Harold M. Weissman, a onetime Montauk charter boat captain who was disabled for much of his adult life after developing cancer during his military service, died on Dec. 31 at Martin Memorial Hospital in Stuart, Fla. He was 78.
Mr. Weissman, who was known as Hal, grew up in the Bronx and dropped out of high school to enlist in the Air Force, where he became a technician, working on bombing and navigation systems of the B-47 bomber. His exposure to unshielded radar systems was the cause of the debilitating tumors that he fought for the rest of his life, said his wife, Anne Weissman.
She said he had been declared cancer-free earlier this fall for the first time in memory, but that battling the disease for decades had finally sapped his strength, if not his “killer” sense of humor. “He was still telling jokes until the day he died,” she said.
After the war, Mr. Weissman attended Columbia University, where he studied construction management. He later worked as a building engineer for New York Telephone and Verizon in New York City.
Ever since childhood he had visited Montauk with his father on fishing excursions, and when he retired from the phone company in 1990 he moved east and became captain of the Orion. He was the treasurer of the Montauk Boatman’s and Captain’s Association.
He was also a pilot, and enjoyed flying his Cessna 172 to his winter residence in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., and back to Montauk each year, his wife said.
Mr. Weissman played a key role in getting the Long Island Rail Road to turn over part of the Montauk train station to the Montauk Artists Association, which converted it into the Depot Gallery. “They arranged for the original lease for a dollar a year, and waived the dollar on condition that we restore the building,” Ms. Weissman said. “He oversaw $150,000 worth of construction on that building.” She has suggested memorial donations to the artists association’s children’s program, P.O. Box 2751, Montauk 11954.
Mr. Weissman was born on July 14, 1935, to David Weissman and the former Lillian Loft. Besides his wife, whom he married on April 28, 1990, he is survived by a sister, Marilyn Sher of Virginia.
He was cremated. A memorial service will be held later this year at Fort Hill Cemetery in Montauk.
“He loved Montauk,” his wife said. “Why shouldn’t he be up on the hill overlooking Fort Pond Bay and seeing the sunset every day?”