Jane Nitzky of Roslyn, a former Village of Great Neck official who ran a Floral Park smoke shop and convenience store with her husband, died July 20 of natural causes. She was 57.
Nitzky and her husband, Larry Nitzky, were the pair behind Butts & Such on Tulip Avenue, a Floral Park institution, for the last decade of her life. She served as Great Neck’s deputy village clerk for 15 years before that.
“It’s very tough, very tough to do,” Larry Nitzky, 66, said Friday of working in the shop for the first time since Jane’s death. “… She was the love of my life.”
Jane Nitzky grew up in Deer Park and graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in English, her husband said.
She worked for 10 years at Doubleday, the major Manhattan publisher, before starting as the Village of Great Neck’s deputy village clerk, Larry Nitzky said. She was acquainted with several local public officials, he said, including state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Larry met Jane through a friend who was running a dating service. They went out for wine and cheese on their first date, and “from there it took off” before they married in 1984, Larry said.
The newlyweds lived in Great Neck for more than a decade before moving to East Williston and then to Roslyn, where they lived in the house in which Larry grew up, he said.
Nitzky left the Village of Great Neck about 10 years ago so she could help Larry at Butts & Such after he had a heart attack, he said.
She was in the store regularly, placing orders and waiting on customers, Larry said. She became a friendly familiar face and “was loved by everyone who came in the store,” he said.
Johnny Kaye, a regular at Butts & Such for 25 years, said he saw Jane Nitzky in the shop as recently as two weeks ago. “A lot of people will be lost without her” in the shop, he said.
“She just made everybody that came in feel very comfortable,” said Kaye, a bartender at Poppy’s Place Restaurant in Floral Park.
Larry Nitzky opened Butts & Such in 1981, after running a smoke shop for several years in his father’s Manhasset pharmacy.
It’s “a whole new experience” running the store without his wife and partner, he said. But his customers have been supportive.
“People are coming in, offering their condolences — it’s overwhelming,” he said.
Jane Nitzky was healthy except for a breathing problem that had worsened recently, putting her in the hospital three times over the past six months, Larry Nitzky said.
She died at home early in the morning on July 20, the day she was supposed to get an oxygen tank to help her breathing, her husband said.
Larry Nitzky remembers his wife as a loving, caring person who never complained, he said. They loved to travel and took two three-day vacations a year, he said, hitting destinations from the Catskills to the Bahamas. Their favorite trips were to New Orleans, he said.
“There wasn’t another person like her, really,” Larry Nitzky said.
More than 70 people attended Jane Nitzky’s funeral on July 23 at Riverside-Nassau North Chapel in Great Neck, her husband said. About 40 people came to sit shiva with her family each night, including DiNapoli, North Hempstead Town Clerk Wayne Wink and Charles Berman, the town’s receiver of taxes.
In addition to her husband, Jane Nitzky is survived by her son Robert, 23, and four sisters.