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Remo J. Boffardi dies; teacher, wordsmith from East Norwich was 88

Remo J. Boffardi, a teacher and author who

Remo J. Boffardi, a teacher and author who helped countless children learn to read, died at 88 years old on Dec. 27 at his East Norwich home. Credit: Boffardi family

Remo J. Boffardi, a teacher and author who helped countless children learn to read, died on Dec. 27 at his East Norwich home.

He was 88 and had heart disease, said his wife, Florence, and son, Raymond, of East Norwich.

While teaching at Wheeler Avenue Elementary School in Valley Stream for three decades, Boffardi wrote many books about the English language's use of Greek and Latin prefixes, roots and suffixes.

"He wanted to teach children all about words," his wife said.

His method taught children to "dissect the word, break it up, figure out what each part of the word means." Boffardi was president of Educational Word-Cell Programs Inc.; his books sold around the world.

Part of his approach sprang from his father's decision to send his Brooklyn-born son, while still a child, to Genoa, Italy, to live with relatives and become a doctor, his family said.

Though he learned Italian, the start of World War II forced his family to arrange his passage home.

When the Nazis searched his ship for Jews at a port in France, Boffardi helped save a refugee by keeping quiet about his hiding place. "He didn't speak up to tell them where he was," his wife said.

Boffardi's coolheadedness served him well after he graduated from high school in Brooklyn and joined the Navy, becoming a signalman on the USS Barber, a transport, during the Battle of Okinawa.

"We underwent 4 air attacks tonight. Say, this is a hot spot!" he wrote in "Okinawa Diary."

Though he survived numerous kamikaze attacks, Boffardi remained compassionate, describing Japanese pilots who perished as "a pitiful sight."

After the war, he graduated from St. John's University, where he was the soccer team's goalie.

Next, he got a master's degree from New York University, and went on to become a teacher.

Boffardi celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary on July 11. He met his wife at a Republican Party dance in Garden City -- just as he was about to leave because a few dance invitations were spurned.

"He tapped me on the back -- without even seeing me -- he said: 'Would you like to dance?' and I said: 'I'd love to,' " his wife recalled.

In addition to his wife and son, survivors include a sister, Lucy Mandile, of Brooklyn.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Wednesday at the Church of St. Dominic in Oyster Bay; he was interred at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Huntington.

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