Walter J. Meissner, engineer, dies at 92
Among his many jobs in a long engineering career, Walter J. Meissner was particularly proud of his role in building the first firehouse for the fledgling Nissequogue Fire Department. He volunteered to serve as the project's unpaid supervisor in 1974. Because the village had no fire hydrants then, he created an underground reservoir to supply water for pumper trucks. Later Meissner became chief of the fire department.
"He was instrumental in helping us to build that firehouse," said former Nissequogue Mayor Haig Chekenian, of Smithtown. "He did an unbelievable job."
Meissner, a former Nissequogue Village trustee, died June 5 at his home in upstate Gansevoort from complications from a fall at home. He was 92.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Canarsie, Meissner was an Army Air Forces captain in World War II. He piloted transport aircraft in dangerous supply missions over the Himalayas, known to fliers as "The Hump." He also flew bombers and long-range fighters over China and Burma (now known as Myanmar), said his daughter, Diane Jacobsen of Saratoga Springs.
Later, he told his daughters about flying missions without modern electronic guidance systems. "It was all hands-on through the fog, through the clouds, everything," Jacobsen said.
After the war, Meissner went to work as head construction engineer for developers Murray Barbash and Saul Seiff. Among Meissner's projects were the Willow Lake condominiums in Smithtown, Harbour Club garden apartments in West Babylon and single-family homes in Dunewood on Fire Island.
In 1947, Meissner married Georgette Feltman. They moved from Floral Park to Nissequogue in 1958. He served on the small village's planning board, and later he was a deputy mayor, a trustee and fire chief.
The Meissners moved upstate in 1986. Georgette Meissner died in 1988.
In his later years, Meissner played accordion, piano and organ in dance bands, and he enjoyed hunting, fishing and hiking. "The chipmunks that ate peanuts from his pocket will surely miss him," Jacobsen said.
In addition to Jacobsen, Meissner is survived by another daughter, Dale Guyette of St. Michaels, Md.; four granddaughters; and a great-grandson. A committal service with military honors was held June 12 at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville.