Thomas H. Bergmann, 59, who for years restored Balasses House’s antiques and who recently came to own the well-known Amagansett business, died unexpectedly following a brief illness in Cancun, Mexico, near where he had a vacation home, on July 27.
Mr. Bergmann’s woodworking skills soon came to the attention of George and Teda Balasses after he — a housepainter then — moved here from Roxbury upstate in the late 1970s.
He and the Balasseses, who opened the store on Amagansett’s Main Street in 1962, met when he was painting the trim on their house. In a Star interview in 2002, Mr. Balasses said he and his wife intended that Mr. Bergmann should “take the business over lock, stock, and barrel” in the future. He did so after Mrs. Balasses died several years ago.
Mr. Bergmann not only restored the store’s popular English country style furniture, including the large dining room tables that Mrs. Balasses had a special fondness for, but he helped with the sales and also went on buying trips.
A friend recalled Mr. Bergmann once saying, “Teda and George took me under their wing. They were like family to me. They gave me my life here.”
He leaves two children, Kate, a preschool teacher in Boston, and Max, of Los Angeles, who plans to do graduate work in zoology or marine biology.
“He was a great father,” said Max. “All my friends were very close to him. He was a wonderful cook. He was a generous, kind person. He was loved by everyone who knew him.”
Kate said her father loved gardening and reading, had “a wicked sense of humor,” and often walked and ran on the beach in the early morning.
Some of Mr. Bergmann’s ashes were spread at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett Tuesday as the sun went down. His son said to those gathered there that “he loved this beach as he loved every one of you. . . . He made me the man that I am.”
Born in Rockville Centre on Dec. 8, 1951, Mr. Bergmann, one of nine siblings, was a son of Frank and Gloria Logan Bergmann. The family moved upstate from Long Island when Mr. Bergmann was 8 years old, his son said.
Mr. Bergmann’s parents predeceased him. In addition to his children and his former wife, Marcia Izant, he is survived by two sisters, Dori Hamilton and Christine O’Connor, both of Virginia, and by six brothers, four of whom — Frank, Billy, Keith, and George — live upstate, and two of whom — Tim and Jim — live in Virginia.
A funeral service was held yesterday at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton.