Michael Kaminski dances with his longtime girlfriend, Patti Denove.

Michael Kaminski dances with his longtime girlfriend, Patti Denove. Credit: Karen Zimmermann

Michael Kaminski competed in the Special Olympics for swimming, but he was just as well-known for his ability to bust a move.

"He had Michael Jackson’s moves down pat," said his sister, Karen Zimmermann, 68, of Stratford, Connecticut. Kaminski also loved the tunes of David Cassidy and "any music that was danceable."

When it came to music, he had a memory like no other.

"He could tell you every album that they made, every song that was on the album," said his nephew, Robert A. Zimmermann, 37, of Falls Church, Virginia.

Kaminski died on April 23 in Plainview of complications from the coronavirus. He was 64.

"He was a good-hearted soul, a fine guy," Robert Zimmermann said.

Kaminski was born in Brooklyn to Albina and Charles Kaminski. When he was 6, the family packed up and headed to Lynbrook, where he lived while attending the Rosemary Kennedy School. He never let his Down syndrome limit him, his family says.

"He didn’t view himself as being handicapped," his sister said.

"He was a pretty happy guy," added his nephew. "He never really complained about the things he couldn’t control."

After graduating at 21, Kaminski began work through AHRC Nassau at the Freeport workshop. In 2001, he moved to a group home in Oceanside, where he had a knack for entertaining his housemates.

"Wherever he went, he drew a crowd of people around him because he was a great storyteller," Karen Zimmermann said. "He was always kind and had a lot of love to give people. No matter how bad his life got, he still tried to make you smile and make you laugh. That rubbed off on all of us."

When he wasn’t telling a story, Kaminski enjoyed spending time with his late girlfriend, Patti Denove. The two met at a game of bowling, which was one of Kaminski’s favorite hobbies.

Kaminski also felt right at home in the pool, competing in the Nassau County Special Olympics for several years in freestyle swimming. "He loved it. He loved the attention," his sister said. "He knew he was a good swimmer. Whenever we went to any pool, he always showed off."

Kaminski was passionate about photography, proudly sporting his signature camera around his neck wherever he went. One of those places was Disney World, which he often visited twice a year with his sister. He liked to tune into the TV show "Dallas" and take in a Jets game.

Michael Kaminski, left, rides horses with Robert and Kelly Zimmermann.

Michael Kaminski, left, rides horses with Robert and Kelly Zimmermann. Credit: Karen Zimmermann

He enjoyed watching "Harry Potter" and "Star Wars" movies and had a special place in his heart for horseback riding, taking lessons for several years. He frequented Hewlett Point and Jones Beach when he had the chance.

"The simplicities in life just made him so happy," Robert Zimmermann said. Kaminski taught those around him the value of "trying to incorporate that mindset into your own life. It is really just truly the very simple things in life that, if you’re able to be open to them making you happy, life can be pretty good regardless of what adversities that you can’t control."

Besides his sister and nephew, Kaminski is survived by his nephew's wife, Meghan, and kids, Cierra and Drew; his niece, Kelly Zimmermann, and her husband, Shawn Santasiere, and stepchildren, Emma and Keegan; and his cousins, including Doug Madaio, Maureen Wetzold and others on his father’s side of his family.

In addition to his girlfriend, Michael Kaminski is predeceased by his parents; his brother-in-law, Robert J. Zimmermann; his cousin, Steve Madaio; his uncles, Dan Madaio and Dave Kaminski; and his aunt, Lil Madaio.

Kaminski’s family hopes to hold a service around the end of September.

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