Long Island

CT Family's Memorial Bench on Coast Found After Swept 20 Miles Across Long Island Sound

NBC Universal, Inc.

A memorial bench honoring a Connecticut couple that passed away was found 20 miles across the Long Island Sound on a beach in Stony Brook, New York. 

The family who installed the bench in a Norwalk park thought it was gone forever after a November nor’easter — until late January, when they received a phone call.

“It was sitting right under this protected area,” said Diane Wattecamps, of East Setauket. 

She and her husband noticed the bench on Jan. 27 while taking their daily stroll at West Meadow Beach on Long Island.

The bench, made of teak wood was covered in sand and seaweed but found under a pavilion, indicating it had been moved from shore.

"Hanging on the back of the bench was a bronze plaque just hanging by the tip of a screw and hers was in the sand," explained Wattecamps. "I picked it up from the sand, wiped it on my corduroys and I Googled her name and the obituary came up with her beautiful photo."

One plaque was for Nahum Hacohen and it read, "What a view." The other was for Judy Hacohen, with the words "I’ve said that since 1936" inscribed.

"I could almost just hear them talking like that and I knew that it was special, and I had to find where it belonged, I had to send it home," said Wattecamps.

What the Wattecamps did not know at the time is that the bench used to sit on the banks of the Long Island Sound, twenty miles away in Norwalk. The Hacohen family of Bell Island had been searching for the bench for months.

"It’s like a landmark, a family fixture, everything is about taking photos at the bench, sit on the bench," said Dean Hacohen, the son of Nahum and Judy.

Hacohen believed the November storm tossed the bench into the Long Island Sound. He searched and searched for it and figured it was gone forever until he got Diane’s call.

"I said where are you? In Darien? Westport? Are you in Stamford?" he recalled. "She said 'No, I’m in East Setauket, Long Island.' That’s when we knew the bench somehow made this 20-mile journey across Long Island Sound for a couple months."

Days later, Hacohen made the trip to Long Island where he met the Wattecamps, who comically placed a sign on the bench that read, "U.S.S Hacohen." He brought his parent’s bench back home to Bell Island, where Nahum and Judy’s story began.

Hacohen says he is so glad the Wattecamps found the bench, because Diane was so determined to find them. She looked up their names on the obituary and tracked down their phone numbers.  

Hacohen said his parents loved to travel and above all they loved cruises.

"They loved taking cruises," said Hacohen. "All we could think about this was just one more."

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