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Dr. Robert L. de Zafra
February 15, 1932 - October 10, 2017

Robert deZafra, 85, of Setauket, died October 10. Born February 15, 1932, in New Milford, Connecticut, he was the son of the late Carlos deZafra, Sr. and Ellen (Knox) deZafra. deZafra, who earned his B.S. from Princeton and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, was a research scientist in the department of physics and astronomy at Stony Brook University where he worked on a number of important projects including detection of trace gases in the atmosphere, and ground-based observations and measurements of the South Pole ozone layer. His colleagues at the university noted that “his contributions were so vital and revealing that a major mountainous feature (in Antarctica) was named deZafra Ridge in 2002, and a German rock band (DeZafra Ridge, Leipzig, Germany) has adopted the name.” deZafra retired in 1999 after 38 years in the Physics Department. Bob was “intensely civic minded” as expressed by his colleagues at Stony Brook University as well as his friends and co-workers in the Three Village Bicentennial Committee, Three Village Civic Association, ABCO, Three Village Historical Society, and the Three Village Community Trust. Bob was a past president of both the Three Village Historical Society and the Civic Association of the Setaukets (now the Three Village Civic Association), and was one of the founding members of the Three Village Community Trust. Bob was noted for being relentless in his insistence of common sense and reasoned logic in discussions of environmental issues such as the successful preservation of the Forsythe Meadows nature preserve in Stony Brook. He put his heart and soul into these efforts. Bob was twice honored by the Village Times Herald, in 1976 as person of the year in the Bicentennial and in 2002 as Civics person of the year. The first was for his work and leadership in the Greening of 25A resulting in the planting of more than 200 trees between the Stony Brook Railroad Station and East Setauket Memorial Green; the second for his work as a “steadfast preservationist” helping to “protect the quality of life in the Three Village area.” Bob’s work with the Three Village Community Trust, as a founder and trustee, exemplified his vision of carefully planned future growth underpinned by protected open spaces and historic preservation. He could strike fear in those with dubious development schemes, but was just as likely to support smart growth initiatives. Bob also gave this community his best thinking and didn’t shy away from the heavy lifting. Bob and his wife Julia have been fixtures in the Three Village cultural mainstream, supporters of diverse charitable causes and caring friends. Bob enjoyed reading, gardening and historic restoration including three of his homes. Left to cherish his memory is his wife Julia, niece Carolyn Wingard, great-niece Cindy and great-nephews Aaron and Roderick.

Arrangement are entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home.

Viewing will be on Monday, 16 October 2-4 and 7-9 P.M.
A funeral mass will be held at St. James R.C. Church in Setauket on Tuesday, 17 October at 10:45 A.M.


The Three Village Community Trust is a local not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting the unique character of this
community through the acquisition of diverse properties, either through gift or purchase. Our mission is to preserve and protect our
natural resources and our heritage through the restoration and adaptive reuse of historical sites and structures.

Protecting the Past, Planning the Future