Sept - Nov Issue
September 24, 2014


Source: NYSUT United

Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene

Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the highest ranking U.S. officer to be killed in combat since 1970 and the son of NYSUT retiree leader and activist Harold Greene Sr., was killed Aug. 5 in Afghanistan.

Greene Sr. was the longtime president of his local, the Albany Public School Teachers Association. After retirement, he and his wife, Eva, also a teacher and NYSUT member, remained very active in their union. Greene Sr. was a founder and served as president of his retiree chapter. He then became a leader and officer of Retiree Council 10 and is an active board member of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council.

Maj. Gen. Greene was predeceased by his mother, Eva. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Linda Teresa Alvarez | April 25
United Federation of Teachers

Linda Teresa Alvarez, 81, died April 25. Linda was an ESL school teacher in the Bronx for more than 30 years, and retired in 2009 from JHS 123/James M. Kieran in the Bronx. She is survived by her four sons Carlos "Charlie" Alvarez, Ramon Alvarez, Adalberto Alvarez and Daniel Alvarez. She is also survived by seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Linda loved spending time with her family and friends, going to Atlantic City and vacationing in her beloved Puerto Rico.

Joseph P. Donatone | March 1
Yonkers Federation of Teachers

John (Jack) Donovan | July 18
United Federation of Teachers

Paul Leroy Kerlee | June 28
Hastings Teachers Association

Paul Leroy Kerlee, musician, teacher, poet and composer, died June 28. He was born Aug. 5, 1934 in Butte, MT to Clarence E. and Opal Richardson Kerlee. He received his BA from Linfield College in Oregon, and his Masters in sacred music at Union Seminary in New York City. A life-long student, he studied at many other institutions, receiving Orff certification from the University of Toronto. He was an accomplished player of many instruments, including the organ, accordion, cello, recorder and a number of ethnic instruments collected in his travels.

Paul served as Minister of Music at the First Presbyterian Church in Connellsville, PA and the Presbyterian Church of Our Savior in Wilmington DE before moving to New York where he was organist/choir director of the Pound Ridge Community Church for 22 years. He taught music at Lore Elementary School in Wilmington and at the Wilmington Music School. In New York he was music teacher at Hillside School in Hastings-on-Hudson for many years, where his long tenure resulted in the development of a school-wide program of Morris and sword dancing.

Since 1970 he has been exploring the uses of folk dance in music education. His experience with English traditions through the Country Dance and Song Society led him to use morris, sword, garland, Maypole, and English country dancing with his students. He has studied Polynesian and Japanese dance at the University of Hawaii, and has traveled the world to learn and bring home dances of many cultures. His early self-published collections of dances, Wake Up the Earth and Son of Wake Up the Earth sprang from the Hillside program. He has appeared as a workshop leader at many music education conferences. He also taught aspiring music teachers at Manhattanville College.

Upon retirement he became a volunteer at the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, the Westchester Philharmonic, and AIDS-related community services, and did arts residencies in dance and music in various regional schools through the Westchester Arts Council. He led workshops for music teachers throughout the country, and was an avid world traveler. In retirement Paul sang in choirs in Dobbs Ferry, Hartsdale and Rye. Paul led and later accompanied the Mianus River Morris dancers, and participated in many other kinds of folk dancing. This led to the publication of "Welcome in the Spring," a popular book with CDs, for teaching English Morris and sword dancing to children. He was preceded in death by his sister, Joanne Kerlee Williams, and survived by four nieces and one nephew, and by seven great-nephews and nieces.

Sophia Parness Weyl | Jan. 19
United Federation of Teachers

Sophia Parness Weyl of Laguna Hills, Cal. and a member of the United Federation of Teachers, died Jan. 19 at the age of 100.

Sophia was born in the Bronx and graduated from City University of New York's Hunter College. She worked as a dietician, then a research chemist during WWII until settling into a long career as a high school chemistry teacher in Brooklyn where she was affectionately known by her students as "Wild Woman Weyl." She spent most of her adult life in Rockaway Beach and traveled the world extensively. Sophia retired in 1970 and relocated to Southern California where she was able to enjoy her second childhood.

Sophia wore many hats – teacher, athlete, journalist and fierce friend. She was an avid tennis player and played well into her 90's. The "Poet Laureate of Paddle Tennis" was noted for her fine sense of humor, vivid imagination and ability to create interesting stories weekly for the tennis column. Although a major competitor, she always had a warm smile and an outstretched hand for the "new kid on the block" no matter what their skill level was.

Sophia celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends that gathered from the East Coast, Northern California and as far away as England. Sophia has been a shining example of a life well lived and has touched many. She will be dearly missed.

John A. Spencer | July 15
Rochester Teachers Association

Samuel C. Usher | Nov. 30
United Federation of Teachers

Sam, who grew up in South Carolina, was drafted in the middle of his college education to serve in the Army during the Occupation in Germany, where he was assigned as an observer to the Nuremburg Trials. After returning home, he completed his studies at Hampton University in Virginia. In 1958 Sam received a Master's Degree in business education Columbia University's Teachers College. Over the next 32 years, he taught accounting and business math for the New York City Board of Education, first at the junior high level and then at Benjamin Franklin HS in Manhattan where he taught and served as department chairman and at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village where he taught and coordinated the Cooperative Education Work-Study Program.

In retirement Sam's activities included serving on the Board of Trustees of the Hamilton Grange Day Care Center in Harlem and as co-chair of the Bailey Estates Neighborhood Association in Mount Vernon, NY. He was also an administrator with the VISTA funded Literacy Volunteers of Westchester County and volunteered as a mentor for new high school teachers for the New York City Board of Education and for the Black Scholars Program at SUNY Purchase.

Sam deeply loved classical music and jazz and he sang for many years in church choirs. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Adine; sons, Stephen and Lawrence and spouses Emily and Maya; three grandsons: Taj, Hugh and Kimaya; a sister, Mary-Lou, two cousins, one niece, five nephews and many friends

Donald F. Van Lare | Dec. 15
Rush-Henrietta Employees Association

Obituary submissions must include decedent's full name, union affiliation and date of death, and contact information for the person submitting the notice.

Fax submissions to 518-213-6415; send to Andrew Watson, NYSUT United, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110-2455; or email