A statesman and friend
Chris Bodkin, who was honored for his contributions to the community, thanks all of those in attendance.

SCN/Chalifoux

A statesman and friend

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
6/15/2017


SAYVILLE—On Sunday afternoon, the Sayville Historical Society held a special gathering at the V.F.W. Hall on Lakeland Avenue to honor longtime community leader and contributor Chris Bodkin, who turns 70 this year. The “Thank You Chris” afternoon was well attended and served as an endearing tribute to one of the community’s best-loved members.

Bodkin is a member of the Sayville High School Class of 1965. He was a longtime Islip Town councilman and served as deputy supervisor under Frank Jones. Over the years, he has assisted many local organizations, including the Sayville Village Improvement Society, Sayville Common Ground, and the Sayville Food Pantry. He has spearheaded a range of initiatives, particularly involving veterans. He facilitated the creation of stone monuments in honor of local war heroes: Carl Johnson, Florence Evans and Private Joseph Maragioglio. In addition, he ensured that Vietnam and Afghan War veterans were added to the war memorial in Sparrow Park. Bodkin also personally secured the property on Cherry Avenue that is now utilized for the Baymen’s Soccer League.

“Chris is a fountain of information who’s always interested in history and keeps it in the front of his mind,” said Historical Society chairperson Suzanne Robilotta. “He’s always been very good to us and we felt it was high time to thank him for all he has done for our community.”

“Chris has never made a decision or taken an action that in any way was based on self-aggrandizement,” stated a speaker at the event. “It was never about, ‘Is this good for me?’ It was always about, ‘Is this good for the people I represent?’ True to his nature, Chris always took the high road and could always be counted on to do the right thing.”

After receiving a warm welcome and round of applause from those in attendance, Bodkin came forward to thank everyone for their support and recognition.

“I look out at the crowd here and see many people here who have also done wonderful things for the town, and we really all pull together for this wonderful place that we live in,” said Bodkin.

Bodkin cited the importance of history and praised the local historical societies for preserving the knowledge and legacies of those who preceded us and contributed to where we are today.

“If it wasn’t for them, nothing would be saved – all of it would be lost,” said Bodkin. “We’d never know who came before us and how we got to the wonderful position we’re in. We’re so blessed to be here.

“Every time I’m a little discouraged about something…I just think that there are three billion people out there that would trade places with any one of us in about two minutes,” he added. “That’s how blessed we are to live in this wonderful town, and we ought not take it for granted.”

Bodkin also took a moment to remember Bill Lindsay Sr., with whom he worked on a number of projects.

“We were very much kindred spirits,” he said. “We enjoyed being together and enjoyed each other’s company. But more than anything, we enjoyed getting things done in Sayville.”

In conclusion, Bodkin noted that the South Shore communities from Oakdale to Blue Point all share something in common, and proposed a new name for that region.

“I must have knocked on every door from Oakdale to Blue Point on behalf of various candidates for various offices,” said Bodkin. “And it occurred to me all those years that from Oakdale to Blue Point – south of Sunrise Highway and north of the Great South Bay – is really one community, one people, one group.

“As I’ve walked through all of these communities, the one thing that sticks out in my mind is that there are apple trees everywhere,” he added. “So the name I came up with [that we should call] this community is Appledore. I just throw that out as a concept that we are one community.”