Martin Benjamin Rubenstein of East Hampton, a former taxicab operator and driver for New York State Assemblyman Perry B. Duryea Jr. and a local youth football, Little League, and biddy basketball coach, died at Southampton Hospital on Nov. 4. He was 86, and been diagnosed with metastasized bone cancer nine days earlier.
Mr. Rubenstein was a “legendary” poker player, his family said, whose poker partners included authors, police chiefs, politicians, and playwrights. Though he won most of the time, they said, even the losers loved playing with him — “he was just that kind of guy,” his family said.
He was married on May 15, 1956, to Lona Flam Rubenstein, who survives. The couple had three children, all of whom survive. They are Scott Rubenstein of East Hampton, Amy Ruhle of Montauk, and David Rubenstein of Laguna Beach, Calif. Two sisters died before him. Three grandsons and one granddaughter also survive.
Mr. Rubenstein became an East Hampton resident in 1969. A great athlete, he followed all the local sports games, including those of his grandchildren, and, his family said, was Bonac’s biggest fan.
As a child growing up in New York City, he shined shoes to make money so that he could go to the Polo Grounds. Once, he hitched a ride on the back of Babe Ruth’s car.
In 1968, with no junior high school team on the local lineup, Mr. Rubenstein initiated and coached a pickup football team that won all its games and had a number of future all-county players, including his two sons, on its roster. He also coached the Stars of the East Little League team, and, with his fellow coach Steve Marley, an East Hampton biddy league basketball team that competed in New Orleans after winning a regional championship — a surprise upset, as the team’s opponents, confident of their success, had already purchased tickets to New Orleans.
Mr. Rubenstein worked for Assemblyman Duryea from 1972 to 1976. Born at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City on May 18, 1926, the son of Samuel Rubenstein and the former Jennie Muirstein, he grew up in Harlem.
He left high school at the age of 17 to become a member of the Navy Seabees construction battalions. He served in 1944 and ’45. Stationed in Okinawa, he was in charge of a group of Japanese prisoners of war, and taught them how to play baseball.
After World War II, Mr. Rubenstein lived in Culver City, Calif., and worked as a grip in the movie business.
He was cremated. A wake was held at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton on Friday. The family has suggested memorial donations to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Ks. 66675, or to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, P.O. Box 901, Wainscott 11975.