Herbert E. Field, 92

Aug. 3, 1924 - April 18, 2017
Herbert E. Field, Aug. 3, 1924 - April 20, 2017

Herbert E. Field of Springs and more recently Amagansett, whose early youth was interrupted when his father, two uncles, and a family friend were killed in the 1938 Hurricane while tending their traps behind Gardiner’s Island, died on April 18 at the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in South­ampton. He was 92 and had been in failing health.

Mr. Field had a productive and varied youth, from caring for crops and animals on his family farm in Springs to trap fishing and working half-days for Ferris G. Talmage after the hurricane to help make ends meet for his mother and three younger brothers. At age 17, with his mother’s permission, he joined the Navy and, with her help, was able to graduate from high school while serving aboard destroyer escorts as a motor mechanic. He did convoy duty for nearly three years until the end of World War II. During that time he crossed the North Atlantic several times and made several trips along the European coast to the Mediterranean, as well as performing other escort duties.

After the war, Mr. Field married Esther LaMotte of Red Lion, Pa., a Navy nurse, and they moved to Shelter Island, where he worked and his first two children were born. In 1947 he bought a farm and moved upstate to a small town, Morrisville. While attending night school at Cornell, an hour and a half away, to study agriculture, he began growing potatoes, but lost most of his crops two years in a row. Together with one of his three brothers, he then started driving school buses, hauling produce to New York City, and at the same time running a dairy farm, while his wife continued working as a registered nurse.

A few years after that the brothers bought a second farm across the road and turned both of them into a high-producing dairy farm of between 300 and 350 acres.

When his brother moved back to Shelter Island in 1962, Mr. Field and his children continued to build up their farm’s milk production, applying the latest agricultural feed and techniques. By then he was missing the East End. He sold the farm in Morrisville while conditions were favorable and moved to Amagansett, where he bought a small farm with two milk cows and four horses.

Mr. Field worked as a carpenter with a builder for a couple of years and then decided to buy some construction equipment. He got into landscaping before beginning an excavation business with his son, Tom. He also became involved with the East Hampton Preservation Society to help protect the rich cultural history and character of the town he had grown up in.  He remained active with the group until his business picked up. The death of Mr. Talmage, who had been not only one of his best friends but also his mentor, hit him hard.

As he neared retirement, Mr. Field became more involved with the Springs Community Church, helping to infuse life into a number of church groups. He also continued to garden, raising many vegetables that he shared with his friends. According to his son, he continued to pick beach plums, wild blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, grapes, crabapples, rosehips, and cranberries, if he could find them. “He knew how to prepare virtually any fruit, vegetable, fish, or meat for canning. He enjoyed making jellies, baking pies, muffins, and breads, and could cook just about anything and do it right,” his son wrote.

Mr. Field was born at Southampton Hospital on Aug. 3, 1924, one of four sons of Herbert S. Field and the former Abigail Edwards. One brother, John D. Field of Clinton, Mass., survives. In addition to Thomas F. Field, who lives in Amagansett, he leaves two daughters, Mary E. Stewart of Oneida, N.Y., and Rachael E. Epstein of Fishkill, N.Y., as well as 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. His marriage to Ms. LaMotte ended in divorce.

According to his son, Mr. Field was deeply appreciative of the devotion shown him by his doctors, ambulance personnel, and friends, all of whom helped him in any way possible as he became less able to do things for himself.

A memorial service for Mr. Field will be at the Springs Presbyterian Church on May 20 at 10 a.m.  He will be buried with military honors at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton.

The family has suggested memorial donations to the Springs Community Presbyterian Church, 5 Old Stone Highway, East Hampton 11937, or to the Amagansett Ambulance Company, P.O. Box 911, Amagansett 11930.


This has been updated to correct Mr. Field's date of death, the spelling of a daughter's name, and the date and place of his memorial service.