Howard Miskin, former mayor of the Village of Great Neck and the main force behind the creation of the Water Authority of Great Neck North, died Friday. He was 89.
Miskin also was the senior partner of Miskin and Tsui-Yip, a law practice specializing in intellectual property and patents.
But to his family, Miskin, who died of a heart attack after a period of declining health, was defined less by his public and work roles than by his warmth, ceaseless encouragement and insistence that family members will live happily if they treat others with fairness and kindness.
“The way he talked to everyone, it was as if he really cared — and he did,” said his daughter, Deborah Lobodzic of Great Neck.
Miskin was born in Astoria and grew up in various places before settling again in Queens after World War II, in which he served in the Army. He went to Purdue University to study mechanical engineering, where he met his future wife, Lenore. While there, he was part of the team that designed the hull of the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine.
After Purdue, he graduated from Harvard Law School. He then practiced patent and trademark law, a field that expanded into intellectual property rights, Lobodzic said.
As part of his practice, he helped Nelson Rockefeller, former governor and vice president, work through the intricacies of putting his vast art collection on public display, said his son, Stephen Miskin of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The effort involved resolving trademarks, dealing with copies of artwork and other issues, his son said.
“He was just an all-around cool guy,” he said of his father.
Miskin served two terms as mayor of Great Neck in the 1980s, taking part in an effort to moderate commercial development on the peninsula. He later was a village justice in Great Neck and Kings Point.
Lobodzic said Miskin was most proud, however, of his involvement in taking over the private Citizens Water Supply Co. and creating the Water Authority of Great Neck North. He was its first chairman and served on its board as either chairman or vice chairman until last year.
Miskin said then that the creation of the authority was crucial in bringing down water rates and being more responsive to customers.
He loved his work as a patent lawyer, in part because he was entranced by inventors and the things they came up with, Lobodzic said. Miskin enjoyed talking to inventors and learning how they came up with their ideas, she said.
He even shared that love with the Boy Scouts, Stephen Miskin said. When he was in the scouts, he said his dad would give talks to his fellow scouts about engineering principals such as how pulleys work and tying knots.
Lobodzic said her father preached persistence and accountability to all, with clear results. One example is her daughter, she said, who struggled to get into physical therapy school. Lobodzic said her father told her daughter to stick with it and not give up, and that advice helped motivate her to succeed, Lobodzic said.
In addition to his wife of 64 years, his daughter and son, Miskin is survived by daughters Cynthia Lapin of Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and Leslie Cunningham of Fanwood, New Jersey; a brother, Norman Miskin, of Needham, Massachusetts; and nine grandchildren.
Services were Sunday at Temple Beth-El in Great Neck, and burial was in Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Queens.