Alumni Honored At Homecoming

0
122

In the midst of the parade, football game, and other Homecoming festivities this weekend, there’s one tradition that is honoring the legacies of two local heroes. The Westbury School District and Village of Westbury will honor Irving Eannaccone, Ph.D. and Ernest J. Strada with the J. Alfred Cannon Alumni of Distinction Award.

This is the second year the award has been given. The inaugural award was dedicated to and named after the late J. Alfred Cannon, a renowned physician who dedicated his life to community service. He graduated Westbury High School in 1946.

Strada and Eannaccone will be honored this Saturday, Nov. 1, in the Westbury High School Lobby at 9 a.m. “To get this award is truly so overwhelming. I don’t think I deserve it. I’m very humbled,” says Eannaccone. “I feel like I’ve lived a normal life and tried to help people, so I think this is a wonderful award.”

Eannaccone was Cannon’s best friend and graduated with him in the class of 1946. From there he went to Georgetown University on an academic and athletic scholarship, before joining the Navy during the Korean War. After that, he moved back to Long Island and went to Hofstra to get his advanced degree. He says a simple motto is what encouraged him to go into education.

“At Westbury High School, they have a seal they put on your diploma, and it says ‘wisdom is power.’ That always stuck in my mind. No matter what you study and do, it’s all based on education. That made a tremendous impact on me,” says Eannaccone.

He was superintendent of Deer Park Schools and is now a retired school administrator.

Strada grew up in the village and attended St. Brigid’s Parochial School before going on to Westbury High School. He graduated in 1948 and was friends with Cannon.

“I have great memories of my years at Westbury High School. It was a great experience and the community was much smaller. Everyone knew each other; it was a tight-knit community,” says Strada.

Strada has spent most of his life in public service, a path he says was “greatly accidental.” He got his first taste of public service helping his friends support a local individual running for village board, working on the campaign and delivering literature. He continued campaigning and eventually became chair of the Action party before being asked to serve on the Board of Zoning and Appeals. After a couple of years there, he was asked to fill a vacancy on the Board of Trustees. He ran for mayor in 1981, serving for a record seven terms. He remains an active part of several community programs, including Westbury’s Business Improvement District (B.I.D.), downtown revitalization and beautification.

While he never planned to get into public service, he says that helping people is something his parents always instilled in him.

“In my wildest dreams I would not have expected what I’ve done or accomplished. I look upon it as my responsibility and something I was supposed to do,” says Strada. “My parents tried to teach me the right values and were always interested in knowing what was happening and staying abreast of things. I sort of adopted that same approach.”

It’s advice he passes on to the next generation as well.

“It’s critical for every student today to develop a sense of responsibility and set of values that they can adhere to in order to achieve success,” says Strada. “We’re in a changing world; it’s important for them to stay abreast of what’s happening in the country so they can make good decisions and be part of that process, whether it’s for them on a personal basis or the community in which they live.”

Leave a Reply