Kenneth Paul Fleischman of Sag Harbor died on September 11. He was 77.
Born on April 16, 1936, in the Bronx and as a child raised in Oceanside, he bought the SOS gas station on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Sag Harbor in 1966; the station would later be known as Sag Harbor Service, KPF Automotive and Gulf. He ran the gas station for nearly 40 years before retiring. Survivors said he truly loved what he did and took much pride in his work, his family, his community and hot rods. He personally answered calls, even throughout the night, for anyone who needed help or a tow, survivors said. He was actively involved with the Sag Harbor Lions Club and served as president for some time.
Mr. Fleischman loved to talk of his early childhood in Oceanside, where he helped run his family’s candy store/luncheonette. It was there that he learned to “sleep standing up,” he often joked. In his 20s, he moved to California and settled just next door to Andy Southard Jr., another Oceanside car enthusiast and renowned photographer. They forged a long friendship and together they started a business punching louvers and painting and pin striping cars. He then went on to manage the service center of the Cadillac dealership in Southampton.
After Cadillac, he moved to Sag Harbor and his long career at the Sag Harbor Service station began. Survivors described his personality as affable; he loved talking with people and telling jokes. His smile was infectious, they said, and his eyes twinkled when he shared his joy.
Every customer at his station was treated with much attention, his survivors said. They said he loved sharing stories of his family and his children, telling jokes while putting gas in a car, checking the oil, checking tire pressure, washing windows, bringing a bone for a dog or a lollipop for children. He was incredibly grateful for each day, the opportunity to work, to raise a family and participate in society, they said.
In 2008 he moved to Naples, Florida, where his health declined rapidly after a diagnosis of Lewy body disease; he died in hospice care. Despite Mr. Fleischman’s diagnosis he remained positive and often said, “I had no room for negative thoughts or actions” and “I’m happy to be on the green side of the grass,” his survivors said.
Mr. Fleischman was predeceased by his parents, Kay and Aaron Fleischman. He is survived by his first wife, Marilyn Fleischman of Florida; his second wife, Karen Raphael of New Jersey; and children, Lisa (Michelson) Rebele of Lake Ronkonkoma, Cindy (Fleischman) Snook of Florida, Andy Michelson of Rhode Island, Michele (Fleischman) Dean of Florida; his grandchildren, Craig and Megan Schiavoni, Garrett Snook, Tate, Teghan and Tanner Michelson, Saiba and Naomi Dean; and his brothers, Barry Fleischman of Wainscott and Florida, and Zou Zou of Amsterdam.
Interment was at Beth Israel Cemetery in Woodbridge, New Jersey.