Richard Stein, a New Hyde Park firefighter for more than four decades who was also the Village of New Hyde Park’s de facto bailiff, died of complications from liver disease on May 13. He was 63.
Stein, the oldest of three brothers who have all had fire service careers, was known for his dedication to the New Hyde Park community that raised him and his willingness to help others, Michael Stein, one of his brothers, said.
The American flag at New Hyde Park Village Hall was lowered to half-staff in his honor last week.
“He was a giving guy,” said Michael Stein, who replaced his brother on the New Hyde Park Fire District’s Board of Commissioners this year. “… He cared about the community. He always stepped up to do the right thing.”
Richard Stein was born and raised in New Hyde Park and graduated from New Hyde Park Memorial High School, Michael Stein said.
He spent his professional career in the New York Fire Department, eventually becoming the chief inspector in the FDNY’s inspection unit. He retired several years ago, Michael Stein said.
Stein was a member of the New Hyde Park Fire Department for 44 years, rising through the ranks to become captain of the Hook & Ladder Company. He also once served as chief of the Fire Department in Fire Island Pines, where he had a vacation home, Michael Stein said.
“When he was away on vacation he was firefighting,” Michael Stein said. “Couldn’t get away from it.”
Stein was elected in 2006 to the fire district’s Board of Commissioners, which oversees the Fire Department and its operations. He held the seat for 10 years before stepping away in December due to health problems.
For two decades, Stein kept watch over the New Hyde Park Village Court as a member of the village’s Auxiliary Police, a force he once led as chief.
He and another man, Bob Fitzgerald, started welcoming people to the courtroom “armed just with a smile,” showing them where to go and how the proceedings went, village Mayor Lawrence Montreuil said.
“That would immediately, I think, set people at ease, because they would immediately say to themselves, ‘OK, well there’s some structure here,’” Montreuil said at the May 16 Board of Trustees meeting.
Stein also played Santa Claus at Village Hall during the holiday season for many years, said Trustee Richard Coppola, who said he was “like a big teddy bear.”
In addition to his fire service, Stein was a member of the New Hyde Park-North Shore Elks Lodge.
Stein never married or had children but is survived by his two brothers, Michael Stein and Paul Stein of New Berlin, N.Y.
He was honored with a May 16 wake at the New Hyde Park funeral home, which Michael Stein said was attended by about 150 people. He was cremated in a private service the next day.