Samuel "George" Kravis could always be counted on to have two things with him: a World War II veteran baseball cap on his head and a camera around his neck.
A proud World War II Navy veteran and passionate amateur photographer, Kravis would often recall a poignant image from his own memory, his wife Barbara Kravis said. It was when he was returning from war, as the ship came into New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty appeared before him.
"I just stood there and cried," he told her.
Kravis, a longtime Babylon Village resident, died Oct. 22 of natural causes at Luxor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Sayville. He was 96.
Kravis grew up in Lindenhurst, graduating from Lindenhurst High School in 1942. Immediately afterward, he joined the Navy where he served in the engine room on destroyers in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
A year after returning home, Kravis married Beryl Gittelman and the couple would go on to have two sons. Kravis attended the University of Arizona where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1950.
Kravis worked as an engineer at several electronics companies, including Telephonics Corp. in Huntington and Hazeltine Corp. in Greenlawn. He retired from Hazeltine in 1987 and the following year his wife died.
Barbara, 72, who worked at Telephonics, met Kravis when he came to see his former co-workers at a bowling night. The couple married in 1989.
After retirement, Kravis remained active, serving as a member of the Great South Bay Power Squadron, American Legion Post 1738 in West Islip and the Suffolk Camera Club.
Kravis would often talk about his childhood and clamming and crabbing in the Great South Bay, his wife said. The couple would regularly take their boats down the coast from Montauk to New Jersey.
"He loved being on the water," she said.
His other passion was photography and he set up his own darkroom at home, as well as a studio where he took family portraits for neighbors.
A firm believer in physical fitness, Kravis was a runner who would work out for more than an hour each day. His vigor often was on display when the couple would go to events, Barbara Kravis said, with Kravis letting loose on the dance floor with spins and splits.
"Everybody would make a circle around him," she recalled.
He remained active until five years ago when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she said.
Terence McSweeney, Kravis’ neighbor and a Babylon Town councilman, said Kravis’ "pride and respect for our great country always seemed to glow through his eyes." So in 2020 when the local Memorial Day parade was canceled due to the pandemic, McSweeney helped organize a car parade for Kravis.
As the cars went by Kravis saluted, the sight of the American flag making him swell with emotion.
"He just stood there and cried," his wife said.
Kravis is survived by his sons David of Lafayette, California; Jeff of St. Helena Island, South Carolina; and two grandchildren. He is interred in Wellwood Cemetery in West Babylon.