Former East Hampton resident Ira John Fischer of La Jolla, California, died on December 8 of lung cancer. He was 78.
Born in Brooklyn on October 21, 1930, he joined the U.S. Navy after high school and served in the United States and Cuba. He was a star pitcher for the Navy, perfecting his skills to the point that he was later drafted by Chicago Cubs Minor League Baseball system. He studied journalism at New York University.
His career in the service and restaurant industry started at the world famous Copacabana in New York City, where he served as captain of waiters for 17 years. He was often assigned to attend to the rich, powerful and famous who walked through the door. Many of Hollywood’s most glamorous stars looked to him to ensure they would have a spectacular night out on the town.
Among many others, he counted Bobby Darin and Sammy Davis Jr. as close friends during his career at the Copa. He was known for his stories about his time there. “I could listen to his Copa stories for hours,” his youngest son, Peter Fischer, said this week. “I would bring friends home from college and medical school just so they could experience him and the history.”
After leaving the Copacabana, Mr. Fischer went on to open a number of businesses in Nassau County. In the late 1960s, he decided that the East End would be a good place to raise a family and he took over Shea’s Tackle Shop & Restaurant in Montauk. In 1970 he opened Snugglers’ Cove in Amagansett. Survivors said that his pride and joy was The Quiet Clam, which he bought in 1977 and ran for 22 years with his son, Tom Fischer.
He recognized the need for an affordable and comfortable family seafood restaurant in the Hamptons, survivors recalled, and he was hands-on all the time, taking great pride in his work. They added that he was often seen making his way through the dining room with his apron on, providing samples of a new dish he was trying, or with a live lobster in hand to show the kids. In his eulogy, his son Andrew Fischer called him a visionary, always seeing the opportunity around the corner that no one else could.
Although Mr. Fischer was dedicated to his work, survivors said his greatest joy was his family. After he married the love of his life, Trudy, on July 15, 1957, in St. Louis, Missouri, the couple raised their family in Springs and East Hampton. Family recalled this week that loyalty and dedication to family, education and service to one’s community were constantly emphasized in the Fischer household.
In remembering their father, daughters Donna Hurt and Kristin Yellin spoke of his generosity, sense of humor and practicality. “You never knew who would be sitting next to you at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Dad was always lending someone less fortunate a helping hand,” they noted. “He gave them dignity.”
He is survived by six sons, Skip Sussman of California, Dr. Andrew Fischer of Virginia, James Fischer, Esq. of East Hampton and Manhattan, Dr. David Fischer of California, Thomas Fischer of North Haven, and Dr. Peter Fischer of North Carolina and California; two daughters, Donna Hurt, Esq. of New Jersey and Kristin Yellin, Esq. of California; a sister, Barbara Mirman of Nevada; and 11 grandchildren, Blaire, Jessica, Carli, Eliana, Drew, Kathryn, Sailor, Sami, Liam. Zoe, and Hunter.
His wife of 46 years predeceased him in 2003.
A private service was held on December 13 at the Yardley & Pino Funeral home in East Hampton. Interment followed at Independent Jewish Cemetery in East Hampton, beside his wife.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978 would be appreciated by the family.