George B. Motchkavitz died Dec. 7 after a life lived in the house his father built in the middle of the village of Great Neck that he loved and served as a businessman, neighbor and firefighter.
He was 89 and died of an infection, his family said.
Mr. Motchkavitz was born May 27, 1927, the son of John Motchkavitz, who had fled Poland in 1906 at 16 years old to escape being forced into the Russian army and later build the four-bedroom, coal-heated family homestead in Great Neck. The house continues to be a home and holiday gathering place to generations of the family.
George Motchkavitz was one of 13 children who grew up in the homestead in then rural Great Neck. He would race home with his twin brother, Lenny, at midday from St. Aloysius elementary school to move the cows to fresh pastures then race back to school.
His only extended time away from Great Neck was during World War II. He served as a military police officer guarding Waldron Field in Corpus Christi, Texas, now known as the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. At his side also serving in the Navy was his brother, Lenny.
George and Lenny continued their partnership after the war in the family business, M & P Plumbing and Heating Inc. in Great Neck. He retired after 50 years, but regularly checked on the work he did by visiting former customers as friends and neighbors and continuing to drop off bushels of fresh tomatoes from his garden. The outreach to neighbors was an extension of the odd jobs the company provided to local men who had lost their job to help them until they could land another.
Motchkavitz’s devotion to his community was grounded in his 70 years of service to the Great Neck Alert Engine Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 where he was a firefighter, chief, president and trustee.
“This was his home, Great Neck was his place,” said his son, John Motchkavitz. “Things change . . . … but he was always a community guy.”
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dorothy who lives in the homestead; sons John and George and daughter Diane, all of Great Neck; brothers Lenny of Great Neck and Florida, and Ronnie, of Florida; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
In honor of Motchkavitz’s service, his coffin was transported by antique fire engine from the funeral home to the firehouse, where a wake was held Sunday and yesterday. The funeral will be today at 9:45 a.m. at St. Aloysius Church 692 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, where Motchkavitz was baptized. Burial will follow at All Saints Cemetery in Great Neck.
Instead of flowers, donations may be made to the Great Neck Public School’s George B. Motchkavitz Scholarship, to the attention of Eleanor DeMarco, 340 Lakeville Rd., Great Neck, N.Y. 11020.