About

9/11 SHS Memorial Fund, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation established to honor the memory of five Seaford High School graduates who died in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. We remember and honor the memories of Thomas Haskell SHS ’82, Timothy Haskell SHS ’85, John Perry SHS ’82, Robert Sliwak SHS ’77 and Michael Wittenstein SHS ’85. Their biographies are below:

  Thomas T. Haskell, ’82: FDNY Battalion Chief – Tommy was a dedicated individual who lived for three things: his family, the fire department, and the game of football.  While attending Seaford HS, Tommy was an exceptional student/athlete, earning all-league honors on the football field.  A devoted family man, he was dedicated to his wife and three daughters.  

Tommy also excelled in the New York Fire Department, becoming one of the youngest Battalion Chiefs in department history.  On September 11th, Tommy led his men into the South Tower of the World Trade Center and assisted in the evacuation of 25,000 people.  Despite unimaginable horror, Tommy diligently went about his job of saving as many lives as possible.  Displaying bravery that inspired the nation, Tommy continued his mission until he was lost in the first collapse.

  Timothy S. Haskell, ’85, FDNY Firefighter – Timmy Haskell was originally a Nassau County Corrections Officer before becoming a New York City Firefighter in 1993. During his career as a fireman, Timmy and his trained Dalmatian Blaze volunteered much of their time educating school children on fire safety.  

In addition to training Blaze, Timmy’s other passions included scuba diving, boating, flying, and spending time with family and friends.  On the day of the attacks, Timmy rushed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center with his company, assisting in the rescue of 25,000 innocent lives.  In a display of incredible bravery, Timmy continued to save lives despite the collapse of the South Tower.  Timmy never wavered in his mission, continuing to evacuate people until he made the supreme sacrifice in the second collapse.

  John William Perry, ’82, NYPD Officer – John viewed life as an adventure and he enthusiastically sought challenges.  John learned many languages, competed in five NYC marathons, and in Hudson River swimming races.  He was an actor in movies and on television.  John volunteered for the Kings County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and for a men’s shelter, and used his legal training to serve pro bono for friends and organizations.  

John was a “people person” who participated in a wide range of activities and attracted many friends. He served on the board of the NY Civil Liberties Union Nassau Chapter, he was active in the NYS Libertarian Party, he belonged to a philosophy club, and studied many religions.  John participated in several police organizations and met with representatives of police departments in other countries.  John was a lieutenant in the NY Guard, a graduate of SUNY Stony Brook and the NYU School of Law.  He served five of his eight years in the NYPD in the legal department.

September 11, 2001: John was at One Police Plaza filling retirement papers when the terrorist struck the World Trade Center towers.  He immediately ran to assist. He as never seen again.

  Robert Francis Sliwak, ’77, Cantor-Fitzgerald – Robert, better known as “Sli,”  was the kind of man everyone would want as a friend. He was gentle, friendly, easy-going, and you always felt good after talking to him. His smile forever made you feel at ease and his approach to life was very peaceful.  

At SHS, he will be remembered as #34 and co-captain of the 1976 Championship Football Team.  He also received All-County Honors and a full scholarship to college.  Rob was very humble and never really spoke of his achievements in football and baseball, but his buddies still speak of the days Rob spent on the athletic fields.  Rob was one of seven children.  He loved his family and took great pride in his roll as son, brother, and uncle.  He would always take time to see his nephew’s ball games or check in with a phone call to family members when life got too busy to visit.  Rob was married for almost nine years.  His marriage to Susan was cut so short, but in that time they overcame Rob’s battle with cancer, rode out the waves of his Wall Street career as a bond broker, and finally bought a home in Wantagh where they settled to have their family.  

Rob’s biggest joy in life was his three children, Ryan and the twins, Kyle and Nicole.  He couldn’t mention their names without a smile and pride in his eyes.  Nothing would give him more pleasure than a game of tackle football in the basement or a walk on the beach with his family. He truly loved his role as Dad! Robert Francis Wliwak: a family man, a friend, a husband, and Dad.  He will always remain in our hearts and minds and will continue to live on in his three children.

  Michael Robert Wittenstein, ’85, Cantor-Fitzgerald – This memorial is a testament to Michael’s devotion to this family, his sense of humor, and the joy and happiness he brought to each and everyone he knew.  He was a truly gifted and giving person.  Mike went to the University of Albany after graduating from Seaford HS in 1985 and majored in finance at their School of Business.  He was hired by Cantor Fitzgerald right out of college and started on the Government Trading Desk.  He then moved to London and LA to work in Security Trading and later back to NYC to work on the Repo Desk.  Mike was studying to take his series exams and get into Asset Management when his life was cut shot at 34.

Michael loved game shows, the JETS and the METS and good (and bad) jokes.  He was delighted when his firm did away with its dress code, ever after, he was sighted only in khakis and a polo shirt.  Mike was loyal, intelligent, and easygoing with a great sense of humor.  Even as he started to excel at work and started to climb the ladder, he stayed true to himself.  He was extremely social and would be the first to tag long and do anything with anyone so they didn’t have to go alone.  He absolutely loved sports – football and baseball were his favorites.  When the Mets went to Atlanta for a championship game, Mike bought a ticket and flew there to watch them play.  He got into fitness and would often run or bike to Jones Beach.  He really loved being the smartest guy in the room and often would play along at home to game shows and dazzle family with the useless knowledge he held.  He was even picked to be a contestant on the show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.  He went to two tapings but the person ahead of him did very well so the show ran out of time and Mike was never given the chance to play.  He was a huge Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp fan.  He spent lots of time at the Jones Beach theater at concerts.  Michael also loved his family and spent as much time with them as possible.

September 11, 2001:  Michael worked on the 104th floor of World Trade Center tower 2.  He was on the phone with a client in California when an explosion rocked the building.  He called the client back to apologize that the phone had been disconnected.  He then called his father and said he was leaving the building immediately.  Michael was engaged to be married in October 2001.  This day never occurred for him.

COMMITTEE ACHIEVEMENTS

The Seaford 9/11 Memorial Committee’s motto is SERVICE, CHARACTER, and COMMITMENT.  The committee has lived up to the commitment to “Always Remember” made by so many after the terrorist attack on our country. On November 22, 2002, the Seaford High School 9/11 Memorial was dedicated to our five alumni and all those who perished on September 11, 2001. As of January 2023, the Seaford 9/11 Memorial has been listed on the National 9/11 Registry. The 9/11 National Registry has rated our memorial and related programs as one of the “most outstanding” from over 1,000 memorials in its records. The overwhelming support from the Seaford community has been the committee’s inspiration for numerous annual initiatives, such as:

  • Annual Patriot Award scholarships have been presented each year since June 2002. One Hundred Eighteen (118) Seaford High School graduating students since 2002 have received an amount in excess of $250,000. Patriot Award recipients for 2024 were Amanda Beadle, Angelina Fernandez, Jillian Gross, Alexandra Podesta, Daniella Stek, Michael Wittenstein. These students exemplify the committee’s motto of Service, Character, and Commitment. 
  • Honorary Patriot Awards have been bestowed upon sixty-two (62) individuals who have made significant contributions to our community, including this year (2024) to Sergio DeCiantis, Rev. Joseph H. Fitzgerald, and Kevin P. O’Reilly.
  • Since September 2003, a 9/11 Memorial Candle Lighting Ceremony has been held at our commemorative plaza on every September 11th. 
  • Patriot Award and Honorary Patriot Award recipients are honored annually at our Patriot Award dinner which is held every June to honor our five alumni and the new recipients of both the Patriot Award and Honorary Patriot Award. 
  • The Seaford 9/11 Memorial Committee’s ongoing mission to educate students about the historical events of September 11, 2001 and the value of community service has included donations of 9/11 history books, trees, field trips to the National 9/11 Memorial in New York City, and sponsored assemblies pertinent to service, patriotism and the events of September 11, 2001. We now have created a 911 Museum Brochure for Senior Class Field Trip that our students and community members can use when visiting the site in New York City.
  • Since 2009, in recognition of September 11th as a National Day of Commitment to Service, hundreds of community members and students annually have presented Pledges of Commitment for Community Service at our 9/11 Memorial Candle lighting ceremony on September 11th.
  • Hundreds of community members annually take part in our Commitment to Service program which has inspired the addition of a School / Community Service recognition on the Seaford High School diploma.
  • The Memorial Brick Program continues to memorialize individuals and generates funds in support of the maintenance and preservation of the memorial. We now accept VENMO payments.
  • Hundreds of community members annually make Pledges of Commitment for Community Service that are presented at our 9/11 Memorial Candle Lighting Ceremony.
  • Our 2002-2022 Memorial Commemorative Coin Fundraiser helps the committee to fulfill its mission to Always Remember.
  • The Seaford High School’s “Pathways to Service” Program, highlighting the theme of Service-Character-Commitment,” was created and inspired by our committee. The program provides opportunities for school and community service to every student throughout their four years at Seaford High School. The official designation of School/Community Service recognition is now on the Seaford High School diploma.
  • Gifts are usually made annually to the schools in the Seaford School District.
  • Three World Trade Center artifacts and a Survivor Tree cutting that were added to our memorial, was dedicated at the 2016 SHS 9/11 Memorial Candle Lighting ceremony.
  • We now accept VENMO at the following address: SHS MEMORIAL FUND @SHS_911_MemorialFund (be sure to add your name).

***CALENDAR INFORMATION: The 9/11 SHS Memorial Committee planning meetings with take place via ZOOM with a 6:20 PM sign in and a 6:30 PM start.  The dates are: Oct. 12, Nov. 2, and Dec. 7, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, Mar. 6, Apr. 3, May 9, June 4, June 19, July 18, Aug. 15. Committee members will receive the ZOOM invitation to their email the weekend prior to the meeting from Lynda Schachner.

Acknowledgement of the 9/11 Committee Mission – September 2023

The SHS 9/11 Memorial Committee has been true to its mission for the past 22 years to “Always Remember” our five Seaford High School alumni and all others that were lost on September 11, 2001.

  • We hosted our 22nd annual Candle Lighting Memorial Remembrance Ceremony on September 11, 2023. Please join us at Seaford HS at 6:45 PM every year on September 11th for the Memorial Candle Lighting.

  • Last June, in memory of Tom, Tim, John, Rob and Michael, the 2023 Patriot Awards were presented to five deserving Seaford High School seniors.  These students were recognized due to their “Service, Character and Commitment” which was demonstrated over their four years at Seaford High School. Since 2002  Patriot Awards and scholarships have been awarded to 117 Seaford High School students in excess of $250,000.

  • The SHS 9/11 Memorial Committee is also committed to educate students about the events of September 11, 2001. This year to fulfill this commitment the Seaford 9/11 Memorial Committee has made a $2,000 donation for the SHS Class of 2024’s field trip to the New York City 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

  • Annually the committee has sponsored the Commitment to Service program for the Seaford Schools and Community to endorse the value of community service. Our Memorial Brick program is ongoing. The bricks line our Memorial pathway.

  • On September 11, 2023 Jillian Padavan (Patriot Award 2018) and Gianna Cesario (Patriot Award 2021) presented to Seaford Superintendent, Adele Pecora, the SHS 9/11 $2,000 donation for the 2024 Senior class trip to the NYC 9/11 Museum as well as hundreds of ‘Commitment for Service Forms’, completed by Seaford students, Seaford teachers and staff, the Seaford community organizations and Seaford residents.