Five of Port Washington’s schools are named after noteworthy people. Two are known worldwide and all worked or lived in our community. The schools are: Daly, Guggenheim, Schreiber, Sousa and Weber.
John J. Daly was raised on a dairy farm in upstate New York. He came to Port in 1925 after his graduation from New Paltz Normal School. The term “normal school,” which predates teachers’ college, was derived from the concept that high standards, or norms, in teaching were followed. Daly’s first teaching job was at the Sands Point School No. 2 on School Street. In 1929, it was replaced by a new building located on Rockwood Road, where it still stands. Daly served as its principal from 1929-66, when he was promoted to coordinator of state and federal programs for all of Port’s schools. For many years he taught citizenship to the foreign-born at night. He was a charter member of the Port Washington Teacher’s Association. His work as a community activist led to the establishment of the Harbor Homes housing development. He lived with his wife and daughter at 55 Park Ave. until his death in 1968.
The name Guggenheim is associated with enormous wealth, philanthropy and fabled art museums. In 1927, Daniel Guggenheim bought a large estate in Sands Point where he and his wife, Florence, entertained the rich and famous, such as President Herbert Hoover, Charles Lindbergh, the Wright Brothers and the rocket scientist Dr. Robert Goddard. Daniel was the second son of Meyer Guggenheim, a poor Swiss immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1847. Over the years, Guggenheim family members amassed great wealth through mining operations on three continents. Daniel gave 90 acres of his Sands Point estate to his son, Harry, a man of many talents. He was a diplomat, founder of Newsday with his third wife, Alicia Patterson, and owner of the Kentucky Derby winner, Dark Star. When Harry died in 1971, his estate and his mansion, Falaise, filled with priceless artwork, were donated to Nassau County. In 1980, the County Legislature granted the Friends of the Sands Point Preserve, now called the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy, the right to manage the property.
Paul D. Schreiber was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania’s coal region and attended Bucknell University. He first taught in Milford, NY, and in 1917 he was invited to teach mathematics in Port Washington and was appointed principal of the high school, then located in the Main Street School building. In 1920, he was named superintendent of schools. He supported junior high education, believing that younger students would fare better in their own schools before going on to 10th grade. During the Great Depression, Schreiber made sure that salaries were paid and debts were satisfied, accomplishments appreciated in those tight-money years. He never had assistants and his annual salary never reached $20,000. By the time of his retirement in 1953, the school district had grown from 40 teachers to 130 and from 1,100 students to 3,150. His example inspired many Port students to become teachers. One said, “I always felt free both as a pupil and a teacher to take my problems to Mr. Schreiber’s office.” Ninety-nine-year old resident Evelyn Fitzsimmons recently spoke of his friendliness and popularity with her fellow classmates in those long ago years. After his retirement, he and Mrs. Schreiber moved to Oneonta, NY, where he died at age 85. In honor of his 36 years of dedicated service, the high school was named after him in 1958.
John Philip Sousa was a composer and conductor who was born in 1854 in Washington, DC. From an early age, he studied many instruments under the tutelage of his father, who was a musician in the U.S. Marine Band. John had perfect pitch and studied composing and conducting. His compositions were primarily marches and he is widely known as the March King. Among the best known are The Stars and Stripes, the national march of the U.S., and Semper Fidelis, the official march of the U.S. Marine Corps. He was head of the U.S. Marine Band from 1880-92, when he resigned to organize the Sousa Band, which performed around the world for 40 years. The multitalented Sousa composed operettas, wrote novels, an autobiography and was a world-class trapshooter. He was honored by crowned heads in Europe and was posthumously enshrined in the Hall of Fame of Great Americans in 1976. His home in Sands Point has been designated a National Historic Landmark. It is in private hands and not open to the public. In addition to the school, there is our beloved Sousa Band Shell on Manhasset Bay, where concert goers on summer evenings can enjoy his compositions as well as those of other composers. The stirring notes of a Sousa march never fail to engender patriotic emotions in many listeners.
Carrie Palmer Weber came to Port in 1926 after graduating from Oneonta State Normal School. She first taught fourth grade in Sands Point School No. 2 and later was transferred to the Main Street School, where she taught math to junior high students. She continued her education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Miss Palmer, as she was known before her marriage in 1944 to Frank Weber, was an advisor to many school organizations and was described as one of the best liked teachers in the community. In recognition of her many contributions, the new junior high was named in her honor in 1953, two years prior to her passing.