Frank A. Field Jr., a lifelong rail fan whose Peconic County Miniature Rail Road in Greenport delighted generations of riders for nearly three decades, died Feb. 14, 2021, at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital after a brief illness. He was 88.
Frank, a resident of Greenport, was born in the Bronx on June 15, 1932, the son of Frank A. and Alice (Weberg) Field, and grew up in New Rochelle and Floral Park, N.Y.
A graduate of Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, Frank led student government his junior year and subsequently attended Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
He founded a model railroad club at Sewanhaka and served as president of the model railroad club at Stevens. In Illinois, he worked summers for the Chicago North Western Railway at its Kedzie Tower as a telegraphy leverman.
After college, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served two years assigned to the Army Chemical Center in Edgewood, Md.
He began his mechanical engineering career at Westinghouse Electric outside of Baltimore, then joined the New Haven Railroad in Connecticut in the early 1960s. In 1970 he started working in the mechanical department of the Long Island Rail Road in Richmond Hill, Queens. He raised his family in Bellerose and Floral Park and retired from the LIRR in 1984.
Frank was a well-known figure in Greenport, where he offered rides on Sundays aboard his collection of Allan Herschell G-16 miniature trains on an elaborate, arcing layout through the woods adjacent to his home from 1985 to 2012. The PCMRR’s annual Halloween nighttime rides were legendary and never failed to draw large crowds. The backyard railroad, which Frank nicknamed “the Route of the Ducks,” grew out of an idea he had in 1953. By 1975, he had an engine, flat car and caboose. The multi-train enterprise, with engines and cars named for the women in his life, was the subject of numerous articles in The Suffolk Times, The New York Times and Newsday.
Over the years he had help running the trains from longtime volunteers Tony Cassone of Southold and John Kilbride of Cutchogue and New Jersey. Rides were free, and voluntary rider contributions were donated to Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital.
Frank was a consultant on several miniature railroad accident investigations and served on the board of directors of the Railroad Museum of Long Island and was a member of the Southold Town transportation committee.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth (Vaughan) Nelson of Greenport; a sister, Mary Brownell, and her husband, Charles, of San Antonio, Texas; daughter Michelle Lang and her husband, Scott, of Loveland, Ohio, and their children, Allison and Brian; daughter MaryAnne Polkiewicz and her husband, Robert, of Laurel, Md., and their children, Steven and Magdalen; daughter Peggy Field and her husband, Kevin Jones, of Norwell, Mass., and their children, Tim, Meredith and Emily; stepdaughter Sandra Hathaway and her husband, Dean, of DeRuyter, N.Y., and their children, Connor and Daniel; nieces Cathy Davidson of New Lenox, Ill., and Mary Ryan of Long Beach, Calif.; and numerous extended family members on the North Fork, including cousins Halsey and Robert Staples of Greenport and their families.
A previous marriage, to Margaret (Adolph) Field of Laurel, Md., ended in divorce.
A private celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Please consider a donation to the Greenport Fire Department Rescue Squad or Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital.
Horton-Mathie Funeral Home in Greenport assisted the family.
This is a paid notice.