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Celebrating the Wondrous Life of Bert Hughes (and More Rockland Stories)

This week in the Villages we remember the life of one of Nyack’s greatest champions, Bert Hughes. Plus other local stories and notes.

This week in the Villages we remember the life of one of Nyack’s greatest champions, Bert Hughes. Plus, other local stories, links, notes, weather predictions, upcoming meetings, and more. Thanks for being here!

Bert Hughes with his wife Christine at an event at the Edward Hopper House. (Photo courtesy of Edward Hopper House)

Bert Hughes: ‘Fountain of Goodness’

Earlier this month, Nyack lost one of its most cherished champions, Bert Hughes. On August 16 — just a day before one of the beloved Hopper House jazz nights he helped create 43 years ago — Hughes past away at the age of 79.

By all accounts, including some you’ll read in this column, Hughes, a longtime musician and director of music at Nyack High School known for his Santa-like look and jolly demeanor, was a great guy.

Below, you’ll hear from people who knew and loved him.

Arthur Henry Gunther, a local writer and former journalist at lohud, wrote this beautiful remembrance on Facebook:

From time to time but never often enough, there come among us in a world of ego, greed, power, selfishness, those extraordinary individuals who give from the core of their being because their principal god is the goodness of humanity. Such a person was Bert Hughes.
This fellow, a musician almost from birth, a jazz guy with all the impromptu and irreverence that are a counter-beat to those who hear only their song, died this morning as a longtime Nyacker whose good works went way beyond the expected.
Yes, he was, with Ray Wright, the Nyack Realtor, the founder of the now-cherished summer jazz series at the Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center in Nyack, N.Y., and with his wife Chris both long served and helped direct the food program for all comers in Spring Valley, N.Y. Yes, he served on councils that sought affordable housing. Yes, he assisted in the renovation of Memorial Park in Nyack. Yes, he was a teacher of music.
All these things in a full life still hellbent on racing the treadmill before he was taken.
But Bert was way beyond the giving, the compassion, the utter refusal to deny help to anyone. He was a fountain of goodness at which all were welcome to drink. He sipped little himself, nor did wife Chris. Both saw their mission as a human one: to help where they could.
Tributes from many will follow for Bert Hughes, well-deserved, which would have been quickly put aside by him as he focused on the next person in need.
To be friends with Bert was to don the cloak of humility. It would be difficult to top him.
Riches, power, possessions pass to others. Reputation does not. Bert earned his as birthright from destiny. Thank you, sir.Arthur Henry Gunther

Here’s local writer Peter Danish remembering Hughes on Facebook:

I met Bert Hughes in the early 1990’s. I wanted to do a benefit for several of Rocklands human service charities. I asked around and was told by virtually everyone: talk to Bert! Before I could even explain the project, Bert said: “How can I help?” 30 years later I was talking to Bert about a benefit to kickstart the Nyack Homeless Coalition, and of course he said: How can I help? Bert was the personification of “Art in Nyack.” I can’t think of a single person in this community who will be missed more. God bless and RIP Bert.Peter Danish, a local writer, in a Facebook after Hughes’ death

Here’s a clip from the August 17 jazz night at Edward Hopper House. Hughes, who help create the annual jazz night h series 43 years ago, had past away just the night before.

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Finally, here’s Nancy Cutler’s detailed obituary of Bert Hughes on lohud.

And here’s to Bert Hughes! May he inspire all of us to give more of ourselves to others and the world.

Stay tuned and reach out at info@nyacknewsandviews.com if you have remembrances, ideas, questions or news tips.

In other news:

Lohud’s Steve Lieberman digs into the unsolved murder of Spring Valley 19-year-old Gamma Stroud, a cold case the FBI is hoping to warm up.

The Rockland Business Journal posted this interesting look at housing growth in Rockland County based on new data produced by the state. Quote: “In nearly every municipality in Rockland County, housing growth is nearly imperceptible with the Town of Ramapo being the exception.” Probably not a great sign for affordability purposes.

Whoops! More proof: alcohol impairs your judgment.

(Also: Ramapo PD is probably best Twitter follow in Rockland. Orangetown and Clarkstown need to step up their game!)

This just in: cool cars are fun to look at.

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Nyack’s newest bookstore, Big Red Books, is having a party on September 2.

Did you know this Edward Hopper fan account has 98,000 followers? (Does “automated” mean its run by a bot?)

ICYM NNV’s weekly features: Bill Batson’s latest â€śNyack Sketch Log”; Mike Hays’ most recent â€śNyack People & Places”; and our coverage in our last edition of “The Villages”; Our latest Nyack Schools Report. If you haven’t read it yet, please check our vision for the future of Nyack News & Views and how you can help build our coverage and capacity.

Weather prediction (through August 27)

After a rainy-ish Friday, things are looking good for a clear weekend. Enjoy! [Click here for the National Weather Service‘s latest 7-day forecast for the Nyack area. Click here for the latest Air Quality Index report for Nyack.]

Covid Update! (threat level: still “low”)

According to CDC data of recent hospitalizations and cases, Rockland’s community threat level of Covid-19 is now considered “Low” and has been for six months now. With a low designation, the CDC recommends getting tested if you have symptoms or have contact with someone who tests positive. Otherwise, live your life. 

3 Months Later: Still looking for answers in the death of Sean Harris

We continue to look into the case of Sean Harris, who died under suspicious circumstances after an hours-long standoff with police on May 30.

Watch the video from Truth 2 Power below to learn more about what happened and why family, friends and police reform advocates say they want answers.

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Here’s our breakdown of what happened.

Here’s Lohud reporter Nancy Cutler’s in-depth piece on Harris and his mother’s suspicions about her son’s death here.

Village updates

Nyack

  • Here’s the list of all upcoming meetings posted for the Village of Nyack.
  • If you could use help paying your water bills, click here.
  • Drop off humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine (including first aid, painkillers, blankets, baby food, diapers, non-perishable food, antibiotics and more, at Village Hall, 9 N. Broadway (or at the Orangetown town hall, 26 W. Orangeburg Rd.).

Upper Nyack

South Nyack

  • Thanks to reader request, we have re-added South Nyack, which dissolved as an official village earlier this year. Please send us info about what’s going on in South Nyack at info@nyacknewsandviews.com.

Orangetown

Clarkstown

  • The Technical Advisory Committee, which “evaluates the technical adequacy of land development applications and decides their readiness for Planning Board review,” meets most Wednesdays, including this Wednesday, from 10 am to noon, in the town hall’s Historic Map Room.
  • For a calendar list of all Clarkstown meetings and events, click here.

Other Local Updates

South Nyack advocates have filed a petition with the town of Orangetown seeking to show support for a new Elizabeth Place Playground — the grassy play area and dog park just south of 87 and right off the Esposito trail. After South Nyack dissolved in March, the town found the playground equipment at Elizabeth Place was unsafe and not compliant with ADA regulations and removed it. A new ADA compliant park has been proposed and advocates want to see the proposal approved and implemented. Click here to read and/or sign the petition.

Nyack Schools

Check out our latest Nyack Schools Report, a new regular feature we will post bi-monthly.

Find out what else is going on in Nyack-area schools at Home Page – Nyack Public Schools (nyackschools.org)

Rockland-wide

A rare polio case was recently discovered in Rockland County last summer. Here’s some info on how to protect yourself:

  • New Yorkers can pre-register for a free polio vaccination appointment here or call 845-238-1956 to schedule. Walk-ins will also be accepted.
  • Vaccines are also available through local healthcare providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • For more information on polio including symptoms and spread, visit NYSDOH’s page here.
  • New Yorkers can learn more about the polio vaccine available in the U.S. at CDC’s page here.
  • The Reviving Rockland Restaurants Grant Program will reimburse businesses between $5,000 and $25,000 for past expenses or fund future expenses for eligible outdoor dining COVID-19 mitigation equipment. Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, delis, cafes, breweries, wineries, and other similar places of business. For more information and to download an application visit rocklandgov.com.
  • Fill out this survey to help the county provide better digital services.

Musical Outro

Check out the Scott Wendholdt/Adam Kolker Quartet at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar this Friday, Aug. 4th. Here’s a taste:

Connect with Nyack News and Views

Note to readers: We want to hear from you and welcome your input! What do you think we should be covering in your Rockland County village? Let us know at info@nyacknewsandviews.com. Send us story ideas, issues to investigate, letters, reviews, photos, videos, feedback and news tips. And read about our vision for delivering high-quality, hyper-local journalism and how you can help us fulfill our mission going forward.

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