Joseph Mund was fondly compared to a drill sergeant around the Levittown Parkway Pool where he volunteered, and in the wintertime he played the role of Santa Claus in his Hicksville neighborhood, delivering presents door-to-door.
Mund, a retired United Parcel Service manager, died on April 26 at his home. He was 77.
Many who knew him will remember Mund for his optimistic outlook, his wife said. To the question of how he was doing, he would always respond, "A little bit better than terrific."
It became his signature line.
"He was so happy with himself," Lorraine Mund said. "It's so hard for me to believe because so many people are really hard on themselves. But Joe just felt everything was good. He looked at the good in everything."
His comparison to a drill sergeant came about because he would enthusiastically organize swimmers in the "bullpen" on the pool deck before meets at the Parkway Pool.
Swimming in the summer was a family tradition for the Munds. Lorraine Mund was a coach for the Levittown Swimming Association, their three daughters swam competitively, and Mund helped out wherever he was needed.
Mund retired in 1993 as a manager at UPS, where he worked for 29 years, and although his children were getting older he continued to spend his summers volunteering -- timing meets and helping with fundraisers.
"He just really loved the kids," Lorraine Mund said.
Another seasonal tradition came the Sunday before every Christmas when he would dress up as Santa and deliver presents to children in his neighborhood.
Mund was born on Nov. 20, 1935, in St. Cloud, Minn., the seventh of 10 children. After high school, he joined the Marine Corps in 1952. Mund was stationed off the coast of Korea, but he never engaged in combat.
In the summer of 2000, his wife persuaded Mund to write about his childhood in Minnesota by way of a memoir. In 2003, Mund was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and his wife said she was happy to have details about his early life on paper.
"He was nice to everybody," said Chris Kaaf of Brooklyn, Mund's brother-in-law. "I never heard him say an angry word about anybody."
A memorial service is set for June 15 at the Wagner Funeral Home in Hicksville.