Essential workers like home health aides had been toiling during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, and Pete Sobol of Inwood thought they deserved public recognition.
So in the spring, he helped organize an appreciation parade.
"It was done because the community wants to let the essential workers [know] how valued and appreciated they are," he told the Nassau Herald. "There is no event in town when they don’t step forward. Amid the pandemic they are serving and deserve a tremendous amount of appreciation."
It was one of many publicized, and unpublicized, deeds done by Sobol, a community advocate in the Five Towns, a neighborhood booster and a longtime owner of a local beverage distributor.
Sobol, 64, died Wednesday, according to his family, who said the cause of death has yet to be determined.
Among the many things he did for the Inwood community, Sobol also helped secure clothes and food for those in need and organize a local race, and serve as a community advocate, the paper reported.
Last year, Sobol turned his attention to the pandemic and its impact on the area, noting how Inwood is near places with particularly high infection rates, as a local community center was used for testing.
"The only way to contain this virus and protect our people is to test and we're going to do our part to make sure the spread of this virus stops at this center," he said, according to the paper. "It’s the oldest community center in the state, it’s a place where Martin Luther King Jr. has come and visited. It’s a cornerstone of this community that has helped save lives for 115 years."
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she is submitting legislation to rename the building housing the Five Towns Community Center in Sobol’s memory, in "recognition of his service and impact on his community," according to Curran’s county Facebook page.
He was also mourned by Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Lawrence): "The first-son of Inwood has passed this morning," Solages wrote on Facebook. "This man dedicated his heart to helping so many people in need and he did it in secret bc he didn't want recognition."
Peter Vincent Sobol, who went by Pete, was born in Queens on July 18, 1956, the youngest of four children of Walter and Claire (Gregory) Sobol. Pete’s parents both served in the Navy during World War II. His father was a telephone supervisor and instructor, and his mother an advertising supervisor and homemaker.
Pete was a second-generation American of Polish, Italian and German ancestry, and his family was Catholic. He was raised primarily in Roosevelt, graduated in 1974 from Mepham High School, and attended Nassau Community College and CUNY Staten Island, where he got a bachelor’s of science degree in engineering.
He also lived in Bellmore and Inwood, where he died at home.
Early in his career, he worked at the Pathmark supermarket in Baldwin and as a repairman for the utility Consolidated Edison. He was co-owner of Sobol’s Distributors, which distributed beer and soft beverages in the region, as well as Inwood Financial Services, a check cashing store.
He is past president of the Empire State Beer Distributors Association.
His wake was Friday at Meserole Five Towns Funeral Home.
He is survived by sisters Kathleen Thompson of Northport and Patricia Austin of Bay Shore; and a brother, Michael Sobol of Port Washington.