Our staff gives its picks for favorite stories of the year

Every year at this time we ask our staff about the stories we published that moved them.

As per usual, it’s a collection of heartwarming features and news stories that made a difference in 2017.

Check out our staff picks and click on the links to read any stories you may have missed.

“As sad as the story about messages in a bottle washing up on North Fork beaches was, it was heartwarming to see how the grief of a parent touched the lives of strangers. You felt like the bottle was a living story, and that the Vayers were just a ‘part of Catherine’s journey.’ ”

Laura Huber
Editorial assistant

“The profile of Bob Jester was a story of inspiration and determination. Mr. Jester reminds us all how important it is to have a positive outlook on life.”

Tina Contento
Sales executive

“I loved reading about New Suffolk resident George Kunz receiving his high school diploma at 91! It was incredible to see how happy he was to check that off his ‘bucket list.’”

Nicole Smith
Staff writer

“I was moved by the story of Donna Farley, a Mattituck mother and colon cancer survivor now advocating for early screening. This story has a happy ending, with Ms. Farley able to share her story and use it to help others.”

Krysten Massa
Staff writer

“My favorite was ‘Gone,’ the investigation into the 1966 disappearance of Louise Pietrewicz, because it was an extraordinary piece of journalism involving in-depth reporting and superbly written. It brought a real-life mystery to life while at the same time demonstrating that ‘the good old days’ weren’t all that good.”

Bob Liepa
Sports editor

“The piece on the East End Hospice bereavement program at Spirit’s Promise horse sanctuary informed us of a place where people struck by tragedy could gather to find some sort of solace in a really unique way.”

Kelly Zegers
Staff writer

“I loved the story about the neon sign at Modern Snack Bar in Aquebogue. I’ve been driving past that sign for years and it has that ‘suspended in time’ look to it. This story tells the 67-year history of the sign, and of the Wittmeier family, who has owned the business for even longer than that.”

Tim Gannon
Staff writer

“The story of East End Arts’ Music by the Bedside program and the video that accompanied it was a favorite for me this year. It’s always inspirational to see young people volunteering to help others.”

Joe Werkmeister

“I loved the story on Dr. Thomas Mercier and his wife, Barbara, retiring. Dr. Mercier is one of the last of his kind. He treated generations of kids and saw them personally at every visit. Seeing this couple acknowledged in the paper was wonderful and they will be missed.”

Sonja Reinholt Derr
Sales and marketing director

“I was fascinated by the story/column about a collection of World War II-era letters and drawings discovered in a house in Florida and the happy ending, when a family member came forward to claim them. The drawings and letters — by Billie and Bill Lamb — take you back to a time and places long gone.”

Lauren Sisson
Senior associate editor

“Reading about Southold soccer player Grace Syron scoring two goals days after the loss of her mother was awe-inspiring. Having lost my mother at a young age, I can attest to how difficult it must be for her. Grace is an inspiration. I love that my kids can see the example she sets.”

Cerria Torres
Production manager

“I love the new multimedia series we introduced this year called ‘The Work We Do,’ featuring people from the North Fork. This is a very special place and this series captures some of the people that make it so unique.”

Andrew Olsen