Clarence Lee Rosché, a former senior official at Long Island MacArthur Airport, died on April 15, surrounded by family at his home in Bayport following a long illness. He was 88.
Rosché, who went by his middle name, was born Sept. 9, 1929, in Newark.
He joined the Marines at age 16, and was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He retired from military service with the rank of sergeant in 1952 and moved to Sayville from Brooklyn, said his son Gregory Rosché of North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Lee Rosché juggled multiple jobs through the 1950s, including driving a fuel truck at MacArthur, his son said. The GI Bill allowed him to obtain multiengine and instrument-rating licenses to fly airplanes. Soon after, Rosché began working as a test pilot for Lockheed, flying out of Kennedy Airport, then called Idlewild.
He went on to work in ground operations at MacArthur in maintenance support from 1960 to 1966, while also taking on part-time jobs flying airplanes.
That work included occasionally co-piloting private aircraft for industrialist W. Alton Jones, the former president of Cities Services Co., now CITGO, as well as for John Hay “Jock” Whitney, the philanthropist and a former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.
The Town of Islip hired Rosché in 1967 as maintenance supervisor at the Ronkonkoma airport. He worked his way up to the airport’s management team, guiding its operations and development, and becoming assistant airport manager — a job he held until he retired in 2003.
Rosché served as a volunteer firefighter with the Bayport Fire Department for 55 years.
He met his wife, Marion Edna Gaiser, on Fire Island in 1952, marrying her later that year at St. Lawrence The Martyr Catholic Church in Sayville. The couple moved to Bayport in 1963.
“He was always thankful for the people he met and the friends that helped him throughout his life,” Gregory Rosché said. “He was a loving husband and father to the very end, always giving counsel and guidance to his children and grandchildren.”
Lee Rosché was preceded in death by his wife after 59 years of marriage, and by one grandson. In addition to his son Gregory, Rosché is survived by children Jeffrey Rosché, of Center Moriches, Susan Bates, of Bayport, Janet Rocke, of Patchogue; and seven grandchildren.
His funeral service was held Saturday 21 at Raynor & D’Andrea Funeral Home in West Sayville, and he was buried the same day at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church Cemetery in Sayville.