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Reporter Obituaries: Skovira, Suratt, Walsh

Chrystyna Merva Skovira

Chrystyna Merva Skovira, 90, of Owego, New York passed away peacefully on Thursday, November 6, 2014 at Robert Packer Hospital.

She was predeceased by her parents, Michael and Mary Merva; her husband, Joseph Francis Skovira; brothers, Michael, William, Raymond, Edward and Joseph; sisters, Mary, Cecilia, Elizabeth and Polly; and grandson, 1st Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert, United States Army.

Chrystyna is survived by her children, Chrystyna (Frank) Kestler of Mattituck, Joseph (Cecilia) Skovira of Owego and John (Rachel) Skovira of Park Ridge, New Jersey; grandchildren, William and James Theinert, Vincent and Elizabeth Skovira, and Gabrielle, John, Isabella and Rebecca Skovira, along with numerous nieces and nephews.

Chrys was born in Mocanaqua, Pennsylvania and graduated from Shickshinny High School in 1941. After studying at Mercy Hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania, she became a registered nurse, completing her training at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania. She continued her nursing career at New York Hospital in New York City and Nassau Hospital in Mineola. Chrys left Nassau Hospital to concentrate on raising her children in Hempstead.

She restarted her nursing career at Hofstra University and Nassau Community College as an on-campus nurse. After retiring from these positions, Chrys moved to Shelter Island. She eventually settled in Owego where she enjoyed shopping, tending to her extensive flower garden, decorating her home for every holiday on the calendar and cruising in her Cadillac. The family would like to thank the Tioga County Department of Aging and Caregivers of America, including long-time companions, Carmel, Carol, April and Virginia, for enabling Chrys to continue to enjoy her beloved home.

The family wrote: “For providing joy and happiness through the years, we would also like to thank George Clooney, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, Bea Wain, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, the staffs of the New York Post and the Daily News, George Harter and Harold Arlen, because, ‘It’s a Barnum and Bailey world, just as phony as it can be; but it wouldn’t be make-believe if you believed in me!’ See you over the rainbow some day, Mom and, of course, I’ll heat up your coffee!”

At her request, a memorial service is being planned for a later date. Memorial contributions may go to the Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 1650, Mattituck, NY 11952. Condolences may be sent to the family at emfaheyFuneralHome.com.

Samuel T. Suratt

Samuel T. Suratt of Shelter Island and New York City, died October 27, 2014 of pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

In his 23 years as archivist for CBS News, Sam transformed CBS’s collection of film, still and written materials — then tracked on paper index cards and stored in myriad file cabinets — into a world standard-setting computer resource. Under Sam’s leadership, CBS’s Reference Library, Film and Videotape Library, Audio Archive, Documentary Film Library and Broadcast Research Department became expertly indexed resources available to researchers, historians, documentary filmmakers and others searching for ways to illuminate and animate their subject matters, be it the Vietnam War, civil rights marches, inaugurations, assassinations, interviews with the world’s most powerful leaders or Central Park “Love-ins” and the Woodstock music festival.

In 1977, while at CBS, Sam also helped found the International Federation of Television Archivists, now a global association with some 250 members.

After earning his B.A. in history cum laude at Princeton in 1958 and an M.A. in 1959 and completing all the course work for a Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley, Sam taught there and at Ohio State University where he lectured on the history of American science and technology. He became an archivist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in 1965, coordinating archival programs in science, art and history with other institutions and agencies. He joined CBS News in 1969.

He and his wife, Judy Hole, a producer on various CBS News broadcasts, bought their Silver Beach house from Ed Barr in 1977. It became their refuge from demanding New York City careers — a favorite place for switching gears, strolling Silver Beach, sharing fish meals with friends at Bob’s or lobster bakes at home with houseguests.

On weekends and holidays, they often sailed their vintage Rhodes 19, the Grizabella, in West Neck Bay.

Occasionally, on favorable winds, they circumnavigated all of Shelter Island. On Sunday afternoons, Sam also sailed in the fiercely competitive Menantic Yacht Club Sunfish races. At least once a summer, he and Judy hosted the post-race party.

Neighbors Bud and Natalie Fox became close friends, as did Charlie and Lynn Weiner. Through them, Sam and Judy became active participants in “The Corinthians,” a sailing association that extends from Maine to Virginia. Many times they served as crew and Race Committee members on Corinthian cruises.

When the Shelter Island Yacht Club hosted Corinthian races and Bud volunteered his boat for the Race Committee, Sam took on the role of cannoneer, which is to say he stood on the bow of Bud’s boat and fired the canon to signal the start of the race, then performed the same function to let the fleet know the first racer had crossed the finish line. Sam also developed a computer program to more accurately determine the times of competing vessels.

Sam is survived by Judy; his sons from his first marriage, Benjamin of Essex, Vermont and Daniel of Brooklyn; three grandsons and one granddaughter; and a brother, William, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A memorial gathering celebrating Sam’s intelligence, wit, literacy and spirit will take place at 11 a.m. on December 13 at Manhattan’s Church of the Transfiguration, 1 East 29th Street, better known as the Little Church Around the Corner.

It’s the church where Sam and Judy were married almost exactly 35 years ago.

Margaret Louise Walsh

Margaret (Marge) Louise Walsh, died at her home in Maplewood, New Jersey on November 9, 2014. She was 69 years old.

Margaret was born on March 21, 1945 to George Sr. and Louise Walsh and raised on Shelter Island. She graduated from Shelter Island High School, where she played in the school band. For several years during high school and college, she worked as a lifeguard and manager at the Shelter Island Heights Beach Club.

Margaret went on to earn an associate degree from the Fashion Institute and then attended Hunter College. Her professional career as a forensic scientist included working in textile technology for Better Fabrics in New York City and for U.S. Testing in Hoboken, New Jersey.

She also worked in quality assurance for Frederick’s Wholesale in New York and as a textile analyst for U.S Customs Services, also in Manhattan. She was a lifetime member and past president of the New York Microscopical Society.

Marge was a member of Marble Collegiate Church in New York. She enjoyed knitting, swimming and spending time in Fort Myers, Florida, where she had wintered since 2005. “She was a very caring person,” her brother George said.

She is survived by her partner of more than 30 years, Martin Youngberg, and her brothers, George Walsh of Shelter Island and Howard Walsh of Chandler, Arizona.

Funeral services will be private. Donations may be made to Marble Collegiate Church, 1 West 29th Street, New York City 10001.