WWII veteran from Rockville Centre celebrates 103rd birthday

Jill Nossa by Long Island Herald

September 17, 2020

Originally published in Long Island Herald on September 17, 2020.

For the residents of North, South and East Wood Roads in Rockville Centre, the neighborhood is more like an extended family. For years, families have gotten together every month for a party, though these regular get-togethers have been put on hold during the pandemic. But, when one of their beloved neighbors, Sam Litin, turned 103 last month, a celebration was in order.

“Since the pandemic, we miss being together and especially miss time with Sam,” Barbara Ann Dillon, who lives on S. Wood Road, said. “He is such a wonderful friend and neighbor, and he has really been missing our monthly get-togethers.”

Joseph Daleo has been dubbed the neighborhood’s “call to action leader,” and will reach out to neighbors via text messages to organize events. He said that, for Litin’s birthday, he let people know it was coming and asked them what they could contribute. Some provided balloons, others a birthday banner and others brought cupcakes. In total, about 40 people participated, and Litin even gained the attention of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, who stopped by on the evening of Aug. 31 to present Litin with citations and wish him well.

Litin is a World War II Army veteran and former small business owner who bought his home in 1952 and raised his three daughters in Rockville Centre. His wife, Connie, died several years ago at age 96. Litin has lived independently since then, and neighbors said that he is an active part of the “Woods Family” community.

“He regularly walks the perimeter of the neighborhood and will stop to say hello,” Dillon said. “And he still works outside, raking leaves or cleaning leaves out of the gutter. We worry about him because sometimes he still gets up on the ladder.”

While they worry about his physical limitations, Dillon said, there are no concerns about his mental state.

“He’s sharp as a tack,” she said. “There’s nothing slowing down Sam’s mind.” She said he often shares stories about his travels when he was younger, his time in the service and about D-Day.

Neighbors describe him as an “important thread” of the neighborhood to keep everyone connected as other families have moved in and out over the years. Dillon also described Litin as being a grandfather figure to younger neighbors over the years, some who are now in their 40s, as well as to the younger children, including Daleo’s 3-year-old granddaughter.

“She loves him and always wants to say hi to ‘Mr. Sam,’” Daleo said. “They are 100 years apart but the interaction is phenomenal.”

In addition to Litin’s kindness, neighbors said his positive attitude is remarkable.

“Everything is framed in the positive – there’s nothing to complain about,” Dillon said. “He reminds us all to focus on the possible, to work toward our goals, and not to waste time complaining.”