Sad News

Phyllis Messina, retired ENMS Computer Lab aide, passed away on June 13 at the age of 77. Phyllis was pre-deceased by her husband Philip and is survived by her daughter Marybeth Seus; sons Steven and Christopher; seven grandchildren and sister of Lorraine Mondolino.

A memorial mass was held on July 3 at St. Philip Neri Church. Cards maybe sent to Phylilis’s daughter, MaryBeth Seus, 10  Clam Shell Lane, Norhport NY 11768.

Donations in Phyllis’ memory may be sent to support the Philip Messina Memorial Golf outing, an annual event named for her late husband. The golf outing raises money to support brain cancer research at Huntington Hospital. Learn more about the event at this Northwell Health webpage.

Sad News

Irene Eckert, long time Social Studies teacher andR-UTN executive board member, passed away on July 8 at the age of 92 after a short illness. Irene’s passing is another blow to our membership and all who called her colleague and friend. A Washington Post article from last January, written by a much younger friend friend of Irene’s, is a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman. Irene was hesitant about sharing the article, but now that she is no longer with us, we feel that it is a loving tribute that she be read by all who knew her. Link to the article here.

Irene is survived by her son Richard and his wife Jane; daughter Michelle “Mickey” Wilder; daughter Stephanie Metz and her husband Robert; four granddaughters and her sister Josephine Perez. She was pre-deceased by her son-in-law-law Glenn Wilder this past February. She also leaves behind many nieces, nephews and too many friends to name.

Irene was born in Calabria, Italy and moving to the United States eighty-seven years ago. She taught in Northport for over thirty-five years, teaching social studies and psychology at Northport Junior High School and Northport High school. Until her recent illness she was an active member of the R-UTN Executive Board and was instrumental in the planning of the annual picnic and luncheons.

Irene loved to travel and visited over 60 countries in her lifetime, studying the history and culture of the countries she visited. She easily made friends and a lasting impact wherever she went. After retiring from teaching Irene became Long Island’s premier film historian, teaching classes at local libraries and colleges on old film classics. Just four weeks before she died Irene completed teaching a six week course at CW Post. Her other passions and activities in retirement included spending time with children and grandchildren, socializing with her friends, reading, going to Broadway plays, visiting museums, watching her favorite show Jeopardy, and of course traveling. It can surely be said that Irene lived life passionately and to the fullest.

Irene will be most remembered for her larger than life personality and her fierce spirit. Words used by family and friends to describe her are: one of a kind lady, unique, confident, opinionated, fearless, funny, sometimes loud, smart and worldly. Irene definitely left a lasting impact that will remain forever on all those who had the privilege to know her. She will be truly missed by all!!

Visitation2:00 pm – 6:00 pm Wednesday, July 14, at M. A. Connell Funeral Home, 934 New York Avenue, Huntington Station.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 am Thursday, July 15 at St. Hugh Of Lincoln R. C. Church, 21 East 9th. Street, Huntington Station – followed by internment at Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in Huntington.

Memorial Donation may be made in Irene’s name to: CHD Coalition, 45 Carey Ave 250 #1, Butler, NJ 07405

If any R-UTN members have memories they wish to share about Irene, please email Please keep your commemorative brief and include your name and school.

The Northport Community Band is Back!

The Northport Community Band is thrilled to announce our return to LIVE performances each Thursday evening in July in Northport Village Park!

Beginning July 1 at 8:30 pm, the Robert W. Krueger Bandstand will once again ring with the sounds of your musical friends and neighbors in a summertime tradition since 1959. As they carefully emerge from a long quarantine, they will be featuring members of the Band in smaller groups that don’t always get the spotlight, culminating with the full band in our final weeks: July 1 – Mr. Jack Daniel’s Original Silver Cornet Band featuring the French Horn Ensemble; July 8 – The NCB Low Brass Collective plus the Jazz Orchestra Quintet; July 15 – The Northport Community Jazz Orchestra Big Band; July 22 – Return of the FULL Northport Community Concert Band, guest conductor Tom Gellert and surprises; July 29 – Season Finale with the full band, Armed Forces Salute with American Legion Post #694 and the 1812 Overture with cannons.

The band has a contingency rain site! If the weather threatens, the evening’s performance will move to Northport High School. Announcements will be made beginning at 3:00 pm on the Band’s website, and our Facebook page; and loyal audience members can sign up for instant updates by sending an email to or texting @e82cbb to 81010.

Every concert is also live streamed and archived at, where all of last year’s virtual concerts can still be found. Rain or shine, there’s great LIVE music ahead. Bring your folding chairs, beach blankets and a picnic dinner and celebrate the band’s 63rd musical summer.

P. S. Don’t forget to “bring a can to the concert!” Long Island Cares will once again accept non-perishable food donations every week, and each item is worth a raffle ticket for valuable prizes – including guest conducting “The Stars and Stripes Forever” at the final concert!

Current and retired Northport Staff who are NCB members: Don Sherman, Director; Remy D’Esposito, Chris Zacher; joe Hinton; Ellen McCarthy; and lots of alumni!

2021 R-UTN Scholarship Winners

Thanks to the generosity of our members’ donations to the R-UTN Scholarship fund, we were happy to be able to end this pandemic year by presenting scholarships to seven deserving Northport High School seniors. Scholarships were presented to three seniors at the NHS Awards Ceremony, and we also presented scholarships to four children of our UTN colleagues at the UTN Retirement celebration.

We are proud to announce the recipients of this yeas scholarships:

McKenzie Schuvart received the The Fran LaDuca Award in memory of Fran LaDuca, longtime president of the R-UTN. Fran was a library media specialist and a lover of books and literature. The scholarship in her honor was awarded a senior who is seeking a career in education and has a love of literature. McKenzie will be attending the University of South Carolina at Columbia, SC.

McAuley Carroll received the The Ellsworth Welch Award in memory of former Ocean Avenue principal Ells Welch. It was awarded to a senior who plans to pursue a career in education. McAuley will be attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Nicole Geres was awarded The R-UTN Memorial Scholarship Award, in memory of our retired colleagues who died during the 2020- 2021 school year. It was also designated for a student who intends to pursue a career in the education. Nicole will attend Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.

The UTN chose the following recipients to receive scholarship awards.

Vincent Gaddis, son of Bellerose Avenue Teacher Janice Gaddis, will be attending the University of Tampa.

Robert Gonzalez, son of NHS Art Department teacher Robin O’ Neill – Gonzalez, will be attending SUNY Plattsburgh.

Thomas McDonagh, son of ENMS teacher Christine McDonagh, will be attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Steven Torre, son of NMS teacher Michele Torre, will be attending Colgate University.

Congratulations to all the deserving recipients and their proud families. Again, thank you retired educators for your generous donations to our R-UTN Scholarship Fund.