Fire Island Pines & Cherry Grove header
             Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines: The Famous Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Resort Communities on the Atlantic
             Home | Calendar | Art | Gallery | Organizations| Location | Real Estate | Directory | Classified | Shopping | Letters | Links | Email Us

Cherry Grove, F.I. Pines

Our History

Train | Ferry
Bus | Car
See Current Forecast
Homes Sales,
Homes Rentals
Shows, Benefits,
Art Events

Obituaries & Memorials
June 26, 2006
Eric Rofes

Noted gay, AIDS, leather and bear activist, organizer, writer and educator Eric Rofes passed away in Provincetown on June 26, according to New York LGBT Community Center Executive Director Richard D. Burns and to Ethan Jacobs in Boston publication Bay Windows. Born in Brooklyn in August 1954, Eric was a founder of Gay Community News, Boston, in the 1970s; Executive Director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in the 1980s; and Executive Director of the Shanti Project, providing housing for People with AIDS/HIV in San Francisco, in the 1990s. His last book was “A Radical Rethinking of Sexuality and Schooling: Status Quo or Status Queer?” published in 2005 by Rowman & Littlefield. He is survived by his long-term partner Crispin Hollings, said an obituary by Douglas Martin in the New York Times.

June 4, 2006
Grove Takes to the Beach for Tribute
to Maggie McCorkle

Friends and neighbors of Maggie McCorkle, who passed away last October 15, gathered at the beach off Sea Walk to pay tribute to Cherry Grove’s beloved thespian. Fire Department members Michael Romanelli, Arthur Cohen and Jill Navarra were in attendance in uniform.

Maggie’s long-time life partner, Audrey Hartmann, offered, “She is in all our hearts.” Close friend Lois Fisher said, “You get up one morning and you have no idea you’re going to meet someone who will change your life forever—that’s what happened when I met Maggie,” which was when Lois was a newcomer to New York from San Francisco. Six months later, Maggie brought her to Fire Island for the first time. “She’ll always be here and she’ll always be with us,” Lois added. Lois’ partner, Barbara Dowd, said, “Maggie and I did not start out liking each other, but we ended up loving each other very deeply.”

“If it weren’t for Maggie, I would never have set foot on any stage anywhere. She gave me such confidence,” said Joan Van Ness. Lynne Tunderman spoke of coming to the beach with Maggie one Thanksgiving morning and seeing a pod of whales breaching the ocean. Ruth Freedner, Susan Ann Thornton, painter Renée, Lisa Jacobsen, Rae DeStefano and Barbara Hirsch were others who shared memories.

After the speeches, the assembled scattered rose petals in the waves in Maggie’s memory and repaired to Nightwood, the home that she and Audrey had shared, named for Djuna Barnes’ novel, for a reception and photo montage of different periods in Maggie’s interesting and varied life.

May 29, 2006
Grove Remembers Losses at Memorial Day Service

photos by Joseph R. Saporito

On May 29 at the Community House, Cherry Grove held its annual Memorial Day Service, coordinated by the Cherry Grove Fire Department’s Dominic DeSantis, who introduced the proceedings by saying, “We try to make this not a sad presentation, but an uplifting presentation.”

John Nieman, at the piano, put us in a contemplative mood with Frédéric Chopin’s Prélude, Opus 28, Number 4, and Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal’s “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which he had called late Grove thespian Maggie McCorkle’s favorite song.

Cherry Grove Community Association President Roland Michely offered, “Maggie was a well-known and well-liked personality in this community” and continued, “We convey condolences to her longtime partner, Audrey Hartmann.” Entitling his speech “How We Are Being Remembered,” he declared, “The only immortality we know is how we have affected others.”

In her address, “To Celebrate the Newest Angels in Heaven,” Arts Project of Cherry Grove President Ceejay Rosen saluted not only those the Grove has lost, but also the “men and women stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Nonagenarian Reverend Dr. Charles Whipple recalled the Monster’s Joe Scialo and Michael’s restaurant’s Rocco Rizzi, as well as Bill Whiter, late performer Tom “Dixie” Thomas’ partner, and called Maggie “a very special and devoted member of this community. One could almost call her Miss Cherry Grove.”

Rick Reder, wearing a rainbow skullcap, recited the Mourner’s Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, in Aramaic and John Nieman, his partner, repeated it in English. Dr. Whipple led the assembled in the Lord’s Prayer.

Dominic read the names of others taken from the community, including Russell Webster, Alice Eastman, Top of the Bay’s Anthony Ciancarelli, teacher and singer Joe Agosta, photographer Margaret Robbins, and Steven Behan.

April 7, 2006
“Hurricane” David West

A cheerful, colorful figure around the Grove and New York City, “Hurricane” David West, handsome actor (who once appeared in a show with Quentin Crisp), model and body-builder, “passed away in his sleep on April 7,” according to close friend Shelley Helsel. David had been undergoing treatment for bladder cancer. “He will be sorely missed by all who knew him,” Shelley added. “Hurricane” David was a candidate for Mr. Fire Island Leather in 2004 and cut an impressive figure in the contest.

April 29, 2006
Stonewall Vets Remember Hurricane David

On March 29, Hurricane David West, who was born on December 15, 1952, went into Beth Israel Hospital, where he died at 5 a.m. on April 7. His mother, Mitzi LaManna, and close friends were with him.

The Stonewall Veterans Association (SVA), which he had served as public relations officer, honored his memory at the LGBT Community Center, in Manhattan, on April 29. The memorial began with the playing of a recording of “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel,” a song that David liked. SVA founder and treasurer Williamson Henderson, announced the organization’s intention to have a car, carrying a large photo of David, at the head of its LGBT Pride contingent, where David customarily marched.

Addressing the assembled, Ms. LaManna said that, as a young boy, David had asked to borrow $2 to pay for a replacement for a neighbor’s window, which he had broken. He was soon ready to repay her, but she told him to keep the money instead, saying, “Your honesty is worth more than $2.” A rainbow bouquet of flowers, displayed in David’s memory, inspired her to remark, “David is on the rainbow, dancing his heart out,” adding, “David was very proud of who he was.” She nearly brought the crowd, including many of David’s longtime friends, to tears when she said, “The night before he died, he feebly squeezed my hand and tried to say, ‘I love you, ma’.”

March 4, 2006
Joe Agosta

Handsome teacher, actor and singer Joe Agosta, veteran of a number of Arts Project of Cherry Grove shows, had a massive heart attack and passed away in New York City on March 4, according to John DeMarco.

Joe was co-director, with John, of “Vegas Dreams” and had also performed with him in cabaret shows in Manhattan and at the Ice Palace in Cherry Grove. Joe appeared as well in Sal Piro’s show “Some Like It Holy,” as a member of the doo-wop group the Grovetones, along with Isaac Steven Vaughan, John, Carl Luss, Gary Greene, and this writer. In the accompanying photo, by Joe Saporito, Joe Agosta appears in the Carmen Miranda tribute number "Weekend in Havana," with Tony Bondi .

December 3, 2005
Grovites Remember Maggie McCorkle

On the crisp morning of December 3, many Grovites turned out at the Quaker Friends Meeting House, on Rutherford Place, off East 15th Street, in Manhattan, to celebrate the life and honor the memory of beloved Grove citizen and thespian Margaret (Maggie) Olwen McCorkle (February 20, 1924-October 15, 2005).

Thom “Panzi” Hansen, moderating the memorial program in full drag, called Maggie the “heart and soul of Cherry Grove” and compared the Grove without her to “Paris without the Eiffel Tower.” On first meeting her, Panzi said, “Maggie immediately became very special to my heart.” Styling her “my mentor,” “who changed my life,” Panzi declared, “Maggie, to me, is a saint.”

Audrey Hartmann, Maggie’s erstwhile long time life partner, said they first met when both worked for impresario Sol Hurok and met again at the “notorious Bagatelle bar.” Audrey reminisced about dancing with Maggie at Duffy’s Hotel in the Grove and noted, “We endured a love for each other and a friendship over all these years.” Maggie’s ex, Julie, commented, “I know, wherever she is, she’s putting on a hell of a show.”

“Maggie was my closest friend. She made me feel very special. I didn’t realize she was making everyone else feel special, too,” quipped Lois Fisher, despite the overwhelming emotion of the day for her. At 12 Step meetings, Lois said, “Maggie was always the warmest and friendliest to me … I adored her,” she continued and, though a stab at being lovers did not work out, “We stayed bosom buddies for the rest of her life.” Of Maggie’s accomplishments on the Grove stage, Lois exclaimed, “In my mind, she’ll always be a star!” Said Barbara Dowd, “She was part of Lois’ and my family. Maggie loved us, she loved Cherry Grove and Cherry Grove loved her back.”

Susan Freedner spoke of Maggie encouraging her to participate in Arts Project of Cherry Grove shows and, when Susan had trouble making a love duet, “People Will Say We’re in Love,” with a particularly difficult partner persuasive, reminded her, “That’s why they call it acting.” Other speakers included Rae De Stefano, Jeannie Lieberman, Tim Webster, Tommy Tush and, in from Ireland, Alice Carey.

The memorial which, fittingly, boasted a printed program in the form of a playbill, concluded with the screening of clippings from Arts Project shows, assembled by Tim Webster and David Bullock, coordinated by Rae De Stefano, and shown by Matt Baney and Wendy Lewis, and featuring Maggie's upbeat "Cherry Grove's My Home," sentimental "I'll Be Seeing You" with the full company of "Radiola" (1987), throaty Marlene Dietrich tribute "Lili Marlene," and swaggering "I'm One of the Girls Who's One of the Boys."

November 22 2005
Anthony Ciancarelli

Anthony Ciancarelli, who had co-owned Top of the Bay restaurant with Amelia Migliaccio, passed away on November 22, according to Charity. "I will always remember him as a good and loving friend," Charity said, adding, "May he rest in peace."

October 15, 2005
Maggie McCorkle

Maggie McCorkle, a pillar of the Cherry Grove community, passed away in New York City on October 15. She had had a massive stroke and had long suffered the effects of rheumatoid arthritis as a result of having had Lyme disease. Audrey Hartmann, her erstwhile longtime partner, was with her when she died, according to Joan Van Ness.

Maggie was involved with the Arts Project of Cherry Grove, which was founded in 1948, from its inception and participated in many theatrical productions. Her final show, in 1998, was Sal Piro’s “You Go Girl!!” in which her solo song was “(She’s just my) Jill,” a tailor-made parody of “Bill,” from “Showboat.” She came to most subsequent shows to cheer the cast on and was always welcomed backstage as she offered words of encouragement.

It is safe to say that Maggie McCorkle will be sorely missed.

September 27 2005
Margaret Robbins

Photographer Margaret Robbins, who was a resident of the Grove in seasons past, passed away on September 27. Her work had been displayed in Arts Project of Cherry Grove art shows and she also participated in stage works, such as Sal Piro's "You Go Girl!!" in 1998. In that musical, she was responsible for the lines "And in the winter, she'll shovel the ice/And lovingly set out the traps for the mice" in the song "It Takes a Woman," from "Hello, Dolly." At one performance, she sang "she'll shovel the snow," instead of "the ice," then realized that, as the last word was supposed to rhyme with the next line's "mice" and now it wouldn't, started to laugh at her own faux pas. At Sal's traditional closing party "Sally Awards," he gave Margaret the "snow and ice" award to commemorate the occasion.

September 24 2005
Franklin Fulton Memorial

LA “Quaker-style” memorial for Franklin Fulton, of Holly House, was held on the deck at Paul Jablonski’s home, Bottoms Up, on September 24. Reminiscences, many celebrating Frank’s sense of humor, were offered by Paul, Frank’s longtime New York City neighbor and friend Bill, Joan Van Ness, Glenn Boles, Dr. Charles Whipple, Trish Lagattuta, Jeanne Skinner, Tim Webster, Dominic De Santis, Roland Michely, Warren Boyd Wexler, Bill “Violet” Silver, Charity, and leatherman Andy. A reception, hosted by Bill and Frank and Pierre, followed.

July 20 2005
Steve Behan

Gentle blond Steve Behan, a fixture at Cherry Grove events, passed away in New York City on July 20. He was 39 years old and is survived by his partner, Ray Baez.

July 17 2005
Allan Masur

Lawyer Allan A. Masur, who lived in Fire Island Pines and Greenwich Village, passed away suddenly on July 17. He was 81 years old, had been a long-time survivor of lung cancer, and is survived by long-term partner, Jimmy Stewart. A pillar of the Pines community, he was a founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Congregation B’nai Olam, which holds High Holiday services there each September or October. A funeral service was held on July 19 at Riverside Chapel, on the Upper West Side, with Rabbi Hara Person, of B’nai Olam, officiating.

June 5 2005
Jerry Ehrlich Memorial

On June 5, a bayside memorial and reception honoring Jerry Ehrlich, who passed away on April 23, took place at the home of Jerry and surviving life partner Bruce Miller’s friends Mel Rock and Don Robb. Wendy Lewis and this writer chanted the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, in Jerry’s memory; Dan Evans, of the Fire Island Tide, spoke about him; and Wendy offered a poem about him on Bruce’s behalf.

June 4 2005
Jackie Petersen Memorial

On June 4, family, friends and Cherry Grove Fire Department colleagues gathered at the beach to honor the memory of Jacqueline Helen (“Jackie”) Petersen (February 27, 1939-December 11, 2004) with readings, prayers, and, on recordings, “Amazing Grace,” Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” and Sarah Brightman singing “Time to Say Goodbye” (“Con te partiro”). As Jackie had requested, her ashes, which were accompanied by white carnations, were scattered in the ocean. A reception at the firehouse followed.

June 4, 2005
Activist Jean O’Leary

Lesbian activist Jean O’Leary passed away on June 4 at the age of 57. She was born upstate New York, became known for her activism in New York City, and later relocated to Palm Springs.

I first met Jean in Brooklyn Heights in 1971, at an early meeting of an organization called Gay Alliance of Brooklyn (GAB), founded by the Community Relations Committee of Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), for which I served as committee vice-chair. She immediately became a visible and vocal member of GAB and soon joined GAA and its Lesbian Liberation Committee (LLC), also started by Community Relations. LLC broke off from GAA and became Lesbian Feminist Liberation (LFL), which Jean headed.

Jean’s nascent activism came at a particularly volatile time in the Gay and Lesbian Movement, when lesbians were striving to forge a political identity distinct from that of gay men. Drag, often commonly called female impersonation, was one sticking point. At a Gay and Lesbian Pride Rally in Washington Square Park in 1973, when not only Bette Midler, but also Billy & Tiffany, a pair of drag entertainers, were scheduled to sing, Jean made a controversial speech declaring, “We don’t want to be impersonated!” Billy Blackwell and Tiffany were shouted off the stage and the rally nearly degenerated into quarreling and chaos, until Midler arrived and calmed the crowd somewhat by singing “Friends.”

With former GAA President, the late Bruce Voeller, Jean co-founded the National Gay Task Force, later National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, an organization some of us considered conservative in the mid and late 1970s. She organized the first meeting ever of gay and lesbian organization leaders at the White House, during Jimmy Carter’s presidency, and the first National Coming Out Day.

A former nun, Jean discussed convent life and coming out in a chapter of Rosemary Curb and Nancy Manahan’s book “Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence.”

June, 2005
Bill Whiter

For many years a resident of Cherry Grove and Manhattan, then Queens, with his late long-term life partner, Tom “Dixie” Thomas, Bill Whiter passed away mid-June, Bobbie “Cobra” Scherffius and Victor Alfieri reported. Bill and Dixie’s house on Bayview, near downtown Cherry Grove, was called Dixieland. Bill was in his early 60s and his ashes were interred at Dixie’s final resting place in Virginia.

May 30, 2005
Memorial Day Service, Cherry Grove

Remembering the many friends and neighbors recently lost, Cherry Grove held its annual Memorial Day service at the Community House on May 30. Cherry Grove Community Association President Warren Michely recalled, in particular, Wally Forstell, late Cherry Grove Property Owners Association President, and extended sympathies to his life partner, Jack Dowling. Arts Project of Cherry Grove President Wendy Lewis read “If I Knew (it would be the last time),” a piece in memory of lost loved ones.

Pianist David Clenny played Beethoven’s Sonata Quasi una Fantasia, Chopin’s Nocture in D-flat Major, and the andante cantabile movement of Mozart’s 21st Piano Concerto.

Injecting a note of wry humor into the solemn proceedings and quoting the Queen of England, Rev. Dr. Charles Whipple called this a “horrible year” in his personal life, as well as for the community and, mentioning those who had moved away in addition to those who died, recalled that Martha Stewart once visited former Grovites Chris Giftos and Richard Albano. Rev. Whipple also paid tribute to the late Steve Wells, Joe Scialo, Frank Fulton, artist and illustrator Bill Seay, Jackie Petersen and Jerry Ehrlich.

Dominic DeSantis read a list of the departed, including the aforementioned; Tom DeConza; and Amy Rosen and SallyAnn Piacentino’s pet greyhound, Kayla.

May 16, 2005
Wallace Forstell

Wallace (Wally) Forstell, of Greenwich Village and Cherry Grove, born on March 26, 1936, passed away on May 16 after a long period of illness. His long-term life partner, Jack Dowling, survives him. Wally was President of the Cherry Grove Property Owners Association, an organization that has been succeeded by the Cherry Grove Community Association. He will be sincerely missed.

(photo provided by Jack Dowling)

May 2, 2005
Jack Nichols
photo by Roy Blakey; Nichols (r) with life-partner Clarke

Early gay activist and author Jack Nichols [who wrote "Welcome to Fire Island"], born in Washington D.C. in 1938, died of cancer in Florida on May 2. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, with his long-time lover Elijah Hadynn “Lige” Clarke, he edited Gay newspaper and wrote a column for Screw magazine and, for St. Martin’s Press, a book entitled “I Have More Fun With You Than Anybody.” Jack, who had been assistant to the Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Post and was a co-founder of Washington and Florida branches of the Mattachine Society, wrote “Men’s Liberation: a New Definition of Masculinity,” published by Penguin Books, and “Welcome to Fire Island: Visions of Cherry Grove and the Pines,” published by St. Martin’s, after Lige’s death in 1975.

“Cherry Grove does inspire pride. It is, without doubt, one of the proudest communities in America,” wrote Jack, in “Welcome to Fire Island.” “[T]here are heavy does of romanticism in the Grove or The Pines, wherever there’s moonlight, and where people make love at leisure, sun themselves, and bathe in chilly tides. But Cherry Grove is romantic in other ways. It glitters on any clear summer night, its flags … wave noticeably in evening gales, and its houses give off the sounds and appearances of joyful movement.”

Of the Grove’s sister community, he wrote, “The Pines is rather like a well-bred debutante aware of her price for time spent … I think that the debutante will get with it and try another pose when the beautiful people she pursues see that moneymakers aren’t giving anybody the prosperity they’re supposed to guarantee … To be too rich may … mean being despised or, at least, suspect, and no pretty deb wants that!”

Activists Kay Tobin and Randy Wicker included an interview with Lige and Jack in their book “The Gay Crusaders,” published by Paperback Library in 1972.

April, 2005
Jerry Ehrlich

New York City and Cherry Grove resident Jerry Ehrlich passed away on Fire Island on April 23.  He is survived by his life partner, Bruce Miller, and by numerous friends, and had been a long-time survivor of AIDS.  A member of the Imperial Court of New York and the Arts Project of Cherry Grove, Jerry served the latter as Theater Curator of the Community House.  He is also fondly remembered as an avid gardener and a creative chef who, notably, sometimes used edible gold in the icing of cakes that he baked.  In the accompanying photo, Jerry (right) is shown with Bruce at the Imperial Court’s gala Night of a Thousand Gowns on April 2, 2005.

April, 2005
Tom De Conza

Chelsea and Cherry Grove resident Tom De Conza, also known as Imperial Court of New York Emperor VII Tomas, passed away in April after a hospitalization that kept him from attending the Court’s Night of a Thousand Gowns (NOATG) earlier this month.  Tom had been a long-time survivor of AIDS and lung cancer.  The accompanying photo shows Tom (center) at NOATG 2004.

January 10, 2005
Laurie Linton

Lawyer, activist and long-time Pines resident Laurie Linton passed away in New York City on January 10, at age 46, after a long illness.  Among her survivors is her life partner Murphy.  She was a founder of Empire State Pride Agenda, a Board Member of the Stonewall Community Foundation, and, during her career, held positions with the New York State Attorney General’s and Governor’s Offices and the New York City Human Resources Administration and Comptroller’s Office.  She is shown here with colleagues at the Attorney General’s Office Lesbian and Gay Caucus’ LGBT Pride celebration in June 1993.

December 11, 2004
Jackie Petersen

Jackie Petersen, who was dock mistress Sheila's significant other, passed away on December 11 after a long illness and will be greatly missed by Cherry Grove.

December 11, 2004
Franklin Fulton - Memorial

Franklin Fulton, proprietor of Holly House in Cherry Grove, passed away recently. A memorial service was held at the Church of the Ascension in Greenwich Village on December 11.

December 5, 2004
Joyful Memorial Held for Monster's Joe Scialo

On December 5, a celebration of the life of Joseph Vincent —known as Joe— Scialo (July 2, 1935 - November 20, 2004) was held at his bar/piano bar/disco The Monster ... MORE


Macy's 120x96 Logo

Clothing, Jewelry,
, Books,
   Gifts, Cards, Movies,
   Magazines, Software,
   Hardware, Electronics
   and Peripherals. All
   these items and more
   in your community
   online Mega-Mall.
Qnews Mega-Mall



2001-2013© FireIslandQnews, All Rights Reserved
Design, Implementation, and Maintenance Provided By Circa58/59
Privacy Policy, Disclaimer