Word reached me today, December15th, that Van Field has passed away. His name should not come as a stranger to regular readers of this website for Van and I carried on quite a correspondence regarding Moriches area history since 2000 and he contributed several of the very rare photos including the one of Willis O. Penney aka Mr. Claire A. Knapp.

I first got to know "Doctor" Field a little bit in September of 1962 when I was just 15 at the BOCES Vocational Schools in Bellport. I was in the first year of the auto mechanics and Van taught a lot of the guys I went to high school with, how to use the slide rule, and what Ohm's Law was really about in the electronics classes on the other side of the wall. He would let us work on his big '51 Chrysler business coupe too, under the watchful eyes of our auto shop teacher Mr. Massucci. Van's business coupe may of been one of the ugliest cars I ever saw on the outside, but once you lifted the hood, all our eyes popped out ..... for there lied the very first Chrysler Hemi V8, with its humongous valve covers. All of us gear guys dreamed of stuffing a Chrysler hemi in our own cars someday. Or better yet building a slingshot dragster around one. 40 some years later Van would tell me he had bought that car for 50 bucks ...You couldn't purchase the air cleaner for that today.

But from 2000 on we mainly discussed things that were relevant to my research. My Moriches pages are full of Van's photos, some taken by his mother on glass plates, Van was the first guy to find anything about the Knapp's having a seaplane base in 1917. He told me how he worked on the 12 volt radios at the Dana Estate, lots of history about Moriches, going flying with boy pilot Jacque Chapman at Frog's Flying Field etc.

Of the books he wrote, I am the proud owner of "The Illustrated History of Moriches" , "Wrecks and Rescues On Long Island" and "New Jersey Coast Guard Stations and Rum Runners".

Although his passing was not unexpected, as I knew for several years he had the same kind of cancer that took my Mother in 1985, I am just one of many people that are going to miss him. My Sympathy To Mary and The Field Family

What follows is his official obit :

Van R. Field January 6, 1923 – December 12, 2007

 Van R. Field passed away peacefully on Wednesday, December 12, 2007 after a long battle with cancer.  He was born in Southampton, NY to Beatrice Terry Field and Paul Lester Field. After graduation from Center Moriches High School, he traveled to Dayton, Ohio to work for Lear. Upon hearing of the US declaration of war, he returned home to enlist in the US Coast Guard.  He served in WWII in the US Coast Guard in the south Pacific. Upon discharge from the service, he worked for Brookhaven Town Police Department. After that he attended Stetson University in DeLand Florida. In 1951, he married Mary E. Strebel while attending college in Florida. Upon graduating, he became a communications electronics engineer. He worked for Grumman, at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the Physics department, and Fairchild. He worked briefly for his father-in-law, Louis Strebel, at the Sunrise Restaurant in Center Moriches as a maitre’d and bartender. In 1960 became a vocational teacher for BOCES 2, retiring in 1981. After leaving teaching he returned to the electronics engineering field working for CAI and later on Hartman Industries. Retiring for a second time, he and his wife, Mary, started writing local history books, publishing “The Illustrated History of the Moriches Bay Area” and then “Nettie’s Diary.” After these joint efforts, he went on to publish “Wrecks and Rescues on Long Island.” He collaborated on the book “New Jersey Coast Guard Stations and Rumrunners” with John Galluzzo. He also compiled a history of Manorville, titled “Old Manorville” with his wife, Mary. His last publication, “Mayday! Shipwrecks and Sea Tales off Long Island’s Eastern Shore” is being published by The History Press.

An avid Amateur Radio operator, he was involved with many radio organizations and publications. He won the best article award in 2004 from QST magazine for an article , “HF Antennas 101.” In November of 2007 he was awarded the “Grand Ole Ham”  plaque from the American Radio Relay League – Hudson Division sponsored by the Peconic Amateur Radio Club to which he belonged.

His community service included working with Suffolk County Civil Defense, working as Communications Officer in the 1970’s where he organized hidden transmitter hunts with local amateur radio operators, honing their skills in Radio Direction Finding.

He was also a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, recently receiving an award for 35 years of service. He received numerous awards and commendations for his work with the Auxiliary.

Other efforts include the Ketcham Inn Foundation, a historic restoration project in Center Moriches and the Antique Wireless Association.

He is survived by his wife, Mary, daughters Gail Field of Center Moriches, Holly Borak of Virginia, and four grandsons Tom, Mike, Andy and Mark Borak.

A memorial service is planned December 22 at Sinnickson’s Funeral Home, Center Moriches 11 AM – 1 PM.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Ketcham Inn Foundation, Inc., LI Wireless Historical Society or the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.