‘Renaissance man’ is laid to rest

04/22/2010 12:00 AM |

Mourners leaving St. John the Baptist Church in Wading River after Friday’s funeral mass for former Riverhead supervisor Joe Janoski. Pictured (foreground, left to right) are Mr. Janoski’s granddaughter, Raven; his son, Jay (with glasses); and Jay’s wife, Danielle. Her brother, Richard Boyko, a funeral director with Dalton Funeral Home in Levittown, carries the urn.

Former longtime Riverhead Supervisor Joe Janoski was remembered as a “tireless community leader” by state Senator Ken LaValle at Mr. Janoski’s funeral Friday at St. John the Baptist Church in Wading River.

Mr. LaValle told mourners he first met Mr. Janoski about four decades ago at Newfield High School in Selden, where Mr. LaValle was an assistant principal and had hired Mr. Janoski as an art teacher.

“He made sure that every student was all that they could be,” Mr. LaValle said of Mr. Janoski’s teaching.

When Mr. LaValle later became a state senator, he hired Mr. Janoski as an aide. Mr. Janoski eventually ran for town supervisor in 1979 on the Republican line and defeated incumbent Democrat Allen Smith.

Mr. Janoski died at his home on April 10 at the age of 68. He was town supervisor from 1980 to 1995, when he stepped down because of health problems.

As a supervisor, Mr. LaValle said Mr. Janoski “was a tireless community leader and someone I always felt was a true renaissance man.”

Friends and family members, past and present Town Board members and government officials, including former Suffolk County Executive Robert Gaffney, were among the 100 or so people who attended the low-key service.

Hawk Woodson, who worked for the town’s buildings and grounds department for 13 years, said afterward that he remained friends with Mr. Janoski long after both men had retired, and that he had been taking Mr. Janoski back and forth to doctor’s appointments prior to his death.

“I miss him already,” Mr. Woodson said.

Monique Gablenz, who worked with Mr. Janoski for 14 years, said she was just 19 when Mr. Janoski hired her as his confidential secretary, and she eventually worked her way up to deputy supervisor of the town. She said she was grateful for the confidence he showed in her.

Mr. Janoski is survived by his son, Jay, 44, of Wading River, and Jay’s wife, Danielle, and granddaughter Raven. His mother, Genevieve, died on Dec. 6 at the age of 91, and his father, Alex, died in 1963. Another son, Jared, died in a car accident in 1998.

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