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Stanley Shubin, father of Island Harvest CEO, dies at 99

Stanley Shubin, seen in an undated photo, was

Stanley Shubin, seen in an undated photo, was a talented glassmaker who taught others in his assisted living community how to make vases, mirrors, plates and other glass pieces. Credit: Lisa Shubin

Stanley Shubin, known to those close to him as “Stan the Man,” was always willing to lend a helping hand.

The World War II Army veteran not only had a knack for fixing things, but was dedicated to service — building sets for a local theater even after going blind, his family said.

“He did it because it was just who he was,” said his daughter, Randi Shubin Dresner of East Meadow. “He didn’t need any attention or ask for anything in return. It was just who he was and what he taught us — the answer is always ‘yes’ and you figure it out.”  

Shubin died on March 3 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. He was 99 years old.

When Rabbi Albert J. Lowenberg first arrived at the former Temple Emanu-El of East Meadow, Shubin was one of the first people he met. He remembers his former congregant as a “bright light” who was “goodness personified.”  

“He impressed me immediately as being a person who was supportive, caring, dedicated, loyal and loving,” Lowenberg said. “He was also very generous of spirit and hand.”

When Lowenberg mentioned offhandedly that he wanted to purchase window boxes to help beautify the temple, Shubin built them himself.

“He said, ‘Rabbi, you need them, they’re yours. But for the flowers, you’re on your own,’” Lowenberg recalled with a laugh. “He was a skilled craftsman. He made that donation to the congregation because he knew it was important to someone else. He wanted to spread joy and happiness because he was a joyous, beautiful soul.”

That joy persisted despite challenging circumstances. In the late 1960s, his wife, Rhoda, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As her condition progressed, Shubin became her primary caretaker, in addition to taking care of the couple’s four children.

“He literally changed the course of his future to take care of her,” Dresner said. “His devotion to family was absolutely unmatched. He was so devoted to taking care of the family and making sure we were all safe and healthy and that everything was OK.”

Shubin sold the self-serve laundromat and dry cleaner he owned in Uniondale to be closer to home and focused his efforts on real estate, becoming a broker. In between his professional responsibilities, he would come home to help Rhoda, as well as do laundry, make lunches and get his children ready for school. 

He also modified his East Meadow home to accommodate his wife’s disability, adding decks around the house and adding a bedroom on the main floor — an accomplishment he was particularly proud of.

Having a disability that required intensive care left little room for the Shubins to be “social people,” Dresner said. But there was one lifelong friend of Rhoda’s — Suzanne Klapper Ostrover — who had remained close to the family throughout the years.

“Her husband died a few months before my mother died. After my mom died [of breast cancer, in 1989], she and my father started to date and got married,” Dresner said. “She helped him learn to live a different life.”

Shubin’s marriage to Suzanne in 1994 gave him a “renewed passion for having fun,” according to Dresner. In his late 70s, Shubin began playing golf and tennis, as well as making glassware. He and Suzanne moved to Florida, where he began volunteering at a soup kitchen.  

Around this time, Shubin became legally blind. However, thanks to the help of a Veterans Affairs program, he learned to navigate the world from memory. He took the bus to the store, memorizing the number of steps to his favorite products. And though his vision was impaired, his heart for service was not; at 93 and only able to see shadows, he continued to volunteer at his local theater, climbing 20-foot ladders to paint and build sets.

A talented glassmaker, he also taught others in his assisted living community how to make vases, mirrors, plates and other glass pieces.

“He was able to rely on his confidence, memory and comfort in his environment and people around him,” Shubin said. “No one who he met ever realized he was blind. He never told them, he just didn’t feel the need.”

Shubin found himself in the role of caretaker yet again when Suzanne Shubin was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In his 90s himself, he directed his wife’s care for several years, living on the same property grounds as the nursing home in which she stayed until she died in 2018.

At the urging of his children, Shubin moved back to East Meadow when he was 94, moving in with Dresner, who had purchased her childhood home from her father about 25 years ago. Over the years, he continued to offer guidance, as well as help, on home improvement projects.

“When I had projects to do around the house, he was there to do it with me. I waited on a lot of projects so I could do it with him,” Dresner said. “I didn’t need to, but it felt good to do it with him. It was comforting to know he had that eye over my shoulder.”  

Today, Shubin’s spirit of altruism is carried out by his children. Dresner is the president of Island Harvest Food Bank and his daughter Lisa Shubin is involved in a leadership role at Temple B’nai Torah of Wantagh. Shubin’s son Hal Shubin runs a nonprofit farmers market in Belmont, Massachusetts, while his son Philip works with several New York City organizations to advance human rights and social justice.

“As kids, when somebody needed something, we were there. We grew up in a home of giving,” Dresner said. “This is an ingrained part of who we are.”

Services for Shubin were held earlier this month. In addition to his four children, he is survived by two stepchildren, nine grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

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