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Friday, February 26, 2021

Columnists > Woodridge

Woodridge - January 17

Jan 15, 2020

By Joan Collins - community correspondent

Woodridge lost a treasure recently with the passing of Robert Longo, who was born in 1921 in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. He was one of ten children, part of a large and loving, but financially struggling family.
Upon graduation from high school in 1939 Bob decided to get a job to help with the family finances. Unable to afford a newspaper he went to the local library to view the help wanted ads. While there he met one of his teachers who inquired as to why Bob, such a talented young man, was not attending college. After Bob explained, the teacher showed him the college catalogues and encouraged him to consider it.

Bob was selected for an interview at Kutztown College, a state teacher's college located 50 miles away from home. Bob packed a sandwich for the long trip, got on his bicycle and pedaled over the mountains from Hazelton to Kutztown.
Unfortunately he had not considered the fact that Daylight Savings Time was different in Kutztown than in Hazelton, and got there too late for the interviews. He was going to return home, but was luckily noticed by a professor, who took Bob under his wing when he learned how he had arrived. The professor took Bob to each one of the professor's homes for interviews.
When done, Bob started the long journey home that evening using a flashlight to light the way. He got to the last mountain but did not have the energy to pedal over it. He was going to go to the local police station to try for a place to sleep for the night, but once again good luck intervened.
A motorist stopped to give him a ride the rest of the way home. Bob tossed his bike in the rumble seat and they were on their way.
When he started college in the fall it was quite a struggle, even with scholarships and working. Due to financial difficulties, during his second year he wound up sneaking into classes and living in a car using lighted candles in cold weather to try to keep warm. He almost did not complete college, but WW II came along.
Bob enlisted in the Air Corp where he was an engineer. Upon completion of his service he was able to complete college with the GI Bill and then obtained his Masters from Columbia.
He utilized Columbia's Placement Service to get a job upon graduation. He almost wound up in New Jersey, but through another stroke of good luck came to Fallsburg in 1949.
In those days it was not uncommon for groups of young people to get together and participate in social activities. It was through those group activities that Bob Longo met and eventually fell in love with Irma Nishman. They married in August of 1955 and lived in George Benjamin's house on Maple Avenue. In 1960 they built their home on Second Street and started their family, three boys, Robert, JJ and Alan.
In addition to his career as a teacher, where he was a positive role model for many, many people, Bob always found time to share with the community. He was a member of the Town of Fallsburg Lions Club and the Catskill Art Society and an honorary member of many organizations, including the Kiwanis Club of Woodridge and the Sullivan County Philatelic Society.
Bob generously shared his many talents. He was a musician, artist, photographer, traveler, teacher, story teller and friend, a fascinating individual.
Several years ago the Woodridge Kiwanis Club honored Bob with their Everyday Hero Award. I cannot think of a better description for this special man.

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