Past NSFDA Presidents
- Being president of NSFDA requires a great deal of dedication.
- A president presides over 11 Board meetings, 5 General meetings and often at least two social events annually.
- Each year he/she represents NSFDA at the NYSFDA convention and sometimes, a National FDA convention. In addition, he/she will attend MetFDA meetings just to keep in touch with the neighbors.
- A president fields all kinds of telephone calls and encounters at regular and, often, odd hours.
Each president of this association has been faced with at least one unique challenge.
Hawkins & Davis Funeral Home, Smithtown
Steve was NSFDA’s first official president and oversaw the first two years of an infant group. He and his Board were starting from scratch, hoping they would succeed in developing a working organization.
Lucia-Orlando Funeral Home, Patchogue
John picked up the ball and ran with it for 4 years, devoting his time to making NSFDA a viable resource for its members. Under his administration an editor/executive director was hired and an association newsletter was instituted.
Brueggemann Funeral Home of East Northport
Doug faced the challenge of making the association into a recognized entity within the state association. Under his administration NSFDA went from an unacknowledged group of Long Island funeral directors to a separate local association sharing Region 5 of the NYSFDA with the MetFDA. In 1994 NSFDA received its charter from NYSFDA.
Michael J. Grant
Michael J. Grant Funeral Homes, Brentwood & Coram
Mike came into office with the promise that the organizational tasks were completed and that he could expect an uneventful term. Three weeks later TWA Flight 800 went down off the Moriches with 230 people dead. NSFDA, working under the NYSFDA banner (they held the liability insurance), learned first hand how to respond to a mass disaster. It became both our saddest and our finest hour.
William C. Wagner
Vernon C. Wagner Funeral Homes, Hicksville
Bill’s challenge was two-fold. Meeting locations were a major problem but under his administration we have been happily ensconced at The Irish Coffee Pub in East Islip. His more serious challenges were dealing with the emergence of third-party sellers and helping the Board find the best (and our current) administrator for NSFDA’s LIFE (pre-need) trust.
Joseph R. Noll
Macken Mortuary. Rockville Centre
Joe was faced with the establishment of continuing education (CE) requirements for funeral directing licensure in New York State. Despite initial concerns, members learned that they could receive all the CE they needed from general meetings of the association. During his administration a forewarning of future wastewater problems occurred.
Rocky Point Funeral Home, Rocky Point
Jeff’s presidency began with NSFDA being named, among other FDAs, in a federal lawsuit! Although the suit was eventually dismissed as frivolous, it involved many hours of work with attorneys plus a few dollars. Of course, the major event of Jeff’s term was the World Trade Center atrocity in which many members were involved for a long period of time. In addition, the concern about bioterrorism began escalating more rapidly.
Beatrice Lewanduski, CFSP
D'Andrea Brothers Funeral Home, Copiague
Bea faced an enormous industry struggle during her tenure: the explosion of the wastewater crisis. With various agencies making conflicting demands, she had numerous frustrating meetings on Long Island and traveled several times upstate to Albany in attempts to get clarification of what was being demanded of funeral homes. She also was the instigator of the NSFDA Mini-Trade Show and the challenge of putting together a trade show locally was successfully met. In addition, the NSFDA annual scholarship fund was established and its awards have grown steadily each year. Also growing steadily was the unresolved wastewater crisis. Bea went on to become NYSFDA Region 5 Governor and continued moving upward to serving as president of our state association, NYSFDA.
Joseph S. Grattan
DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Homes, Mattituck, Southold, Shelter Island
Served 2005 - 2007
The wastewater issue became full-blown during Joe's tenure and several more years of great struggle continued, dealing with the EPA, DEC and Suffolk County Department of Health's considering NSFDA's funeral homes as the target of their environmental concerns. Brand new Dad Joe also dealt with tardy physician signings of DCs, convincing Newsday to allow funeral home web addresses in death notices and a barrage of unannounced FTC inspections regarding the timely presentation of GPLs. Joe tried infusing the Board with new blood, streamlining general meeting procedures, establishing a new web page and holding NSFDA's 2nd mini-trade show, all successful efforts!
Wesley A. (Andy) Powell
Powell Funeral Home, Amityville
Served 2007 - 2009
“Andy” came into office facing several ongoing challenges, among them the persistent wastewater issue. In an effort to finally put the matter to rest, an environmental attorney and engineer were hired. Although several of the governmental agencies pursuing the issue had become satisfied with what they deemed funeral home compliance, the threat of future concerns remains. Andy’s attention to detail and concerns resulted in clear communication and agreements satisfactory to all parties as regards many outstanding and longtime problems: the difficulty with placing death notices in Long Island’s major newspaper was resolved through discussions and a meeting; and communication with the National Cemetery personnel and the Organ Donor network was enhanced. In addition, Andy’s strong and entertaining oratory skills drew increased attention to NSFDA on a NY State level, thereby advancing NSFDA’s petition to become its own “Region.”
Martin (Marty) Kohler
Nolan & Taylor-Howe Funeral Home - Northport
Served 2009 - 2011
As president, Marty was able to oversee the process of NSFDA becoming Region 9 within the New York State association (NYSFDA). Region 9 is a new region consisting of one local Association: the Nassau Suffolk Funeral Directors Association. Marty says, “With the dedication of previous presidents, officers and members, my goal was to not screw up the strong foundation which was already built. In reality, as a longtime Board member, I worked my way up through the ranks. I applied the knowledge that I learned from others to gain the ability to keep what I consider the finest local funeral directors association in the state, functioning as a team.” Two issues Marty confronted were: leading a successful refusal to accept unreasonable and consumer-unfriendly demands by a large cemetery which subsequently withdrew their demands; and placing us on the ground floor of the uphill battle to bring about the New York State EDRS. Marty, while employing his unique sense of humor, happily accomplished his goals for NSFDA members so that they may continue holding high standards of serving the public.
William J. Butler
Butler-Hughes Funeral Home, Kings Park
The major accomplishment of Bill’s administration was the placing of the association in a better financial situation: legal expenses from a waste water issue had taken a huge financial toll and with help from the budget committee and some fiscal restraint, Bill was able to get the association headed in the right direction. Overseeing the revision of the by-laws to conform to the age of a paperless system, the continued defeat of preneed insurance and bringing cuts to the Suffolk County ME’s budget to a halt were just a few of the other big issues. During Bill’s presidency we also saw the association solidify its position as its own region within New York State, the election of the first NSFDA-past president as president of the NY State FDA, and an NSFDA-sponsored ceremony at Long Island National Cemetery at which the country’s largest honorable disposition (over 60) was made of the cremated “forgotten” veterans’ remains.
Charles J. O'Shea Funeral Home, East Meadow
Richard J. O'Shea Jr.
Richard saw his Presidency as an opportunity to enhance the value of membership in our Association. Richard worked to establish a Funeral Funding Program through TFCU, obtained a significant grant from the Whitmore Group to underwrite the Association’s Annual Symposium, fought to repeal the Suffolk County Cremation Fee, brought back 'Funeral Director' badges, fostered the creation of a 'Cemetery Portal' on this website, authored several original articles for our Newsletter, and instituted On-Line Webinars (for educational credits) and non-credit meetings to addressing important issues like 'Active-Shooter Safety' and Narcan Training.
In early 2020, the Covid-19 virus was declared a pandemic. Seeing an alarming slow-down at major cemeteries, Richard penned a letter illuminating the disastrous backlog of interments and the corresponding dangers to the LI/NYC Area if not immediately addressed. His letter was co-signed by leaders of the Metropolitan and State FDA's before being received by the governor’s office. Additionally, Richard and the NSFDA Officers kept members informed, through daily e-mails and nightly postings on this website, regarding rapidly changing guidelines and directives from numerous organizations. Richard also made sure that members had access to needed supplies by establishing regional sites for the distribution of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Offices of Emergency Management in Nassau & Suffolk Counties.
Richard’s term in office ended with the ebbing of the pandemic and the emergence of a phased re-opening plan for Long Island.