Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘Last summer was my 62nd year as a lifeguard. When I realize that I can’t save someone or spot someone in trouble, then I’ll leave.’


“Last summer was my 62nd year as a lifeguard. I’m probably the longest working lifeguard in the U.S. that still has to pass the competitive test. I grew up in NYC, and when I was 17, they were training lifeguards at the 54th Street pool, so I took the test.

“When I graduated high school in 1960, I would ride the A train to Rockaway, 2½ hours each way, and would make $6 each day to sit on a lifeguard stand for 8 hours. What else are you going to do when you’re 18 in the city and could be sitting on a lifeguard stand?

“After four years, I left Rockaway for Jones Beach, where I was lifeguarding and made a captain — they even named me the “Golden Lifeguard” after year 50 — until 2015, when I missed passing the test by a tenth of a second! To pass the test, you had to swim 100 yards under 80 seconds, in addition to running. At 50 years old, I could do 59 seconds. As I got older, the numbers started to float. Instead, I passed a different test in Atlantic Beach and have worked at The Sands since 2016.

As long as I can do it, I will.

“When I go to parties, there are so many interesting people, and all anyone wants to know about is lifeguarding. It’s a big thing to be able to save people’s lives and make a big difference while getting to enjoy the summer.

“I have many stories, but one that sticks out is when I was opening a lifeguard stand and another lifeguard and I heard something. We both turned to find a sand bar had collapsed in front of the rocks. A family of five got swept out. Luckily, they stayed together; if they had parted, we’d have had to decide who’d get to live. We brought them all in. In November, I got a text from the father: ‘We’re all here having Thanksgiving dinner because of you.’ That makes it so meaningful.

“When I started working at The Sands, I was older. I didn’t know how the renters there would feel about that, but it was 180 degrees different from how I thought. They respect having an older person and realize that our word is a bond. One guy said, ‘I want you to realize we’re grateful to know that once we’re down on the beach, we’re safe with you.’ As long as I can do it, I will. When I realize that I can’t save someone or spot someone in trouble, then I’ll leave.”

Interviewed by Iris Wiener