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Bell and Pasquantonio Honored by Pelham

PELHAM, N.Y. – Richie Bell and Judge Anthony Pasquantonio were honored by their families, friends, and several local dignitaries for their service and dedication to Pelham in a special retirement ceremony held at the Davenport Club on Friday night.

The two 80-year-old men both dedicated themselves to Pelham over their long careers. Pasquantonio served as town justice for 40 years and Bell was chair of the village’s recreation department from 1988 to 1995 and commissioner from 1971 until 2011.

During his speech, David Pasquantonio praised the determination of his father and Bell to make Pelham a better place to live.

“When they arrived [in Pelham], they decided I’m not just here to benefit, I’m here to make this place better,” said Pasquantonio. “So, Richie and dad, thank you for making Pelham and America better. Your patriotism is something that inspires the rest of us.”

While Pasquantonio and Bell became well-known in Pelham, they both served other prominent roles in the community as well, which Town Supervisor Peter DiPaola acknowledged.

“It’s amazing how the people that are busy find so much time to do so much good work,” said DiPaola. “It really is amazing and it’s an example that a lot of us should follow.”

David Pasquantonio echoed the same sentiment and thanked his father and Bell for their willingness to do whatever was needed in Pelham.

“When people asked them to serve on a board, or start a team, or help out, they just did it,” said Pasquantonio. “They didn’t say, well, I have to check my schedule because I have 15 other things I’m doing and I have a family. They just did it and they made good and that has made our town a better place.”

Pasquantonio, a father of nine, was an officer of the Pelham Civics Association, a founder of the youth tackle football league, president of the Lions Club, president of the Westchester County Magistrate Association, and served for 14 years as commissioner and president of the Pelham Babe Ruth League.

Bell started leagues in various sports, a senior citizen lunch program, and separate recreation programs for children with special needs and high school students. He coached a Little League team, the Royals, for 30 years, several other teams in basketball and softball, and still owns Village Wine & Liquors and the Produce Market.

His daughter, Lois Soccodato, said that her dad was the founding father of so many programs and that he took action when he saw things that needed attention.

She recounted fond memories of when Bell was an umpire during her softball games.

“I knew that I was in big trouble when he was the umpire because I didn’t have a chance of getting on base because he always struck me out,” she laughed.

Bell, who had a Pelham baseball field named after him in 1983, was grateful for the honor bestowed upon him by the rest of the community and said that the village is in good shape because of the various people representing it in the government.

“I’m just a Pelham person,” Bell said during his speech. “Pelham, Pelham, Pelham. I love Pelham. I love the people in Pelham. That’s why I’m standing here.”

The senior Pasquantonio was also appreciative of all the people that came out to support him and Bell.

“I want to thank all of the people in Pelham who supported me over the years and it’s been a fast four years,” he said when speaking of his last term. “Thanks a lot.”

His children were thankful for the principles that their father instilled in them even while he was busy at work and having to deal with nine kids when he got home.

“We’re very proud of him,” said Susannah Pasquantonio. “He has a fantastic work ethic that he passed along to all of his children and we’re very grateful for that and we’re grateful for over 40 years of service to the community.”

The two men were also fondly known for their genial nature, a trait that will certainly follow them into retirement.

“He enjoys working and talking with everyone on Fifth Avenue," Soccodato said of her father. "He knows everything that’s happening in Pelham. He knows what’ll be in the newspaper even before it’s printed," she joked.

Susannah Pasquantonio recounted her first job, which was with her father, and the walks they would take at lunch.

“The thing I remembered the most when I worked with my dad is going out on a lunch break," she said. "We gotta walk down Fifth Avenue and we gotta go to C-town and get the sandwich. We gotta stop and talk to everybody along the way. That is just really fond memories. My dad just loved walking through the town and talking with people.”

The event was attended by state Assembly member Amy Paulin, (D-Scarsdale) County Legislator Jim Maisano, Pelham Manor Mayor James O’Connor, Pelham Mayor Ed Hotchkiss, former Town Supervisors Joe Solimine and Mike Treanor as well as Pelham Police Chief Joe Benefico. Newly appointed Town Justice John Gardner as well as newly elected Town Justice John DeChiaro were also present at the event.

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