George Devine Jr., an aerospace executive and a longtime volunteer...

George Devine Jr., an aerospace executive and a longtime volunteer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Eatons Neck, died on Jan. 26 at age 92. Credit: George E. Devine

With his pipe, humorous antics and sense of purpose, George Devine Jr. charmed his way into family lore, relatives said.

When his sister-in-law got her doctorate at age 63, Devine showed up in top hat and cape, then pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Because he had opinions on everything, family members often teasingly referred to him as the “noted ornithologist” after he opined on a bird flying past. Neighbors were reminded of a Rockwell painting when Devine regularly walked out to the curb in bathrobe, pipe and mussed hair to collect his newspaper.

“The dude was right out of central casting … with a twinkle in his eye and his pipe,” said niece Christina Carter of Washington, D.C. “People loved him because he loved them."

"You talk about a life well-lived. He made everybody feel a part of what he was doing,” she said.

Devine, a veteran of the aerospace industry, died on Jan. 26 after a series of illnesses that started in December. The Huntington resident was 92.

He never thought he’d live close to the century mark, said his wife, Jane Devine, a Suffolk County legislator from 1978 to 1987. His family had a history of fatal heart problems long before retirement age, so when George Devine suffered two heart attacks in less than five years, he retired at age 62 as president of InfoConversion, a Grumman division that converted paper records into microfiche.

“We never expected to grow old together,” his wife said. “As we got older, that changed what we both expected … The world became a place where we really really wanted to see how the rest of the world lived.”

They traveled the seven continents, visiting a favorite country, China, three times, with George Devine characteristically saying hello to everyone — “ni hao, ni hao” — in Mandarin.

Proud of being Irish, he took his family including the grandchildren to the land of his roots, where he had tracked down relatives.

The Brooklyn-born Devine got his law degree from St. John’s University in 1955, then joined the Navy and served as the liaison to Grumman. After four years in the military, he joined Grumman in 1959, then left in 1961 for Litton Industries to negotiate contracts before returning in 1965 to Grumman, where he held various management positions until he took the helm at InfoConversion in 1976.

When his wife ran for Suffolk Legislature, Devine was a Republican using his analytical mind to help his Democratic spouse campaign, family members said. Despite the political differences, there was peace at home, the family said.

“He always had opinions,” his wife said. “Everybody used to laugh about that. But he didn’t try to force them on people. Like with our children, he would tell them what he thought would be a good way to handle a situation."

"But he wouldn’t try to force them onto a path," Jane Devine said. "He was very respectful of the free will of each person to choose their own path.”

Daughter Anne Devine of Huntington, their youngest child, said her father possessed “strong values.” As a young driver, her father once ran out of gas and begged a stranger to lend him $1 for gas, then fulfilled his promise by paying him back the next day, she said.

“He was very grateful and very loyal to those who supported him,” his daughter said. “He lived the life based on his values.”

Recently, George Devine repeatedly pressed upon his children the importance of giving back, his family said. He had raised funds at St. John’s University, ever since he and his brother were given scholarships after their father died young; in 2019, the university awarded Devine the Pietas Medal for his devotion.

For 49 years, he volunteered for the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Eatons Neck, serving as captain and using his own powerboat. A devout Catholic, he was a longtime lector at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport.

Robert Rogan, a friend and former neighbor, remembered Devine’s willingness to lend out tools, his devotion to his family and his predictable habits, including going up an 8-foot ladder to trim hedges even at age 87.

“George was a kind man,” Rogan said. “He was a pillar within the community.”

Besides his wife and daughter, George Devine also is survived by children George E. Devine of East Northport and Jane Devine Campion of Patchogue. A funeral Mass was celebrated on Jan. 31 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, followed by burial at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Huntington.

The family asks for donations to the Father Cyril Meyer Lewis Avenue Alumni Scholarship Fund at St. John’s University or the Lakota Sioux’s St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota.

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