Charles Vachris was a competitive sportsman even before his days at Yale University, where he played basketball, rugby and football.
Vachris, a resident of Flower Hill for 45 years, would coach football and play basketball with his five sons, according to his family. Even after double hip surgery five years ago, Vachris remained active in pickup games.
Vachris, who served as village engineer, died Oct. 7 after suffering a heart attack while playing one of those basketball games at Munsey Park Elementary School. He was 75.
"Basketball was a lifelong passion of his," said son Keith Vachris of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. "That he died while doing that only gives consolation to the family."
Charles Vachris was a member of the Flower Hill planning and ethics boards until his death. He was a village trustee from 1988 to 1990 before leaving to oversee a road repavement project through the company he owned, said former mayor John W. Walter.
Vachris was born Feb. 19, 1939, in Brooklyn. His father and grandfather were engineers. Vachris worked for his family's company and others before starting his own firm, Vachris Engineering, in 1982 that focused primarily on engineering.
Vachris graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola in 1957, and it was at a dance where he met his future wife, Gaye Kreutzer. They were married 53 years.
He graduated from Yale's engineering school in 1961, then served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Knox, Kentucky, reaching the rank of captain. He received a master's degree in engineering from Columbia University in 1968.
"He really loved solving problems, and building things," Keith Vachris said.
Flower Hill Mayor Elaine Phillips said Vachris was a staple at Village Hall, clad almost always in a sport coat and collared shirt.
The village in August dedicated a new basketball court to Vachris, whose firm donated engineering services for the project.
Vachris and Phillips recently discussed a potential project to repaint Stonytown Road to add lanes for joggers, the mayor said.
"His wish was to keep the roads properly, and he's been doing that," said Walter who recalled seeing Vachris at the village board of trustees meeting the night before he died.
In addition to his wife and son Keith, Vachris is survived by four other sons: Scott of Virginia Beach, Virgina; Christopher of Setauket; David of Southborough, Massachusetts, and Craig of Cranbury, New Jersey. He is also survived by 12 grandchildren and six siblings.
A funeral was held Tuesday at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Manhasset. Vachris was buried at Nassau Knolls Cemetery in Port Washington.