Herman Unger, a 25-year veteran of the Nassau County Police Department and a former longtime resident of Roslyn Heights, died Saturday. He was 89.
Unger's family and friends described the World War II veteran as a hardworking, patriotic man who strove to support his family and serve his community through a career in the military and as a police officer.
Unger died of complications from cancer, said Lewis Unger, one of his sons.
Another son, Allen Unger, said his father, who was both a veteran of the United States Army and Air National Guard, taught him the value of honesty and commitment.
"My father said, 'If you tell someone you are going to do something, keep your word so people will trust you,' " said Allen Unger of Greensboro, N.C. "He was someone who was always willing to work with the neighbors and help people out."
Herman Unger, born in Newark, lived in Brooklyn before moving to Roslyn Heights in 1950. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served in World War II before being honorably discharged in 1946. He went on to join the Air National Guard Reserve, where he served in several administrative roles and retired as a senior master sergeant in 1980.
While serving in the National Guard, Unger also joined the Nassau County Police Department in 1953. He rose to the rank of detective, and served the force until his 1979 retirement, his family said.
Roy MacMillan met Unger in 1956 when the two worked together at Nassau County Police's Sixth Precinct in Manhasset.
MacMillan said Unger was known as a reliable and trustworthy person who never hesitated to lend a helping hand to those who needed him. "Herman would always go to other people's needs," he said. "He was very intelligent, very dedicated."
That outlook, his family said, motivated Unger to help start the Magen Society for Jewish police officers and serve as the group's first president. After his retirement from the Nassau police department, Unger remained active in his community, serving as treasurer of the New York State Retired Police Association from 1984 to 1987.
Unger was also an active member of the Masonic Order and served in various roles in that organization.
Lewis Unger said his father maintained multiple jobs to provide for his family, at one point in the 1970s working as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.
Despite juggling jobs, he was an outgoing, upbeat man, Lewis Unger of East Meadow said. "He always had a smile on his face," he said.
In 1986, Herman Unger and his wife, Gertrude, moved to Florida. The couple had been married for 62 years at the time of his death at their West Palm Beach, Fla., home.
He was buried Monday at King Solomon Memorial Park in Clifton, N.J.
Aside from his wife and two sons, Unger is also survived by his daughter, Sandra Wunder, of Colonia, N.J.