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Long IslandTowns

People of Ronkonkoma: Dale Spencer

Dale Spencer, curator of the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical

Dale Spencer, curator of the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society Museum, has lived in Ronkonkoma since 1979. (Dec. 6, 2011) Credit: Erin Geismar

As part of this week's Town Focus: Ronkonkoma series, Erin Geismar will be conducting quick interviews of everyone from community leaders to people on the street.

Dale Spencer
Age: 55
Community: Ronkonkoma
Occupation: Curator, Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society Museum

How long have you lived in Ronkonkoma? I’ve lived here since 1979; I’m one of the new people in town. A lot of people laugh about that because I didn’t grow up here, so I’m new to them. But I started coming here when I was 7 to swim.

Where did you grow up? I lived in Brentwood after moving out from the city.

So why did you end up coming to live here? When I was a kid and I would come to swim with my mom, I really fell in love with the town and with its history. So when I was ready to move out, I got a house here with some friends, and I really don’t ever want to not be here.

So what made you fall in love with the place? It’s hard to say only one thing. The lake is a good start. And it has always had a country feel to it even though it’s in the middle of the suburbs. It’s not a really high-class town, it’s normal middle-class, which makes it comfortable to be here. And the people of Ronkonkoma are just really good people; I think that’s what it is. I’ve also always loved history, and there’s so much of it here. I could study the history of Ronkonkoma for a lifetime.

How did you become the curator for the museum? I saw there was an opening for the job. I was friends with everyone there, I had been volunteering and doing a lot of research here, so I applied. That was in November of 2010.

Do you have a background in historical studies? No, no background. I was a manager at a lot of different corporations, so mostly my background is in business. History was always more my hobby, something I had been pursuing all my life.

How would you define the character of the community? I think it’s the people. They are just a good, down-to-earth group of people that have a lot of pride – though that’s not so obvious if you don’t talk to them about it. And the lake adds a lot to it.

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