Tag Archives: obituary

Obituary: Longtime litigator and Bayside resident William Spanakos

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Longtime litigator and Bayside resident William Spanakos died on Aug. 11 at the age of 86, according to his family, after suffering a major heart attack the day before.

“He liked his work and he continued his job until the last minute,” William’s brother, George, said. “He always tried to help people through his job and in his personal life.”

William was a practicing attorney for over 50 years and had an office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He specialized in criminal defense but also served the Greek immigrant community in legal matters. He was one of seven sons and his parents immigrated from Greece.

He graduated from St. John’s Law School in 1953 and soon after that he opened a law firm in 1956 with his brother John, who died last year.

As a defense lawyer, William always rooted for the underdog, according to George.

“He was known for his charitable works,” his brother said, and in 1990 William established a scholarship fund in honor of his parents that serves to assist financially challenged individuals of Greek descent to become doctors.

William is survived by his girlfriend Sheila Silverstein; his children, Michael Spanakos, Stella Spanakos, Lillian Spanakos, Helen Spanakos-Weitman and Athena Spanakos-O’Riordan; and three brothers, George, Peter and Nick.



Priscilla Morgan, founding board member Noguchi Museum, passes away

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Sara Wasilausky, The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York

Priscilla Morgan, a long-time supporter of the arts and a founding board member of Long Island City’s Noguchi Museum, has passed away, according to published obituaries. She was 94.

Morgan died peacefully at her Manhattan home on Sunday, March 30, the New York Times reported.

“She was a great friend and a major figure in the art world,” said former Borough President Claire Shulman, who met Morgan through the late Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi.

Describing her as charming, warm, intelligent and classy, Schulman said she will miss Morgan’s friendship.

Born in Poughkeepsie in 1919, Morgan began her career in radio production and later became an agent, working with theatrical talent, according to her alma mater Vassar College. Morgan soon formed the Priscilla Morgan Agency, which was bought by the William Morris Agency in 1955.

She met the composer Gian Carlo Menotti in Italy in 1958 and eventually helped bring to the USA his Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, a performing and visual arts event, according to the college.

Morgan, in addition to being a founding member of the board, was also the first Honorary Life Trustee of the Noguchi Museum. She spent the last decades of her life “furthering artistic causes and nurturing friendships across many generations,” a Times obituary said.

“Priscilla Morgan was a remarkable woman. Her love for Isamu Noguchi and by extension his museum will continue to guide us. The board and staff of the Museum mourn her passing.” said Director Jenny Dixon.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Children’s Aid Society, according to a Times obituary.



Marino’s Italian Ices founder passes away

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The founder of Marino’s Italian Ices who passed away last week leaves behind a sweet treat and a lasting legacy.

Marinos Vourderis, who made his millions in Queens, died July 2 in his Jamaica Estates home, his family said. He was 97.

“He was just an amazing man,” said his granddaughter Kristen Breglio. “He would give you anything that he could. He was very generous his whole life.”

Vourderis was a ship engineer in the 1930s, when he left his small-town home in Aegion, Greece to start a new life in the United States, his family said.

With no money or schooling, but a hope in his heart, he settled in Queens and later started a distribution business called Olympic Ice Cream Company with his wife in the 1960s.

“He certainly had a vision and he took that and ran with it,” said Breglio, 33. “That’s how he got his start in the ice cream business. From there, they got the idea to make ices.”

Vourderis began dabbling with his own “old world” recipes, making the frozen treats in his basement.

Once perfected, he introduced his Marino’s Italian Ices at the 1964 New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.

The product grew into a multimillion-dollar company based in Richmond Hill, where it still is today.

“He would always say, ‘Not bad for sugar and water,’” his granddaughter said.

Seeing the ubiquitous ices in stores, the family said, puts a smile on their faces even more now.

“I’m very proud to say that he’s my dad,” said his daughter Margie Hackford. “With no formal education, he was able to come and make the American dream happen.”

Hackford remembers her father for being selfless, saying he was always willing to give people down on their luck jobs or loan out money.

“People who had nowhere to go would come to my father. He would find a way to help you,” said Hackford, 57. “We’re just really happy that he was able to leave such an amazing legacy behind.”

Marino’s Italian Ices, a beloved summertime treat, can be found in supermarkets, pizzerias, restaurants and pushcarts throughout the country.

The company even opened its first official scoop shop in August 2010 in Shanghai, China.

Mike Barrone, who co-owned the company with Vourderis since 2000, said the Italian ice king was an excellent businessman who “had an open heart.”

“He did stuff that other people aren’t going to do in a lifetime,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Margie Hackford




Obituary: Judge Lawrence V. Cullen

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The Honorable Lawrence V. Cullen died in the early hours of Sunday, November 25 in his home, surrounded by family and friends. He was 64.

He had battled multiple myeloma for several years.

He is survived by his wife, Malgorzata “Margaret” (nee Zysk), and two children, Anya Sinead, 17, and Patrick Lawrence, 15; in addition to brothers James, Daniel, Kevin and Francis, three sisters-in-law and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was the son of the late James E. and Ann (nee McElroy) Cullen.

Cullen served in the United States Marine Corps from 1967 to 1969 and served in Vietnam as a door gunner for the First Marine Air Wing. He was awarded the Purple Heart Ribbon, Combat Active Ribbon, Navy Presidential Ribbon, National Defense Ribbon and Vietnam Service Ribbon. He was also a Knight of the Grand Cross Holy Sepulchre.

The late judge was born on September 11, 1948 and spent most of his life living in Queens.

Cullen was waked at Hillebrand Funeral Homes in Rego Park, and buried at Calvary Cemetery in Woodside. His funeral mass was held at St. Andrew Avellino near his home in Flushing.

He was a graduate of Fordham University, class of 1986, and CUNY Queens Law School, class of 1991. Cullen was admitted to the New York State Bar that same year in the Appellate Division, Second Department.

Just weeks before his death, Cullen had been re-elected to the New York State Supreme Court.

He was first appointed by Governor George Pataki in 2005 on an interim basis for New York County. He then served on the bench of the Court of Claims starting in 2006. He was also an acting justice from 2006 onward for the State Supreme Court for Queens County, appointed by Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman.

He will be remembered for his loving and strong character and will be deeply missed by his family and friends.

Congressmember Joseph Crowley, a friend and colleague of Cullen’s, remembered him as an earnest, good-willed man who will be dearly missed.

“Judge Cullen was a dear friend of mine and one of the most decent, honorable people I’ve ever met,” he said. “His passing is a loss to his family, his friends, the judicial system, and the entire Queens community. He will be greatly missed.”

Lawrence V. Cullen was the beloved and cherished uncle of Courier reporter Terence M. Cullen.