Walter Galcik Sr.

June 23, 1926-August 21, 2014
Walter Galcik Sr. June 23, 1926-August 21, 2014

Walter Galcik Sr., a World War II veteran who was the caretaker of Shadmoor State Park as part of his work for the Town of East Hampton, died at home in Ditch Plain, Montauk, last Thursday. He was 88 and had struggled with dementia.

Mr. Galcik started volunteering with the town’s Natural Resources Department in 1991, helping Larry Penny, the director of that department for many years, in mapping trees during the subdivision of Culloden Point in Montauk.

“He was very enthusiastic about learning about nature,” Mr. Penny said. “He was a late student. He probably would have volunteered for the rest of his time.”

But the following year he started working part time for the town — though Mr. Penny said he worked far more than that — as an environmental technician, a position he kept until about 2011, when he retired due to illness. Mr. Penny said Mr. Galcik’s tenure with the department was second in length only to his own 28 years.

While there, he worked on drainage and removing phragmites at a pond at Ditch Plain, documented piping plovers nesting in Montauk, measured waves, and, from 2003 to 2010, oversaw the maintenance of Shadmoor after the town, county, and state bought it. He also cleaned and repainted World War II-era bunkers and kept the trails open.

“He could do everything,” Mr. Penny said, adding, “You could count on him anytime, day or night — that’s unusual.”

In the early 1990s, when the town began a tick survey, Mr. Galcik was one of two “tick flaggers,” counting ticks in a systematic way with Peggy Conklin. “He was the first one to find the Lone Star tick in Montauk,” Mr. Penny said, noting that they quickly figured out what that type of tick, now rampant on Long Island, was.

Born in Czechoslovakia on June 23, 1926, Mr. Galcik came to America at the age of 5 or 6 with his parents, Alexander and Mary Galcik. They settled in Washington, N.J. After high school, he enlisted in the Navy. Aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga, the seaman second class saw much action in the Pacific theater during World War II, though his son Walter Galcik of Montauk said he didn’t speak about his experiences often.

After the war, he married Ellen Mane Ryder, who survives him, and they lived in the Bronx, where she was from. He worked a few jobs before joining Con Edison as a field operator in 1959. He retired as a Manhattan District operator 29 years later.

Mr. Galcik’s love of fishing and hunting led him to Montauk in the late 1950s, and he stayed with his family at the Ditch Plain trailer park until he bought a vacation house on Ditch Plain Road in 1971. He moved there full time when he stopped working for Con Edison in 1988.

He volunteered with the Concerned Citizens of Montauk and other nature groups, all of which recognized his efforts over the years, his son said.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by four other children: Matthew Galcik and Denis Galcik of the Bronx, Richard Galcik of Queens, and Karen Galcik of Sacramento, Calif. A brother, Jim Galcik of Hackettstown, N.J., also survives, as do one grandchild and one great-grandchild.

A wake was held Wednesday at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton. Mr. Galcik was cremated and his ashes will be spread. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Donations in his memory have been suggested for the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, P.O. Box 915, Montauk 11954.