Once you were Whitey’s friend, you were a friend for life, his sisters, Colleen D’Italia and Kathleen Lanahan, said this week.“He was the nicest person,” Ms. Lanahan said of her little brother, Patrick “Whitey” Lanahan, who died at Stony Brook University Hospital on November 7, at the age of 63. “He never said a bad word about anyone. He never gossiped. He was just open to everybody.”
Mr. Lanahan lived in Southampton for almost his entire life and, having served drinks to thousands of people, both locals and visitors, was well-known in the village, where he tended bar at Fellingham’s.
Mr. Lanahan was born in Flushing, on December 21, 1952, to Andrew Lanahan and Lucille Lanahan, later Lucille Marfing. His parents divorced when he was 4, and his mother moved to Southampton with her children—Colleen and Kathleen, and Eddie and Patrick.
“My mother was really in the picture,” Ms. D’Italia said. “She was the head nurse at Southampton Hospital. She moved here and went right to work.”
Patrick was the youngest child of the four children. “Because he was the youngest, and our grandparents knew he was the last one, they called him the angel,” Ms. Lanahan said. “We hated it, because he got the extra attention. He was the angel.”
Growing up, Mr. Lanahan loved to hang out at the beach, and occasionally would fish, but his real passion was surfing. Even when the waves were flat, he would find a way. “He use to surf at Shinnecock Golf Course on a surfboard—down the hills in the snow,” Ms. Lanahan said.
He started out working as a pizza maker, and then, at 18, moved on to bartending at a number of establishments in Southampton. “He started at Grandpa’s hotel,” Ms. Lanahan. “He worked in the bar. Our grandfather [Edward C. Moore] had a hotel called the Park Hotel, right across from the monument.”
Mr. Lanahan would work through the summers and stash away enough money to be able to spend a month in what he considered his second home: Negril, Jamaica.
Michael Ferran, who was Mr. Lanahan’s friend, said he met him in 1974, when Mr. Lanahan was working at The Hansom House, in the space where The Social Club is today. According to Mr. Ferran, Mr. Lanahan also lived in the house itself. “It was Whitey’s world, and it was his show,” Mr. Ferran said of the bar scene at the time.
On occasion, Mr. Ferran traveled to Jamaica with Mr. Lanahan during what Mr. Ferran called “slack time.” “He was a good friend and a faithful friend,” he said. “He’ll be missed in Negril.”
According to Ms. D’Italia, Mr. Lanahan got the name “Whitey” because he would spend time in the hills of Jamaica, where most residents were people of color. But, according to Mr. Lanahan’s girlfriend, Nanette Stillman of Southampton, he actually got the nickname from the television show “Leave It To Beaver”—Beaver’s sidekick was called “Whitey.”
“He was everybody’s friend,” Mr. Ferran said of Mr. Lanahan. “He never said an unkind word about anyone, and was very mellow.”
Mr. Lanahan became less athletic as he grew older, according to Ms. D’Italia, but Fellingham’s had sports teams, and although he did not play, he managed the teams.
Mr. Lanahan was so popular that some called him the unofficial mayor of Southampton. In a 2010 Esquire story called “The Best Bars in America, 2010,” Fellingham’s—originally a carriage house built in 1830—was listed, along with a photo of Mr. Lanahan.
He is survived by his sister Colleen and brother-in-law Anthony D’Italia of Southampton, sister Kathleen Lanahan and brother-in-law Peter Lang of Boulder Creek, California, brother John Marfing of Port Jefferson, from his mother’s second marriage to John Donald Marfing—and by the Fellingham’s patrons who relied on Whitey to create their favorite cocktails.