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Michael Zangari, former Glen Cove City Councilman, aimed to make a difference

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Michael Zangari was well known around Glen Cove as a man who was dedicated to his community. He served on the board of the Glen Cove Youth Bureau, as president of the Kiwanis Club and as a coach of CYO Youth Basketball. He was also a city councilman in 2018, before stepping down that November due to the onset of cancer. He died on April 25, at age 61, but according to his wife, Janice, he fought until the end.

“Mike never gave up,” Janice said. “Mike really was determined to push forward through chemo. That last week, we had to tell him that we’d be OK.”

Zangari was used to fighting and pushing through despite physical limitations. Spina bifida left him in a wheelchair, but that did not infringe on his activities. He was a past commissioner of the Eastern Wheelchair Basketball Conference and a CYO Youth Basketball coach.

“Mike put everything before himself,” Janice said. “He wanted more than anything to help others, and would focus on how to turn around disadvantages into advantages. His motto was to keep pushing forward, to get up and keep moving, and he wanted to set an example for what other people can do, whether you have a disability or not. He wanted to make a difference.”

Longtime friend and former Glen Cove resident Mitch Schlimer agreed. “Mike was all about making a difference,” he said. “I never met anyone more active and more loving of Glen Cove. Anywhere you went, from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade to the St. Rocco’s Feast to the ball fields, he was there. And he never complained — he always had this infectious smile on his face. It’s a big loss for Glen Cove. He will be sorely missed.”

Zangari’s family immigrated to Glen Cove from Italy when he was 5. “While America is referred to as the land of opportunity, Glen Cove has always been my city of opportunity,” he wrote in a letter announcing his candidacy for Glen Cove City Council in 2015. In the letter, he noted that Glen Cove was where he learned to fish, drive and swim, and also where he met his wife.

Mike and Janice were married for 13 years, but were a couple for over three decades. They met casually, Janice recalled, when she was working at Glen Cove Hospital as a medical transcriptionist and he was visiting his father. Since they were both in wheelchairs, she said, it was easy to notice each other. The relationship evolved into more than a friendship, and they married in October 2007.

Zangari’s involvement in the community began when he was elected Student Council president at the Henry Viscardi School. “I have always wanted to make a difference, to use the opportunities this country has given me to inspire others,” he wrote in the 2015 letter. “I cannot complain about problems unless I become part of the solution.”

Zangari first ran for Glen Cove City Council that year as a Democrat, then was re-elected in 2017, as a member of the Conservative Party. He ended his term the following November 2018 to undergo treatment for cancer.

He worked for the United Spinal Association for several years as a senior technician, servicing, repairing and fitting wheelchairs. Most recently, he worked as a pricing analyst for durable medical equipment at Home Medical Equipment.

Mayor Tim Tenke led a moment of silence for Zangari at the April 27 City Council meeting, noting his accomplishments to the city. “He was very dedicated to the Glen Cove community,” Tenke said. “He will be missed.”

In addition to his wife, Zangari is survived by siblings Maria, Lina, Cathy, Anna and Frank; his children, Eric and Jessica Blackburn; grandsons Logan and Brody; and by many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. Visitation was scheduled for Friday at Dodge-Thomas Funeral Home, 26 Franklin Ave. in Glen Cove. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, at 11 a.m., at St. Rocco’s Church.

Donations in Zangari’s memory can be made to Melissa’s Wish Inc., P.O. Box 45, Kings Park, N.Y. 11754, or to the Wheelchair Sports Federation, 6454 82nd Street, Suite 2, Middle Village N.Y. 11379.