Janet Lavinio, a Sag Harbor native and Water Mill resident, has recently been honored with lifetime member status at the Water Mill Museum, recognizing her 25 years of service. For decades, Lavinio served as Corresponding Secretary, hand writing hundreds of thank you cards and filing various records and listings for the museum.
“I loved the job,” Lavinio said. “I liked to write and it’s personal when you write by hand and I think it makes our members feel closer to the mill.” One member said Lavinio’s hand written letters inspired him to contribute to the mill each year.
Lavinio originally became involved with the volunteer-based museum in 1963, when she married Francis Lavinio and moved to Water Mill, where she raised her two daughters, Marie and Nancy. After a bit of convincing from a fellow board member, Lavinio, who was working as a part-time nurse at the time, took the secretary position.
Before moving to Water Mill, Lavinio lived in Sag Harbor, a town which holds a special meaning for her. “Your can take the girl out of Sag Harbor, but you can’t take Sag Harbor out of the girl,” Lavinio said. “It’s a special place, that town!” Apart from growing up in Sag Harbor, Lavinio’s family also has ties to some of Montauk’s oldest inhabitants, including the owners of the colonial town’s first and second houses.
With various ties to the local land, it’s clear why Lavinio’s dedication to the museum is so strong. “The mill can’t be secure without the community behind it,” she said. “This is a major landmark and we are entrusted with its valuable mission.”
In her 25 years of service at the museum, Lavinio’s seen it all. “There’s a fine sense of camaraderie and cooperation now, more than years ago,” she admitted. “Today with new people, everyone is focused on the greater good of the mill and its mission.”
Lavinio has remained a member of the museum’s board until her recent resignation; however, current members say they will still be calling her to write a few more notes in the fall, for the museum’s Annual Appeal.
The Water Mill Museum is located at 41 Old Mill Road in Water Mill. For more information on the museum, visit watermillmuseum.org.