Fred E. Bird

    Fred E. Bird, the captain of the Flying Cloud vessel based in Montauk, a member of the Montauk Boatmen’s Association, and a Korean War veteran, died at his Mulford Avenue residence in that hamlet on Tuesday. He was 85.

    After going fishing on Monday, and with plans to go out again the next day, he died in his sleep, said a daughter, Linda M. Bird of Baltimore.

    Captain Bird fished off Montauk for more than 50 years. In recent years he was among the hamlet’s “fishing legends” who were honored by the Montauk Chamber of Commerce and featured in a short locally produced documentary film.

    Born in Corona, Queens, on Nov. 5, 1927, he was a son of Van Sullivan Bird and the former Daisy Mae Myers. He came to the East End as a teenager and worked on the Viking boats during the summers with Paul Forsberg, staying in the old Chalet motel. He was an Army veteran of the Korean War and later a member of the Masons.

    He moved to Montauk full time in 1960. He was a master carpenter, Ms. Bird said, who worked on numerous projects in Montauk, including Montauk Downs. He loved New Orleans and its music, and played the trumpet. Reel-to-reel recordings of Mr. Bird and his band still exist. A jazz lover, he was a friend of such jazz musicians as Dizzy Gillespie and Montauk’s Percy Heath.

    “The most important thing — Captain Fred Bird was an amazing father and man,” said Ms. Bird.

    The last surviving sibling of six, he was the oldest living member of the Bird family. Besides his daughter Linda Bird, he is survived by two other children, Philip W. Bird of Castlebury, Fla., and Julie O. Pinzon of North Carolina. 

           Eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren also survive, as does Capt. Neil Nixon Jr., whom Mr. Bird helped to raise and considered a son. A marriage in 1954 to the former Virginia Young ended in divorce.    

    Captain Bird will be cremated. A wake will be held at the the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton on Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m.  The family plans a memorial gathering at the Shagwong restaurant in Montauk on Sunday; details will be posted on the Flying Cloud Web site, at montaukflyingcloud. com,  and on the vessel’s Facebook page.