Frederick J. Adler was always "the quickest wit in the room," said his grandson William Adler of Manhattan.
"He was always ready with a joke. One example of my grandpa being funny is in church. During Communion, when it was his turn, he would always raise two fingers to the pastor to signal he wanted two cups of wine instead of just one. He found ways to laugh and be funny in any situation."
Adler, a retired New York City sanitation worker, died of congestive heart failure on Jan. 7 at Good Shepherd Hospice in Port Jefferson. He was 96.
Born in his parents' Brooklyn home during World War I, Adler was the youngest of four. After graduating from Richmond Hill High School in Queens, he served in the Navy as a coxswain, traveling to such locations as Hawaii, Fiji, Okinawa, Iwo Jima and through the Panama Canal.
"He epitomized the generation of our country that is often tagged, 'the greatest generation,' " said his son, Kenneth, of Nesconset. "Growing up during the Great Depression and serving his country during World War II, he lived through tough times that are hard to fathom in today's world."
Noting his grandfather's job as a sanitation worker for more than a quarter-century, William Adler said, "Back then, you worked six days a week. One time, he told me he walked for miles through a big snowstorm to get to his assigned truck to clear the streets of Flushing."
After the war, Adler moved to Floral Park, Queens, with his wife, Shirley, whom he had married in 1943. The couple had one child. Shortly before his death, Frederick Adler went to live with his son in Nesconset. Shirley Adler died in 2006.
Adler was an active member of Saint Paul's Lutheran Church in Floral Park since its founding, William Adler said.
In his later years, Adler enjoyed spending time with his family and traveling. He celebrated his 95th birthday on an Alaskan cruise.
"His sense of humor remained intact through his final months," William Adler said.
"We're all better people for knowing him," William Adler said. "My family and I will have the enormous task of carrying on his legacy and to continue on as he would want us to -- with love, hard work, honesty, generosity and most of all, laughter."
In addition to his son and grandson, Adler is survived by grandson James, of Stony Brook; and a great granddaughter, Emma.