Eugene Anthony Oliva, 93, of Orient, N.Y., passed away on Oct. 16, 2021.
He was born in New York City on Feb. 19, 1928. Eugene received his B.A. degree from Florida Southern College and his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. Eugene was married to Ruth (Zimmerman) Oliva in July 1952.
Although he did not fit the stereotype, Gene was a U.S. Marine. What he lacked in practicality (he still didn’t know a Philips from a flat screwdriver) he made up for with abundant creativity. Gene worked as a feature news reporter for the New York Daily News and then went on to work in public relations for J. Walter Thompson, Foote, Cone & Belding and as vice president at Carl Byoir & Associates. He received three Silver Anvil Awards, the highest honor in public relations, noting his creation and execution of outstanding programs, working with national and international brand products. In retirement he worked at several East End wineries (predominantly Peconic Bay Winery) and proudly became known as the oldest wine pourer on Long Island. His ability to relate to everyone, instantly surprise with catchy one-liners and demystify the essence of enjoying wine endeared him to all.
Gene’s interest was primarily in people, always promoting their growth, skills and endeavors. Having a big personality, Eugene was full of humor, always inclusive and could light up a room. He was a proponent of the best of the North Fork, its beauty, its bounty and its people. Initially a city kid from the Bronx, where he excelled in all sports, Gene learned to love the rural life where he farmed, growing the most desirable fruits and vegetables, taught local children about their heritage and supported Ruth’s work in local government focusing on environmental and social justice.
Gene was predeceased by Ruth on June 28, 2009. He is survived by his children, Connie Kirby, Cameron Oliva, Dana Murphy and Christopher Oliva; his grandchildren, Angela Murphy, Jillian Kirby, Katia Oliva, Connor Oliva and Kadin Oliva; and great-grandsons Andrew Williamson and Michael Lilie.
A memorial service will be held at a later time in Greenport, N.Y.
Memorial donations may be sent to Peconic Land Trust (peconiclandtrust.org).
This is a paid notice.