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Krupinskis, influential East End couple, aboard plane that crashed

Among East Hampton’s social, celebrity and political set, it was hard to miss Bernard Krupinski and his wife, Bonnie Krupinski.

Bernard Krupinski, known as Ben, was an East Hampton native and builder to the stars — among them, home decor mogul Martha Stewart and performer Billy Joel. She was a developer and a businesswoman.

The couple, both 70, were among the four people on a small...

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Among East Hampton’s social, celebrity and political set, it was hard to miss Bernard Krupinski and his wife, Bonnie Krupinski.

Bernard Krupinski, known as Ben, was an East Hampton native and builder to the stars — among them, home decor mogul Martha Stewart and performer Billy Joel. She was a developer and a businesswoman.

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The couple, both 70, were among the four people on a small plane that crashed Saturday afternoon in the ocean about two miles south of Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett, authorities said. The couple’s grandson William Maerov, 22, and the pilot Jon Dollard, 47, were also aboard, officials said.

The couple’s influence was far-reaching, from board positions to a range of social and political contacts, and among their many friends.

“Ben and Bonnie were my friends from the moment I met them in the early 1990s,” Stewart said in a statement released Sunday. “I was fortunate to work with Builder Ben as I always called him on the renovation of my 1878 home in East Hampton. I loved his ability to problem solve and build beautiful homes. Together they were generous philanthropists and supporters of East End businesses.”

Stewart said she spent a lot of time with Will, advising him on business plans and “together we planned his grandparents’ 70th birthday party last summer. His potential was lost in this very unexpected way. I will miss each of them so very, very much.”

Joel, in a statement issued Sunday said Krupinski was “always a gentleman and a fair person to deal with. I liked him personally very much, as well.”

In a 1992 article, The New York Times referred to Bernard Krupinski as an “ace East Hampton pilot and Contractor to the Stars.” Bernard Krupinski had completed key projects including the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton with his firm, Ben Krupinski Builder.

In his spare time, he was an avid pilot who had owned several planes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Krupinski told The New York Times that his craft of choice was a Piper PA-31 Navajo, the same type of plane that crashed Saturday.

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Krupinski owned three local restaurants “and there were a ton of homes he was building,” said Andy Sabin, an East Hampton Town resident.

The flag outside Moby’s restaurant at the East Hampton Point marina complex,which is owned by Krupinski, was flown at half-staff Sunday in a gesture workers said was to honor Krupinski. A wreath of white flowers hung on the door of Cittanuova, another of his restaurants, in downtown East Hampton Village. A sign on the door notified patrons that the eatery was closed Sunday. Staff at Krupinski’s third restaurant, 1770 House, on Main Street in the village, did not want to comment.

“It’s a terrible loss for the community, said Will Falcheck, general manager of the East Hampton Grill, who was riding a bike near the search command post Sunday.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said in a statement Sunday the crash left him “in shock and filled with great sadness.”

“Ben and Bonnie’s influence and generosity reached every corner of our community,” Van Scoyoc said. “They were fully committed to East Hampton and they will be sorely missed.”

Former Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell cited the couple’s philanthropy and assistance in restoring several historic buildings in town, including the Fowler House and the Amagansett Lifesaving Station.

“Ben Krupinski made enormous contributions to the people who live in the community, to preserve and protect historic sites,” Cantwell said. “They didn’t do it for the recognition. They did it because they thought it would be good for the community.”

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Arthur Malman, an attorney who served with Bonnie Krupinski on the East Hampton Town Finance and Budget Advisory Committee as well as the Airport Management Advisory Committee, said she would put community interests above her own.

“The thing that stood out for me is that she would come up with things that hurt her and Ben’s business economically, but would benefit the community,” he said, citing her openness to instituting flight restrictions at the town airport to reduce noise.

Bonnie Krupinski, whose maiden name is Bistrian, is a member of the founding family of the East Hampton Golf Club. The Bistrian family owns a number of businesses and developments in East Hampton.

The Guild Hall Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in a tweet called the couple “two of the greatest silent contributors to our community. Every repair or construction job was attended to by BKBuilder as a contribution to GH [Guild Hall],”

The Krupinskis were deeply involved in local Republican politics, those who knew them said. They also made donations to the campaigns of Rep. Lee Zeldin, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.

“I knew Ben and Bonnie well and was very saddened by the tragic news of their passing,” Zeldin (R-Shirley) said in a statement. “They were a larger than life couple everyone knew, loved, and respected.”

Amos Goodman, East Hampton Town’s GOP chairman, said he first met the couple in 2015, when he was running for the Suffolk County Legislature.

“The loss to East Hampton and the community is something that’s really profound. You will see their names on everything from Guild Hall to the East Hampton Library,” he said. “These were people from the community, invested in the community and giving back to the community.”