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Hans W. Ringwald, WWII vet and machinist, dies at 85

Hans W. Ringwald, a World War II veteran, Nassau police officer and accomplished machinist who helped make the landing gear of the lunar excursion module, died Friday. He was 85.

He lost a yearlong battle with complications from a traumatic brain injury at A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale. He was injured when he fell Nov. 6, 2008, at his home in Bethpage.

Ringwald was born in Lahr, Germany, and came to the United States in 1928. He grew up in Queens and moved to Bethpage in 1951 with his wife, Clara, after serving in World War II.

He joined the Nassau police department in 1953, serving as a patrol officer for 19 years before retiring. He then held the position of director of security for South Oaks Hospital in Amityville for 15 years.

Ringwald, a tool and die maker, also ran a machine shop in Bethpage for nearly six decades. He would do small jobs for neighbors but also contracted with companies such as Grumman to produce aerospace parts, including parts for the lunar excursion module, which ferried Apollo astronauts to and from the surface of the moon.

"He did so many difficult jobs for people within his community and never charged more than one or two dollars," said his daughter Margaret Ringwald, 47, of Oak Island, N.C. "His main concern was to give back to his community without any recognition or payment."

Before the wave of home construction, Ringwald was concerned that in the future, any wooded land would soon be occupied. His intuition led him to fight for the conservation of a parcel of land behind his home. As a member of the Pinebrook Civic Association in Bethpage, he was successful in turning this land into a children's park.

Ringwald's family has now proposed to the Department of Parks in Bethpage that the park, on Meade Avenue and 5th Street, be named after him in recognition of all of his contributions to his community.

"Many people that he did favors for don't even know his name," Margaret Ringwald said. "It wasn't about recognition to him, but he was a brilliant man and deserves to be acknowledged."

In addition to his daughter and wife, survivors include sons Frederick of Colorado Springs and William of Charlotte, N.C.; daughters Nancy Attaway of Cripple Creek, Colo., and Jeanne Watson of Nesconset.

Visiting is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. today at White's Funeral Home in Bethpage. He will be cremated and a military ceremony for the burial of his ashes will take place on Wednesday at Calverton National Cemetery.

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