Though the three people the Inwood Civic Association are honoring, as its Citizens of the Year no longer live in the Five Towns hamlet, the trio said that Inwood remains with them. John and Fran Galante and Steven Politano will be honored at the civic association’s dinner at the Inwood Country Club on March 23.
The association comes to its decision by meeting as a board and recommending candidates, said Inwood Civic Association President Dave Hance. “It was pretty much unanimous among the board that these three individuals deserved the honor this year,” he said.
Both Galantes spent their youth in Inwood as John grew up on Donahue Avenue and Fran lived on Wanser Avenue. They met at Lawrence High School as John recalled getting some assistance from Fran when it came to academics. “I used to cheat off of her in geometry class,” John recalled laughing. “We had a deal where one week I would study and then she would study the next week. It turned out I never did any studying because I knew she always would.”
Fran and John eventually married in 1976 and moved to Cedarhurst the same year. John would go on to have a 37-year career on Wall Street working at companies such as Salomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. Since retiring he has worked as the executive director for Year Up New York, a nonprofit that aims to provide 18- to 24-year-old adults from underserved communities with pathways to careers at the corporate level.
Fran remains visible in Inwood. For the past nine years, she has volunteered as the teacher and program director at the English Language Learning Center sponsored by the Peninsula Kiwanis and at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Inwood.
Politano, 68, has spent the majority of his life in Inwood as he grew up on Solomon Avenue and also attended Lawrence High. He thought it was a joke when he got the call two months ago about being honored. “At first I thought it was a prank, but I eventually figured out that it was serious,” Politano said. “It really is humbling to be able to receive an honor like this."
He played on the varsity high school football team for three years and played at Wesley Junior College in Delaware as a strong safety before eventually transferring to the University of Minnesota to play Division I football before to the 1971 season.
One of his fondest memories from his playing days is one of his first games for Minnesota when he had to cover a future Heisman Trophy winner. “My coverage assignment for that game was against Johnny Rodgers,” Politano said. “I’d say that I did a pretty good job against him.” Rodgers won the award for best college football player in 1972.
Politano began his teaching career at the Number Two School in the Lawrence School District in 1974. The physical education instructor was there for four decades. “I loved what I did every day for 36 years,” Politano said. “To this day, I have former students message me on Facebook thanking me.” He’ll always remember the saying that he used to tell all of his students. “Reach for the stars so that one day, you’ll be able to reach the treetops.”
While all the honorees no longer live in Inwood, Politano has retired and has resided in Massapequa for the past 12 years and the Galantes are moving to Rockville Centre, all three still consider Inwood home. “I’ve lived in Inwood for 80 percent of my life,” Politano said. “Three generations of my family lived there and I met my wife there, so it will always be home for me.”
Even as the Galantes move away from the Five Towns, receiving the Citizen of the Year from the Inwood Civic Association is special, Fran said. “The fact that we are moving out of the Five Towns makes this honor even more touching for us,” she said. “Inwood is a wonderful place that provided me with the most memorable childhood and even though I moved out years ago, it will be always be home to me.”
The dinner is from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Inwood Country Club, 50 Peppe Drive in Inwood. Tickets are $100 per person and sponsorships are available. Go to https://bit.ly/2u5GiIt.