“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does” — William James
A gathering of perhaps 100 people — town and Suffolk County officials joined by friends and family — came to the Dickerson Creek Preserve Monday to honor Nicholas Morehead, unveiling a mahogany bench built with recycled wood by Shelter Island students under the guidance of technology teacher Christoper Conrardy. It bears a plaque from the Suffolk County Planning Commission with the quote from William James.
Mr. Morehead’s all too short life — he was 46 in May 2021 when he passed away after a long battle with cancer — made a difference, speakers at the ceremony said, and he continues to make a difference, inspiring those who knew and loved him.
Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board Chairman Gordon Gooding welcomed the crowd. He was one of the organizers of the event.
Cliff Clark, Mr. Morehead’s father-in-law, president of the family-owned South Ferry, where Mr. Morehead was chief operating officer, offered a touching tribute, telling the gathering, “When you throw a pebble into the water, it ripples. When you throw a stone into the water, it ripples. Nick threw a boulder, and it just keeps going.”
Mr. Morehead’s wife Paige cut the ribbon holding a cover over the bench as the couple’s children Cayman and Larkin stood by.
Suffolk County Planning Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Casey was in attendance. Mr. Morehead represented Shelter Island on the Commission. Ms. Casey spoke of their friendship and recounted his hosting the commission members on Shelter Island, spending a day showing them around, sharing his passion for the place he called home.
When he took the appointment to the Commission, he had big shoes to fill. His term followed that of the late Linda Holmes, author and historian, who long represented the Island on the Commission. Elizabeth Galle, who is now the town’s representative to the County Planning Commission, also was present at the ribbon cutting.
Ms. Casey brought a proclamation from County Executive Steve Bellone honoring Mr. Morehead as a man who enriched the lives of those around him. Looking at the gathering, Ms. Casey said he was loved by everyone who knew him.
Close friend Brett Surerus brought laughter to the occasion, recalling a time when their two families were together in Montauk and he and Mr. Morehead were sitting on a bench devouring 18-inch heroes. A seagull swooped in to try to grab a bite. Mr. Morehead was ready for the next pass by the seagull and swiftly punched it in the face. No seagull was ever going to bother Nick again, Mr. Surerrus said.
“I miss him every day.”