Leslie Okin, 94

Leslie Okin, 94

Leslie Okin, a publisher of Craft Horizons magazine and a professor of English, died at his Amagansett home on Nov. 4. He was 94 and had been in ill health following the death of his wife, Sheila Okin, in 2013.

Mr. Okin received a B.A. in English at the University of Ohio in Athens, did graduate work at the University of Minnesota, and received a doctorate in dramatic literature at New York University. He taught English at the State University Maritime College, Rutgers University, and for more than two decades at Kean University.

He was born in 1924 in the Bronx. His father, Harvey Okin, died of brain cancer when Leslie was 7. After his mother, Sophie, took a job in Chicago, he moved in with his maternal grandmother and an uncle, who cared for him in an apartment on Amsterdam Avenue in Upper Manhattan.  

Mr. Okin enlisted in the Army during World War II, serving from 1943 to 1946. He wrote for Stars and Stripes radio for a time and also was deployed to the Philippines and Japan.  

He and the former Sheila Benson were married in 1958, and the marriage lasted for 55 years. They lived on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard as a young couple, where they became friendly with Paco Sainz, the artist and bullfighter, who invited them to Amagansett. They fell in love with it, and started spending summers there in 1965 before building a house on Main Street.

After Mr. Okin retired, in 1998, the couple moved to Amagansett full time and became active in the community. The couple participated in the Peconic Bay Quaker Meeting, which Mrs. Okin helped lead. 

A tennis player, Mr. Okin had played in New York City parks, including Central Park, for more than 60 years. As a senior player, he achieved both national and sectional rankings in his age group.  Locally, he played at Sportime Amagansett, which is owned by his son. He won many senior titles and continued to play there daily until he was 89.

His wife was 13 years his junior, and life became difficult after her death. His family said he received remarkably compassionate and devoted care from a friend, Tonya Graves, and a home aide, Cynthia Addae, “the efforts of whom made his last years safe and filled with love,” his family wrote.

Mr. Okin is survived by his sons, Claude Okin of Amagansett and Paul Okin of New York City, and by five grandchildren. 

He will be buried at Green River Cemetery in Springs, beside his wife. A memorial service will be held there in the spring.