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Forrest Palmer Clock Sr., a bayman and contractor, dies

Forrest Palmer Clock Sr., a bayman and contractor

Forrest Palmer Clock Sr., a bayman and contractor who served three terms as commissioner of the Islip Fire Department, died Jan. 9. The World War II veteran was 94. Credit: Clock family

Forrest Palmer Clock Sr., a bayman and contractor who served the Islip Fire Department for more than five decades, died Jan. 9.

The World War II veteran was 94.

At the spry age of 64, Clock was still fighting fires until one day a ceiling collapsed on him and injured him, said First Assistant Chief Thomas J. Butler Sr., 63, who knew Clock for more than four decades. At 69, Clock, along with four others in the department’s rescue squad, were honored by Suffolk County for resuscitating a man whose heart had stopped.

Clock joined the Islip fire department’s Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 in 1959 and served in various roles, including as captain and as a member of the board of fire commissioners, Butler said.

“That was a really long time to dedicate to a volunteer organization,” said Butler. “That was a person who was giving.”

Born Oct. 8, 1922, in Islip, Clock spent most of his life in the same town where his ancestors settled in the late 1600s. His grandfather on his mother’s side, Forrest Granville Haff, was among the founders of the Islip Hook & Ladder Company No. 1, which was organized in 1880 and incorporated along with the Islip Fire Brigade in 1881, according to the department’s website and his sons, Forrest “Pete” Clock Jr., 69, of Fire Island, and Dean Clock, 65, of East Islip.

Meetings to discuss the formation of the fire company occurred at 44 Willow Ave. in Islip, the house where his sons said they and their two sisters grew up.

Clock joined the United States Army Air Corps and served in various roles as part of the ground support from Dec. 29, 1941, to Aug. 24, 1945, his family said. The war years brought Clock to France, Italy, Greece and North Africa, where he learned to speak French and picked up some Greek.

After the war, Clock returned to Islip and married Anna Marie Gremli and the couple raised four children.

He worked on the assembly line at Republic Aviation in Farmingdale, which at the time built airplanes for the government, his sons said. In the 1960s, Clock operated his own business, first as a handyman, then as a contractor specializing in roofs. To supplement the family’s income, he also harvested scallops and clams, which he had done since he was a child.

Clock’s first love was his wife. His second was spending time on the bay, his sons said. He learned how to sail when motors were not available on boats, but ditched the sport when manufacturers began installing motors on boats.

“He said the heck with the sailing. I can get to where I want to go, when I want to go,” Pete Clock remembered.

Sailing had been a part of the Clock family dating back to the 1800s.

Clock’s great-grandfather, Capt. Henry “Hank” Coleman Haff, defended America’s Cup four times between 1881 and 1895, twice as skipper and twice as tactician or adviser. Haff was inducted into America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Another relative, Capt. Nathaniel O. Clock, was among the crew that defended America’s Cup in 1871, according to his family.

Monell Avenue, in Islip just south of Main Street, was renamed America’s Cup Way, in honor of Haff, Nathaniel Clock and a third yachtsman.

In addition to his sons, Clock is survived by two daughters, Lesley Kane, 67, of Medford, and Dale Bente, 60, of Islip, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He was cremated.

Clock’s ashes will be placed with his wife’s, and together their ashes will be scattered in a place the couple loved — behind the family’s bay house on Captree Island. The ceremony is scheduled to take place on Aug. 15, the couple’s wedding anniversary.

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