Sunday, January 25, 2009

Audrey Remo

Teacher, avid walker, dies at 87

By Joseph Kellard

Audrey Remo often put one purposeful step in front of the other.

Each weekday, the Long Beach woman hiked two lengths of the boardwalk with her walking club. She walked home from work at the middle school every day. Her vacations usually involved trekking in some corner of the globe. And she particularly enjoyed making shoeprints in the virgin snow outside her West Walnut Street home.

A snow-lover, Remo would forgo trips to Florida because she never wanted to miss a winter in Long Beach.

“It was always fun for her to get up early enough to make sure that, if there was a good amount of snowfall, she wanted her footprints to be the first in the snow,” said Lenny Remo, her son and a Long Beach City Council member.

Remo walked until a problem hip sidelined her at age 85. Two years later, on Dec. 29, she died of natural causes.

She and Eve Epstein formed a walking club in 1991. At one point, it numbered 11 members, and they covered the 4.2 miles of wooden planks Monday through Friday, every week, even in winter.

“Audrey was one of the fastest in the group and was always out front,” said Epstein, who noted that the club often paused so that Remo could greet her many friends.

“Everyone liked her,” Epstein added. “She was an outstanding woman:
bright, kind and very thoughtful and insightful.”

In May 2004, the club caught the attention of Newsday, which published a story on them, and Channel 21 picked up on it, doing its own feature.

For the past 10 years, Remo taught at the middle school — driving to work each morning with her husband of 59 years, the late Leonard C. Remo, and walking home each afternoon.

Rita Smith, who taught with Remo and joined her walking club, said, “She was a wonderful person who was exceptionally bright, and everyone loved her.”

Born in 1921, Audrey Gray moved to Long Beach from Manhattan with her parents and older sider to the W. Walnut Street home that she would live in the rest of her life. She graduated from Long Beach High School and New York University, where she met her future husband, Leonard. They married in 1943, before Leonard joined the U.S. Army and saw action in Sicily, Africa and France during World War II. She served in the True Sisters, an organization that rolled bandages during the war.

Once the couple settled down they raised their children, Lenny and Kathy, and taught together at Long Beach schools for more than 30 years. Remo spent most of them teaching reading at the middle school.

“She had a very good rapport with the children, and many of them were reluctant learners,” Smith said. “But she was very well liked by kids.”

Barbara Ruderman, who first met Remo in 1965 when their sons were in the same third-grade class at Central School, recalled that when a black family moved with several children into a two-family home on W. Hudson Street, Remo learned from one of their sons at her school that they all slept on the floor.

“And there she was carrying up mattresses, that she rounded up from her huge circle of friends in town, up the stairs into their apartment,” Ruderman said.

When on vacation Remo became a world traveler whose next adventure was always a previously uncharged locale, from Japan to Egypt to the Oregon Trail. She once caught a glimpse of Haley’s Comet while sailing through the Panama Canal. In addition to travel, Remo loved to read and enjoyed theater and art museums.

“This was a woman who, for the majority of her life, woke up every day and said I want to see what today has to bring, what’s going to be new and different, what am I going to learn or what am I going to teach,” Lenny said. “She was always positive and always looking to tomorrow.”

While still a teacher, Remo was a Pink Lady volunteer in the gift shop at Long Beach Memorial Hospital (now Long Beach Medical Center).

In retirement, she also gave her time to sit on the board of directors at the Long Beach soup kitchen, and was involved in the Long Beach Historical Society and the local Haddasha. About eight years ago, Nassau County named Remo their Senior of the Year.

“There was nothing that my mother would ask somebody to do that she
would not do herself,” Lenny said.

Ruderman described Remo as “a very generous spirit” who was always ready to lend a helping hand, and remembered how when Ruderman’s husband was on his deathbed at LBMC, Remo sat at his side each day.

“She was there on the day he died and sat with him the whole day until it was over,” Ruderman remembered.

Remo is survived by her son Lenny Remo and daughter-in-law Julie, daughter Kathy Remo and son-in-law David Kee, and her two nieces and two nephews. A memorial service will be held for her this summer. Remo dedicated her body to medical science.

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