At the Jan. 19 Locust Valley Central School District Board of Education meeting, members of the board and the administration stood for a moment of silence to honor Oyster Bay and former Bayville resident Erika Bruno, who died on Jan. 16.
Bruno served on the Board of Education for 12 years and during those years she served as a trustee and a co-president, serving as president for the 2016 to 2017 school year. Additionally, Bruno served the students and families of Locust Valley schools as a member and past president of the Locust Valley High School Parents Council.
“As a board member who had the privilege of working with Erika, I will remember her tenacity, commitment to excellence and unwavering of our academic, athletic and artistic programs,” said Brian Nolan, the president of the Board of Education. “At meetings, she was a positive force who always put students first. Above all else, she was a friend, someone a new board member could reach out to for mentoring and reach out to in a tricky situation. We’re all grateful to Trustee Bruno for her many contributions and we will miss her very much.”
Her daughter, Sasha Bruno, said she watched the Board of Education honor her mother, her best friend, virtually. Seeing how much her mother has impacted those around her has been an unbelievable experience, Sasha said.
Bruno had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hofstra University and also spoke Spanish, French, Italian and Slovenian, a language from her native Trieste.
“She’s so smart,” Sasha said, “especially when she was on that board. She felt like her voice was heard and that her advocacy for children and the community mattered, even when not everybody agreed with her.”
Bruno was on call 24/7, Sasha said. “The phone would never stop ringing,” she recalled. “She loved it.”
Bruno, a very accomplished woman, was a very dedicated member of her community. In 2018, having been a Bayville resident for 20 years, she unsuccessfully ran for a trustee seat on the village board as a candidate on the Bayville Revitalization ticket during a time of local political upheaval. “I was there with her, walking door to door,” Sasha said, adding that she helped her mother make campaign signs as well.
Bruno said at the time that her experiences on the school board as well as budget negotiations, would help her look at the big picture in disputes and search for points of agreement amid disagreements.
“As a [school] board member, I always try getting everybody to consensus,” Bruno had said during a 2018 “Meet the Candidates” forum at the Bayville Community Center. “And the only way I think it could work, as far as unifying Bayville, is to find consensus among two sides.”
Aside from her involvement with the Village of Bayville and Locust Valley Schools, she served as the vice president of the American Legion Auxiliary. But perhaps her most satisfying occupations was being a stay-at-home mom.
“She met my father [Dr. Anthony M. Bruno] working at the hospital in a lab while she was in college,” Sasha said. “She got married quite young, at 22, and they wanted to have a family. So, she had my brother at 23, me at 25 and my other brother at 35.”
Bruno was always there, Sasha said, being her children’s number one fan as they participated in “every sport under the sun,” as well as participation in other extra-curricular activities.
“She’s the most giving and selfless human being,” Sasha said. “She was an advocate for children in the court system many years ago and she was with us and did every possible thing for us and our friends. The door was always open.”
Her heart was huge, Sasha said. She was able to give her mother the gift of a grandson who is currently 5-years-old. His baby-sitter was Bruno, Sasha said.
“She picked him up from pre-school every day and he was [with her] while I was working,” Sasha said. “She had so much life she wanted to live. There was no one really like her. I have endless things to say about my mother.”
Even as she suffered from Glioblastoma, a malignant tumor affecting the brain and the spine, Bruno remained selfless, crying for the sick children she would see as she received treatment at a radiation center in Harlem, N.Y.
“She would just cry,” Sasha said. “She would say, ‘This is so wrong.’ She was amazing. I hope to be half the person she is. I think I’m a really great mother because of her.”
Losing her is a great loss for her family and the community, Sasha said.
Bruno was the beloved wife of Dr. Anthony M.; loving mother of Stephen (Vanessa), Sasha and Matthew (Lesley); cherished grandmother of Grayson, and Luka; beloved daughter of Sonja Mosquin (the late George); dear sister of Richard Mosquin (Janet Marchessault); also survived by many loving nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. Interment is private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Glioblastoma Foundation. Arrangements were entrusted to Oyster Bay Funeral Home.
Zach Gottehrer-Cohen and Laura Lane contributed to this story.