A Dix Hills couple known for decades of community service was remembered Sunday when a park was officially renamed in their honor.
Antonia "Toni" Rettaliata-Tepe, a former state Assembly member and the first woman to serve as Huntington town supervisor, and her husband, Phillip Tepe, a Dix Hills Fire Department commissioner and chief, died just weeks apart in the spring of 2020.
Friends, family and former colleagues gathered outside Dix Hills Park as a new sign that included their names was unveiled.
A large American flag hovered overhead strung between trucks in a special salute to the couple from the fire department.
"Dix Hills was the hamlet where Toni and Phil called home for many years," Huntington Town Supervisor Chap Lupinacci said. "And this family park dedication is a fitting tribute to their legacies of service, love of the community, and love of the family."
The 152-acre town park includes a golf course, pool and ice rink.
Rettaliata-Tepe represented the 10th Assembly District from 1979 to 1987. She was elected Huntington town supervisor in 1987 and is still the only woman to have held that post. She served as chairwoman of the Huntington Republican Committee until her death from cancer in April 2020 at the age of 74.
Tepe, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was a member of the Dix Hills Fire District for 52 years. His various positions included fire marshal for Huntington, Suffolk County deputy fire coordinator and Dix Hills fire chief. He was also commander of the Nathan Hale VFW Post 1469. Tepe died of a heart attack in March 2020.
"It’s not lost on our family what an honor is it to have this park named for two very important people to us, to the community and that it will stand for future generations of our family," said Tepe’s son Brett, an assistant chief with the Dix Hills Fire Department said.
Former Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia recalled often running to several community events in a single day with Rettaliata-Tepe, who was "dedicated to her community and its constituents."
She started a constituent service bus that stopped at shopping centers and other points around the town to be accessible to more residents, Raia said.
Rettaliata-Tepe’s niece, Jessica Van Bladel, told the crowd that the couple and their commitment to the community and its people is inspirational.
"My Aunt Toni and Uncle Phil have left an everlasting impression on me as to be the best version of myself that I can be and I know that many of you can say the same about them," she said.