Lifelong North Fork resident Stanley F. “Whitey” Skrezec Jr. died peacefully in his sleep March 15, 2020. He was 86 years old.
Renowned for his work ethic, Whitey was a longtime fixture in the working community of the North Fork. Starting with his plumbing and heating business (1959-71), fish trapping (1971-81) and cesspool, water and sewer installation (1981-onward), he either owned or worked for a successful enterprise that bore his name — a 61-year testament to a rare breed of man whose word and handshake meant more than any contract he ever signed.
No matter the weather, time of day or year, he always heeded the call from anyone who required his expertise. He was truly a man for all seasons. No matter the size and scope of the undertaking, he didn’t work at it, he attacked it until completion. As he continued to work into his 80s, people often asked him when he was going to retire. He always replied, “When I die,” and that’s exactly what he did. Surely, a life well lived.
On Feb. 28,1934, he was born to Marian (Olenski) and Stanley F. Skrezec Sr. at Greenport Hospital. Whitey’s father ran the Douglas Farm in Orient, so he was introduced to and embraced hard labor at a young age. He often told stories about growing up with his four brothers in a two-bedroom house that had only a hand pump for water, citing it as a wonderful time. “We were dirt poor but everyone helped each other and we were happy” was a common refrain.
The family moved from Orient to Greenport while Whitey was starting high school. He became an outstanding football player for the Greenport High School Oystermen and was voted onto the 1951 All Long Island Football Team as a 5-foot-10-inch, 170-pound middle guard. That team was notable for the fact that it also featured a 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pound running back from Manhasset High School named Jim Brown, who went on to enter the NFL Hall of Fame. Whitey graduated in 1952 and was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving during the Korean War, something he took immense pride in.
On Feb. 28, 1954, his 20th birthday, he married the love of his life, Andria Tyler. Two years later, on Aug. 11, 1956, they had a son, Stanley F. Skrezec III. Shortly after that, they moved to Tarzana, Calif., for two years, where Whitey took drafting classes and played football at Pierce Junior College, all while working the night shift for aircraft manufacturer McDonnell Douglas.
The family returned to Greenport in 1958 and Whitey briefly worked at the Plum Island laboratories until he started his plumbing and heating business in 1959. His daughter, Krista Tyler Skrezec (Melly), was born May 8, 1961. During the 1960s, Whitey expanded his business to include excavation and drainage with the addition of a cesspool truck and backhoe, his relentless desire and work ethic always at the forefront.
On Oct. 26, 1969, with a bright and unlimited future on the horizon, his beloved wife, Andria, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 36. It was a tragedy that dramatically impacted him throughout the course of the 1970s. It was a loss that he was never really able to come to grips with and it stayed with him throughout the remainder of his life.
During the 1980s, Whitey bid on and was awarded contracts for replacement of water and sewer mains throughout the Village of Greenport. This municipal work marked a turning point in his life and led to a revitalization of the man and his business. He became an iconic presence, working on the North Fork— and especially on the streets of Greenport — ever since.
Besides work, his other passions were fishing, hunting and clamming. He was a skilled and avid fisherman who knew every honey hole and hotspot in the waters of Peconic Bay, Long Island Sound and the Florida Keys. He always knew where to get a mess of steamers or littlenecks and could spear an eel with the best of them. He was a proud member of the NRA and always enjoyed small- and big-game hunting. For the last 15 years, he was a member of the Crab Orchard Creek Hunting Club in Clay, Ky., where he bagged many a trophy buck.
Whitey put aside his workaholic ways when it meant spending time with his grandchildren. Joe Melly and Jake, Andria and Hayley Skrezec, all realized at a young age that “Pop Pop” wasn’t as tough as he appeared. Whether it be a fishing or hunting trip, fixing a bike, telling stories or passing on the wisdom from his many years, he always had a soft spot in his heart and a smile on his face.
Predeceased by his wife, Andria, and older brother, William, Whitey is survived by his younger brothers, Carl (Linda), Edward (Doris) and John; his son, Stanley F. “Kip” Skrezec III (Allison) and daughter, Krista Melly (Joseph); grandchildren, Jacob, Andria and Hayley Skrezec and Joseph Melly; three nieces and three nephews.
Restrictions due to the outbreak of the coronavirus limited the funeral services to a graveside ceremony March 21 that included military honors during internment at St. Agnes Cemetery. A memorial service will be arranged at a later date and announced in The Suffolk Times and on Facebook so that his many friends and loved ones can celebrate his life and legacy.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Crab Orchard Creek Hunting Club, 13432 67th St. North, West Palm Beach, FL 33412.
This is a paid notice.