Ernest Augustus Pinaud Jr. was a friendly face who was always there with a joke or witty remark. His mere presence was part of his personality — he was someone who wanted to be part of the action, no matter the scenario.
Perhaps that’s why Pinaud took so much joy in his involvement in the Ronkonkoma Fire Department, where he was a volunteer, or his work with the Boy Scouts of America, where he helped mold countless young men into superior Scouts. He was a member of both organizations for more than 50 years.
Pinaud, a father of four and Korean War veteran who lived in Lake Grove for 57 years, died Feb. 1 at his son’s home in upstate Mahopac after battling various health issues, his family said. He was 87.
"He loved to give back," said his daughter Mary Page, 51, of Ronkonkoma. "He was larger than life. He was very loud and funny, up until the end. He was a boisterous, fun guy. He just liked to be in the thick of things."
Pinaud, who worked on the corporate side of Citibank on Wall Street for 25 years, joined the fire department in the mid-1960s, working in various capacities until about a year before his death.
He was named Long Island Volunteer Fireman of the Year in the late 1960s after suffering severe facial burns while fighting a brush fire in Hauppauge. He later worked on the EMT unit and as part of the fire police, directing traffic as his department mates fought fires, his daughter said.
"His love for the community and wanting to help as much as possible made him come down [to the firehouse] more and more and he never stopped," said Eric Cook, 30, the first assistant chief of the Ronkonkoma Fire Department. "A lot of our senior guys at the firehouse have the same compassion. It’s just something that you can’t take out of them regardless of their age."
He took his work seriously in the field but was known for his quick wit back at the station house.
"He always had a cigar in his mouth and was the funny guy," Cook said. "He was the class clown of the firehouse."
Pinaud was the committee chairman of Boy Scout Troup 91 in Lake Ronkonkoma, in charge of overseeing operations. He was also a merit badge counselor, using his vast wealth of knowledge and years of Scouting experience to steward current Scouts along their journey.
"He just loved helping out the boys and being there for them," said Troop 91 Scoutmaster Frank Napoli, 66, of Holbrook. "Whatever he could help out with, he was there."
Napoli added: "He was devoted to anything he did. He brought some of his devotion and his own hobbies back to the troop."
Born Aug. 26, 1933, in Brooklyn, Pinaud spent the first part of his life in that borough before moving to Lake Grove in 1964. He went to Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School before entering the Navy. While in the Navy, Pinaud was elevated to corpsman, attached to the Fleet Marine Corps Forces, a prime assignment for Navy men that filled Pinaud with pride for the rest of his life. This carried into a lifelong love of war movies, his daughter said.
Pinaud was member of American Legion Post 155 in Ronkonkoma and would help place flags at Calverton National Cemetery each Memorial Day with the Boy Scouts. He loved reading about history and immersing himself in the stories behind the items in his vast coin and stamp collection.
Pinaud was also an animal lover who enjoyed bird watching.
"Anything you can imagine, he just absorbed it," Page said.
In addition to his daughter Mary, Pinaud is survived by daughter Susan Heinrich of upstate Hancock; sons Ronald Pinaud of upstate Mahopac and Paul Pinaud of Texas; brothers Donald Pinaud of Florida and Leonard Pinaud of Connecticut; 13 grandchildren; and four great-granddaughters. He is predeceased by his wife of 42 years, Evelyn Joan, and brother Peter Pinaud.
Ernest Pinaud was buried at Calverton National Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held at a later date, Mary Page said.