March 2016 Issue
March 06, 2016


Source: NYSUT United

Patricia Bertini | Jan. 1, 2016
Retiree Council 18

Helene G. Combopiano | Dec. 19, 2015
Retiree Council 11

[Read about Combopiano's life at]

FauntaBelle DenBleyker | Jan. 4, 2016
Phoenix Central School Clerical Association

Claire Hochberg | March 2015
Hewlett Woodmere Faculty Association

I was deeply saddened to learn recently of the death of Claire Hochberg. During most of my longtime presidency of the Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association, Claire served as HWFA's Grievance Chairperson, charged with the responsibility of initiating grievance proceedings whenever it was deemed that our contract had been violated. It was a difficult and time-consuming endeavor. Often her job required her to coordinate with our NYSUT field representative and/or with HWFA's attorney, and almost always she went home with a briefcase full of HWFA-related files after a long day of teaching math in the high school. And that was just the preparation. Then came the endless meetings with District representatives in an attempt to resolve the disputes in HWFA's favor. Throughout it all, Claire was tireless and efficient. She understood that her job was to convince the District that our interpretation of the contract was the correct one, but she also knew that the process was one of conciliation rather than confrontation. That's what made her so effective. More than anyone, it was Claire who kept our contract whole.

In 1995-96, during my final year on NYSUT'S Board of Directors (and my last in Hewlett-Woodmere), my fellow directors and I were charged with the responsibility of creating retiree councils throughout New York State with the expectation that each teacher local would also establish a retiree counterpart. Following my retirement, I had the privilege of nominating Claire Hochberg for the presidency of the newly created Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association Retirees (HWFAR). She sustained us for many years until she was simply too tired to continue.

Claire Hochberg was a forceful advocate for the Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association and subsequently for our retirees. She was also one of the nicest and kindest people I've ever known.

- Rick Mann, Retired Director, E.D. 18

Colin W. Kahl | Jan. 19, 2016
United Liverpool Faculty Association

Gail Martino | Jan. 6, 2016
Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association

Martha P. Modugno | Dec. 30, 2015
Harrison Association of Teachers

Martha P. Modugno, retiree from Harrison Association of Teachers, died Dec. 30, 2015. She was 91. Martha was predeceased by her husband Joseph John Modugno and son in-law David B. Brophy. She is survived by her children, Joseph J. (Maria Chi) Modugno, Maria Modugno, Lucia (Wayne A.) MacDonald; grandchildren, Amanda and Marisa Modugno, Kathleen M. (Patrick Settle) MacDonald, Elizabeth (Stephen) Pawlak, Allison G. and Christopher R. MacDonald. Great grandson Jacob Pawlak.

C. Frederick Ott | Jan. 21, 2016

Thomas "T.P." Petty | June 10, 2015
Whitesboro Teachers Association

Thomas Petty died at the age of 60. He was a graduate of the Crane School of Music, Potsdam Class of 1977. Tom completed his master's degree in music performance at the University of Oklahoma. He taught music education at Cherry Valley, Ilion and Whitesboro schools. He retired in 2010.

Tom and his wife Brenda converted their White Lake camp in 2010 to a year-round residence where they enjoyed Adirondack living. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and snowmobiling in the area.

Sylvia Schaum | Nov. 12, 2015
United Federation of Teachers

Bernice "Bunny" Steinman | Jan. 20, 2016
White Plains Teachers Association

Full obituaries, if provided, are available at Submissions must include decedent's full name, union affiliation and date of death, and contact information for the person submitting the notice.

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