Rob Oliveri loved baseball, summer camp and the Baldwin community. When he wasn’t building rides for the kids in the Baldwin Summer Program, you could find him on a baseball field in Baldwin Park, coaching a game.
“He was an amazing guy who was a community leader,” said Eduardo Ramirez, director of athletics for the Baldwin Union Free School District.
Oliveri died May 6 of a heart attack at 51, while on the job for the Town of Hempstead, according to his niece, Christina Lang of Westchester.
“It is a loss that will be felt for a very long time,” said Christine DeLuca, who worked alongside Oliveri on the Baldwin Summer Program board of directors. “I’ve lost a man that I consider my brother, a very special guy that I’ve known for 30 years. We worked at the Baldwin day camp together when we were younger, and 30 years later we’re still involved with the camp. He was one of a kind.”
Oliveri, born in Bethpage in 1967, was an all-star baseball player at Baldwin High School, graduating in 1985. He joined the Baldwin Fire Department in 1986 and worked in the First Aid Company as an emergency medical technician.
“His favorite story with the fire department came when he delivered a baby early in his career,” DeLuca said. “He was so proud of that and considered it a gift to help bring a baby into the world.”
Oliveri left the fire department in 1993 to work for the Town of Hempstead sanitary district. The Freeport resident also served as the director of the Baldwin Summer Camps for the past 18 years.
“You can’t replace a guy like Rob. He was our youth program. His whole life centered around the youth programs in Baldwin from football to baseball, just everything,” Ramirez said.
Oliveri had been selected to receive the Bill St. Georges Humanitarian Award for his work in the Baldwin community on June 13.
“We will now honor him posthumously,” Ramirez said. “Baldwin lost a wonderful man.”
Lang said her uncle was all about giving kids something to smile about, something fun to do.
“He had no children of his own, but he treated all of the kids on his baseball teams and in his camps like they were his own,” Lang said. He was never lonely, she said, thanks to his four dogs. “He loved his four goldendoodles like they were his kids.”
DeLuca said Oliveri loved to build rides for the kids.
“He used foam water noodles for everything,” DeLuca said. “He built this train out of plywood and painted it all different colors and he would take kids on rides through the park. Then he put together a human foosball game on the hockey rink, building it with rope and more water noodles — he was awesome.”
Oliveri is survived by two brothers, Richard Oliveri of East Northport and Ronald Oliveri of St. James, and sisters Lucille Colucci and Jean Oliveri, both of East Patchogue.
Funeral mass was May 15 at St. Christopher’s Church in Baldwin, followed by burial at Queen of All Saints Cemetery in Central Islip.
According to Ramirez, one scholarship fund will be set up in Oliveri’s name at Baldwin High School. And the family requested that any other donations made in his memory will be used specifically to build the batting cages at 999 Church Street in Baldwin.
“The batting cages were his new project and they want to see it through,” Ramirez said.