George Schellinger Jr., known as Sonny, of Southampton died on Saturday, January 25, at home with his family, after a long illness including cardiac and respiratory complications. He was 79.
Born on December 21, 1934, at home in Amagansett, to K. Lester Schellinger and George Schellinger, he was a descendant of the Schellinger family who were among the first people to settle in Amagansett. The doctor who aided in his birth was paid in full with a codfish. This was the first indication of his lifetime career and also of his love of salt water and fishing.
When he was 6, the Schellingers moved to Southampton. His first job was as a caddy at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, and then began his career as a commercial fisherman with his stepfather, Howard Lisbon, when he was 14. He met his wife of nearly 60 years, Connie Simons, at the age of 15. The couple married four years later on February 13, 1954.
Survivors said Mr. Schellinger thoroughly enjoyed his lifetime career as a commercial fisherman and commercial bayman. The salt water was said to be part of his blood. During his life he had many adventures, including a time in November 1971 when he aided in saving the lives of two duck hunters whose boat upset off West Neck Point in North Sea, dumping the two men into the frigid water. Observing this and aware of the danger, Mr. Schellinger set out in his little boat and rescued the pair from the water. He also was one of the last commercial fishermen to have a haul-seining crew before it was banned altogether.
Another adventure was marked by his being thrown out of and crushed by a haul-seining boat, resulting in several broken ribs.
Mr. Schellinger was a member of the Baymen’s Association of Southampton Town. He participated in many reseeding programs to replenish the waning supply of clams and scallops that were placed into protective spawning sanctuaries, mostly in Shinnecock Bay.
He is survived by his wife, Connie Schellinger; four children, Thomas Schellinger and wife Donna, Daniel Schellinger, Jane Duran and husband David, and Amy Wienecke and husband Ben. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as a brother, Bruce Schellinger of Eastport; and sisters, Caroline Katsamas of Florida and Marlene McDonald and Peggy Rose of upstate New York. He was predeceased by his first-born grandchild, Thomas Schellinger Jr.
There was a private interment on January 27 in Oak Grove Cemetery in Amagansett.
Memorial donations may be made to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048 Westhampton Beach, NY 11978.