Memory Lane

MEMORY LANE

CONNETQUOT, NEW YORK

John Pearl

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Henry [Brook] Adams


When we think back on our youth, we recall our school days and if we are lucky, a beloved teacher. Long-time Bohemia resident Lorraine Mays spoke to us about John Pearl, the legendary teacher and later a principal for the Connetquot School District.   Below is a brief biography of Mr. Pearl.  You are encouraged to listen to Mrs. Mays’s memories of him because her stories will give insight into why this man was beloved by the community.


Born in Pierrepont, New York in 1901, John was the youngest of George and Ellen Pearl’s eight children. (1)  His father and older brothers were farmers or laborers, but he took a different direction by graduating from St. Lawrence University and then becoming a teacher. (2) About 1926 he came to Long Island and was first employed by the Centereach School District, where he and his family lived for many years in a house on Middle Country Road. (3) He eventually came to the Connetquot District, working here for 31 years.  Shortly after his retirement, the Smithtown Avenue elementary school was named in his honor. (4)


A sad event in Mr. Pearl’s life occurred in 1948 when his stepson Roger Teemley, a World War II army veteran, died as a result of injuries he received in an automobile accident. (5) Ironically, John Pearl also was killed in an automobile crash in September 1963, having retired only one year before. (6)


Besides teaching, Mr. Pearl was involved in community service. He was a president of the Brookhaven Volunteer Fireman’s Association, president of the Second Supervisory District Teacher Association, and a member of the executive committee of the State School Boards Association. (7)  John Pearl devoted his life to education and community service, and his contributions are honored through the elementary school named after him and the fond memories of people such as Lorraine Mays.

 

  1. “Obituaries.”  Newsday (1940-1986), September 5, 1963. Accessed November 2, 2014. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Newsday (1940-1985).
  2. The occupations of each member of the Pearl family are stated in federal and state censuses.
  3. John Pearl Killed in Highway Crash.”  Suffolk County News, September 5, 1963. Accessed October 28, 2014. Old Fulton New York Post Cards (http://www.fultonhistory.com).
  4. “Obituaries.” Newsday (1940-1986), September 5, 1963. Accessed November 2, 2014. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Newsday (1940-1985).
  5. Patchogue Man Dies After Highway Crash.”  Suffolk County News, September 24, 1948. Accessed October 28, 2014. Old Fulton New York Post Cards (http://www.fultonhistory.com).
  6. “Obituaries.”  Newsday (1940-1986), September 5, 1963. Accessed November 2, 2014. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Newsday (1940-1985).

Lorraine Mays Interview