Robert J. Kolyer, age 91, died on Nov. 9, 2011, at his home in Southold. Predeceased by his wife, Helen (née Tenca), daughter Karen and son Michael, he is survived by son Peter (Candace), of New York City; son Robert “Jay” Jr. (Anne) and grandchildren Kelly and Lane, of Bethesda, Md.; and son Steven (Andrea) and grandchildren Abigail and Henry, of Manhasset, N.Y.
Bob Kolyer was born to John and Mildred (McNaughton) in Brooklyn on Easter, April 4, 1920. He grew up in East Williston and graduated from Roslyn High School. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University in 1941, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and became a naval aviation pilot during World War II, serving as chief aviation pilot in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. He was a licensed flight instructor and obtained one of the first commercial helicopter pilot licenses.
Following the war, he pursued opportunities in commercial aviation. He flew Lockheed Constellation aircraft between New York and London for Pan American Airways. He was also a pilot at Long Island Airlines, a 1940s seaplane service between Manhattan’s East River and Southampton, and he co-founded Eastern Long Island seaplane operator Atlantic Air Service.
He authored articles about aviation and flying, worked as a reporter for the New York Daily News and held editorial positions at Long Island-based newspapers. He combined his aviation and journalism expertise at publisher C.M. Johnson and subsequently joined Grumman Aircraft to establish its internal technical publishing department. During 13 years at Grumman he also served as flight test engineer. He was a licensed New York State real estate broker and pursued a lifelong interest restoring antique American clocks and watches.
Often described as a “rugged individualist,” he and a local friend hand-built the first houses on Kenney Road in Southold in 1947, where he lived year-round, maintaining his seaplane on Great Pond. He ran a charter fishing boat in the 1940s and was a founding member of the Southold Yacht Club.
Southold became a seasonal residence in 1956, when he and Helen settled in Stony Brook, where they raised their family. He lived there for over 40 years until retiring to permanent residence in Southold at the Reydon Shores home first purchased by his parents in 1935.
Visiting hours will be held Friday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to noon, at Coster-Heppner Funeral Home, 32470 Main Road, Cutchogue. Interment will follow at 1 p.m. at Calverton National Cemetery.
This is a paid notice.