Robert Saul Greenbaum, an attorney and member of the Guild Hall board of trustees who for the past 44 years spent every summer in Amagansett or East Hampton, died at home in Manhattan on March 5. He was 89.
Mr. Greenbaum and his wife, Theodora, first visited the South Fork in 1967. “We were invited out to spend the weekend in Amagansett,” Mrs. Greenbaum said, and they began to explore the neighborhood. “When we saw the house, and we saw the beach, we said we have to come back.”
They returned for another weekend with their friend, Sam Hunter, a museum director, and soon after rented a cottage on Cliff Road in Amagansett. They began having regular breakfasts with Mr. Hunter and his friends, including artists like James Brooks and Willem de Kooning.
“We had many happy times there,” Mrs. Greenbaum said. “We loved the people and the place and the cultural things.”
Mr. Greenbaum became actively involved at Guild Hall, going on to become chairman of its board of trustees. He also led the building and grounds committee for the renovation not long ago.
As the Greenbaums’ children grew and had children of their own, the small cottage was no longer big enough for the family.
“We bought a house in East Hampton in 1989,” Mrs. Greenbaum said. “Eileen’s Path on the Hren’s Nursery property.” The Greenbaums summered there ever since.
Mr. Greenbaum was a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, chairman of the American Bar Association Section on State and Local Government Law, and has been named to the Best Lawyers in America since 1983, in the real estate law, arbitration, and mediation categories.
Born in Newark on May 4, 1922, a son of William and Minna Phillips Greenbaum, he grew up there, attending Weequahic High School. He was a 1943 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was an intercollegiate fencing champion.
He joined the Navy after college and served throughout World War II as a commissioned officer aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Ludlow. His specialty was communications, and he was an expert in the new technologies of radar and sonar, which he used to hunt German submarines.
After the war, he met Theodora Simon, and they were married on June 14, 1949. “It was Flag Day,” Mrs. Greenbaum recalled.
He graduated from the Columbia University School of Law in October 1948 and joined his father’s law practice in Newark the following year.
“He loved the Navy,” Mrs. Greenbaum said. “He loved the sea. He loved swimming, tennis. He liked bocce. We did that at our house, bowling on the grass.”
Besides his wife, Mr. Greenbaum is survived by their three children, Roger and William Greenbaum and Margot Mustich, as well as five grandchildren and a brother, Arthur.
His ashes will be buried at sea.
Contributions in his memory can be made to the Columbia University School of Law, to the attention of the Annual Fund, 435 West 116th Street, Box A-2, New York City 10027, or to Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton 11937.