A gala to honor notable Patchogue lives
BY LINDA LEUZZI
Twelve new headstones now grace Lakeview Cemetery, honoring Patchogue war veterans whose markers were badly damaged or almost nonexistent.
“We’re always in the process of repairing and resetting the stones,” said Christopher Capobianco at the Hammond burial plot, with its earliest headstone dating back to 1835.
Capobianco is a member of the Cemetery Restoration Committee of Patchogue and an ardent volunteer with his wife Arlene. The headstone replacement is a collaboration with the Veterans Administration’s Memorial Products Service Applicant Assistant Unit, he explained.
This prominent Main Street cemetery, actually four co-joined parcels purchased by local churches in 1791 over six acres, has about 1,500 graves. It has evolved into a more graceful-looking landscape thanks to dedicated CRC members, who are hoping to restore and preserve more headstones and other enhancements at this historic resting place. Their Dia de los Muertos gala on Nov. 16 from 7-10 p.m. at Gallo Restaurant is a vehicle for that goal.
You can get in the Day of the Dead spirit — a Mexican tradition celebrating past loved ones — beforehand by attending the Patchogue Arts Council’s wine and cheese pre-party with free face painting and sugar skull decorations from 4-6 p.m. Then, if you have tickets, stroll on down the Roe Walkway to the gala.
Laura Feitner, who is chairing the Cemetery Restoration Gala committee, commented that this year’s gala focus offers a living history segment of notable Patchogue residents enacted by locals in costume.
“It’s telling the story of Patchogue, connecting public places to the past,” said Feitner. “Many people buried here were the shipbuilders, captains, merchants, founders, philanthropists, our oldest forbearers, so we feel it’s important to enhance it as a public space with restoration of the gravestones, benches and public lighting.”
Ralph Wright will portray Captain the Rev. Ezra Tuttle, the first established pastor of the Methodist Congregation in Patchogue. Meet him at the PAC Day of the Dead open house. He’ll be at the gala also.
The event is a typical Patchogue partnering effort; an altar dedicated to deceased members will be designed by PAC executive director Beth Giacummo-Lachacz and a PAC board member will facilitate pre-party face painting. Patchogue-Medford High School students made a map of the cemetery and its known inhabitants. Urban planner Alex Wallach, who lives in the Copper Beech development, designed the bilingual artwork on the invitations. El Matador is supplying the desserts. Patchogue librarians pitched in with research.
The ambiance, Feitner emphasized, will be joyously traditional. “It will be like a virtual tour of the history of Patchogue,” Feitner said.
Trustee Susan Brinkman’s daughter will enact a deceased Patchogue resident who passed as well. Brinkman is also the daughter of village historian Hans Henke, who, with Steve Gill, initially eked out a decent-looking space in the late 1990s and early 2000. Gill started the Cemetery Restoration Committee in 2006 and raised money for the beautiful front gate, archway, lighting and huge flagpole, and oversaw the monument to the sailors who froze to death in 1895 west of Davis Park. Both men toiled through sheer, dedicated sweat equity and Brinkman often accompanied her dad on his cemetery forays.
Wright mentioned that cooperative efforts have been the norm the past few years, with Patchogue Village, Brookhaven Town and Suffolk County aid in maintenance and funding.
Feitner said the notable Patchogeans included in the living history segment, besides Captain Tuttle, will be Edward Edwards, the Newins Family and the Baker Family. Lt. Jonathan Baker was the first settler of Patchogue.
“It’s those who have public landmarks associated with Patchogue to this day,” said Paula Murphy of the families represented.
Past lives were never boring. Think about it. Those buried in Union, Rice, Gerard and Old Episcopal cemeteries were embroiled in our country’s wars and progress.
As Gill once said, “Cemeteries are stories set in stone.”
Dia de los Muertos
The Dia de los Muertos Celebration to support the Historic Lakeview Cemeteries will take place Nov. 16 from 7-10 p.m. at Gallo Restaurant in Patchogue. Tickets are $75 and are limited, so sign up now. Visit facebook.com/CRCPatchogue or email email@example.com.
A $26 pre-party celebration will take place at the Patchogue Arts Council headquarters on Terry Street from 4-6 p.m. with face painting, wine and cheese and living history.
Third annual Veterans Day commemoration
The third annual Veterans Day Commemoration of the new headstones — replaced from the Civil War on — will take place on Veterans Day, Nov. 9, at Patchogue’s Lakeview Cemetery.
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