Hundreds Bid Farewell in East Hampton to Ben and Bonnie Krupinski and William Maerov

Krupinksi funeral
A funeral for Ben Krupinski, an East Hampton builder and philanthropist, his wife, Bonnie, and their grandson, William Maerov, was held Friday at the East Hampton Presbyterian Church. They died on June 2 in a plane crash in which Jon Dollard, a pilot who worked for Mr. Krupinski, also was killed. David E. Rattray

Hundreds of mourners, including former Irish Republican leader Gerry Adams, the cookbook author and television host Martha Stewart, and the professional golfer Ben Crenshaw, attended a funeral in East Hampton on Friday for Ben and Bonnie Krupinski and their grandson, William Maerov, three of the four people who died on June 2 when the small plane they were flying in crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Amagansett.

Mr. Krupinski, who got his start digging clams in East Hampton waters to make money to buy his first car, built a multifaceted empire that consisted of a construction company, restaurants, and an air services terminal at East Hampton Airport. Mrs. Krupinski worked in her family's sand and gravel business, at their golf course, and by her husband's side. Mr. Maerov, a graduate of the St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Del., was in his third year at Georgetown University.

Mr. Adams, Ms. Stewart, and Mr. Crenshaw, who were close friends of the Krupinskis and Mr. Maerov, were among more than a dozen speakers and clergy members at the funeral at an overflowing East Hampton Presbyterian Church on Main Street. Other mourners filled the church Session House nearby to watch on closed-circuit TV, and yet more stood outside.

Friday's funeral followed a wake the evening before in East Hampton that hundreds attended. Services for Jon Dollard of Hampton Bays, a pilot who was the fourth person aboard the plane when it went down, will be held separately.

Mr. Adams, who sat next to Ms. Stewart in a front pew, said that he was deeply saddened. "This has robbed us of three beautiful people," he said. Mr. and Mrs. Krupinski were longtime supporters of the political movement Sinn Fein and of the Irish peace process. Both were proud of their Irish roots, Mr. Adams said.

"Words cannot express the awfulness of what has occurred, so we have to dig deep," he said. "Ben and Bonnie were warm, happy, decent, generous patriots who never forgot their heritage."

Their grandson, Mr. Maerov, "was the bright light and love of their hearts," he said.

Ms. Stewart met Mr. Krupinski a month after buying what she said was a wreck of a house on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton Village. "I interviewed seven contractors in one day, then this handsome guy drove up in a pickup truck, not a Mercedes like these other guys."

She recalled that Mr. Krupinski knew the house already and was fond of it. Could it be restored and made better, she asked him. "Certainly. No problem," he replied. "Certainly. No problem. That's what I called him," Ms. Stewart said.

Despite many change orders and add-ons, the project came in on time and under budget, and she and Mr. and Mrs. Krupinski became friends. "Bonnie was the anchor. She was studious, loyal," Ms. Stewart said.

Ms. Stewart had known Mr. Maerov almost since he was born and had been a mentor to him. He had a brilliant future, she said.

Mr. Crenshaw said that he had met Mr. and Mrs. Krupinski through Mrs. Krupinski's father, Pete Bistrian, for whom he designed a golf course straddling the East Hampton-Amagansett line, and developed a deep friendship with them. "They were truly people who were always focused on what they could do for you. They had the most generous of hearts that we have even known," he said.

Mr. Maerov, he said, was passionate about politics. Other speakers included Lance Maerov, his father, and his sister, Charlotte.

The other speakers were Mrs. Krupinski's brother Bruce Bistrian, Frank Ackley, who is Mr. Krupinski's brother, the couple's nieces Sarah Day Smith and Julia Austin Willman, Tad Roach, the headmaster of St. Andrew's, and Mary Meeker, a family friend.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. was among the mourners, as was East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., members of the East Hampton Town Board, and members of the East Hampton Village Board of Trustees.

Two wooden coffins were at the front of the pews, each covered in arrangements of hydrangeas and roses. The Rev. Donald P. Hammond of the Amagansett Presbyterian Church officiated. The Krupinskis had been married there when they were in college. Other local clergy taking part were Rabbi Joshua Franklin of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, and the Rev. Ryan Creamer of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

The Rev. Scot A. McCachren of East Hampton Presbyterian and the Very Rev. Denis C. Brunelle joined them in the sanctuary. Ushers came from both the East Hampton and Amagansett Presbyterian Churches. The pallbearers were family and friends of the Krupinskis and a large group of Mr. Maerov's friends from high school and college.

Bruce Bistrian spoke early in the service, recalling Mrs. Krupinski's "great tenacity of purpose." She had an essential role running the family business and was its "financial guru and principal visionary," he said.

Mr. Krupinski's grandchildren, his niece Julia Willman said, were his entire world. Ms. Day Smith said, "Aunt Bonnie always asked the right questions and made people feel welcome."

As an interlude, the recording artist Rick Davies of Supertramp, who has a house in East Hampton and knew the couple, played a slow, then jazzy, piano version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Mr. Maerov's sister, Charlotte, gently touched her grandmother's coffin as she walked to the dais after Mr. Davies finished playing. Her brother, she said, "became a man with the biggest heart."

"My grandmother used to sit me down and have conversations about life," she said. "My grandfather always used to say, 'Family comes first.' "

"I hope that it does not take another tragedy to bring us together," she said.

Mr. Roach of  St. Andrew's School described Mr. Maerov's grace, maturity, intelligence, and kindness. "Willie had a profound appreciation of the miracles around him" and "expanded the definition of what it means to be a family," he said.

Ms. Meeker, a writer who called herself one of the couple's golf buddies, said, "Bonnie and Ben were the ultimate 'I've got your back' pair."

"Bonnie," she said, "had a sixth-sense instinct of how to get things done."

Lance Maerov, Mr. Maerov's father, was the last of the family and friends to speak at the funeral. "The unimaginable has happened to our sweet William," he said.

"He could connect with 80-year-olds, he could connect with 8-month-olds, and everyone in between. Connecting with people was his gift."

Speaking softly, he said that his son's "innate wisdom made him value everything that money could not buy." That said, Mr. Maerov had an intense lifelong interest in Volkswagens, especially the iconic Beetle.

Mr. Maerov thanked the East Hampton police, fire departments, Coast Guard, and commercial fishermen who responded to the crash and then continued the search for wreckage and bodies. "Seeing you work so tirelessly a hundred yards offshore to find my son has been inspiring."

Following the service, the pallbearers carried Mr. and Mrs. Krupinski's caskets out of the church. They were followed in the aisle by Mr. Maerov's friends, who were each wearing one of his ties in his honor.