Former Farmingdale Mayor Willis B. Carman Jr., a Korean War veteran and a lawyer who spent most of his life in the village, died earlier this month of cancer.
He was 81.
The son of a judge, he devoted 30 years to elected office, including two four-year terms as mayor and 22 years as a Farmingdale village trustee.
One of his proudest accomplishments was helping to facilitate the construction of the Hardscrabble Apartments senior housing complex in the village while he was mayor, which made it easier for elderly to continue to live in the community, said his wife of 59 years, Hilda. He retired from elected office in 1992, capping off 30 years of service with a dinner attended by nearly 250 people.
He met the girl with whom he would spend his life when he was a boy in elementary school in Farmingdale.
"He was my boyfriend in the fifth grade," his wife said. They dated in high school and served in student government together.
After graduating from Hamilton College upstate, he demonstrated a mix of foresight, planning and organization that would serve him throughout his life.
He volunteered to serve in the Army because he thought he would be drafted and wanted to time the service so that he could enroll in law school two years later without delay.
And he proposed to Hilda.
"Before he went to Korea he gave me a ring -- I guess to lock me in," she said with a laugh.
He served in Korea for 16 months as a military policeman and was in Panmunjom at the end of the war when prisoners were exchanged between the North and South.
After returning, he married Hilda and went to Fordham Law School without missing a beat.
His roots in the community were deep: his family claims descent from John Carman, who in 1643 was among the first European settlers of Long Island.
Willis Carman was a perpetual student -- as recently as last year he was writing down notes from his tennis lessons and continuing to play banjo, Hilda said. This past summer he hadn't slowed down, attending community functions at the Rotary club, and dinner parties and making trips into his law office -- Carman Callahan & Ingham LLP, where his son Willis is an attorney.
"He really lived a very full life right up to the end," she said.
"He was a man of principle and I think that he was able to live up to those principles."
In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by daughters Laura Carman and Christina Black; brother Gregory; and eight grandchildren.