Most people aren’t usually happy to get a parking ticket, but for the last 30 years, Bhakti Gadkar – who just retired from her job as a court clerk for Great Neck Plaza at 62 – had a knack for defusing tense situations with humor and raising spirits, her colleagues said.
Gadkar wasn’t available for comment, but colleagues and friends – ranging from clerks and judges to the mayor of Great Neck Plaza – recalled a very pleasant and refreshing woman, able to handle tense situations professionally, get the job done and set a positive tone for the office.
Pattianne Guccione, a court clerk at the Village of Great Neck Plaza who worked with Gadkar for 21 years, said that Gadkar became a sort of “staple” in the Plaza – and a good friend. Guccione fondly recalled Gadkar’s distinct laugh, work in the office, and how she joked around with people whenever they got tickets.
Guccione recalled one story where an annoyed ticket-receiver threw money at her. But rather than get mad, Gadkar said, “That’s not going to cover my lunch” in a lighthearted way.
“I can’t explain it, I can’t duplicate it because I don’t have as good a sense of humor to work with,” Guccione said.
“She was just this fun, outgoing, happy-go-lucky kind of person,” Guccione added. “But she was also a very caring and sweet person at the same time.”
Gadkar’s three decades in Great Neck Plaza spanned numerous mayors. Her first mayor was Alan J. Gussack, who served from 1982 until his death in 1992, followed by Robert Rosegarten, who served until 2000, when Jean Celender became mayor.
Celender said Gadkar has received attention since a Newsday article highlighted her retirement, but she “doesn’t necessarily like the spotlight on her.”
But, Celender said, Gadkar deserves recognition for all the work she put in.
“I think she’s someone that we would love to have every employee emulate [with] her style and kindness and sense of humor,” Celender said, describing Gadkar as a “face of the Plaza.”
“We all adore her,” Celender added.
Gadkar has also served with six judges, including Irving Tenebaum, Solomon Kirsch, Conrad Singer, Milton Thurm, Richard Kestenbaum and Neil Finkston.
“[She was] someone who went to work everyday with a smile on their face and treated everyone with respect, which is hard to do in a demanding job like she had, because people could become irate,” Singer, who was a village justice from 2000 to 2006, said in an interview.
Kestenbaum, who has been a village judge for more than 20 years, echoed that sentiment. He said she was very helpful to people who came in with various issues and always “tried to see the humorous side of things.”
“I think she always had a good attitude and never complained and always tried to get the job done,” Kestenbaum said.
Celender said that while Gadkar will certainly be missed, Great Neck Plaza staff wish her all the best.
“We wish her nothing but happiness, a great time in her retirement and good health,” Celender said, “and [to] always keep on laughing.”