The Stern family has long wanted a way for the Lynbrook community to remember their beloved Andrew Stern, who died during the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. After nearly two decades of waiting, they finally got their wish through a dedicated effort from both family and friends to ensure his name will be remembered by the village.
Over the years following the tragic day, Barbara Stern wanted one of the bordering villages of Lynbrook or East Rockaway to find some way to commemorate her son. Andrew grew up in Lynbrook, but attended Centre Avenue Elementary and East Rockaway High School. Students in the East Rockaway school district participate in the annual Andrew Stern Memorial Essay Contest, but the family wanted to find a way to further keep his memory alive in the town where he grew up. But, for close to 20 years they were denied.
That was until a few months ago, when Andrew’s younger brother Michael started working to grant his family’s wish.
“I wanted to get it done for the 20-year anniversary,” Michael said.
He contacted East Rockaway’s Mayor Bruno Romano, who graduated high school with Andrew in 1978, to get the ball rolling. Romano was able to confirm that the process fell under Lynbrook’s jurisdiction. That process required Michael to seek signatures from neighbors, so he walked up and down the block and got enough people on the block to sign off. Not long after, he received a phone call from Susan Bonomo, who works in Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach’s office and told him that the village would rename Robertson Road in Andrew’s honor on Feb. 27.
On the day of the event, family members said they were shocked to see a large crowd of more than 100 people gathered safely for the event, with many of the attendees being graduates of Andrew’s 1978 class.
“Truthfully, I expected a dozen people,” Barbara said. “I said to my daughter, ‘Who are all these people? Where did they come from?’”
Barbara said she saw friends of Andrew’s who she had not seen in years. “I think it’s a testament to who he was and how much people were drawn to him and loved him,” Andrew’s sister Lisa Burch said.
People who knew Andrew since he was a toddler were also there to watch the commemoration.
Even on a cold, rainy day, so many community members came to remember Andrew. As well as the family and old friends, Assemblywoman Judy Griffin and a representative from State Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s office were in attendance. The only thing that went wrong was when the wooden piece meant to be pulled away to reveal the new street sign fell and hit Michael in the head, though he was not injured. The family laughed it off as a sign from Andrew joking around with his little brother.