Almost everyone in Southampton knew George Fahrbach, the 23-year veteran bartender at John Duck Jr.’s restaurant, who died from complications of heart disease at Southampton Hospital on April 23.
Mr. Fahrbach, who was 75, lived in Hampton Bays with his wife, Sandra Fahrbach, whom he met while she was working as a waitress at John Duck Jr’s.
“He used to park his black Lincoln in the parking lot so people could see it,” Ms. Fahrbach said this week. “That black Lincoln meant that George was in the house. Everybody came in to see George on Fridays. He knew what you drank, and whenever you walked in the door he had it on the bar for you.”
John Duck Jr.’s closed its doors last month, and Ms. Fahrbach said that the loss of his job and the family atmosphere among the staff was an added burden to his already ailing heart.
“He was proud to have worked there. He loved it,” she said. “I think he was actually broken up when it closed. We all looked after each other and took care of each other.”
Though many locals knew George only as the dapper bartender in his red vest and his duck tie tack, he had a distinguished 20-year career in the New York Police Department, retiring as a detective before moving to the East End in 1985. He also served in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1953 to 1955.
Ms. Fahrbach remembered once talking to a customer at John Duck Jr.’s who had been shot in New York City, and the first person he’d seen after coming to was George.
Ms. Fahrbach wasn’t immediately impressed with the thought of breaking in a new bartender when George began working at John Duck Jr.’s in 1985. Not long after, though, he gave her flowers, then asked his daughter what Sandra might like for Christmas. He bought her exactly what she needed: a new oil wrench. When the two married, his four children and her two sons became their mutual responsibility.
“What a good father he was. He made sure they all had wheels. He made them responsible,” said Ms. Fahrbach. “It was an easy chore for him and all his children turned out so good.”
Mr. Fahrbach’s caring nature spread to his community involvement. He was an active member of the Elks Lodge, the Southampton Golf Club, Goodfellow’s, and was a Lions Club member for 23 years. He was named Lion of the Year in 2006.
Lions Club President Bob Beck said that Mr. Fahrbach had earned the award for outstanding work throughout both that year and his 24 years of community service.
“He was one of the members who was always at fund-raisers, at the carnival, at the Christmas tree sales. He was the bartender at our corned beef and cabbage dinner,” he said.
Mr. Beck was also a frequent golfing partner who said that, when an opponent happened to miss a crucial putt, “George always said ‘That’s a thank you.’
“That’s a thank you, to have known George,” said Mr. Beck.
Perry De Lalio Sr. is a Rotary Club member who had been close friends with Mr. Fahrbach for 25 years.
“He was always truthful. He never lied to me. He never bragged about things he couldn’t do and wouldn’t do,” said Mr. De Lalio.
Rotary Club President Debbie Engelhardt said that Mr. Fahrbach was a fixture at the group’s meetings every Thursday at John Duck Jr.’s.
“He was always friendly, pleasant and helpful,” she said, adding that it even says on her notes for each meeting “12:15. George Rings Bell.”
“It’s a tough realization that George isn’t going to ring the bell,” she said.
“He was a dedicated worker,” said Mark Westerhoff, who owned John Duck Jr.’s. “He was always a good guy, always smiling, always had his duck pin on.”
Mark Westerhoff’s 11-year-old son, Christian Westerhoff, knew George Fahrbach since he was born. “In the mornings, I used to help him open up the bar, and after I was done he used to give me a quarter,” he said. “I was 3 years old.”
As he grew older, Christian began helping George carry buckets of ice.
“George is like an uncle to me,” he said. “I’ll miss his personality. He always had a smile on his face.”
Mr. Fahrbach was also a member of the Bull Head Yacht Club in North Sea, though he didn’t have a boat.
“He used to go down there just to antagonize them,” said Ms. Fahrbach jokingly, though she added that he was the first to volunteer to protect all the boats by walking the docks looking for snapped lines during hurricanes.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Fahrbach is survived by his sister, Dorothy Winkler, and her husband, Woody, of Southampton, and six children, Ellen Bonaiuto of Florida; Margaret Castellano, and her husband, Frank, of Wading River; George Fahrbach III of Ohio; Jeanine Fahrbach of Massachusetts; John Jones of Brooklyn; and Michael Jones, and his wife, Kristen, of Massachusetts. He was a loving grandfather of eight grandchildren, Robbie, Christine, Jennifer, Brian, Kristin, Joseph, Tate, and Amelya, who also survive him, and great-grandfather to five great-grandchildren surviving him.
A funeral service was held at Brockett Funeral Home on April 26, followed by cremation.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the American Heart Association, 1 Union Street, #301, Robbinsville, NJ 08691-4183, would be appreciated by the family.