Kenneth Paul Fleischman, a longtime resident of Sag Harbor and former owner of what was originally the S.O.S. gas station in Sag Harbor, died while in hospice care on Sept. 11 in Naples, Fla., following a sudden and rapid decline related to a diagnosis of Lewy body disease. He was 77.
Known as Kenny, Mr. Fleischman was born in the Bronx on April 16, 1936, to Aaron and Kay Fleischman. He grew up in Oceanside, where he helped to run his family’s candy store and luncheonette, which was open 23 hours a day. It was here, during his first job, that Mr. Fleischman “learned to sleep standing up,” his family wrote.
As a young man, he first headed west to California, eventually settling next door to Andy Southland Jr., a fellow Oceanside native, car enthusiast, and photographer. The two men forged a long friendship and later started a business together, punching louvers in hoods and painting and pin-striping cars.
Before settling in Sag Harbor, he also managed the service center of the former Cadillac dealership in Southampton.
In 1966, he bought the S.O.S. gas station in Sag Harbor on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, later known as KPF Automotive (his initials) and the Sag Harbor Service Station. Mr. Fleischman ran the business for 40 years.
Passionate about hot rods and his community, he loved what he did and took pride in his work, personally answering calls, even in the middle of the night, for anyone who needed a tow. Mr. Fleischman was involved in the Sag Harbor Lions Club, serving as president and often appearing as Santa Claus at Christmastime.
Family members described Mr. Fleischman as affable, easy to talk, and a frequent teller of jokes. “His smile was infectious, even his eyes twinkled when he so readily shared his joy,” wrote his daughter Michele Dean. While at work, he loved sharing stories about his family and children. After checking the oil, tire pressure, and giving the windows a good wash, he would often bring a bone for customers’ dogs or lollipops for their children.
After retiring in 2008, he relocated to Naples, Fla. Shortly thereafter, he received a diagnosis of Lewy body disease, one of the causes of dementia in the elderly. Despite the diagnosis, he remained upbeat, preferring to focus on the positive.
Mr. Fleischman is survived by his first wife, Marilyn Fleischman of Tamarac, Fla., and by his second wife, Karen Raphael of Verona, N.J., and their children, Lisa Rebele of Lake Ronkonkoma, Cindy Snook of Melbourne, Fla., Andy Michelson of Newport, R.I., and Ms. Dean of Naples. He also leaves eight grandchildren and two brothers, Barry Fleischman of Wainscott and Boynton Beach, Fla., and Zou Zou of Amsterdam.
A graveside service was held on Sept. 13 at Beth Israel Cemetery in Woodbridge, N.J., where Mr. Fleischman was buried.