addition, Mr. Variotta was co-owner of Billy Bud, a midtown Manhattan restaurant, the Flamboyant Hotel and Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a founding investor in Insitruform Metropolitan.

His hobbies included horse racing; he owned a number of trotters.

Mr. Varlotta was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his wife, Isabel; sons, Gerard (Angela) and David (Barbara), daughters, Laurie (Thomas) and Lynda (Vincent) and grandchildren, Michele, Richard, Kristen, Carolyn, Caroline, Christopher, Stephen and Geena.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Garden of Dreams Foundation or Boomer Esiason Foundation.

Eric Pomerance, 101

Eric Pomerance, a much loved artist, photographer and social activist, died Feb. 16, just short of his 102nd birthday. Born in Brooklyn to Esther Perlstein and Harry Pomerance on March 2, 1913, he later lived in Greenwich Village and in Great Neck.

At 16 he earned steamship passage to Argentina as a ship’s baker. A lively, keenly observant and thoughtful man, he later worked as an architectural assistant in Manhattan, a building supervisor and at a Dutch production studio. He became expert in the then new field of stop-motion photography, skillfully producing work that appeared in many classic television commercials. During WWII he was employed in a secret project manufacturing Norden bombsights.

Animated by a powerful sense of social justice, Pomerance ran supplies to aid the Republic during the 1936-’39 Spanish Civil War against fascism, and to raise awareness, drove an outsized Spanish ambulance through the narrow streets of lower Manhattan. Alarmed at bombsight factory workers’ exposure to dangerous solvents, he successfully pressed for safer conditions. In Greenwich Village, where he lived during the 1950s, he rallied opposition to plans that would have converted a substantial portion of Washington Square Park into a city bus lot. Later he helped found the Great Neck chapter of the activist nuclear arms control group SANE, judging it wise to keep no written records during the oppressive heyday of Joseph McCarthy.

Pomerance was also a gifted painter of urban landscapes and city buildings, exhibited in galleries, including a 2012 one-man show at Queensborough Community College.

Pomerance survived the death of his first wife, Hortense Baer and their son Joseph, and of his two brothers, Ralph and Bill. He is survived by a niece, Pam Steiner (Henry) and two nephews, Steven (Allyn) and Rafe (Lenore); numerous grand/great-grand nephews and nieces, and by his much beloved second wife Diane (Graszik), whom he met in 2004 and married in 2011.

Richard Cohen Dies At 83

Dr. Richard Cohen, a longtime Great Neck resident and retired chief of surgery at Parson’s Hospital in Queens, died Jan. 15, after a long illness. He was 83.

Dr. Cohen practiced medicine at multiple New York hospitals and helped implant the first pacemaker in New York. Born in Whitestone on June 22, 1931, he was as devoted to his family, as he was to his medical practice. He leaves his wife of 52 years, Carole; two daughters, Deborah and Laura. His eldest son, Jonathan, died in 2003.

Dr. Cohen practiced medicine for more than 30 years, scaling back his hospital work in the early 1990s to help care for his son, who was stricken with cancer. Dr. Cohen believed in the concept of a “family” doctor and routinely took calls at home, day or night, from patients, his daughter Deborah said. While he was convalescing in a nursing home, an aide recently noticed photos of Dr. Cohen as a young doctor. Recognizing the face, the aide told his wife Carole that as a young girl, Dr. Cohen had performed an emergency appendectomy on her. The aide said her mother had a photo of Dr. Cohen in their home and always told her that he had saved her life.

Dr. Cohen recently began to decline with dementia. As a physician, he challenged the disease with full determination. He made lists of words and walked around his Wilshire neighborhood, repeating the names of neighbors.

Dr. Cohen loved to golf, swim and adopt rescue dogs. One of his favorite activities was playing ping pong with his children and their friends and teaching many a child to ski, both on snow and in the water. He was a patient, gentle man who in his later years took great pleasure in spending time with his granddaughters, Isabel and Jacie Colette, who called him “Poppy.”

Ervin Drake Dies At 95

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Irvin Drake

Truly a legend in his own time, well known songwriter and long time Great Neck resident Ervin Drake died l wtwp weeks ago at this Great Neck home. He was 95 years old. For years he was married to Edith Bermaine, the owner of the legendary, long gone Middle Neck Road beauty and nail salon, Bermaine’s. [Read more…]

Great Neck Teacher Dies

Deborah Arkus, beloved community member and retired Great Neck teacher, died peacefully at home on Oct. 8, 2014 at age 85.  ArkusDies_102414A

Born on April 26, 1929 in Astoria, Debbie graduated from Julia Richman High School in Manhattan and received her BA and MS degrees in Early Childhood Education from Queens College.  On July 20, 1950, she married Albert Arkus, who predeceased her in 2001.  A resident of Great Neck for over 50 years, she retired from the Great Neck School District after 25 years as a highly esteemed and influential Kindergarten teacher.   [Read more…]

Ivar Segalowitz Dies At 83

When Ivar Segalowitz died last week, the Great Neck community lost much more than just one really lovely neighbor. Segalowitz died on Tuesday, June 24, following a long illness. He was 83 years old.
A longtime Great Neck resident, he treasured his family and extended his sincere kindness and his dedication to working hard for others. In earlier years he had served as president of the Allenwood Civic Association, and until just a few years ago he was a commissioner for the Great Neck Park District.
Ivar_070414ASegalowitz and his wife, Bernice, married for 60 years, moved to Great Neck in 1964 and raised their children Ralph and Eugenie in the community. A Holocaust survivor, Ivar was born in Lithuania and lived through the horrors of World War II. A child survivor of Dachau, Auschwitz and Buchenwald, he was eventually liberated by Patton’s Army.
In 1947 he emigrated to the United States, living in New York City and working as a tool and die-maker, machine designer and manufacturing executive. A U.S. veteran of the Korean War, he married Bernice and went on to study (nights at CUNY), attaining a BS in Physics. He then began a career in engineering and manufacturing, serving as vice president of two firms. He has six patents to his name.
His son Ralph told the Great Neck Record that his dad “rarely talked about the concentration camp.” It was only in later years that Segalowitz began to “tell his story,” occasionally opening up to others, including an interview with the Record many years ago. Working quietly, he was a board member of the Tietz Nursing Home in Queens, a facility dedicated to serving Holocaust survivors and he also served on the board of the National Association of Child Holocaust Survivors. During that interview with the Record, Segalowitz spoke of his bitterness towards other survivors who would not use their talents or their names to help raise funds for fellow survivors.
And while Ralph lovingly spoke of how he and his father spent so much time together, sailing and biking, he said that his father was the one always planning special family times with Ralph and his children and Eugenie and her children.
“He was a one-of-a-kind guy,” said Ralph Segalowitz. “We had a very good childhood.”
Ivar was an active community participant, first as a strong Allenwood advocate and then as park commissioner, a post he held from 2003 to 2011. Park District friends will remember him as a very active participant in all Park District facilities and programs. As an avid sailor, he was often at Steppingstone Marina. You would have been likely to have spotted him bike riding through Great Neck or perhaps you would have seen him speed-skating at the ice rink. He also loved hiking and cross-country skiing in Kings Point Park.
With his strong mandate for this park position, fellow commissioners said that he “helped bring a tremendous engineer’s perspective, leading the district into undertaking a major co-generation project at Parkwood,” which resulted in great energy-saving costs.
Segalowitz served as grand marshal for the annual Great Neck Memorial Day Parade in May 2011. He was indeed a “grand man.”

Margaret Werber Gilman

Great Neck native Margaret Werber Gilman, a World War II pilot, died on May 29, at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. She was 90 years old. Most recently she lived in North Hills.
Gilman had flown planes with the Women Air Force Service Pilots during WWII and these women were called the WASP fliers
She became a pilot when American pilots were in short supply when the war began. Women applicants applied to the Army Air Corps and those chosen were then trained and assigned specific duties. Gilman was one of the final pilots in the program before it was disbanded.
Gilman was married to veterinarian Manny Gilman, who died in 2011. She is survived by their daughter, Jane Gilman of Garden City, and son, Charles Gilman of Manhasset.

Erich H. Schultz

On April 3, at the age of 89, Dr. Erich H. Schultz died peacefully in his home from natural causes. He was surrounded and comforted by members of his devoted family. “Vatie” (as his children lovingly called him) had a long, happy, exciting and prosperous life.

Dr. Schultz, son of Mr. Erich Schultz and Mrs. Johanna Schultz, was born in Germany in 1924 and came to the United States at age 2. He graduated from Islip High School, received a BA from New York University, attended Bern Medical School and graduated from The University of Basel Faculty of Medicine.

In World War II he served bravely overseas with a medical detachment of the 186th infantry, 41st Division in the Southern Philippines. He was awarded Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, the Combat Medical Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, the Philippines Liberation Medal, The World War II Victory Medal & The Purple Heart.

In Switzerland he found his wife Katharina (“Kitty”) and was married in 1953. They moved to Lake Success in 1962, where they three daughters: Kathy, Erika and Heidi. [Read more…]

Leo Shear

The late Leo Shear and his wife Ruth.

The late Leo Shear and his wife Ruth.

Leo Shear was born on March 12, 1932 and died on March 25, 2014 in Boynton Beach, Florida. He was a long-time Great Neck resident, having moved into the community in April 1968.

Leo was born and raised in the Bronx and graduated from James Monroe High School. He attended Queens College and New York University before enlisting into the Army and serving in Korea as part of the Signal Corps. Upon his return, he began work as a financial analyst at Dun & Bradstreet before becoming a retail stock broker for the rest of his career. In 1970, he moved to the Great Neck office of what was then known as Shields and Company and worked there for the next 34 years. [Read more…]