Herman J. Sandles, a U.S. Army veteran who went on to run an Islip Terrace funeral home until his death Monday, is remembered by his wife of 55 years as “one of the best.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1932, he was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer in August and died at home at age 83.
“He was always there for his kids, no matter what,” Virginia Sandles said of her husband. “He put them all through school and took care of their weddings for those that are married.”
Sandles, who moved to Islip Terrace shortly after he was born, graduated from East Islip High School in 1950 and worked a series of jobs until he was drafted in 1953.
He spent the next two years at the military bases in Fort Dix, New Jersey, and Fort Knox, Kentucky, until he was discharged and joined the New York State Troopers.
His wife, whom he wed in 1960, remembered that in their early courtship, she’d wake to find fresh strawberries on her porch and would make strawberry shortcake for Sandles and his fellow troopers.
“They were a good group,” she recalled.
Sandles joined the Suffolk County Police Department in 1960, just as the organization was forming. He stayed on for 21 years, retiring as a lieutenant in 1981.
“Dad was always community service-oriented,” said his son, Craig, 44, of Islip. “He always helped people.”
Virginia Sandles said her husband enjoyed police work, though it could be dangerous at times. When responding to a call at a residence near the start of his police career, she said, a woman grabbed a knife shortly after he entered.
Sandles talked her down and she didn’t hurt anyone, his wife said.
“He was really good with people,” his wife said.
Sandles purchased the Hatlak Funeral Home in Islip Terrace in 1965 and quickly renamed it the Sandles Funeral Home. Craig remembers helping his father file paperwork and greet people at the door, among other tasks he shared with his siblings.
In addition to his wife and son, Sandles is survived by three daughters, Pamela Balserus, 53, of Sag Harbor, Monique Canniff, 50, of Huntington and Lisa-Nicole Sandles, 48, of Islip Terrace; and five grandchildren.
Services will be held at Sandles Funeral Home on Wednesday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Mass will be said Friday at 10:45 a.m. at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in East Islip. Burial will follow at Queen of All Saints Cemetery in Central Islip.