Ray Nine, ‘Mr. Mattituck,’ remembered for his love of community

In every way — from where he was born, where he grew up, the successful businesses he ran and the more than six decades he spent with Mattituck Fire Department — Raymond F. Nine was in all respects Mr. Mattituck.

Mr. Nine grew up on a small road off Factory Avenue in Mattituck. His dad delivered fuel oil for a local gas station. At 18, after his graduation from Mattituck High School, Mr. Nine started his first business, Raymond F. Nine Rubbish Removal.

One truck, one employee and long hours as a sole proprietor. He made it work.

“He knew every house and every street in Mattituck,” said Mr. Nine’s daughter, Joan Nine Sullivan. “He knew every aspect of the hamlet. And he knew everyone and everyone knew him.”

Mr. Nine, a towering presence in the hamlet he adored, died on June 10. He was 81. His wake Monday afternoon and evening at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck drew a large crowd of friends and family as well as uniformed members of the fire department. 

“When he joined the fire department, he was like a GPS system, because he knew every nook and cranny in the hamlet.”

Rob Nine

The funeral Tuesday morning at Mattituck Presbyterian Church brought a vintage fire truck outside and scores of fire department members who came to pay last respects to Mr. Nine. In many ways, Mr. Nine was a model member of the department, joining as a teenager and serving faithfully for decades.

It all began on that small road off another small road in Mattituck. “Dad’s dad did a lot of things, but he was always working,” Ms. Sullivan said. “He delivered fuel in a truck for the Getty station that used to be next door to where Magic Fountain is today. He met my mom at what used to be the Mattituck Lanes, where CVS is now. My dad worked there, setting up the pins if the machines got stuck.”

Ray Nine at the dedication of the park in his name in Mattituck. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

Ms. Sullivan and Mr. Nine’s son, Rob Nine, spoke happily about their dad, about his strong work ethic, his influence on his family and his love of the community in which he grew up.

“Dad graduated from Mattituck in 1958 and worked for a time at Penny Lumber, George Penny’s business,” Ms. Sullivan said. “Then he bought a garbage truck.”

With his new business, Mr. Nine was a one-man band. Both Rob Nine and Ms. Sullivan said they did not know how many customers their dad had, but he quickly grew the business and in short order knew everyone and every home in the hamlet.

“He knew all the roads, every house on every street,” said Rob Nine. “When he joined the fire department, he was like a GPS system, because he knew every nook and cranny in the hamlet. He could tell you who owned what, who lived where, who had a right of way.”

Mr. Nine ran the business until 1971, when he sold it to the DiVello family. That year, highlighting his entrepreneurial instincts, he started Raymond F. Nine Sand and Gravel. He would run the business for the rest of his adult life, mostly out of the home he and his wife, Dorothy, lived in on New Suffolk Avenue. His specialty was driveways, but he also sold materials — sand and gravel — to dock builders and others. 

He also did road grading and excavating. And just like with his rubbish removal business, he worked long hours and taught his family what getting up and going to work and coming home tired meant.

Fire Department members at the funeral for Mr. Nine. (Credit: Steve Wick)

As they said goodbye to their father on Tuesday, both Ms. Sullivan and Rob Nine reflected on what he meant to them.

“I would say his strong sense of community,” Rob Nine said. “I got that sense of community from him. I’ve been with the Lions Club for 11 years. He also showed us what a tight family is and what it means. We all came together to do what was best for him and for our mother. He installed family in us.

“So my big takeaway is his love of family and his community,” Rob Nine added.

Asked for her thoughts, Ms. Sullivan said, “Just what my brother said, starting with his work ethic. Every one of us gives our work our all. Everything we have is built on hard work, the ability to work with people. He and our mom barely went anywhere where they didn’t take the four kids with them.”

Every Christmas, the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce, in which Mr. Nine was a member, lights a tree in Raymond F. Nine Park, which is opposite the CVS store. A small plaque bears his name at the park that was dedicated in his honor in 2017.

“He loved Mattituck so much,” Rob Nine said.