Fred Kienle didn’t live his whole life on Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst, but Wellwood Avenue was a part of his life's most defining moments.
Kienle was born at home on Wellwood and graduated from high school on that street. He got his first job at a luncheonette on the same block, was married at the Catholic church nearby, served as fire chief at the station across the street and later was elected mayor in Village Hall just down the road. Last month, his wake and funeral service also were held on Wellwood.
“All the major points of dad’s entire life were within one mile of each other on the same street,” said his son, Fred Kienle of Yorktown, Va. “Dad was a Lindenhurst guy, through and through.”
Kienle died at home in Williamsburg, Va. on Jan. 8 from prostate cancer. He was 87.
After graduating from high school in 1949, Kienle was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Okinawa during the Korean War. When he returned stateside, he married Joan Wegener, whom he knew from high school.
While in the Army, Kienle learned how to be a mechanic and took those skills to his next job as a service manager at Nash Motors, which later became American Motors. He remained at that company in Massapequa for four decades before joining Babylon Ford in the 1990s, his son said.
Kienle joined the Lindenhurst Fire Department in 1950, his son said, and served as chief from 1972 to 1973. He was also captain of the department’s racing drill team, nicknamed the "Snails." He would remain active in the department until 2003.
Community-minded and unhappy with the village’s spending, Kienle decided to run for mayor and won, serving two terms from 1988 to 1996. Kienle reduced the mayor’s salary and created the administrator clerk position while in office.
“He was a straight shooter,” said Shawn Cullinane, who served as clerk under Kienle. “He never made a judgment without talking to people but once he made up his mind, he was very clear about it.”
Kienle’s favorite saying when asked to do something was “No problem!” As mayor, Kienle followed these words with creative ways to get things done, enlisting volunteers for village projects. If that failed, he would often just take action himself.
“It was not unusual to find him painting crosswalks on Wellwood Avenue,” his son said. “He was always looking for a solution and always ready to pitch in himself.”
Kienle remained active in Lindenhurst organizations until he moved to Virginia in 2003. A doting father, his son said, Kienle wanted to spend the same quality time with his three granddaughters.
But Kienle wasn’t content to spend his retirement sitting around. He got a job directing traffic at Busch Gardens, earning perfect attendance each year until he stopped working at 85 years old.
“He just loved people and loved being active in the community,” his son said.
In addition to his son, Kienle is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joan Kienle, of Williamsburg, Va., brothers Walter Kienle of Lindenhurst and Tom Kienle of Mount Dora, Fla; three granddaughters; and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, followed by burial in Breslau Cemetery in Lindenhurst.