WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Olivia Hooker, 96, of White Plains, was recognized for her commitment to civil and women's rights work with the top honors award at the 29th annual Westchester Senior Hall of Fame Awards Friday.
As a six-year-old, Hooker survived the 1921 race riots that claimed the lives of many blacks in Tulsa, Okla. Later, Hooker founded the Tulsa Race Riot Commission to advocate for restitution for riot survivors, testified before Congress about her experience, and continues to raise awareness about civil rights issues by speaking at houses of worship and other organizations.
She was also the first black woman to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard and go on active duty during World War II.
Hooker, a former Yonkers school psychologist and professor at Fordham University, served on the board of the NAACP Education Committee.
Today, Hooker enjoys reading, attending concerts at Carnegie Hall, and participating in senior programs at the Theodore D. Young Community Center.
Of the 43 residents welcomed into the hall of fame Friday, five were selected to receive a special recognition award, including Joan DiPalma, of Rye, a former operating room nurse who launched the "ask the visiting nurse program" to enhance seniors' access to health counseling.
Armando Galella, 90, of Sleepy Hollow, also received special recognition for his dedication to the Pocantico Hook & Ladder Co., where he held every position, and work as the fire commissioner of Sleepy Hollow.
Galella survived the Pearl Harbor attack as a young man and went on to serve in the Okinowa invasion, eventually rising to a battalion sergeant major.
Carol Greenberg, of White Plains, was recognized for her 30 years of experiencing advocating for health care agencies as the leader of Concept: Care Inc., former president of the New York State Association of Health Care Providers, and past chair of the Westchester Public-Private Partnership for Aging Service.
A special recognition award was presented to Louise Muller, of Pelham, for her volunteer work, particularly related to education. Muller served as the president of the Pelham Board of Education, the Southern Westchester BOCES, the Westchester Putnam School Boards Association, and the Westchester Children's Association.
Stephen Siegel, of White Plains, was honored for his weekly volunteer work with the "Amazing Afternoon" program that visits Mount Vernon elementary schools. Siegel, a Mount Vernon native, raised nearly $160,000 to continue the Westchester Jewish Community Services program when state funding cuts threatened it.
Other seniors welcomed into the hall of fame include:
- Marian Rose of Bedford
- David Brown of Bedford Hills
- Douglas Paddock of Briarcliff Manor
- Joan O'Gorman of Bronxville
- Betsey Casey Metz of Chappaqua
- Annette Birnbaum of Croton-on-Hudson
- Paula Tarantino of Harrison
- Charlotte Vaughn of Harrison
- Alan Hochberg of Hartsdale
- Claire Mastroianni of Irvington
- Richard Salvaterra of Katonah
- Ruth Lewis of Larchmont
- Robert Waldman of Larchmont
- Friedhilde Milburn of Mamaroneck
- Josie Santangelo of Mamaroneck
- Theresa McHale of Montrose
- Barbara McElveen of Mount Vernon
- Henrietta Rush of Mount Vernon
- Betty A. Barker of New Rochelle
- Maurice Brick of New Rochelle
-John D’Angelo of Peekskill
- Fran Green of Peekskill
- Tina McDermott of Peekskill
- Anthony Sardanelli of Pleasantville
- Elizabeth Sardanelli of Pleasantville
- Lou Jaskow of Pleasantville
- Helen Roman of Pleasantville
- Thomas Saunders of Pleasantville
- Fedora DeLucia of Somers
- Robert Patterson of Tarrytown
- Michael Chiarvalle of White Plains
- John Harrington of White Plains
- Selma Charkin of Yonkers
- Angela Mastromarco of Yonkers
- Nick Mastromarco of Yonkers
- Jennie Menton Grasso of Yorktown Heights