Hastings has lost one of its most cherished citizens with the passing of former Mayor Julius R. Chemka (pictured herein) on Monday night, March 31, 2014. Mayor Chemka, or Julie, as he was called by everyone who knew him and loved him (and everyone who knew him did indeed love him) was born and raised in Hastings. One of seven children, he graduated from Hastings High School in 1944 and then served his country in the Army Air Force.
Julie met his wife, Dorothea D. Buckridge after his service in the Army and was married in 1949. They went on to raise five children (Rita, Mary, Julius (Butch), Patricia and Jane) here in town. He served as a Trustee for the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson from 1970 to 1975 and then served as Mayor for three terms from 1975 to 1981. He belonged to the Hastings Southside Social and Athletic Club, the American Legion, the Tower Ridge Yacht and Pioneer Boat Clubs.
Mayor Chemka was active and engaged in our community his whole life. He was named Citizen of the Year in 1996, though his clear and deep affection for the Village and his ongoing volunteer activities really earn him more of a Lifetime award. Social and warm, he was always ready with a smile, a kind word, and was truly a gentleman. He will be missed by his surviving children and grandchildren and his companion Sue Smith.
Visiting hours will be held on tomorrow, Friday, April 4 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Edwards-Dowdle Funeral Home. A Mass of the Resurrection will be held on Saturday, April 5th at 10 a.m. at St. Matthew‘s. The family requests that donations be made to the Hastings Ambulance Corps or the Hastings High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund instead of flowers.
I’d like to end with Julie’s own words when he stepped down as Mayor in 1981: “I also want to thank the citizens of this community for giving me the opportunity to serve. I’ve enjoyed it, its been a great experience and hear this carefully, it’s been a great experience that everyone should have… get involved – you don’t know what its like until you get involved.” Nobody was more involved and a part of Hastings than Mayor Chemka. We will miss him.
Peter Swiderski is mayor of Hastings-on-Hudson. Diect e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org