Left, Mary Alice Meinersman dipping orange peel into chocolate in...

Left, Mary Alice Meinersman dipping orange peel into chocolate in the storefront window of the first Bon Bons on New York Avenue in 1986. Credit: Meinersman Family

Mary Alice Meinersman launched her Huntington Village chocolate-making career in the early 1980s as the lady who hand-dipped glazed orange peel or rounds of raspberry cream into kettles of melted chocolate in a storefront window on New York Avenue.

Passersby would watch Meinersman work the post she landed by answering a help-wanted ad in the Pennysaver. Several years later, Meinersman purchased Bon Bons Chocolatier from the owner and moved it to Main Street, more than doubling its size and turning it into a village purveyor of thousands of candy apples each fall and Easter Bunnies each spring.

Meinersman died Feb. 23 at age 78, at her home in Huntington Station of ovarian cancer, said her daughter, Susannah Meinersman, 58, of Huntington, who worked beside her mother in the store for decades and will step into her shoes as Bon Bons owner. "She was not an experienced businessperson, just a homemaker who was very determined," Susannah said.

Meinersman was born in Queens in 1943, grew up in Melville and graduated in the early 1960s from what was then known as Burrs Lane High School in Dix Hills. She attended Ithaca College for one year before returning to Long Island and marrying Henry Peter Meinersman, an industrial arts teacher in the Half Hollow Hills School District, whom family and friends called Pete. They had two daughters.

In addition to her love of chocolate — her favorites being bittersweet peppermint thins and milk chocolate peanut butter meltaways — Meinersman loved gardening and dancing.

"She really took so much pride in her home," said daughter Lisa McGilvray, 54, of Nyack, who works in medical billing. "My grandfather built the house in 1927 — my father’s father." Her parents lived there after they married in 1963; her mother remained after Pete’s death from cancer in 1993 at age 60.

"She was always very interested in gardening and planting beautiful flowers and bushes," McGilvray said. She loved to go on local house and garden tours, and she took lessons in flower arranging.

"In the 1970s, when we were growing up, my dad and her were avid square dancers," McGilvray said. Meinersman much later took up swing dance, taking lessons at a Fred Astaire Dance Studio even as she was being treated for cancer.

In addition to her daughters, Meinersman is survived by son-in-law Chris McGilvray and four grandchildren. And, of course, her chocolate recipes, including the dipped glazed orange peel, which is prepared these days in the Main Street store’s kitchen. "Now I’m making it," Susannah says. "It’s been handed down."

Services for Meinersman were held at A.L. Jacobsen Funeral Home in Huntington Station in February. Meinersman was predeceased by her parents, Alice and Frank Sklenka Sr. of Melville, a sister, Mildred "Mickey" Humphrey of Wantagh and a brother, Frank Sklenka Jr. of Kings Park and later upstate Worcester.

Latest Videos

Newsday LogoDON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access