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Richard V. Mendelman, 89

Thu, 10/15/2020 - 09:07

Richard V. Mendelman, who was for 50 years an active member of Long Island's marine business community and an advocate for clean water, died at home on Three Mile Harbor-Hog Creek Road, East Hampton, on Oct. 8. The cause was cardiopulmonary arrest as a consequence of Parkinson's disease with Lewy body dementia. He was 89.

His family wrote that Mr. Mendelman loved "engineering, science, physics, invention, and speedboats," all of which factored to some extent into his professional life. After moving here in 1970 he became manager of the Harbor Marina of East Hampton. Six years later he established Seacoast Enterprises Associates, which over the years added Gardiner's Marina, Halsey's Marina, and Three Mile Harbor Marina to its portfolio.

Mr. Mendelman was born on March 5, 1931, in Passaic, N.J., to Robert Vambola Mendelman and the former Helene Holm, both of whom had immigrated from Estonia. Soon after his birth his parents moved to Hicksville. He graduated from Hicksville High School and earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University.

After serving for four years in the Army in Germany, he returned to Long Island, where friends introduced him to Sylvia Trinklein. For their first date he took her to the Bridgehampton Race Track in his Austin-Healy sports car. They were married on December 27, 1959.

Earlier that year he had begun to work for the Danley Machine Corporation, makers of machine tools, in the tristate area, and in 1966 he was promoted to sales manager for northern Europe, a position that required him to relocate to Liege, Belgium. Before returning to the United States in 1969 he took his family on a tour through northern Europe in a Volkswagen camper van and visited some Estonian relatives in Tallinn, which was then behind the Iron Curtain.

Mr. Mendelman was a founder and board member of both the Association of Marine Industries of Eastern Long Island and the Empire State Marine Trades Association. In that capacity he engaged with legislators both locally and in Albany. He was a member of the East Hampton Republican Committee, of St. Michael's Lutheran Church in Amagansett, and of Rotary International.

An advocate for the preservation of the region's rural environment, he helped shape East Hampton's Waterfront Revitalization Plan, and was for many years an adviser to the Peconic Estuary Program. Whenever he was returning home from a family trip, his children said, "while passing Town Pond, he would announce 'Welcome to the most beautiful place in America; you're in God's country now!' "
His wife, Sylvia, who survives, said that as a mechanical engineer "he could fix anything," according to his children, who added that Sprig Gardner and Chick Philips, two local fishermen, "would say, 'Fix it, Dickie!' whenever their boats needed repairs.

In addition to boats, he loved fast cars, they said, and could often be seen driving his white truck with the Estonian flag on the tailgate, playing polka music loudly and smiling. "He was a loving husband and father and will be deeply missed by his wife, family, and friends," his family wrote,

In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children, Lynn Mendelman, Peter Mendelman, and Mark Mendelman, all of East Hampton, and Diane Hewett of Sag Harbor. Six grandchildren also survive. A brother, Gabriel, died before him.

A memorial service will be held Sunday at Harbor Marina on Gann Road from 1 to 4 p.m., the Rev. Mark Middlekauff officiating. Friends have been invited to drive through the marina and spend time with the family, and boaters have been encouraged to pass by during that time and sound their horns in remembrance.

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An earlier version of this obituary incorrectly identified Mr. Mendelman's father. It has since been corrected.


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