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Remembering Those Lost to Covid-19

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 10:33
Among the many East Enders lost to Covid-19 over the past year were, clockwise from top left, Rick Del Mastro, Beryl Bernay, Cyril Fitzsimons, Arthur P. Dodge, Ed Porco and Joan Powers Porco, Lottie Hartwell Gaines, William Kevin Eggers, and Paul C. Jones III.

All too often, it seems, the story of Covid-19 is told through statistics and trends. Beyond those numbers are hundreds of thousands of human beings — real people — who lost their lives to the pandemic across the world. As told to The Star by their families, here are some of their stories from the East End.

Catherine D. Bennett

Catherine D. Bennett was a 65-year resident of East Hampton Village who loved gardening and was a dedicated communicant at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church. She died of complications from Covid-19 on Dec. 20, 2020, at the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Southampton. She was 87.

Beryl Bernay

Beryl Bernay, a part-time Springs resident, was a woman of many talents, a fashion designer, actor, journalist, photographer, amateur anthropologist, and United Nations official. She died of complications from Covid-19 on March 29, 2020, at the Mary Manning Walsh Home in Manhattan. She was 94.

Sylvia Chavkin, who lived in Amagansett and Manhattan, was the founder and organizer of the Poetry Marathon at the East Hampton Town Marine Museum. An actor in her youth, she was also a preschool teacher and parenting adviser. Ms. Chavkin died of Covid-19 on Jan. 27, 2021, at home in Manhattan. She was 95.

Joseph Francis DeDeyn, who loved animals and ice cream, and who was known for his smile and warm hugs, died of complications from Covid-19 on April 19, 2020, at the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. Mr. DeDeyn, who had Down syndrome and dementia, was 68.

Rick Del Mastro

Rick A. Del Mastro was dedicated to his longtime home, Wainscott, as chairman of its Citizens Advisory Committee for many years. A caring husband, father, and grandfather, he was a titan of the advertising industry and a noted philanthropist. Mr. Del Mastro died of complications from Covid-19 on April 15, 2020. He was 75.

Arthur P. Dodge

Arthur P. Dodge, a descendant of a 1661 English buyer of Block Island, was the son of a survivor of the Titanic. He loved rock 'n' roll, golfing, and automobile racing, and had a career as a stockbroker. A resident of East Hampton and Crystal River, Fla., he died at home here of complications from Covid-19 on Sept. 11, 2020. He was 78.

Geraldine S. Wasko Doyle was a guide at the 1964 World's Fair in Queens, and later the owner-operator of a restaurant and catering business. She was known as an excellent cook, and was a dedicated parishioner of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church. The longtime East Hampton resident died of Covid-19 on April 24, 2020, at the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. She was 86.

Sean Doyle

Sean Doyle, a native of Ireland and resident of East Hampton for more than four decades, was an Army veteran who co-owned and operated two New York City bars, the White Horse Inn and Doyle's Corner Pub. He was also a self-taught, acclaimed artist and writer. Mr. Doyle died of Covid-19 on Jan. 2, 2021, at the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. He was 86.

William Kevin Eggers

William Kevin Eggers of East Hampton, a music producer, was the founder of several record labels. Among the many artists he recorded were Albert King, Leadbelly, Philip Glass, and John Cage, and he worked with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles on their first American tours. Mr. Eggers died on May 20, 2020, of complications from Covid-19 at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. He was 77.

Cyril Fitzsimons at his bar on Napeague.  Doug Kuntz

Cyril Fitzsimons is a name that nearly everyone on the East End knows. He was an Irish barkeep whose salty Napeague roadhouse was an emblem of carefree summers past. Many years before that, he was a Marine rifleman in Vietnam. Mr. Fitzsimons died on April 24, 2020, of complications from Covid-19. He was 77.

Lottie Hartwell Gaines

Lottie Hartwell Gaines was a native of East Hampton who was a member of the Montclair Board of Education in New Jersey. She was a member of Bright Hope Baptist Church who liked shopping, walking, and eating homemade Applegate Farm ice cream. Ms. Gaines died of complications from Covid-19 on Jan. 28, 2021, at the Virtua Voorhees Hospital in New Jersey. She was 85.

Marion Ruth Horner, a former nurse at the East Hampton Medical Group, was a devout Christian who loved music and traveling. Known as Mickie, she married four times and outlived all four husbands. Mrs. Horner died of Covid-19 on Oct. 19, 2020, at the Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community in Asheville, N.C. She was 99.

Paul C. Jones III with his son Asher Alexandra Saland

Paul C. Jones III was born and raised in East Hampton, one of those heart-of-gold kinds of men who touched many lives around him. He was a longtime employee of the Stephen Talkhouse and later was a Corcoran real estate agent and owner of his own estate management and cleaning businesses. Mr. Jones, a father of three, died on Feb. 26, 2021, at Stony Brook University Hospital after experiencing complications of Covid-19. He was 40 years old.

Jack Kelleher

Jack S. Kelleher loved traveling, art, photography, books, and good wine. After a successful career in retail, he worked in the real estate business in East Hampton. Mr. Kelleher, who adopted dogs from the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons and was on the board of the East Hampton Library, died of Covid-19 on Dec. 11, 2020, in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 66.

Susan C. Kosche

Susan C. Kosche, a longtime summer resident of East Hampton, is remembered as a kind, friendly person who went out of her way to help others. She was a deacon and committee member at the Wilton Congregational Church in Wilton, Conn. Ms. Kosche died of complications from Covid-19 on April 28, 2020, at the Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, Conn. She was 80.

Jessica Chew Martin, who grew up in Montauk, was known as a wild and free spirit with a memorable laugh and a talent for eloquent writing. Having been home-schooled, she was a passionate advocate for the home-schooling community. She died in Larkhall, Scotland, on April 1, 2020, of complications related to Covid-19. She was 42.

William E. McManus

William Ellis McManus was a dental surgeon who practiced in East Hampton. He was a captain in the Army Dental Corps, stationed in Vietnam, where he was the recipient of several military honors. He was a past president of the East Hampton Lions Club and a member of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Dr. McManus died of Covid-19 on Jan. 30, 2021, at the Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 80.

Gert Murphy

Gert Murphy of Montauk inspired many as a nun, teacher, volunteer, artist, writer, and tireless handywoman. A lover of bridge, languages, literature, art, dogs, and God, Ms. Murphy died on Dec. 16, 2020, of Covid-19, after having a stroke some months prior, at Sky View Rehabilitation and Health Care in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. She was 82.

Beulah Mae O'Neal

Beulah Mae O'Neal raised seven children in Bridgehampton, where she arrived as a migrant farm worker in the 1960s. Known as kind and friendly with a tell-it-like-it-is attitude, Mrs. O'Neal died of complications from Covid-19 on Dec. 12, 2020, at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. She was 82.

Ed Porco was a past president of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk and the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society. He had a career as a commodities trader before retiring to Montauk. He liked to lead hikes and plan hiking trips to foreign destinations, and was passionate about history and classical music. Mr. Porco died of Covid-19 on March 24, 2020, at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. He was 89.

Joan Powers Porco and Ed Porco

Joan Powers Porco, his wife, was a journalist, teacher, social worker, Gestalt psychotherapist, poet, author, and political, environmental, and civil rights activist. A committee member of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, among her publications was the book "Holding Back the Tide: The Thirty Five-Year Struggle to Save Montauk." Ms. Porco died of Covid-19 on March 28, 2020, four days after her husband, at Eastern Long Island Hospital. She was 90.

Rose Marie Rutkowski

Rose Marie Rutkowski of Montauk was a co-owner of Mr. John's Pancake House and the Montauk movie theater. She came from a large family, with 10 siblings. Remembered as a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother, Mrs. Rutkowski died of a cause related to Covid-19 on Jan. 5, 2021, at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. She was 88.

Robert Schepps of Southampton was one of the first purveyors locally of bagels. He was known for his musical talents, volunteer work, sense of humor, and generous spirit. He was a fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, and played golf every Monday. "Bobby Bagels" died of Covid-19 on Jan. 17, 2021, at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. He was 66.

Charles Waller

Charles Waller's upbeat take on life was reflected in his whimsical, witty, mixed-media and assemblage work, which he called "sarcastic folk art." He exhibited his artwork widely, and many well-known people were among his collectors. He also had a career as a commercial illustrator, and loved sailing and fishing. Mr. Waller died of Covid-19 at home in Springs on Jan. 16, 2021. He was 66.

Ken Weldon was one of the Boys of Summer, a softball legend here for half a century. Even-tempered but competitive, he played and coached (and batted over .500) for most of his life. A veteran of the Army National Guard, he loved music, photography, reading, running, wine, and dancing. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2015, Mr. Weldon died of Covid-19 on April 19, 2020, at the Westhampton Care Center. He was 83.

Ronnie L. Wyche

Ronnie L. Wyche was a corrections sergeant with the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office for more than 27 years. The former Wainscott and Sag Harbor resident, who more recently lived in Aquebogue, loved music and motorcycles, and enjoyed the water and beach rides. Mr. Wyche died of Covid-19 on April 30, 2020, at Quantum Rehabilitation and Nursing in Middle Island. He was 67.

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