January 14, 2013
Spending the winter in Florida has become a way of life for many
St. John’s University alumni. And while they may be separated from
the University geographically for a few months every year, they
have not lost their connection to the St. John’s family that
continues to play an important part in their lives.
“We have a really great group of Florida alumni,
particularly in the Naples area,” noted Susan
Damiani ’87CBA, Director, Office of Gift Planning and The
McCallen Society. “For the past few years about 60 alumni and
friends have been representing St. John’s in the annual St.
Patrick’s Day Parade in Naples, and it’s so apparent that they’re
having a great time showing their University pride to the nearly
50,000 spectators who watch the parade.”
A core of alumni within this group serves as the St. Patrick’s
Day Parade Committee. They plan a kick-off party the night before
the event and a post-parade gathering that effectively turns this
popular activity into a festive two-day affair. Damiani hopes to
capitalize on their enthusiasm to create more activities and
greater alumni involvement in the future.
For Committee member John Martino ’41C, his connection to St.
John’s goes back to his days on the Lewis Avenue campus, from which
he graduated more than 70 years ago. He began his career as a
newsreel cameraman and film librarian during World War II, and
later spent a quarter-century making television commercials at the
Young and Rubicam advertising agency in New York City.
Martino carried the commitment to service that he learned
at St. John’s to Florida, serving as a member of his church choir
and as the Lay Chaplain for his local council of the Knights of
“I find it very satisfying to bring comfort to those in need,
because I feel that I’m doing something important for others,” he
said. “God put me on this earth for a reason, and I’m doing His
will, right here in my neighborhood. Reaching out to others is
something I first experienced at St. John’s, and no matter where I
live or what I’m doing, I will always be loyal to my University. I
was at St. John’s to celebrate my 50th and my 65th Anniversary, and
I hope to be back on campus for my 75th.”
Originally from Saratoga Springs (NY), George Zurlo ’63L not
only knows what New York winters are like, he also knows that he
has no desire to experience any more of them. An attorney who
specializes in helping couples seeking private adoptions, Zurlo
considers his efforts on the Committee as an opportunity to give
back to the University that did so much for him and others like
“St. John’s is still important to me after all these years
because of the quality of the education that I received,” he said.
“I’ve always had a good feeling about my attachment to St. John’s,
and I got involved a few years ago in trying to encourage the
University to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade down
here. We were successful, and St. John’s has a presence in the
parade every year now. I’d like to see some additional alumni
events in this area to try to get as many people involved as
possible. I believe that touching base with other alumni is a good
thing for us and for the University.”
For Committee Member Andrew Murphy ’62CBA, his successful
career as an Accountant specializing in mortgage backed securities
on Wall Street links directly back to his time as a St. John’s
student. Murphy got his first job after graduation through what was
then referred to as the University’s Placement Office, and has
always acknowledged that his life would have been very different
without St. John’s. Always an active and supportive alumnus, Murphy
agrees that it would be nice to have more activities for those who
now spend a good portion of the year down south.
“The alumni that I’ve met down here have a good spirit and
they’re very enthusiastic about St. John’s,” he remarked. “It would
be great if we could get together periodically on a social basis.
Maybe if we knew when a St. John’s basketball game was being
televised, we could go someplace and watch it as a group. I really
believe that the values we all learned at St. John’s and the
experiences we shared will always be a part of our personalities.
It doesn’t make a difference whether we’re in New York or Florida,
because our attachment to the University is much more about whom we
are rather than where we are.”