Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino has announced that the Hon. Lois Taplin Bronz, the first woman and first African-American to chair Westchester County's Board of Legislators and a life-long champion for early childhood education, will be the top honoree at the 31st annual Westchester Senior Citizens Hall of Fame on Dec. 6.
Bronz is one of 57 seniors from 25 municipalities who will be honored at this year's Hall of Fame. They will all be inducted at a festive luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Main Ballroom of the Westchester Marriott Hotel in Tarrytown.
Astorino said that the Senior Citizens Hall of Fame is a marquee event on Westchester's calendar every year, and that all county residents should be impressed by the honorees' accomplishments.
"We're lucky to say that they are our friends and neighbors," Astorino said. "Their achievements enrich our lives and their spirits inspire us."
Tickets to the luncheon are $60 each. Here's your invitation to this gala event. Hope you’ll join us. To make a reservation or for more information, please contact Annette Alve at firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 813-6414. The Gerard Carelli Orchestra will play music for dancing.
This year's Special Recognition Honorees are Sister St. John Delany of White Plains; Barbara Lisio of Hastings; Andrea Olsen of Yonkers; Dr. Maria A. Pici of West Harrison; and Lucy Schmolka of Armonk.
The Senior Citizens Hall of Fame is co-sponsored by the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services, the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) and the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. The Children's Rehabilitation Center in White Plains supports the Senior Hall of Fame as a friend of the co-sponsors in honor of Dr. Maria A. Pici, its medical director and a Special Recognition Honoree.
DSPS Commissioner Mae Carpenter said that the honorees are role models for their peers and neighbors.
"They show how important it is that we give back to each other and to the community," she said. "It's their generosity of caring and giving that has made Westchester County one of the most age-friendly communities in the world."
The Senior Hall of Fame began in 1983 – the year of the 300th anniversary of the county's founding. Its purpose was to showcase how seniors have contributed to building the county.
Over the past three decades more than 950 seniors have been inducted.
To be nominated to the Hall of Fame, seniors must have made significant and enduring contributions to enhance Westchester's quality of life through their professional work, volunteer achievements or both.
Seniors are nominated to the Hall of Fame by members of the community, and the winners are selected by a panelof judges and Hall of Fame members. The names of past honorees are engraved on plaques that are permanently displayed at the DSPS office in Mount Vernon.
About Lois Bronz
Lois Bronz, a Greenburgh resident, is an outstanding example of those honorees. She grew up in Louisiana, and was the ninth of 10 children. Her special household chore was reading the newspaper to her father, who could not read. But Bronz says her father was the one who sparked her interest in politics and the importance of citizen participation in government.
Bronz earned a bachelor's degree from Xavier University, a master's in education from Wayne State University and went on to teach mathematics in the Greenburgh public schools. Her political career began in 1973 when she won a seat on the Greenburgh Town Board. She was elected to the county Board of Legislators in 1993 and was board chair from 2002 to 2004.
She is an advocate for racial justice and interracial harmony, and says her proudest accomplishment on the board was her leadership in passing the landmark legislation that created the Westchester County Human Rights Commission. She is also a founding member of the Westchester Black Women's Political Caucus.
In addition to politics, Bronz was a founder and chair of the board of directors of the Union Child Day Care Center in Greenburgh. During her tenure, she instituted a comprehensive program that included basic educational programs for the children, support services for the parents and fund-raising. In recognition of her dedication, the Union Child Day Care Center was renamed The Lois Bronz Children's Center in 2006.
Special recognition to five other seniors:
- Sister St. John Delany, Ph.D., of White Plains teaches at Pace University, where she is an associate professor in its Department of Education, and at Pace's Center for Literary Enrichment, which she founded in 1972. She is also director of the center, which provides programs and tutoring for children from pre-K to high school as well as a summer reading and writing program and an essay writing workshop. At the center, she has also developed innovative programs to promote literacy among groups that range from Japanese adults to immigrant children and their parents. Sister St. John Delany is a member of the Sisters of Divine Compassion and earned a Ph.D. degree. Her teaching career began 69 years ago in 1944 at St. Bernard's Elementary School in White Plains, and her passion for life-long learning has touched the lives of thousands of children. When not teaching, she loves to travel, and her trips have taken her all over the world, including Europe, Asia and Antarctica.
- Barbara Lisio of Hastings has a master's degree in education, and taught all elementary school grades in New York and Connecticut during her long career. For the past six years she has been a volunteer with JCY-Westchester Community Partners' SMART program. SMART is the acronym for Students and Mature Adults Read Together. Lisio is a natural-born teacher who volunteers in the intergenerational program with six students a week at School 22 in Yonkers. Because the school has limited space, a closet had to be used as a classroom, and Lisio became known as "the lady in the coat closet." But Lisio did not need a traditional classroom to inspire students because her love of teaching overcame her surroundings. Likewise, even though Lisio does not speak Spanish, her contagious love of learning overcame that barrier as well, and she was able to help students from all backgrounds get a good start in learning to read and speak English. But she reaches out to the students in other ways as well. They quickly learn that no matter what is happening in their home or outside community. Lisio is there for them to help them deal with their often difficult world, explain a new concept or just listen.
- Andrea Olsen of Yonkers has dedicated her life to improve Westchester County as an activist in the Yonkers Democratic Party. She has worked in local campaigns for 50 years and at age 93 is still a Democratic district leader who attends political functions and writes humorous poems about political life. Earlier in her life, Olsen was the first woman appointed chief in civil defense welfare services for Yonkers, where she was responsible for providing basic needs to people in the aftermath of a disaster. During the height of Cold War tensions, she oversaw and implemented new strategies for disaster preparedness and emergency management for the entire city, and it was through Olsen's efforts that Yonkers developed a plan to lessen the suffering of disaster victims through proper aftercare. She was also a volunteer who led efforts to benefit the Mother's March on Polio. And in a very different area, she helped to bring culture to the city when she served as vice president of the Untermyer Arts Council.
- Dr. Maria A. Pici of West Harrison is a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and is medical director of the Children's Rehabilitation Center in White Plains. The center offers an innovative, comprehensive approach to provide care and rehabilitation services to medically fragile children, and Dr. Pici was one of the first in the area to develop and provide outpatient rehabilitative services and a therapeutic aquatic center. Dr. Pici is an advocate for all disabled children and families, especially ones who are poor and disadvantaged, and goes out of her way to provide them with as much support and help as she can during very stressful times. She constantly speaks with insurance agencies and vendors to be sure that her young patients receive the equipment that they need to allow them to reach their maximum potential. She is an attending physician at Westchester Medical Center and the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital. Dr. Pici completed her internship at Yonkers General Hospital and her residency at Misericordia Hospital and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
- Lucy Schmolka of Armonk has been a volunteer at White Plains Hospital for more than 25 years. In 2005, she became coordinator of the hospital's Ambassador Program, which offers the "human connection" of warmth and support to patients who are often anxious and apprehensive when they come to the hospital. The Ambassadors escort patients to their destinations, listen, answer questions and connect patients with the appropriate staff. The Ambassador program began with eight volunteers, but through Schmolka's leadership, they number 47 today. She has also served as president of the hospital's Scarsdale Auxiliary. In other areas, Schmolka has served as president of the Scarsdale PTA and has been an active member of the League of Women Voters. In addition to all her volunteer work, she also had a successful career in health services, and her many jobs in that field included work as a patient advocate at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Westchester County 2013 Senior Citizens Hall Fame Honorees
Hon. Lois Taplin Bronz – Greenburgh
Special Recognition Honorees:
Sister St. John Delany – White Plains
Barbara Lisio – Hastings
Andrea Olsen – Yonkers
Dr. Maria A. Pici – West Harrison
Lucy Schmolka – Armonk
Class of 2013 (by town):
BRONXVILLE: Patricia Dohrenwend; Audrey Fallon
CORTLANDT MANOR: Eileen Deem; Suzane Metz Sadofsky
DOBBS FERRY: Ronald Bray;
GOLDENS BRIDGE: Joseph Simoncini
LARCHMONT: Teddi Becker; George Case
MOUNT VERNON: Gertrude Barbour; John Lee Dunham; Josephine Frusciante; Merlene Loleta Howell; Martin Rubin
NEW ROCHELLE: Joan Mooney
NORTH SALEM: Muriel Bisulca
OSSINING: Michael Greene; Thelma McFadden
PEEKSKILL: Fran Caputo; Joy Chiulli
PLEASANTVILLE: Betty Jane Whelan
PELHAM: John Cassone
PORT CHESTER: Gene Ceccarelli
RYE: Betsy Biddle; Barbara Brunner; Pasquale Iorillo
RYE BROOK: Joan Feinstein; Lucille Porto
SCARSDALE: Dr. Marvin Lipman
SOMERS: Marion Levine
TUCKAHOE: Mary Ann Frusciante
VALHALLA: Vita Nicolai; John Nicolai; Michael Spaziante; Rocco Troiano
WHITE PLAINS: Barbara Andralliski; Millie Castro; Norman Friedman; Sue Lobel; Fintan O'Hare
YONKERS: Esther Bauer, Dorothy DeRuve; Nancy Gill; Helen Ann Henkel; Christopher Milano; Samuel Morrison; Ceko & Helen Nacov; Noemi Robbins; Helen Tropp; Maryl Turchi
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS: Kathleen Marencek