My dear friend JOYCE CHINSKY died, after a long, spirited struggle against cancer, on September 30th – It doesn’t seem real.
Joyce and I first met in the early 1980’s when we were fellow English teachers at Grand Avenue M.S. in Bellmore. Over the following decades, our activities often included family, especially her husband BOB and son PETER, when he was a child, and my daughters SUE and LAURIE.
Merrick, New York, USA. July 2, 2016. L-R, BOB CHINSKY, JOYCE CHINSKY, BOB STUHMER are in front of Bouncy Castle at Emily’s First Birthday Party, hosted by her Mom and Dad at Nana Ann’s home.
There were the summers we went with our young children to our friend Carolle Bendle’s beach club.
We had Broadhollow Theater subscriptions for ourselves and our children.
Joyce, my daughters and I had NYC excursions. She joined my extended family to root for the Parry Girls’ team on a game show taped in a studio in Hell’s Kitchen on a rainy day in 2006, and the three of us went to a Hillary Clinton rally in 2008.
Starting in 2012 when the first of my two grandchildren arrived, Joyce regularly asked about them and visited each.
When Sue ran for local office a few years ago, Joyce enthusiastically supported her, including going to a Merrick fundraiser.
Bob and Joyce took me with them on day trips out east on L.I. and to enjoy Bob’s photography in exhibitions….
Every lucky group has a Connector – the person who, with love and work, keeps people in touch over the years, often as locations and circumstances change. Joyce was a Connector in so many meaningful ways, including organizing annual “Grand Girls” lunches for retired and active teachers.
Massapequa, NY, U.S. Front row, L-R: ANDREA GWOSDOW and PAT BLOODGOOD; Back row, L-R: JANE KLINE, ANN SULLIVAN, JOYCE CHINSKY and ANN PARRY are at Grand Girls annual reunion at Sergio’s Italian Restaurant. (Thank you, Jane, for sending photo)
Massapequa Park, NY, U.S. Front Row, Grand Girls L-R: MELISSA WILLIAMS, NANCY JACOB, JOYCE CHINKSY, MICHELLE GAGNON and ANN PARRY; Back row, L-R: BARBARA HIRTEN, ROSANNE WALKER, CHRISTINE LATORRE, RITA CALZETTA, MARY ELLEN GASPAREC, KATHY WARD HAGGERTY and JANE KLINE pose for group photo at Asian Moon restaurant during annual reunion lunch.
Since I can’t find words to share how I feel right now, here’s some of what my daughters group-texted when they read Joyce was gone:
LAURIE: “Oh my god I’m so sorry to hear this!!! This is so awfull!!! I’m so sorry…She was suuuuuch a sweet woman….❤️”
SUE: “Oh my gosh. I’m devastated to hear this news. This is so sad 😢 Oh my gosh 💔”
FEATURE PHOTO – at top: Long Island, New York, U.S. November 14, 2010 L-R, ANN PARRY and JOYCE CHINSKY are at Terrific Tootsies event. (if you know photographer’s name, please contact me)
Joyce was an active volunteer and docent at HMTC in Glen Cove, Long Island, NY, for many years. To learn about, and donate to, that non-profit:
The Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center: hmtcli.org
To learn more about pancreatic cancer and donate towards its research:
Launch time was 3 PM for the Star Wars: Force Collector Book Signing at the North Merrick Public Library on Friday, December 20th, soon after author KEVIN SHINICK‘s early afternoon presentation at his alma mater Calhoun High School, and before his evening book signing at Merrick Cinemas, where he worked as a teen.
Since children were just getting out of school around 3:00 that last day before Winter Break, few people were there at the start of the young adult novel event. But a stream of people – mostly parents with their young sons and daughters – soon started pouring into the large meeting room, with many adults standing along the walls so children could sit.
Some came mainly because of the Star Wars novel… some because Shinick’s a fellow Merokean, a friend… and two came because he’s their son.
Video 2 – Q&A:Baby Yoda, Batman comic books; Best Star Wars Lightsaber Fight; Broadway; Fiction VS Nonfiction; Heidi Gardner; Debbie Gibson; TV Hosting; George Lucas; Eileen Meyers; Robot Chicken; Ringwood, NJ; SNL; Spiderman, Star Wars…
During his animated Q&A, Kevin Shinick talked at length about writing the official canon Star Wars YA novel, Star Wars: Force Connector.
Shinick said, “Working with George Lucas – everything he says is a lesson.”
After the project got the green light, he stayed for a month at Skywalker Ranch, the California home and workplace of GEORGE LUCAS, the film writer, director and producer who created Star Wars.
Shinick was glad he stayed at Skywalker Ranch for a month, so he had a chance to ground himself being around Lucas.
“For the first two weeks I didn’t hear anything he said. I heard wonk wonk wonk wonk[as he repeated to himself] You made Star Wars. You made Star Wars.”
“George Lucas[is] “an independent experimental film maker, and he takes chances. [….] He wasn’t doing something to make us love him. He was doing something to show us something we had never seen before.”
“It’s hard as an artist not to get beaten down. You’re doing it because you set an objective and you succeed at that objective.”
“With this book [“Star Wars: Force Collector”]I can find 10 people who love it and 10 people who hate it.”
“Star Wars, too, for some reason, there’s no middle ground. You either have to love it or hate it – there’s no middle ground.”
• KEVIN SHINICK with his childhood friend, pastry chef BRIAN FISHMAN:
Shinick shared a few of his life rules, wrapped in anecdotes often a bit humorous, self-deprecating – as in his Skywalker Ranch “wonk wonk wonk wonk” saga. Three of the rules he shared:
(1) “You’ve got to keep your community. You’ve got to keep people who support you, have your best interests in heart, who challenge you. People succeed in groups.”
(2) “You have to know who you are.” He wanted to be like Han Solo, but it’s his lot in life to know he’s more Luke Skywalker.
(3) 1st half: “Always go to the door that opens.” He didn’t expect to be a host of “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiago?” but he took it when offered.
2nd half: “Don’t be afraid to shut that door.” After “Where in Time…,” he “got a lot of hosting gigs.” Then one day – as he was driving to a meeting about an offer to host the show Extreme Gong – he had, as he looked back on it, a rather cinematic epiphany:
“I can’t do this,” [he thought to himself] “and called my agent – no more hosting.”
“Every time I did it, something was missing, and people weren’t looking at me as other things. I have to stop this.”
He added that he wasn’t negating hosting – it just wasn’t his dream.
After the book reading and signing, the strong affection and memories Shinick shared with many there at his hometown library burst into hyperdrive, with a force evaporating the time and space since they last met.
• TOM SHINICK suggested capturing a photo of his son KEVIN SHINICK with JAKE LEFEBURE, 10, an enthusiastic Star Wars fan(see Video 2 – Q&A):
KARR NUQ SIN, a teen who suffers from mysterious headaches, is the main character of Star Wars: Force Collector, a canon Star Wars young adult novel published by Disney Books.
Karr leaves his planet Merokia on a quest concerning the fabled Jedi and the Force. Karr travels with his friend MAIZE RAYNSHI and his droid RZ-7 (Arzee).
In VIDEO 1, Shinick reads a scene from Chapter 13, when Karr and RZ-7 go to a bar in a cantina on planet Oba Diah.
Shinick named Karr’s home planet MEROKIA in honor of the Meroke tribe who settled his Merrick hometown on Long Island, New York.
That was the main reason I looked forward to covering the event, held on what Nassau County Supervisor Laura Curran officially proclaimed Nassau County Force Collector Day.
Plus, there were similarities in our orbits, including that my younger daughter Laurie was a member of the Calhoun H. S. On Tour Company, under Director SAL SALERNO, about a dozen years after Kevin Shinick was.
In a more tenuous, colorful coincidence, my mom, MARY ANN PARRY, an opera singer, gave brief voice lessons to teen DEBBIE GIBSON, Shinick’s On Tour co-star in Fiddler on the Roof in the late 1980s.
• L-R, KEVIN SHINICK, CHRIS BARRON, and ANN PARRY after Shinick signs copies of his Star Wars novel. (please CONTACT ME if you know photographer’s name):
• BIO – Briefly, Kevin Shinick is a Broadway actor; a voice artist; a writer – for films, plays, TV shows, a Netflix comedy, Marvel and DC Comics, a children’s book (“Star Wars: Chewie and the Porgs“), and stop-motion series “Robot Chicken,” which he won Emmy for; a host for TV shows such as “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?”; writer and director of Spider-Man Live!; the husband of producer Eileen Meyer; and dad of someone who isn’t (yet) a pilot.
• Baby Yoda says: “Winner You Are! Feel the Force -The Book, You Must Enjoy”:
FEATURE PHOTO at top of post: Merrick, NY, U.S. Dec. 20, 2019. KEVIN SHINICK, shown in photo composite, discusses his novel during book signing for his STAR WARS: FORCE COLLECTOR at North Merrick Library on Nassau County Force Collector Day.