Frieda Harkins Remembered

  • Filling Mrs. Frieda K. Harkins’ Shoes


    At its official dedication, a sizable crowd gathered for the Memorial Garden Ceremony at the Sayville Administration Building to honor Frieda K. Harkins, a Sayville School District employee of forty years and Sayville resident.


    Mrs. Harkins, who served as secretary to John Belmonte, Assistant Superintendent for Business, was beloved and respected by her colleagues for her many attributes. A modest, hardworking, and gracious lady, Mrs. Harkins was the consummate professional in the execution of her duties. Kind, compassionate, and fun-loving, Mrs. Harkins found ways to bring joy to the workplace. While petite in size, she was a veritable giant in the eyes of those with whom she worked. Always a model of decorum throughout her Sayville School District career, Mrs. Harkins was also renowned for her high heels—their clicking, as quick as lightning, was heard throughout the halls.


    After her sudden passing last year, her coworkers June Zegel and Kathy O’Callaghan were inspired to create a garden in her memory. Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Daniel Casali ensured that each detail would reflect the qualities of the lady being honored. Generous donations from friends, family, and associates were used to fund the project, including the brickwork, benches, umbrella table, garden beds, and memorial plaque, dedicated to a “very special lady” and engraved with a picture-perfect pair of high heels!


    During the recent ceremony under overcast skies in the courtyard of the Administration Building, Frieda’s husband James Harkins, Sr. and son James, Jr. were among those who gathered for words of praise and fond memories. Sayville Superintendent Dr. Rosemary Jones, Assistant Superintendent for Business John Belmonte, and June Zegel each spoke from their personal observations and feelings. (It was agreed that no-fuss Frieda would have objected to any fanfare over her.) Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Geraldine Sullivan Keck, who was unable to attend the ceremony, also conveyed her thoughts through an uplifting message read by Mrs. Zegel.


    Now, as spring blooms, the petite garden is a beautiful testament to an unforgettable lady who touched countless lives, served Sayville School District for forty memorable years, and whose high heel shoes no one can ever fill.