December 13, 2017
Foremost in Our Thoughts
Dear T-D Family,
Could you imagine being at this desk for half a century and saying today is T-D’s finest day while yesterday was one of the darkest ever?
The passing of Romi D’Annunzio has rocked the very foundation of 100 Overlook Circle and shocked families around the corner and around the world. There’s a tsunami of tears in all the school buildings.
The outpouring of support, more magnanimous than one could ever imagine- joined with words written to offer comfort, created a perverse joy for me.
Jeannie’s 34 years of teaching on the Circle, touched so many of the T-D Family. Kids who were once five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten and beyond and are now 25 to 40 plus have made it known that Mrs. D’Annunzio was and is a teacher that touches eternity.
No event during my time with T-D has done more to bring T-D together than Romi D’Annunzio’s passing. No Gala! No parade! No social! No school-trip! No Albanian Renaissance! No Nothing!
Romi could be fearless, walking where angels feared to tread. She was also an angel willing and able to offer support and advice to all her friends.
With the loss of precious Romi, T-D turns its thoughts to Vinny, a father of monumental love-Jeannie, a mother who has provided refuge for many and been a cheerleader to more, and Nikki, a sister who has become an adult too early but will find her strength and future through this ordeal of fire. All three are inextricably bound to each other and they can count on all of the T-D Family on The Circle as we are inextricably bound to them.
T-D’s flag will be at half-mast throughout December.
December 14, 2017
Dear T-D Family,
Where do I begin to tell a love story? Of all places it shouldn’t be in a funeral parlor. Both Jeannie Robeson D’Annunzio and her husband, Vinny, greeted hundreds of mourners and stood like twin towers as their daughter, Nikki, knelt before her sister Romi baring her soul and staring in disbelief.
Mourners came from everywhere and were in a room that I initially thought would accommodate the Thornton-Donovan Family. Clearly it didn’t as the line to view Romi stretched out of two doors. This little princess, hardly five feet tall, had people of all ages sobbing relentlessly. There were no sounds of silence and the words heard faintly uttered came from the heart.
Jeannie D’Annunzio shook hundreds of hands and smiled all the way through the evening. The warmth she displayed was real and specific as no mourner was greeted in the same way. Each had a different and special “handle.” Jeannie hailed all of us with a personal salutation and knew le mot juste to turn this unbelievable experience into an undeniable love story. If only Romi knew or could have heard.
The T-D Family never looked more impressive as our young folks all became of age together. They linked and they bonded in ways unseen by me in my half century as headmaster.
The T-D faculty was on hand and no teacher was without a tear. T-D parents came and consoled their sons and daughters and did what all good parents do. Alumni came to show their respect to a family they couldn’t forget. Former students now well on their way through the bumpy road of life came to express their grief and sorrow. Many of them haven’t been on Overlook Circle for years, but found their way to White Plains to say goodbye to this giant Lilliputian.
I remember her mom telling me her name when she was born and wondering how to spell it. Romi by any name would still have been the little wonder who brought together so many in sorrow and love.
There will be a full sun tomorrow.
With a full heart,
Douglas E. Fleming, Jr.