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Stan Gelber, who started his company in Seaford, dies at 89

Stan Gelber, who helped build the USS Missouri,

Stan Gelber, who helped build the USS Missouri, in a 2010 photo. Credit: Family photo

Stan Gelber started his heating and air-conditioning business from the trunk of his car in the early 1950s. Today, the Uniondale company that bears his name has about 45 employees, a reflection of the pride in his work and his dedication to serving customers, said his wife of 68 years, Celia Gelber.

“He was a perfectionist,” she said. “That’s how he built his reputation.”

Stan Gelber, who lived four decades in Seaford, died Dec. 31 at a hospice in Delray Beach, Fla., of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 89. He had retired to Florida in 1992.

Gelber was born Oct. 11, 1927, and grew up in Brooklyn. Between 1943 and 1945, he worked as a civilian at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, building, among other ships, the USS Missouri, upon which Japanese officials surrendered in 1945. He joined the Navy in 1945, serving until 1947, his son Brian Gelber, 62, said.

Brian Gelber and his brother Michael Gelber now run the business, Stan Gelber & Sons, Inc.

Stan Gelber started his business in the early 1950s, moving it first to a garage at his Seaford home and later to an even larger garage he had built to house the growing company, said Celia Gelber, 87, of Boynton Beach, Fla.

Family members say Stan Gelber was one of the first people to install central air conditioning in Long Island homes, in the late 1950s.

Many companies buy heating and air conditioning ducts elsewhere, but Brian Gelber said his father wanted to continue making custom ducts.

“Tin-smithing was his craft,” Brian Gelber said. “He was very meticulous about this work. It had to look just so. He was very proud of his accomplishments.”

Michael Gelber, 64, recalled how his father instilled a strong work ethic in his sons, having them help out in the shop while they were teenagers, which led them to later join the business.

He said his father and mother raised their children so “you knew right from wrong.”

“You towed the line,” Michael Gelber said. “They didn’t put up with any nonsense. They tried to raise you right. We owe them a lot for that.”

Celia Gelber said that, unlike most men of his time, Stan Gelber helped out around the house.

“I never had to wash a pot,” he said. “He helped with cooking. He was a wonderful, caring man....Every day he told me I was beautiful.”

In addition to his wife and sons, Gelber is survived by four grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Robin, 50, who died in 2009.

Burial with full military honors was on Jan. 3 at South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Fla.

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