People move to Bayville to raise families because it offers so much — the intimacy of a small town, a highly rated school district and the beach, where there are opportunities for sunset walks, children learn to swim, and everyone can participate in water sports.
Bayville is also known for its strong sense of community, which was evidenced by the large crowd that gathered on Sept. 7 at West Harbor Beach for a ceremony to honor one of its own, Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo. Killed on Nov. 4 while on duty in the Bronx, he was a Bayvillite whom many in the village knew. It only seemed fitting that West Harbor Beach, a place that he loved, be named in his honor.
“I told Mrs. Tuozzolo at Paul’s wake that I wanted to make this happen, but I wanted to give the family some time,” said Mayor Paul Rupp. “I wanted to do something in his honor before I left office.”
Married and the father of two boys, ages 5 and 4, Tuozzolo lived in Greenlawn at the time of his death. He had been a police officer for 19 years.
“He always wanted to do something for the community, so he became a police officer,” said Brian Tedaldi, a lifelong friend, whose father was a police officer. “He used to ask me what my father did, so he could learn about it, when we were kids.”
Tedaldi said he wasn’t surprised when his friend said he was becoming a police officer, because, he said, “Paul was the kind of person who would do anything for you.”
People remember a shy, polite boy who grew to become a respected member of the community. Tuozzolo was a skilled baseball player, and loved West Harbor Beach. He spent his summers there as a child and as a teenager. An avid boater, he used the beach’s boat ramp, and spend many hours on the family boat with his brothers, Michael and Peter, and his father.
Peter came to the ceremony with his parents and his grandmother. “This is so nice,” he said. “This means a lot to my parents and myself. Paul deserves this.”
Harry Carter was there too. He grew up with Paul, who lived two houses down.
“We snapper fished at the docks, and spent all of our summers here at West Harbor,” Carter said. “Paul was soft-spoken, very easy-going and was a true friend.”
When Peter Tuozzolo spoke during the ceremony, he, too, recalled the many hours his brother had spent at West Harbor Beach. “We came here more times than I can remember,” he said, then paused, looking down. “We just passed the 10-month marker of his death. It’s changed our lives forever.”
Tedaldi said he was privileged to grow up with Tuozzolo. “He was good, and a truly amazing person,” he said. “I still remember him driving his bright orange roadster into Locust Valley High School.”
Bayville’s celebration of Tuozzolo’s life, and the sign that bears his name, will keep his memory alive. The gesture is apropos, indicative of the fabric that makes up the small village by the Sound, a place where everyone is family.