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Harry Richard Smith, World War II Navy vet, ex-teacher, dead at 89

Harry Richard Smith, of Bethpage, died Saturday, Oct.

Harry Richard Smith, of Bethpage, died Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, of a heart attack at the Huntington Hills Rehabilitation Center in Melville. The former Long Island schoolteacher and World War II naval veteran was 89.

Harry Richard Smith, of Bethpage, a World War II Navy veteran and former Long Island schoolteacher, died Saturday of a heart attack at the Huntington Hills Rehabilitation Center in Melville.

Smith, 89, was born in Manhattan and raised in Queens. He dropped out of high school when he was 17 and joined the Navy in 1942.

"He was on five ships, including the [USS] Barnes," said Louise, his wife of 64 years. "He was stationed in the Pacific at Guam and the Mariana Islands, and fought Japanese infiltrators at the latter."

She added that he was honorably discharged as a seaman first class in 1946.

"He went back to Newtown High School [in Elmhurst] and got his diploma -- he was determined," she said.

He earned his bachelor's degree from Seton Hall in three years; a master's in education from SUNY New Paltz and an administrator's certification from Hofstra.

"Even though he would go for interviews as an administrator," she said, "he would never take the job. 'I can't leave the classroom and my students,' he would say," his wife said.

Smith taught for 40 years, first in Manhattan, then Queens and Long Island, she said. He started teaching on Long Island at Island Trees in Levittown when that district was created in 1954. Although trained as a high school teacher, he taught junior high until going to Hicksville in 1960, where he worked for 31 years.

He also is survived by four sons, William of Bay Shore, Richard of Fort Worth, Texas, Robert of Farmingdale, and John P.J. of Rockville Centre; three daughters, Mary Cairo of West Islip, Kathy Pedalino of Islip and Megan Bastola of Dix Hills; two sisters, Rosemarie Sena of Crystal Bay, Florida, and Patricia Puskuljian of Long Beach; 27 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

A visitation will be at the Arthur F. White Funeral Home in Bethpage from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday. A funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church in Bethpage. Interment will follow at Calverton National Cemetery.

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