Eileen Devereux Carell taught at Bethpage High School from 1961...

Eileen Devereux Carell taught at Bethpage High School from 1961 until she retired in 1978. Credit: Rick Carell

Life for Eileen Devereux Carell, a longtime Bethpage High physical education teacher, seemed full of exploits retold by friends and family over the years.

She once refused to let a hot rod pass her on a two-lane highway in Florida. forcing the car into an alligator ditch, recalled her son Rick Carell of San Francisco. Her “ferocious” German shepherds — all named Pandora — were part of family lore because she found it funny when they chased people, including a tradesman through a glass window in her home, he said.

Teacher friends remember her arguing with male coaches and referees — she was usually right — but also taking teachers under her wing, speaking up against wrongs and fighting for girls’ sports.

“You took the good with the bad, but the good outweighed far beyond anything she did that was naughty,” said her friend Donna Weikman, a fellow physical education teacher.

Carell, a former Dix Hills resident, died at age 102 on Nov. 7 in Hobe Sound, Florida.

In the mid-1970s, Carell was the new chair of the Bethpage High School girls’ physical education department when the union was negotiating pay just for male coaches, Weikman said. Carell led her staff to the county human rights commission to file a complaint, her friend said, and before the paperwork was submitted, the union decided to bargain for the women.

“She was really instrumental in making us aware” of issues and the women’s power, Weikman said.

She never quit battling her male counterparts in an era when the girls had much less equipment, uniforms and priority in using the gym and fields, teachers said.

“Eileen really stepped in and made it so the girls had more opportunity,” said Cheri Van Syckle, who taught swimming at Bethpage.

Carell had picked her career almost as a rebound to her years at Our Lady of Wisdom Academy, an Ozone Park, Queens, school run by French nuns, her son wrote in her eulogy: “She frequently received demerits for not wearing mandatory cloth ‘bootees’ over her shoes to prevent scuffing the floor or using them to skate down the hallways. Determined not to repeat her high school experience, Eileen carefully researched collegiate degree programs and determined that physical education was the only academic major not offered by any Catholic university.”

Her bachelor’s in physical education was from Columbia University in 1945, followed by a master’s in teaching, then a doctorate in education about 25 years later from Hofstra University.

Carell was a swimming instructor in New York City public schools and worked for several Long Island districts before settling at Bethpage High School in 1961. She also coached girls’ field hockey, archery, basketball, softball and the boys’ rifle team until her retirement in 1978.

When Carell was hired at Bethpage, she won over students giving her a hard time for replacing a popular teacher, recalled her friend and former student Marie Corrado: “She knew we had certain abilities and she played to them.”

On a double date early in her career, Carell met her future husband, Nick, a quiet teacher from Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park.

Nick’s last name was spelled Carella, but by the time they married in 1950, he had dropped the last letter in his name to suit his wife, who preferred her own heritage instead of her husband’s Italian one, Corrado said with a chuckle.

Along with sports and summer vacations, Carell provided “tough love” to her two sons. When they complained about a teacher or a problem, she’d say “go ahead, quit” — her biggest insult, Rick Carell said.

Retiring with her husband to Florida, she was a volunteer driver for the ambulance corps well into her 70s.

“This fulfilled her lifelong dream of running red lights at high speed,” her son said, though later his mother was “very disappointed to learn she could not run lights without a patient in the vehicle.”

Carell is also survived by her oldest son, Robert Carell of Hobe Sound.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Nov. 8 at St. Christopher Catholic Church in Hobe Sound. Her ashes will be released into the Atlantic Ocean, where Carell had spread her husband’s ashes in 2007.

Life for Eileen Devereux Carell, a longtime Bethpage High physical education teacher, seemed full of exploits retold by friends and family over the years.

She once refused to let a hot rod pass her on a two-lane highway in Florida. forcing the car into an alligator ditch, recalled her son Rick Carell of San Francisco. Her “ferocious” German shepherds — all named Pandora — were part of family lore because she found it funny when they chased people, including a tradesman through a glass window in her home, he said.

Teacher friends remember her arguing with male coaches and referees — she was usually right — but also taking teachers under her wing, speaking up against wrongs and fighting for girls’ sports.

“You took the good with the bad, but the good outweighed far beyond anything she did that was naughty,” said her friend Donna Weikman, a fellow physical education teacher.

Carell, a former Dix Hills resident, died at age 102 on Nov. 7 in Hobe Sound, Florida.

In the mid-1970s, Carell was the new chair of the Bethpage High School girls’ physical education department when the union was negotiating pay just for male coaches, Weikman said. Carell led her staff to the county human rights commission to file a complaint, her friend said, and before the paperwork was submitted, the union decided to bargain for the women.

“She was really instrumental in making us aware” of issues and the women’s power, Weikman said.

She never quit battling her male counterparts in an era when the girls had much less equipment, uniforms and priority in using the gym and fields, teachers said.

“Eileen really stepped in and made it so the girls had more opportunity,” said Cheri Van Syckle, who taught swimming at Bethpage.

Carell had picked her career almost as a rebound to her years at Our Lady of Wisdom Academy, an Ozone Park, Queens, school run by French nuns, her son wrote in her eulogy: “She frequently received demerits for not wearing mandatory cloth ‘bootees’ over her shoes to prevent scuffing the floor or using them to skate down the hallways. Determined not to repeat her high school experience, Eileen carefully researched collegiate degree programs and determined that physical education was the only academic major not offered by any Catholic university.”

Her bachelor’s in physical education was from Columbia University in 1945, followed by a master’s in teaching, then a doctorate in education about 25 years later from Hofstra University.

Carell was a swimming instructor in New York City public schools and worked for several Long Island districts before settling at Bethpage High School in 1961. She also coached girls’ field hockey, archery, basketball, softball and the boys’ rifle team until her retirement in 1978.

When Carell was hired at Bethpage, she won over students giving her a hard time for replacing a popular teacher, recalled her friend and former student Marie Corrado: “She knew we had certain abilities and she played to them.”

On a double date early in her career, Carell met her future husband, Nick, a quiet teacher from Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park.

Nick’s last name was spelled Carella, but by the time they married in 1950, he had dropped the last letter in his name to suit his wife, who preferred her own heritage instead of her husband’s Italian one, Corrado said with a chuckle.

Along with sports and summer vacations, Carell provided “tough love” to her two sons. When they complained about a teacher or a problem, she’d say “go ahead, quit” — her biggest insult, Rick Carell said.

Retiring with her husband to Florida, she was a volunteer driver for the ambulance corps well into her 70s.

“This fulfilled her lifelong dream of running red lights at high speed,” her son said, though later his mother was “very disappointed to learn she could not run lights without a patient in the vehicle.”

Carell is also survived by her oldest son, Robert Carell of Hobe Sound.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Nov. 8 at St. Christopher Catholic Church in Hobe Sound. Her ashes will be released into the Atlantic Ocean, where Carell had spread her husband’s ashes in 2007.

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