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Levine memorialized by village she served

By Kris DiLorenzo
ANNE MARIE LEONE/RIVERTOWNS ENTERPRISE

Mayor Peter Porcino and Michael Levine unveil the plaque dedicated to Beverly Levine.

 

By all accounts “A Volunteer for All Seasons,” aka Beverly Levine, was a character. At the unveiling of a plaque in her memory at Ardsley Village Hall on May 15, Levine, who died of lung cancer in 2012 at the age of 77, was honored by peers who served with her on various boards from as far back as 1970.

Mayor Peter Porcino, who worked with Levine on the Ardsley Village Board, summarized what many speakers at the ceremony said were Levine’s outstanding characteristics: her willingness to volunteer for a position and the tasks at hand, and her willingness to speak her mind at all times. “She did not hold back,” Porcino said. “You knew where you stood.”

Levine had a long history of joining committees and boards and almost always reaching the top position. At the time of her death, she was a village trustee, the village historian, president of the Ardsley Historical Society and Ardsley Library Board, and a BOCES trustee. One of the library’s earliest volunteers in 1977, she had also served on the Ardsley School Board and as president of the Ardsley PTA.

Professionally, she was an overseas liaison at the Ford Foundation for 19 years, until her retirement in 2003.

Sunday’s ceremony was not the first time Levine was recognized for her extraordinary level of commitment to service. On her 70th birthday in 2005, the Village declared it Beverly Levine Day.

Some of those who worked closely with her provided stories illustrating that Levine was a combination of wisecracking actresses Thelma Ritter, Rosalind Russell, and Eve Arden — as Rose Peña, president of the Friends of the Ardsley Library, described her.

Levine also was a singer: the packed room was treated to a video of Levine at a December 2011 board meeting delivering her rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” then telling the board, “Will you please sit down!”

Many public figures attended Sunday’s event: village trustees and former trustees; ex-mayors; presidents, chairs, and board members of the library, Friends of the Library, the historical society, the school board, and the PTA; county Legislator MaryJane Shimsky of Hastings, Ardsley Deputy Mayor Nancy Kaboolian; library director Angela Groth; retired Village Manager George Calvi, who gave the opening remarks, and Porcino, who read aloud letters from others unable to attend.

The Levine family was represented by her son Michael and his wife Beth from Briarcliff Manor, and their children Emily and Daniel. Her son Rich and daughter Sue, and grandchildren Brian and Rachel were unable to attend. Levine’s husband, Joe, passed away in 1994.

“Beverly was all about helping,” Groth said. “She had a gruff exterior, she told it like it was; she did not mince words. Once you got past that, she had a huge heart. You only had to ask her to do something, she always said ‘Yes’ and she always came through.”

She gave an example of Levine’s responsiveness — and forthrightness. “Once, I said I liked acorns, and she said she had millions of them in her backyard. The next time I saw her, she brought me a box of fake acorns. She said, ‘I wasn’t going to go pick them up in my backyard. That’s stupid.’ I cherish those little acorns.”

Groth also shared that Levine “would poke people at board meetings if she wanted them to get a move on. Beverly really left a gap. She was a force of nature.”

Calvi, who was village manager from 1990 to 2014, had an experience with Levine that stuck in his mind. After attending a New York Conference of Mayors in Albany, on the car ride home they encountered high wind warnings for the Tappan Zee Bridge.

“We saw all the semis parked alongside the road, and no one on the bridge. I asked her, ‘Beverly, what do we do?’ She said, ‘Well, we can turn around, go back north, and take the Bear Mountain Bridge, but then we’ll get home at midnight. Let’s go for it.’ I said, ‘I’ll drive in the center lane, but you’re going to have to sing for me to keep me calm.’ I was joking. I didn’t know she had been doing karaoke at Pumpernickel. She belted out ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ all the way across the bridge. It was a white-knuckle drive, but we made it to the other side, and I got her home before midnight.”

Calvi also remembered that BOCES always invited Levine to labor negotiations “to stare and strike fear into the other side of the table. She didn’t have to say a word.”

Porcino gave his impressions of working with Levine when, as a village trustee, in 2005 he was appointed liaison to the library board. “She was very bright, caring, supportive, loved the village, and spent a lot of time serving children. She had the interests of the village at heart; she really stepped up to the plate.”

The mayor’s metaphor was fitting: Levine was such an avid Yankees fan that her plaque sports the team’s logo.


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the Rivertowns Enterprise. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


 

May 20, 2016

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