The Man Behind The Lens

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When Claire Kelly was 8 years old, she became one of the first girls in Westbury to join the Little League team. The addition of girls to the all-boys team was a huge deal; not everyone was ecstatic about the change and Kelly received several negative comments about her participation. The Westbury Times included coverage of the team, coverage that included photos by Alphonse “Al” Posillico.

Al Posillico
Al Posillico

“He made me such a celebrity in the newspaper, and that made it easier,” says Kelly. “It really helped people accept that I was a good baseball player and that it was a good thing to have a girl playing baseball. For an 8-year-old, that made a really big difference. Through his pictures, he said it was okay, let this little girl play.”

As the official photographer for The Westbury Times, Village of Westbury, the Westbury Fire Department, as well as numerous local societies and organizations, Posillico captured the moments that made the everyday lives of residents special for over 30 years. He passed away Oct. 30 at age 87, after a four year battle with cancer.

Posillico’s ability to capture the everyday moments of life in Westbury still touches the lives of his subjects. It’s 40 years later and Kelly still has her front page picture from the paper hung up in her office. And she’s not the only one holding onto the precious images. Michael Jackson, the recreation supervisor for the Village of Westbury, has albums full of photos Posillico gave him of Jackson and his friends playing for Westbury High School teams from back in the day.

Photo by Al Posillico
Photo by Al Posillico

“Over the years, anytime there was a Westbury event, he always wanted to be there to take photos,” says Jackson. “By capturing the life of the event, he wanted to make sure everyone knew Westbury was the place to be. His love and passion of being able to express that through photos was evident. He shared his life with us in terms of his photos.”

Whether it was a fundraising event, high school football game, apartment fire or children playing in the snow, no moment was too big or too small for Posillico’s lens. Former village of Westbury mayor Ernest Strada remembers Posillico donating his time and talents for any and every community event.

“There wasn’t a community event that he was not familiar with. He volunteered his services,” says Strada. “He’s a special kind of individual. He was a fixture in so many areas of the village and the community has lost a dear friend.”

Former Westbury Times editor Victoria Caruso remembers Posillico as “Papa Al,” saying that he was like a second grandfather to her. The two worked together for eight years.

“Each week, regardless of the weather or how he was feeling, Al would stop by Mineola to drop off photos he took at community events, capturing everything from high school sports to Rotary meetings,” says Caruso. “He loved Westbury and was proud and honored to call the village his lifelong home. Al was a true gentleman, humble, respected and respectful, and one of the most thoughtful and generous people I’ve ever had the honor of working with throughout my career.”

Photo by Al Posillico
Photo by Al Posillico

Posillico was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and though doctors gave him a year to live, he fought for four years, taking pictures throughout.

“That was him, he always had to keep doing for people. My father’s will was to always help people, he never let anybody know what he was going through,” says his daughter Rosemarie. “He never stopped, he just kept going on.”

Al was born April 29, 1927 to Paul and Rose Posillico. The youngest of six children, Posillico grew up in Westbury’s Breezy Hill section, a block away from the home where he lived until his death.

He attended school at St. Brigid’s. At 17 years old, before finishing high school, Al enlisted in the United States Navy and in 1944, while stationed with the Navy’s North Atlantic Fleet, met his sweetheart Antoinette “Nen” Greisofe. He served on the USS Zenobia and was one of the crew members who commissioned and later decommissioned the ship.

Photo by Al Posillico
Photo by Al Posillico

In 1946, after his honorable discharge from the Navy, Al and Nen were engaged and, on April 27, 1947, they wed and were married 55 years at the time of Nen’s death in October 2002. They raised four children Paul (and Juliet) of Farmingdale, Rosemarie (and Fred Calabro) of Plainview, Al Jr. (and Joanne) of Nesconset and Joseph (and Denise) of Mount Sinai gave them five grandchildren, Alyssa, Lauren, Alex, Tori and Joseph.

Rosemarie describes her father as a dedicated family man, who lived out what he taught his kids.

“His family was everything. He really was the most selfless person and was always a gentleman,” said Rosemarie. “He lived and taught me that you treat people the way you want to be treated. That what he lived by.”

Services were held this past weekend at Donohue Cecere Funeral Home in Westbury, with interment and military honors at Holy Rood Cemetery.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Westbury will never be the same. To me, my wife Annette’s Uncle Al was a father-figure, role model, and friend, all rolled up in one, and I will miss and remember him every day for the rest of my life. Rest in peace my friend.

  2. Thank you for sharing the story of the life of a great man – my uncle. They broke the mold when they made him! He touched so many lives and enjoyed celebrating Westbury with them. Rest in Peace – you will be missed very much.

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