Gentile says columnist ‘did everything with gusto’
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Tom Kane, the late journalist, actor, playwright, theater impresario and civic leader who helped children and the less fortunate has been immortalized by New York City, which officially dedicated the Bay Ridge street where he grew up in his name during a touching and memorable ceremony on Saturday.
Colonial Road and 88th Street will forevermore be called “Tom Kane Way,” in memory of Kane, who died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 53. The new street sign was unveiled in the outdoor ceremony led by Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) and attended by Kane’s family and hundreds of people whose lives he had touched.
“Each one of us that has come together today was knit together by Tom Kane,” the Rev. Gerard Sauer, a personal friend of Kane’s, said in his invocation.
New York names streets after people who have made their mark on the city and Kane did that in abundance, according to Gentile.
Kane, whose weekly column “Citizen Kane” in the Brooklyn Eagle’s Bay Ridge Eagle edition chronicled the birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and the other milestone events in the lives of everyday Bay Ridge residents, was the founder of brooklynONE Productions, a theater company specializing in bold, new works. He worked with young people to encourage them to become interested in the arts. He was an actor and a song and dance man with many community theater credits on his resume, including a memorable turn in the musical comedy “The Producers” mounted by Ridge Chorale/Jeff Samaha Productions. “You can’t talk about the Tom without talking about the performing arts,” Gentile said.
In keeping with Kane’s love of the arts, the street renaming ceremony featured lots of music. His friend Frankie Marra said “Forever Young,” written by Tom’s favorite artist, Bob Dylan. Connor Mayrose performed “Smile,” a song that was associated with Charlie Chaplin and later, with Nat King Cole.
Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said a fitting tribute to Kane, in addition to the street sign, would be the establishment of a performing arts center in Bay Ridge. “We should leave here today with a mission to get a performing arts venue. Now is the time,” Scissura said. “I am here to pledge that the business community will support the elected officials on this.”
Kane was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation, a Bay Ridge-based children’s cancer charity and taught at Thursday’s Child, a program for developmentally disabled children. He served as a coach and commissioner for the Saint Patrick’s sports program.
“The term ‘larger than life’ might have been coined for Tom Kane,” Gentile said. “Tom did everything with gusto.”
James Delorenzo, a childhood friend of Kane’s, said his buddy “loved being the center of attention,” and had two main passions in life, “youth sports and the arts.”
Kane, who was built like Jackie Gleason, had a loud, booming voice that cut through the noise in a room like a friendly foghorn. “His appetite for helping people was insatiable,” Gentile said. Kane’s generosity knew no bounds and he did things big and small, whether it was raising money to pay for a child’s chemotherapy treatments or offering a lift home to this reporter after we both covered an event at the US Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton. He was funny, sunny, and always optimistic.
“He was a gift,” said Camille Orrichio Loccisano, founder of the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation. She recalled a conversation she had with Kane in the hospital a few days before he died. She asked him what the best day in his life was. He answered that he couldn’t pick just one because they were all the best. “He had a life that was so meaningful, so rich, so full,” Orrichio Loccisano said. “As this man reached the finish line, this is what he took with him.”
US Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island), state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn), and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Bay Ridge-Coney Island) all came to the ceremony to pay tribute to Kane. James Mancuso, an aide to Public Advocate Letitia James, presented a certificate to Kane’s mother, Kandy Kane.
Kane’s sisters, Kerry Ann Borst and Kimberly Beth Forbes, used their time at the podium to thank everyone for coming to the ceremony.
The new sign was unveiled with a countdown and then Gentile led everyone in shouting, “Away we go!” ala Jackie Gleason.
Kane’s friends said it was a thrill to see their buddy’s name on a street sign. “Everytime I drive down this block, I’ll have a smile on my face,” Delorenzo said.