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THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2016
The Rockaway Times
Women of the Peninsula:
GERT HENDRY, DANCE TEACHER
Who runs the peninsula?
Women. And they deserve rec-
ognition. As part of an ongoing
series, each week, the Rockaway
Times profiles a different inspi-
rational woman. This week is
Gert Hendry, a dance teacher in
Breezy Point.
When Gert Hendry approach-
es you, she comes with a hug
and a huge dose of LOVE, the
same approach she takes when
it comes to her dance classes.
Mrs. Hendry may be 93-years-
old, but you wouldn’t know it
when you see her in action at the
Breezy Point Clubhouse, sharing
her love of dance with little ones
90 years younger.
Mrs. Hendry and her late hus-
band, Andy, have a large family
that spans several generations,
from their children, Karen, Lau-
ra Jean and Raymond William,
eight grandchildren and eight
great-grandchildren, most of
whom continue to live in Breezy
Point. “I’m surrounded by love,”
she said. However, her family
goes far beyond blood. If you live
in Breezy Point, you know Mrs.
Hendry. Either she taught you,
your child or grandchild how to
dance. Mrs. Hendry has lived
in her bayside home since her
father bought it in 1928, when
she was just five years old, and
she has made a loving impact
on several generations of neigh-
bors, especially the youth, and
even the elderly, through her
teaching, writing for the Rocka-
way Point news for 30 years, and
much more. “Teaching dance,
writing a column for teens, pre-
teen and working with children,
young people and the elderly
has been a part of my life as long
as I can remember,”Mrs. Hendry
said.
Mrs. Hendry has dedicated
much of her life to impacting
the youth of the community.
“Going back, beginning with be-
ing a Girl Scout Leader, coach-
ing swimming at Tilden High
School, and being involved with
softball, I’ve always been work-
ing with youth,” she said. Mrs.
Hendry says she, along with her
husband, Andy, and Bob Wright
and his wife, formed the Teen
Club many years ago so the chil-
dren of Rockaway, Roxbury and
Breezy Point had something to
do. She was also instrumental
in starting one of the biggest
teen summer programs, the An-
nual Teen Show. “In 1972, Ruth
Clarke, secretary of the Breezy
Point Coop called and asked if
I, along with Maryellen Barnes,
would work with the teens, cre-
ating a show each year during
the summer months to keep
young people busy and to help
themdisplay any talent theymay
have. We are in our 44th year of
the Annual Breezy Point Teen
Show,” she said. Mrs. Hend-
ry has also been a part of the
Coop’s youth committee since it
started. Every week, you’ll find
Gert’s Teen News column in the
pointer, which she’s been do-
ing for more than 30 years. “I’ve
never missed one,” she said.
Mrs. Hendry makes sure to end
each column with an inspira-
tional quote and her tagline, “Be
well and God bless.” Mrs. Hend-
ry’s impact on the community
was recognized about 10 years
ago when the street outside the
Colony Theater was named Gert
Hendry Plaza.
While she has influenced the
youth in many ways, dance has
served as one of her biggest
gifts to the community. “Dance
is, has been and will always
be the joy of my life,” she said.
Mrs. Hendry began dancing at
a young age, first learning from
a Rockette, at the age of five.
She recalls dancing at the Par-
amount Theater, where Frank
Sinatra had his start. One of her
favorite songs to dance to and
share with her students is Sina-
tra’s appropriately named title,
“Young at Heart.” Dance also
played a role in her budding ro-
mance with her beloved Andy.
“I danced at the Colony Theater,
the heart of the Teen Show, with
my beloved Andy at 13 years
old with a jukebox playing,” she
recalled. In 1976, Mrs. Hend-
ry began teaching dance at 53
years old. She taught in Rock-
away at Dance Dimension and
Miss Elizabeth’s for 10 years. In
Breezy Point, she started teach-
ing at the Square Club, part of
Christ Community Church, and
now home to Theresa Hyland’s,
Little Red Wagon. From there,
she went on to teach at St. Ed-
munds until Hurricane Sandy,
but that didn’t stop her. “The joy
of giving back to my community
after Sandy had been the high-
light of my life,” she said. Mrs.
Hendry has since continued
her lessons at the Breezy Point
Clubhouse, where she is assist-
ed by her senior assistant, Alana
McCarthy, who was a student
of Mrs. Hendry’s since she was
four, as well as Amanda Stiles
and Elizabeth Daly.
Every Wednesday and Thurs-
day, Mrs. Hendry puts on her le-
otard, skirt and neck scarf as she
goes to work, teaching groups
of three-to-seven year olds,
ballet, tap and tumbling. How-
ever, fancy footwork isn’t the
most important lesson learned.
“Hugs and listen and learn, as
well as friendship and respect,
have been a part of my teach-
ing,” she said. Mrs. Hendry starts
each class with a hug and ends
each class by giving her stu-
dents a cookie and a sticker on
their class card. She continues to
show that love to students even
after they’ve grown out of her
classes. She sends hundreds of
birthday cards every month to
students past and present. “The
mail deliverers are grateful since
the piles of mail helps themkeep
their jobs” she said.
Mrs. Hendry starts her lessons
in the fall and ends in the spring.
Throughout the year,Mrs. Hend-
ry’s students have performed
for the elderly. “While teaching
all these years my little danc-
ers have brought happiness, joy
and LOVE to the elderly in var-
ious nursing homes,” she said.
In the spring, the students get to
show off their hard work to their
families during “a little show”
at the Clubhouse. “Our little
dance show will be May 11 and
12, ending another happy, joyful
season with the children I love,”
she said, adding that she’s look-
ing forward to another great year
ahead. Mrs. Hendry says her
love and faith keeps her going.
“My faith has kept me strong, as
well as the old saying ‘ ‘Tis love
that makes the world go ‘round’
by Charles Dickens.
Mrs. Hendry has no plans to
retire. “I’ll continue until my legs
wont work, as long as the good
Lord lets me,” she said. “I love it. I
love being with the little ones and
I love what I do.”
Gert Hendy Instructs Students