By Rebecca Melnitsky
Former Williston Park Mayor Roger Fay celebrated his 100th birthday next to the pool named after him.
Williston Park held a combined birthday party and village appreciation night at the Roger Fay Williston Park Pool on Wednesday.
Hundreds attended, including Fay’s family, the Williston Park Fire Department, American Legion members, former and current village officials, local politicians and many others.
“While Roger was mayor, this village was transformed,” current village Mayor Paul Ehrbar said. “We put this great [pool] facility in under his leadership and that’s why it bears his name.”
Born July 20, 1917 in Manhattan, Fay moved to Queens to attend Catholic school and later went to New York University. His first job was working in government and he was drafted into the army in 1943.
Fay joined the Williston Park Fire Department in 1955 and remains a member to this day. He served as mayor from 1960 to 1968, leading the effort to build the village pool, which opened on July 4, 1963. It was named in Fay’s honor in 2006. He also continues to act as Williston Park village historian.
Fay was also once the executive director of the Nassau County Village Officials Association and served as its president from 1967 to 1968. He’s still involved as executive director emeritus and continues to attend executive board meetings.
Current Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar started the festivities by leading the hundreds assembled in singing “Happy Birthday” to Fay.
In addition to the pool, Ehrbar said, Fay helped build the village firehouse and presided over construction of an extension to Village Hall.
“This job can be difficult at times,” Ehrbar said. “But having accomplished those three items in a short period of time says a lot about the accomplishments of Roger and his ability to really get things done.”
Ehrbar presented Fay with a street sign reading “Roger Fay Street.” One copy will stay with Fay and his family, and the other will be installed on a Hillside Avenue corner.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and town Councilman Angelo Ferrara (R-New Hyde Park) presented Fay with a proclamation.
Ferrara said he first met Fay about two decades ago, when he was first running for the Town Board and didn’t know “a lot of what needed to be done or how to even go about the job.”
“Roger was such a gentleman, took me under his wing, gave me a lot of advice and really was there as a super person,” Ferrara said.
Nassau County Clerk and East Williston resident Maureen O’Connell said her children grew up swimming in the pool and her father-in-law helped take care of it in its early days.
“My husband tells the story of Roger and others making them scrub the pool with a toothbrush so that it was kept immaculately clean in the mornings when they came,” she said. “Some of these guys are nodding because they know and they were part of it… We just thank you Roger, for all you’ve done.”
Frank Oliveri, president of the Williston Park Rotary Club, announced that the club had unanimously voted to plant a tree with a plaque in honor of Fay’s 100th birthday.
“Let’s hope you outlive the tree,” Oliveri told Fay.
As for the guest of honor, Fay noted that his birthday brought out people from all different organizations. “And he was a member of most of them,” said his daughter-in-law, Linda Fay.
His secret to living to 100?
“Keep praying,” Fay said.