Rotary welcomed Eileen Aliani and Anita Zarbis of the Committee for the Beautification of East Norwich (CBOEN) to their June 1 meeting. There was a two-fold purpose: the women had come to ask for funding for the CBOEN and the club wanted to honor lifelong member Nicholas DeSantis, a rotarian who passed away on April 12 at age 93. Age was incidental to this “man around town.”
DeSantis was involved with many local service groups, including Oyster Bay VFW Post 8033. He joined the Air Force in peacetime, interested in working on “those flying machines,” but when Dec. 7, 1941, arrived he was immediately on active duty. Sent to England he worked on the planes being sent over the channel in the Battle of Britain. After the war, he married his wife Alice and had two children, Susan and Nick, Jr. When he retired from ConEd, he built a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car that he drove in parades. As a member of the Italian-American Club, he hosted a program on La Famiglia at which Oyster Bay families told their shared history, proving that family was first and education next in their priorities. As a rotarian he began the North Shore-East Norwich Rotary, which recently joined the Oyster Bay Rotary Club. He was also one of the first members of the CBOEN, said Aliani.
Rotarian James Fuccio said they have given DeSantis a Paul Harris Award. Established in the name of the founder of rotary, it is their highest honor. DeSantis helped the club in myriad ways, as well as St. Dominic’s, the I-A club and veterans groups.
“He was all over the place,” Fuccio said. His son will be presented the award when he is available.
Aliani said the CBOEN was founded in 1978 by Dr. Jordan Yale.
“He put a notice in the paper for a meeting at his house,” said Aliani. “Nick was there and became an active member through the years.”
The CBOEN has a permit from the New York State Department of Transportation to maintain the medians in East Norwich, which bloom with Knockout Roses and Montauk Daisies. They replace plants damaged by cars and snowplows and replace signs that disappear. They installed the bench next to the garbage receptacle on Route 106 opposite Rothmann’s. They sponsor and contribute to the Christmas Tree Lighting at the corner of Route 106 and 25A. Currently, they need $5,000 to maintain the spring/fall cleanup, mulching, insurance bond to the state and electricity and water for the medians. The latter has been an expensive project since the pipe leaked resulting in high water fees and repair expenses over the years.
Aliani praised the Town of Oyster Bay for their help in restoring the Sugar Tom’s area when it was damaged by a car accident.
Rotarian Jim Werner, an East Norwich resident, said seeing the difference between areas with tall grasses left growing in contrast to the neatly maintained areas in East Norwich make it welcoming. Werner said he was disappointed that this year’s Memorial Day Parade in East Norwich (and Oyster Bay) were canceled because of rain. It turned out to be a nicer day than expected and he and his two sons were given a tour of the East Norwich Volunteer Fire House when they arrived.