Jon Breen letter to MVHS 6-15-03

The Jon Breen Memorial Fund

Mount Vernon High School

100 California Road

Mount Vernon, NY 10552

914-524-8381 pm/ 914-467-7802 am

MVHS Class of 1963 Website


June 15, 2003


Dear Friend and Classmate,


Hello from sunny Westchester County. In March I reported to you about some of my thoughts on the recent past. This message though is about both the Jon Breen Fund and what it has tried to accomplish and our upcoming 40th high school reunion in August, on the weekend of the 22-24th at the Tarrytown Marriot. Of course life is always, in a simplistic way, a struggle between hope and aspiration. Recently, since my last letter in March, we have witnessed mighty changes in the manner and shape of world order. None of us knows what the consequences of these changes will bring. Again we have aspirations for world peace and hope that our actions will accomplish these ends. In the meantime though, peace and social justice seem quite elusive.


With regards to the Jon Breen Fund and its activities, I met with Paul Court, the lead social studies teacher, at MVHS. In the course of that meeting Paul invited me to deliver a paper, regarding American Foreign Policy to his AP History classes. As a result of that lecture, we came up with our topic for this year’s Jon Breen essay,  “Is the United Nations Relevant: When it comes into conflict with American foreign policy?”  This past June 5th we held our second annual Jon Breen Assembly with an audience that included all of the participant essayists and a panel, which included, Dr. Spruill, Mount Vernon High School Principal and teachers Paul Court and John Larkin. The winner this year was Ms. Alyson C. Baker, whose essay was outstanding. Ms. Baker, along with the other finalists, recited their essays and fielded questions from the panel, their peers in the audience and myself. Ms. Baker is also number one in her class and will attend Barnard in the fall. I have also reviewed the resumes of five of the leading social studies students, and Ms. Oluwakemi Soyeju, an émigré from Nigeria, who is off to Georgetown, has been selected for the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize.


In regards to our upcoming reunion, our committee, composed of Michael Rosenblum, Peter Altieri, Ayn Silverman, Susan Satenstein and myself met recently, and with the understanding that we live in tough and challenging times, we all agreed to make an effort to make this reunion as enjoyable and as well attended as our 35th. We all have assigned ourselves the task of calling our fellow classmates. So you should expect to hear soon from one of us. So this is another opportunity for you to catch up on old times see former and present friends, renew cherished but interrupted relationships, and indulge in rank sentimentality. There isn’t an unlimited time period for these activities as evidenced by the loss of these classmates over the years:


Ken Angel, Janet Baird, Harold bell, Anthony Boccitto, Robert Borque, Jon Breen, Gwendolyn Bowles. Blance Caines, Frances Camastra, James Canosa, Paul Costakis, Ed Danneman, Terry dash, Bill Diaz, Gerry Doff, James Drummond, Bob Grimaldi, Philip Herzog, Thomas Janiello, Elaine Leggat, Lucille Lewis, John Miller, Joel Misthal, Reginal Overton, Leona Pompea, Allen Sealey, Alan Shields, Donald Small, Susan Solender, Laura Stratemeyer, Arzelia Strong, Marie Valentino, Claudia Webber, Paul Welch, David Wexler, and Denise Williams


Therefore, to help all of us in our effort, I would hope that you call your friends in the class, and encourage them to make the effort to come. We all can find excuses to justify inaction. We are all generally busy people, but all in all your participation in this upcoming event will be rewarding, enjoyable and increasingly memorable.


Also for your information we have the names of approximately 468 members of our class of 657. If you know the whereabouts of anyone of the following people, whom we don’t have addresses for, please forward it to my attention at the below address or through my e-mail.


Maria Amendola, Bruce Antonville, Barbara Bartlett, Denise Bodie, Mark Brenner, Antionette Brown, Major Burwell, Donald Caggiano, Mary Ann Calvi, Phyllis Capalbo, Roseanne Carrozza, Carol Cassano,, Anthony Cirrincione, Vito Colonno, Kathleen, Colquhoun, Edward Costello, Susan Coughlin, Jack Cumming, Sandra DeCarlo, Olivia Dewey, Nicki DiBerrbardo, Thema Dixon, John Dobson, Patricia Estock, Rosemary Figlioline, Barbara Finiello, Richard Fishman, Bernard Friedlander, Mort Goldstein,Cynthia Hammonds, Thais Hansen, Oscar Harris, Donna Havener, Tom Herzog, Myra Horowitz,, Esther Jaffe, Robert Johanson, Victor Johnson, Bruce Johnston, James Jones, Jon Kalb, Sherwood Kendel, James Kenny, Joan Kingsley, Marilyn Krieger, Carolyn Kwapick, Errol Leaderman, Robert Lewis, Theresa Lioi, Beverly Lpscomb, James Lipscomb, Madelene Lucadoma, David Lyon, John Maier, Kathryn Mamona, Carol Mangarillo, Goldie Mann, Linda Marino, Robert Marshall, Marjorie McGarvey, Neil Meade, Phyllis Myers, David Mills, Christine Mrazek, Noreen O’Brien, Cynthia Osta, Louis Pagliocca, Janet Partridge, Ed Paul, Eileen Philips, Katherine Price, Joanne Puts, Gail Reese, Katheryn Ring, Donald Roberts, Albert Romano, Carol Ross, Janice Ryan, Carol Satterfield, Ira Schildkraut, Laura Schilke, Walter Schmidt, Nancy Schwartzberg Dennis Seetoo, Ruth Shapiro, Carol Shaw, Jim Sheridan, Alan Sherman, Nicholas Shirgio, Elaine Siemer, Barbara Signorelli,, Ann Stazzone, Rosemarie Vanerhoek, James Washington, William Weil, John Weiss, and Willy Zambrana.


Meanwhile I have had the pleasure speaking to Barbara Fine Alexander, who has two beautiful daughters, Dr. Larry Reich, whose surgery center was the location for the network television program “Extreme Makeover”, Michael Fuchs who spent a few great months in Hawaii, Lew Perelman whose wife is a singer and a composer, Warren Adis and his wife Mary who are intending to sabbatical in Australia, Jim Finch who is an integral part of Mount Vernon city government, Stan Goldmark, who travels yearly to Wisconsin football games, is taking his daughter to Syracuse University this fall, Norman Raphael, who is a new contributor to the Jon Breen Fund and hopes to be at this coming reunion, Laura Kosof Fluhr and her wonderful store on 79th Street and Madison Avenue, Frank Engel who was just in New York from Portland with his wife and beautiful daughter, Alan Rosenberg whose daughter and granddaughter I have held, Bob Sabin, who was part of our pinochle game with Joel Grossman and Alan Sherman, Elaine Turkin, Barbara Tucci Parent and her husband Roland, whom we recently lunched with in Fort Lauderdale, Bill Bernstein who retired from the legal department of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, and has now migrated south to Florida, Joel and Sue Grossman’s oldest daughter was married, Lucy Bisesi Peskin is happy about her son’s new job, Steve Blankstein has been spending his retirement golfing with his wife in Florida, Jane Cutler Feirer is happy in Rockland County,  Bruce Dix, who is still practicing law for the State of NY near Albany, Lester Hallerman, whose son is to be married and is going to be celebrating his 34th  wedding anniversary on our reunion weekend, Jim Kurtz, who is still the greatest and still is involved in veteran’s affairs, Diane McGinnis Fleck, who has remarried, Fran Lazar Ashkin and her Doctor hubby go to bed early, Ellen Fuchs Abramson  complained about the rains effect on her flowers, Elaine Knopping Haimes will soon be a grandmother and may attend the reunion, we hope, Susan Wallis Field happily sells real estate in Scarsdale and Edgemont, Barbara Soloff Levy is still doing her famous illustrations and will also be a grandmother soon, Matt Goldberg is into arbitration in Oakland and may come east, Larry Baker has confidence in the market rebounding, and Phylis Briskman Leon may come to the reunion also. By the way Madeline Littlefield just told me Pete Sisto is getting married.  There is always more, of course, but space and time have a way of limiting this letter, no less everything else.


Regards, and see you at our 40th reunion!



Richard J. Garfunkel


PS: If you are interested in sending a contribution to the Jon Breen Fund, I will send you a copy of Alyson C. Baker’s winning essay. For any gift above $50 I will send you a copy of the tape of the event! RJG.  










Letter to Mayor Ernest Davis of Mount Vernon 6-6-03

Hon. Ernest Davis

Mayor of Mount Vernon, NY

Office of the Mayor

Mount Vernon, NY, 10550



June 6, 2003


Dear Mayor Davis,


I was sorry that you were unable to participate with our Jon Breen Memorial Fund Assembly this year. I understood from Leslie Alpert that you had other pressing obligations. We had a marvelous turnout and the four finalists handled themselves with considerable grace and aplomb in the midst of a difficult and demanding venue. As you well know, it is never easy to be judged by one’s peers, especially when difficult and thought provoking questions are asked and excellent answers are expected.


Meanwhile, please find a copy of the winning essay submitted by Ms. Alyson C. Baker, who happens to be the number one ranking student in the MVHS Class of 2003. I have also selected for the annual Henry M. Littlefield History Award, Ms. Oluwakemi Soyeju, a Nigerian immigrant. Ms. Soyeju, who ranks second in her class, and achieved a 750 in her History SAT II national exam, has accomplished much in her outstanding high school career. Coming to a new country and undergoing the great challenge of assimilation regarding language and culture makes her effort even more remarkable. I have therefore enclosed an essay that she composed regarding her early experience in coming to America.


Thank you very much, and I look forward to seeing you soon.





Richard J. Garfunkel