N. Paul Buscemi, a World War II veteran, 14-year schools superintendent in Copiague and later an interim chief at several other Long Island school districts, died Tuesday of natural causes at the San Simeon By The Sound nursing home in Greenport. He was 89.
Buscemi served from 1940 to 1943 in the U.S. Army Air Forces, mostly in England. He was discharged as a master sergeant.
He later attended New York University and received his bachelor's degree in 1951. Two years later he got an NYU master's degree.
Buscemi began his teaching career in 1951 as a second-grade teacher in the Elmont school district.
"Paul personified the word 'gentleman,' " said longtime friend Arthur Venezia of Massapequa. "We started out at Elmont at about the same time and sort of moved up the line together. There was a group of us there interested in administration, and Paul led the way, becoming the first superintendent and coming back to talk to us about it."
Buscemi rose to assistant principal in Elmont, then took a job as a teacher supervisor in Selden before becoming a principal at a Westbrook, Conn., school, both for short periods, said family members. He then became superintendent of schools in upstate Harrison before coming to Copiague in 1964. He retired from there in 1978.
The Buscemis, who had owned a summer home in Shelter Island since 1967, retired there in 1983.
"Unable to resist his passion to teach and inspire, he accepted interim positions in Laurel, Tuckahoe, Wantagh and Riverhead," said granddaughter Sara Kenney of upstate Hawthorne, who said two of his children became teachers, as did four of his grandchildren. "He loved to read, play with his grandchildren and had a passion for sweets," she said.
Ray DeFeo of East Moriches, former district superintendent of Eastern Suffolk BOCES, said Buscemi "did a marvelous job" as an interim superintendent and that he also helped BOCES in its search and recommendation of superintendents.
Venezia said when he became superintendent in Wantagh in 1980, he hired Buscemi as an interim assistant. "He got along with everybody - the board, teachers, students and the community. I trusted him completely." he said.
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Marie; daughters Linda Marvin of Briarcliff Manor, Lois McCafferty of Jamesport, and Laura Brehm of Bohemia; sons Paul of Winter Springs, Fla., and John of Melbourne, Fla.; and 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A Liturgy of Christian Burial was held Friday at Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Church on Shelter Island. Burial was at Calverton National Cemetery.