Always with a trove of stories to tell from his time spent in Europe during World War II -- and then afterward as a Checker cabdriver for 25 years in New York City -- George J. Dubin, of Coram, spent the rest of his time dancing, staying in shape and loving his family.
Dubin died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 97.
A Brooklyn native, Dubin enlisted in the Army after he graduated high school and served from 1941 to 1946, including as a machine gun tank operator under Gen. George S. Patton Jr., said his son, Barry Dubin of Selden.
Throughout his time stationed overseas and his travels through countries including France, Belgium and Switzerland while in the Army, Dubin picked up several languages, his son said.
Dubin met his wife, Geraldine, as she sang in a nightclub with her sisters, Dubin's family said. They married in 1952.
A man interested in multiple hobbies, Dubin enjoyed ballroom dancing with his wife and working as a lifeguard at Coney Island during the summer, where he once was recognized for saving a person's life, his son said.
"He was a very good swimmer," Barry Dubin said. "He used to take me swimming all the time when I was young."
The father-son good times stretched to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in 1963, when Dubin -- a "big" Bombers fan -- took his son to his first game. There were fishing excursions, museum trips, and the time they bumped into Ed Sullivan while strolling the streets of Manhattan, just three days after the famous appearance by The Beatles.
"My dad said, 'We watch your show all the time,' while shaking Sullivan's hand, 'This is my son,' " Barry Dubin said with a laugh. "It was an experience."
George Dubin moved to Long Island in the mid-1980s, his family said, settling in Coram.
Lauren Dubin of Holbrook, an account executive at Newsday in local retail advertising, and Kimberly Mercer remember their grandfather as a "generous" man who always gave a great amount of attention to each of his family members. The "easygoing, very fun-loving" granddad doted on his granddaughters, they said, and always made sure everyone in the family ate healthfully and exercised.
"That's how you live long," Lauren Dubin remembered him telling her and her sisters.
Mercer, of Goldsboro, North Carolina, who married Air Force Staff Sgt. Gary Mercer in March, beamed as she recalled her grandfather leading the conga line at their wedding.
"He was up the whole night dancing," she said. "It was so great to see him having such a good time. We all loved watching him."
Two months after the ceremony, Dubin was taken to the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center suffering from dehydration, and he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, his family said. After contracting pneumonia, he received a blood transfusion, but ultimately died of a heart attack in the intensive care unit of St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, with his family by his side.
"He was in good spirits," Lauren Dubin said. "He never wanted anyone to worry about him."
"He tried to fight it as best he could," Barry Dubin added.
Even up until his last days, Dubin's family said, his mantras were "C'est la vie," and "Life is too short."
In addition to his son and granddaughters, Dubin is survived by his daughter-in-law, Annie Dubin, of Wyandanch; and granddaughter Stacey Dubin, of Las Vegas. His wife died in 1992.
Funeral services will be held Friday at 11:30 a.m. at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, Queens.