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A Father’s Day tradition for one Shelter Island family

Like mothers and fathers everywhere, Brett and Kelly Surerus are constantly competing with their children’s devices for their attention.

For Brett, part of the solution lies in his involvement with his children’s sports, serving as head coach for his 10-year-old son Jackson’s Little League team, which just played its final game of the season. “We’ve had a busy travel season for baseball,” he said, “playing teams along the North and South forks.”

His 9-year-old daughter Piper’s softball schedule keeps Brett and Kelly busy, too, “racing around, back and forth,” getting to the games. “But once we get there, it’s fun to watch.”

Brett said he’s lucky that he has two very good friends, Tim Sheehan and Ted Katta, who coach baseball with him. The fathers and sons — as well as mothers and daughters, at times — also enjoy getting in a game of golf together as often as they can. It pays off, too, he said proudly: “Jackson can hit the ball 150 yards, and gets pars and bogeys around the course. It’s frustrating!” he joked.

Brett Surerus and his son, Jackson, playing Goat Hill. (Courtesy photo)

He coaches basketball, also with Tim Sheehan as well as Kevin Springer and Ted Katta, as part of the Southampton Youth Services League.

Brett said it sometimes comes up in conversations with their parents that the couple, and their contemporaries, are now the ”grownups” taking responsibility for their own children, and playing their part to support the community.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly carried out her work as a nurse under very stressful conditions at Southampton Hospital, and helped carry out an effective vaccination program on the Island. Brett took the initiative to solve several problems at once, launching the Shelter Island Action Alliance to keep local restaurants and their staffs going while ensuring that meals went to front-line workers.

Brett, Piper, Jackson and Kelly, on a family winter vacation in Vermont. (Courtesy photo)

The couple was also instrumental in bringing back the Island’s beloved fireworks when the Chamber of Commerce was ready to pass the torch. At Christmas time, Brett’s been spotted playing the role of Master of Ceremonies at the Chamber of Commerce’s Town tree lighting.

He also has his work as an estate manager, but somehow juggling the many responsibilities is how he maintains a kind of equilibrium. Still, he said, “Family comes first. I’m so grateful to Kelly that this has happened to me.”

When it comes to celebrating Father’s Day, it’s become a tradition for Brett to take Piper and Jackson and join Jimbo Theinert in taking the flags down along Joey’s Mile, the section of Saturday’s 10K race route dedicated to the memory of Jimbo’s brother Lt. Joseph J. Theinert, the Islander killed in action in Afghanistan.

“Then we’ll visit my dad,” he said, “and maybe go up to play golf and have lunch at Goat Hill.”

Happy Father’s Day, Brett, and thanks to you and all the dads for all you do.