Those who knew Nick Lombardi the best say they were not the least bit surprised when, one random day back in 2008, he took it upon himself to paint a large American flag across the garage doors of American Legion Post 924.Mr. Lombardi, an adjutant of the Ponquogue Avenue post and a Korean War veteran, painted the flag to display his love for both his country and his fellow veterans, according to family and friends.
“He was just patriotic,” said Richard Mongello, a former commander of the Hampton Bays post and a longtime friend of Mr. Lombardi.
Mr. Lombardi, who was always known in his hometown for his love of volunteer work, died on November 19 after suffering a heart attack. He was 84.
In early October, a little more than a month before Mr. Lombardi’s death, two members of the same post—Al Loblanco and Dorothy Alteri, both of Hampton Bays—decided to give the flag a fresh coat of paint. At that point, their fellow veteran was mostly confined to a wheelchair.
As adjutant of the American Legion, Mr. Lombardi was responsible for planning programs, writing internal newsletters and attending county meetings. He was also instrumental in the creation of a new Veterans Park in Hampton Bays, which was unveiled on Memorial Day in 2008.
Built on land that adjoins the Ponquogue Avenue post, the park was designed to resemble the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The names of post members killed in combat are etched into a granite wall, shaped like a semi-circle, that surrounds a circle of blue asphalt with a white star in the middle made of concrete pavers. Six flags sit atop the wall; five represent the different branches of the U.S. military—the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard—while the sixth is a POW/MIA flag.
“Nick was a wonderful man,” Mr. Mongello said. “He was always volunteering his time and coming up with ideas to make the post better.”
Along with volunteering at the post, Mr. Lombardi served as an usher at the Church of St. Rosalie on East Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays and was a member of the parish’s Holy Name Society. Laurel Lombardi, Mr. Lombardi’s wife of 35 years, said her husband was proud of his work for their church.
Mr. Lombardi spent most of his career in the graphics industry, working for several different printing companies. He was also employed, at one point, as a sales broker at Westhampton Beach Realty. “It’s hard to remember everything he did,” Ms. Lombardi said on Tuesday morning.
After her husband’s death, Ms. Lombardi said she could not believe how many of his former colleagues sent her letters and warm wishes. “I got so many notes from people saying what a wonderful guy he was to work with,” she said. “I have hundreds of ‘thank you’ notes to write.”
Mr. Lombardi was drafted into the Army three months after his 20th birthday, serving from December 7, 1951, until November 19, 1953. He trained at Fort Lee and Fort Belvoir, both in Virginia. After completing his training, Mr. Lombardi, a private, printed maps while he was stationed in Germany for about 13 months. He was eventually reassigned and worked at a station in Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Ms. Lombardi said she does not know why her husband was never sent to Korea: “He was just lucky.”
For his service, Mr. Lombardi was awarded both the National Defense Service Medal and the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal prior to his honorable discharge in 1953. It was after his military tenure that Mr. Lombardi, who hailed from The Bronx, started spending his summers in the hamlet of Hampton Bays.
He married Ms. Lombardi in 1980 and they became full-time hamlet residents in 2001, the same year that they retired from their jobs. They have four children: Elizabeth and Nicholas, both of whom live in New Jersey, Stefanie who resides in New Rochelle, and Christopher who now lives in Manhattan.
Mr. Lombardi loved living in Hampton Bays, according to his wife. His favorite part, she ventured, was the proximity of their West Tiana house to the ocean.
“When he was ill, he was driven by his aides down to Ponquogue Beach, which he loved,” Ms. Lombardi recalled. “He was very, very active. He wanted to stay active right until the end.
“He had hospice for over a year,” Ms. Lombardi continued. “They loved him and he was great. He was a gentlemen and he always tried to walk them to the door.”
Until his illness, Mr. Lombardi enjoyed golf and enjoyed playing the course at the Indian Island Country Club in Riverhead with his wife.
In addition to his wife and four children, Ms. Lombardi also is survived by five grandchildren.
Services for Mr. Lombardi were held at the Church of St. Rosalie in November and burial followed at the Calverton National Cemetery.