When Stacy Lane-Navarra reflects on who her brother Keith Lane was, she thinks of his passion for photojournalism and the thrill he experienced from chasing a story. That drive began when he was a student at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School and culminated in a job as a Fox 5 New York cameraman.
“It started in school,” Lane-Navarro recalled. “He was the photo editor for the newspaper, and took pictures of everything that went on in high school. When he later joined the Fire Department, he even took pictures from fire scenes.”
Lane, who worked with the East Rockaway and Oceanside fire departments, died suddenly at age 53 last August. But thanks to his sister and the East Rockaway Board of Education, he will be remembered. At the school board’s monthly meeting on March 21, it was announced that the Keith Lane Visual & Media Arts Scholarship would be awarded to a student who plans to pursue a media or communications degree in college.
Before he graduated in 1981, Lane served as class president and took part in the annual Rock Rivalry, in which students put on skits and compete with other class levels. At 18, he began volunteering in the East Rockaway Fire Department, and stayed there for a decade. He later served in the Oceanside Fire Department for 23 years.
Andrew Hedges, a former president of the East Rockaway Fire House who is now a captain in the Fire Department of New York, remembered that Lane never went anywhere without his camera.
“Growing up, he always had the camera around his neck, and if something arose, he would definitely snap pictures,” Hedges said. “He was there to document some of our recent history. He was very passionate about his career. Somebody once told me he had more passport stamps than anything else. He just did a lot of traveling.”
In college, Lane worked as a cameraman for a small station in Scranton, Pa., and eventually moved to News 12 on Long Island before becoming a cameraman for Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” in 1988. He spent nearly three decades with Fox, traveling the globe and covering everything from the Stanley Cup and the World Series to wars and natural disasters. He won an Emmy for his work at ground zero after 9/11.
Throughout his life, Lane remained in contact with his high school, which is why his sister chose to honor him there. “I just wanted to keep his legacy going,” she explained. “He was such a part of the high school. They would call him back to do commencement speeches for graduation. He was called back to be a judge for Rock Rivalry for their 70th anniversary. He was still such a part of the school.”
Lane-Navarra contacted her brother’s former teachers, Chuck McAnulla and Madeline Providente, who helped connect her with school officials. McAnulla, who ran the school newspaper when Lane was a student, recalled how creative he was in high school. McAnulla said that in his journalism class, he gave Lane an assignment to take a photo of a teacher. Since Lane knew that Karen Corio was leaving her job as a teacher and basketball coach to try and qualify for the LPGA tour, he staged a shot of her hitting a basketball with a golf club — a clever idea that still resonates with McAnulla.
After working with Lane on the paper for four years and forging a strong friendship with him that lasted into his adult life, McAnulla, who retired in 2005, said the scholarship is a nice way to keep his spirit alive.
“I think it’s appropriate to honor him,” he said. “To me he was a hero. He lived his life as a hero. Whether he was a volunteer fireman. Whether he was the guy who risked his life in 9/11. It also fits in because, again, he’ll still be serving the school and serving the students.”
Michael Stern, who graduated with Lane, helped Lane-Navarra file the paperwork needed for the scholarship. Stern’s brother, Andrew, died in the Sept. 11 attacks, and the Stern family holds an essay contest at the high school in his memory each year.
Lane-Navarra also organized a scholarship committee, made up of herself; her daughter, Ashley Ruland; childhood friend Trish Apperlo; family friend Vivian Catrone; Channel 4 news reporter Katherine Creag; “Eyewitness News” editor Donna Hayes; and CNN senior photojournalist Walter Imparato. She said that the school will recommend potential students for the scholarship, and she plans to meet with Principal Joseph Spero to develop its criteria next month.
To raise scholarship money, Lane-Navarra will host a yard sale at East Rockaway’s Main Street Firehouse on April 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. She said that the location was offered to her for free, and some of the proceeds would also go to the Nassau County Burn Unit, an organization dear to Keith because he was once severely burned while fighting a fire in Oceanside.
Items such as furniture, toys, household goods and clothes for men, women and children are being collected and will be sold. Lane-Navarra said she has already received nearly $1,000 in donations from co-workers, friends and family, including $500 from Lexus of Rockville Centre, where she works.
The goods will be collected until the day of the event, she said, noting that people can drop items off at her home, at 18 Seawane Road in East Rockaway, or they can contact her at (516) 428-5672 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Lane-Navarra said she hopes to reach $5,000, and added that Doughology, in Lynbrook, and the Banana Bread Baking Company, in Garden City, will have tables at the event, with all profits going to the cause. There will also be 50-50 raffles.
Lane-Navarra said that she hopes for the committee to choose a scholarship recipient in May. “I’m hoping that his legacy lives on through this scholarship,” she said. “And that somebody else will become another Keith Lane.”