BY JOE SCOTCHIE
Ronald White is a longtime resident of New Hyde Park. He has lived in the village for most of his 68 years, moving here when he was adopted by a local family, who brought him to New Hyde Park from his hometown in Plattsburgh, NY.
White was the youngest of a large family, in fact a very large family of five half-sisters and two half-brothers on his mother’s side, siblings he had never known and never expected to find. Still, White had a neighbor, Angela Fulgieri, who was determined to help her longtime friend. And after a year of research, it happened. Fulgieri, assisted by White’s mother’s unusual name, got his friend in contact with his sister, Shirley Bell. That miraculous occurrence led to an emotional and joyful family reunion held recently in Plattsburgh. Ronald White met all of his family members and he had the time of his life.
White’s mother’s name was Ozina Graves. The uniqueness of the name was the lead that sparked Fulgieri’s successful search, one aided significantly by the New York State Department of Adoption. White, as it turned out, had a different biological father than his half-siblings. While their father’s last name was Graves, White’s father was one Herb Latour. At the reunion, White met a nephew, Rick Latour, who remarked on the similarity of the two. So, Ronald White has, as noted, five half-sisters and two half-brothers. But that’s only from the Graves’ side. From the Latour side, he had two brothers and a sister, all of whom are now deceased. Plus, from the Graves side, he had two siblings who died in childbirth. Count ‘em up. That’s 12 brothers and sisters in all. Baby Boom America at its peak.
When White called Shirley Bell, the reaction, as you might suspect, was especially emotional. Bell burst into tears of joy, remarking that she, too, had been looking for her youngest brother for years. That led to the big reunion in Plattsburgh.
“It was really incredible,” White told The Illustrated News. “When my nephew saw me, he said, ‘you look like a Latour.’ It’s a great story. A great thing to happen.”
Above all, White continues to thank Angela Fulgieri for her determination in tracking down the big family.
“If it wasn’t for her, none of this would have happened,” he said. “I owe it all to her.”
White added that his friend had a message for your correspondent.
“She told me to say that when I talked to the reporter, to tell him that you (White) said to me (Fulgieri), ‘You’ll never find my family!’”
In this case, never didn’t mean never. A lifelong resident of the village who has worked at The Hillside School for the past 23 years, Ronald White already has entered an exciting new chapter in his life: That of renewing family bonds with a large—and now found—circle of brothers and sisters.
BY JOE SCOTCHIE