It started with five gallon buckets of water that he dragged into the back of his truck.

About 30 years later, Islip’s former assistant warden Chris Bodkin stood in front of his garden near the corner of Candee Avenue and Main Street in Sayville, remembering the early days tending the flowers there.

“I would bring the buckets of water out of my house. They were heavy, ”remembers 73-year-old Bodkin, who was honored on Saturday by the managing directors of Sayville and city and county officials for maintaining the garden.

Bodkin, a city councilor for over 15 years, along with his Sayville High School classmate, Bill Venegas, and Bayport Flower House owner Karl Auwarter, received special certificates for their decades of beauty from Chris Bodkin’s Garden.

The President of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce, Eileen Tyznar, spoke of the three men’s “extraordinary commitment and volunteerism,” quoting Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to put yourself at the service of others.”

Bodkin has often made it his mission to help the community and local organizations. He was instrumental in getting the names of Vietnam and Afghan war veterans included in Sayville’s Sparrow Park Memorial.

Here are some photos from the inauguration event on Saturday organized by the Chamber. Be sure to click box # 2 to see them all.

Classmates and friends of Sayville High School, Bill Venegas (left) and Chris Bodkin. They graduated together in 1965.Chris Bodkin (left) and Bill Venegas receive volunteer awards from Eileen Tyznar, president of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce.(from left) Eileen Tyznar, President of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce, Karl Auwarter, owner of Bayport Flower Houses, Bill Venegas of Sayville, Chris Bodkin, former Islip Alderman, and Ron Trotta, 2nd Vice President of the Chamber.Chris Bodkin with Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter.Former Islip Alderman Chris Bodkin.

Brian Harmon

Editor and Publisher –,

Brian Harmon, Former New York Press Association Writer of the Year, was a reporter and assistant subway editor for the New York Daily News and an award-winning journalist for the Detroit News. He began his career at The Record South in Sayville. He’s also appeared in 60 Minutes and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.