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Meeting up 60 years later

Glen Cove High School's Class of '59 reconnects

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Returning to Glen Cove, John Semitecolos, 78, said he had mixed feelings about how his beloved city has changed since he left for Florida nearly two decades ago. With the development of Village Square and Garvies Point, Semitecolos said, the small downtown he grew up with was gone. But some things were still the same, he said, particularly the breeze from the Long Island Sound that blew away the thoughts of the hot and humid summers Semitecolos has endured in Florida for years.

The cool weather and the sight of the Gold Coast brought Semitecolos back to the days when he and his friends rode bikes around Glen Cove, heading to the beaches and often stopping by Dosoris Island to gaze at the mansion that once belonged to J.P. Morgan. Those memories, along with countless others, were the reasons why Semitecolos was happy to return to the city to celebrate the start of the 60th reunion of Glen Cove High School’s class of 1959 on Sept. 20, at the View Grill.

“I feel fortunate to be able to come back and see my classmates again,” he said. “This reunion is a big deal, because it’ll probably be the last one for us.”

At the three-day event, nearly two dozen classmates who had not seen one another in years reconnected, reminiscing about growing up in Glen Cove. Barbara Holzkamp, who organized the reunion, said that while she did the same thing for the class’s 50th, some of its members missed out, so she wanted to do it again 10 years later. Holzkamp, a Glenwood Landing resident, said that she was the perfect person for the job because she always liked keeping in touch with people. She has remained friends with many of her classmates, and never moved too far away from the city.

Holzkamp unwittingly tested her reunion-hosting skills in 2004, when she successfully started a Ladies Who Lunch group with a bunch of old friends. Nearly 15 women from all over the North Shore, Manhattan and Connecticut gathered in Glen Cove to catch up once or twice a year. Back then, Holzkamp sent out postcards to invite them. For the 50th reunion, she embraced email, and as she prepared for the 60th last year, she searched for her classmates on the internet.

“You can find almost everyone on Facebook now,” Holzkamp said. “I even found people who we couldn’t reach for the 50th reunion.”

One of them was Robin Morgan, whom Holzkamp immediately noticed at the reunion — even though he was one of the few people she hadn’t seen in 60 years. Morgan, who now works in Carasco, Italy, for North Sails, an international sail-making company based in Connecticut, appeared to be ecstatic as he met up with his old friends. Although he had returned to Glen Cove in 2011 for his brother’s high school reunion, he couldn’t find anyone who recognized him.

When he made his way around the reunion with his daughter, who had never been to Glen Cove before, Morgan ran into his classmate Dennis Powers, a fellow sailing lover. Powers said that the reason he came to the reunion was to see Morgan. As the two caught up, serendipity struck when Powers revealed that Morgan’s boss was actually Powers’s neighbor in Essex, Conn.

They also learned that while both of them were interested in science and engineering when they were young, they both ended up in business management careers, with Morgan leading North Sails’ branch in Italy and Powers, who is now retired, becoming an operating partner at Nova Capital Management.

Powers said that he was able to keep in touch with his classmates because his first job was in Glen Cove, at the old Photocircuts Corp. building on Sea Cliff Avenue. As he recounted the successful 50th reunion, Morgan said he felt a bit melancholic about missing — and about losing touch with his classmates when he went off to Cornell University 60 years ago.

“I regret not being there for the 50th reunion,” Morgan said. “When I found out about it, I thought, why’d I go to Cornell when I could’ve stayed in Glen Cove?”