Thomas Grenci, 76

    Thomas Grenci, who was responsible for the hundreds of acres of state parkland from Napeague to Montauk from 1958 until 1990, part of that time as the five parks’ sole dedicated State Parks Police officer, died at home in West Melbourne, Fla. He was 76. His son, Thomas Grenci Jr., said the cause was a brain aneurysm.
     Mr. Grenci first saw Montauk as an 18-year-old state worker assigned to various projects on Long Island. Work parties would last a week, with the men lodged in a bunkhouse because it otherwise would take too long to get them to and from the site.
    He arrived full time in Montauk on March 1, 1958. He was engaged at the time to Ramona Silipo, and he recalled that first drive in a 1990 interview in The East Hampton Star. “We were driving and driving, and she asked, ‘Are we ever going to get there?’ ” They married that June.
    In those days, Mr. Grenci would be called upon to help the East Hampton Town police, as there was only a single officer sent to Montauk, who would return to the headquarters in East Hampton for shift changes. In the 1990 interview he recalled breaking up fights in the dockside gin mills.
    But more of the time, his job was more tranquil — posting notices at park borders, keeping an eye out during hunting seasons, and watching for brush fires. He and his wife lived in a state-owned house with a stunning view of Block Island Sound, where they soon welcomed two children.
    When the Parks Department phased out resident patrolmen, he decided to change careers, staying on as a parks foreman. When the state bought the Montauk Downs Golf Course in 1970 he took the title of parks maintenance supervisor. He was able to fix just about anything, his family said.
     Mr. Grenci had been a volunteer with the Montauk Fire Department since 1967 and served at different times as an assistant captain, captain, emergency medical technician, and was its chief from 1982 to 1984. He was also a member of the Lions Club.
    He was born on April 3, 1935, in North Babylon to Salvatore R. Grenci and the former Vincenza La Barbera. He graduated from Babylon High School and was in the National Guard from 1952 to 1955, as part of the 147 Tank Battalion, Rainbow Division, at Fort Drum, N.Y. He had been intending to seek a job with the Babylon Village Police Department when he learned of an opening in Montauk.
    His wife, whom everyone called Mona, died before him.
    His son, Thomas Grenci, is an East Hampton Town police lieutenant and lives in Montauk. His daughter, Christina Grenci Keefer, lives in Northfield, Ill. He had five grandchildren and eight nieces and nephews.
    Two brothers, Albert Grenci of North Babylon and Gabriel Grenci of West Islip, also survive. A sister, Rae Lipolis, and a brother, Salvatore Grenci, died before him.
    In retirement, Mr. Grenci spent time  woodworking and building birdhouses, his son said. He would walk on the Florida beach and ride his bicycle. He had recently had a hip replacement and was planning to get back on the bike soon.
    Glenn Keefer, his son-in-law, said Mr. Grenci was the “most saintly person I have ever met . . . a man who had a unique feel for the important things in life.”
    A Mass for him was said on Tuesday at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Montauk. Burial was at Fort Hill Cemetery in Montauk.
    His family has suggested memorial donations to the Montauk Fire Department, 12 Flamingo Avenue, Montauk 11954.
 

<