Robert Willis Espach of Sag Harbor died at Stony Brook University Hospital on May 3. He was 84 and died of complications from cancer.
Mr. Espach was a lifetime Long Islander born in Floral Park on April 1, 1930. He was the first child of Edgar W. Espach and Helen Petrat Espach. A brother, Russell, predeceased him.
He graduated from Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park and got his Bachelor of Arts degree at Hofstra University in 1952, and a Juris Doctor degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1955.
He served in the U.S. Army as an enlisted man for two years, including service at the headquarters of the U.S. Army in Europe based in Heidelberg, Germany.
He married Dorothy M. Collins in 1954, and they were married for 54 years before her death in 2008. They had one son, Steven R. Espach, who survives.
After his active service in the military, in 1957 he moved to Sag Harbor, where he started his practice of law in Southampton, thereafter opening his own law office as a single practitioner in Sag Harbor. Among other clients, he represented the Sag Harbor Union Free School District in connection with its first school bond issue ever. After several years as a sole practitioner in Sag Harbor, he was invited to be a partner with Bryan Hamlin and Ben Michae in Bridgehampton, where he continued to practice until 1977. In that year he returned as a sole practitioner to Sag Harbor, finally closing his office on 25 Washington Street in 1999, and joining with Stephen A. Grossman and Associates in an of-counsel position.
Mr. Espach was a lifelong Presbyterian, having been christened by his grandfather Rev. Augustus C. Espach at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Elmont, where he was also married to Dorothy M. Collins. He served as a deacon, trustee and elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Sag Harbor (Old Whalers’) and was church school superintendent and clerk of session for many years. He also served as a trustee of the Presbytery of Long Island and president of trustees for more than a year, as well as serving as recording clerk of the Presbytery Trustees for more than 30 years.
He was a member of the Sag Harbor Lions Club for more than 50 years, serving as secretary and treasurer for many of those years and also as president for a year, chairing many committees, including one to organize and secure official tax exemption for the Sag Harbor Lions Club Charitable Trust. After his service as president he continued to serve as secretary or treasurer of the club, and finally as secretary/ treasurer.
Mr. Espach also served as a director and as trustee of Sag Harbor Historical Society, as well as trustee and secretary of Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, and served for several years as secretary of Wamponamon Lodge No. 437 F&M of Sag Harbor.
He was also a longtime member of the Bridgehampton Club, New York State and Suffolk County bar associations.
Memorial donations may be made to First Presbyterian Church of Sag Harbor, P.O. Box 1241, Sag Harbor 11963; the Sag Harbor Lions Club Charitable Trust, P.O. Box 158, Sag Harbor; or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Avenue, Seventh Floor, New York City 10001.