Stanley Fleishman always asked, “Everything good?” and if it wasn’t, he’d make it better, his relatives said, from efforts to boost his hometown of Long Beach to the magic acts performed for laughs after his retirement from the family car dealership.
“My father was the happiest man,” said Randi Fleishman of Lido Beach. “Wherever he went, he made people laugh. He was never half empty, he was always half full. Everything had to be good.”
Fleishman, 89, died Friday in Boca Raton, Florida, where he had been so active that his children had to “book” time with him when they came to visit.
He may have been a snowbird, but he was the “biggest promoter of Long Beach,” his family said.
“We would walk up on the boardwalk,” wife Fran Fleishman said, “and he would just be in all his glory, look at the ocean and look at the sand and say, ‘Still a nice place to live.’ ”
The Fleishmans were like a Long Beach “founding family,” those who knew Stanley Fleishman said. His father Morris, a Russian immigrant who became a Long Beach city councilman, bought up property, including a gas station, Custard’s Last Stand ice cream store and land that became Fleishman’s car dealerships — all places where Stanley Fleishman and his brother Norman worked.
Following his father’s civic footsteps, Stanley Fleishman was president of the local chamber of commerce, head of the city’s recreation committee, boys’ sports coach and one of the masterminds behind the city’s ice rink, where his beloved New York Rangers practiced for years.
His father’s business acumen meant the family didn’t have to worry about food on the table, and for Stanley, the wealth was just a way to treat people well. He never let anyone pay for food and drinks, his family said.
Carmakers would offer rewards for high-grossing salespeople, and Fleishman would always opt for a meaningful reward — not a refrigerator or dishwasher but a trip he could take with his family. If he was in Florida with his grandchildren on Long Island, distance was no problem when they wanted to watch New York Giants games together. They’d all be on the phone together in front of their respective televisions, shouting to each other things like, “Did you see that play?”
When he retired about 20 years ago, Fleishman learned magic acts and amused bigwigs, from birthday parties for his friend, former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, to his own parties and those for students at Long Beach schools, where his wife worked.
Whenever he returned to Long Beach, Fleishman would drive around to catch the sights, stop at City Hall to get the latest news, and wave to folks from his car. “Rockets!” residents would shout at him, one of his nicknames, an affectionate moniker he had used for car-dealership customers whose names he didn’t know.
“Life was a banquet to him,” his wife said.
Fran and Stanley Fleishman went steady when they were both divorcees in 1986. After dinner on their first date, Fran Fleishman was moved.
“I remembered he zipped up my jacket,” she said, “and I thought, ‘That was so tender.’ ”
Living life with him, she said, “was the best thing. . . . He gave me 32 years of such happiness, such smiles, such unexpected excitement and treats.”
Along with his wife and daughter, Fleishman is also survived by his brother, Norman, of Long Beach, stepdaughters Sari Botton of upstate Kingston and Amy Goren of Lido Beach, ex-wife Gloria Neu of Bayside, and three grandchildren.
Services are at 11 a.m. Thursday in Gutterman’s funeral home in Rockville Centre. Donations can be made to the Stanley Fleishman Memorial College Scholarship fund at Long Beach High School.