A message from Edwin A. Fare, Chairman; William B. Florio, President; and the Board of Trustees of the Valley Stream Historical Society: 

March 3, 2023

The Valley Stream Historical Society mourns the passing of Henry "Hank" J. Selah (1945-2023), our past president and long-term board trustee. Married almost 53 years to his beloved wife, Karen Vitale, the couple was an integral part of the organization’s growth and success. 

Streamer by way of Brooklyn 

Hank was born in Brooklyn and raised in Floral Park. In 1963, he graduated Archbishop Molloy High School and received his BA in English from Marist College. In 1970, he married Karen Vitale, a graduate of Central High School in Valley Stream, before serving in the U.S. Army as an airborne sergeant. Upon discharge from the service, he worked as a pressman for the New York Daily News and then for the New York Times, until his retirement in 2013.

Board trustee and president 

Karen’s involvement in the Valley Stream Historical Society, in the early 1990s, brought Hank into the fold. He first dipped his feet into the non-profit waters in 1998, when he was elected a board trustee. After Karen finished her two-year term as president in 2000, Hank replaced her. His two-year presidency was served concurrently with the couple’s interim co-editorship of the Panorama newsletter. After his presidency, he returned to his board seat, one he held for 13 years, until 2015. 

Social justice and spirited debates 

Hank was an avid reader. He loved technology and was one of the first folks to own a home computer. In 1980, he ran for a seat on the local school board and got hooked on politics while working on election campaigns. He served as a County Committeeman for the Nassau County Democratic Committee; was elected a Deputy Zone Leader for the Democratic Party; and was Vice President of the Valley Stream Democratic Club. As president of the William F. Donahue Civic Association, he was passionate about social justice and tolerance. Respectful, albeit “spirited” debates were his specialty. 

He was known for his quirky personality and Karen often said that “he didn’t march to the beat of a different drum—he marched to a different orchestra.” He was a loyal, sensitive friend who loved to gently tease. 

Hank on hand 

He was also a good sport, dressing in costumes (his harem girl was legendary) for parties and historical society events. On George is Back Day, the society’s annual Presidents’ Day celebration, Hank dressed as Abe Lincoln. When Al Mayernik, another hard-working historical society volunteer, retired and moved to Florida, Hank hand-delivered his going-away gift. Selah served on the Society’s hospitality committee and was present at most functions—when a job needed to be done, Hank was on hand. 

Zest for life 

Hank enjoyed a deep friendship with his brother, Joseph and sister-in-law, Marilou. He doted on his niece, Coleen. A loving, supportive, and affectionate husband, he never let his many health challenges dampen his zest for life. 

We extend our sincerest condolences to Karen and the Selah family during this sorrowful time.


1961 - "Up and coming soph discus ace" (Archbishop Molloy High School, Briarwood, NY - yearbook)
Sunday, March 5, 2023
2:00pm―5:00pm & 7:00pm―9:00pm
34 Hempstead Ave. (corner Peninsula Blvd.), Lynbrook, NY 11563
Flinch & Bruns Funeral Home, Inc. 
Funeral Mass
Monday, March 6, 2023
Holy Name of Mary R.C. Church
55 E. Jamaica Ave., Valley Stream, NY 11580
Donations in Hank's memory (in lieu of flowers)
Holy Name of Mary Parish Outreach
55 E. Jamaica Ave., Valley Stream, NY 11580 
Valley Stream Historical Society
P.O. Box 22, Valley Stream, NY 11580
Valley Stream Historical Society