Five Towns Community Center to be named for Pete Sobol

Jeff Bessen for Nassau Herald

February 04, 2021

Originally published in Nassau Herald on February 04, 2021.

Staunch Inwood advocate dies at 64

He was always doing something for Inwood and the Five Towns Community Center. He was always in the middle of helping to get needed items from clothes to food, organizing the Inwood 5K or advocating for the community through the Inwood Civic Association.

Pete Sobol, 64, was arguably Inwood's and even the Five Towns strongest supporter to do the right thing for all people. (Full disclosure, I have known Pete for more than 10 and a half years, my term at the Herald).

When I saw Pete’s number pop up on my phone, I knew two things: He was doing something positive and more often than not it was worth a story.

There are few details except that Pete apparently died Feb. 3 at home. "This is a terrible, terrible day for Inwood," said David Hance, president of the civic association. 

A funeral service will be held on Friday, Feb. 5 from 2 to 5 p.m., for the community at the Meserole Five Towns Funeral Home in Inwood at 143 Lord Ave. There is a 35-person limit inside the building. The family has asked that visitors pass through allowing all a viewing. Social distancing and masks are required. 

On Saturday, Sobol's home going ride around Inwood will pass the Community Center at 270 Lawrence  Ave. at 9 a.m.  Attendants are asked to arrive by 8:45 a.m. and to wear a mask.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky is introducing a bill to rename the overpass that runs over the Nassau Expressway close to Inwood and Far Rockaway for Sobol. “Pete Sobol loved Inwood and that love inspired a lifetime of work that bettered his neighborhood in countless ways,” Kaminsky said. “He dedicated every ounce of himself to make the Five Towns a better place and his loss will be deeply felt by the community that he fed, clothed — and most of all, loved.”

State Assemblywoman Melissa Miller (R-Atlantic Beach), is sponsoring the overpass legislation and also suggested the Community Center be named in his honor. “He never wanted recognition,” she said about Sobol. “ He would make sure that the people were taken care of and people who ae never thought of are thought of.

After a petition was started by Hewlett resident Jim Vilardi, who worked with Pete on many  efforts to improve the Five Towns, to name the Community Center for Sobol  and  County Legislator Carrié Solages (D-Lawrence), who represents Inwood, sent a letter on Feb. 3 to  Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, the center will be named in honor of Sobol. The center's board agreed as well, Solages said.

A resolution to change the name to the Pete Sobol building  was filed on Feb. 4,  Solages said. "He had a vision to help people reach their goals and new levels of achievements," Vilardi said. "No issue was too small to escape him."

Sasha Young, the Youth Board leader and operator of Gammy’s Pantry at the Community Center stated on Facebook: “RIP my friend. Yu have been an amazing friend and an inspiration to many. We love you and will continue to work each and every day to make this community a brighter place in your honor. You will be forever missed.”

“Heartbreaking,” was the first word Elisa Hinken used in her post. “A glue in the entire Five Towns community, but especially in the Inwood community where he lived and was most active. He wasn’t just a resident, but a power broker of initiatives and new projects. A man who enriched many.”

"I’m in shock … and so sad to hear such terrible news," Avi Fertig posted. "Pete was an incredible person...caring and relentless in his advocacy for the Inwood community.  He didn’t talk … he just did.

"Pete and I worked very closely in the months-long aftermath of Hurricane Sandy... for instance, he conceived and guided the initiative that transformed the Five Towns Community Center into a Red Cross Shelter and aid hub virtually overnight. His quiet and forceful dedication to people in need left an impression on me that endures until today.

"He was a public servant in the truest definition of the term and his example should serve as a role model for anyone  who has the slightest interest in public service ... may he rest in peace and may his memory live on always."

“Pete V. Sobol was one in a million,” Matthew Russo posted. "He really cared about our community. He always made himself available for all. He will be missed.”