Jay T. Korth recalled that his late father, Jay F. Korth, loved his family, the Village of Lynbrook and golf.
“He was always funny,” Korth said with a laugh. “When my mother would go shopping, she would be inside, and he would bring his clubs, and he was just in the parking lot chipping away at golf balls.”
The elder Korth died on Dec. 3 after a brief illness, at age 99.
Throughout his adult life, Korth was active in Lynbrook. He became commander of American Legion Post 335 in 1955, and later served as judge advocate for the post. He was a village trustee for nine years and a village attorney for two decades.
Korth was born in Brooklyn on July 23, 1919. He served in World War II, arriving at Hickam Field, the military airfield adjacent to Pearl Harbor, only days after the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941. Korth was part of the first wave of reinforcements after the bombing, and was a telegraph operator for the Army Air Corps at Hickam during the war. Though he never saw combat, his time at Hickam gave him a sense of patriotism.
“He [had] great camaraderie with his serviceman, which is why he was active in his Legion,” Jay T. said. “It was a labor of love. He enjoyed helping people.”
The elder Korth’s brother, Charles, also served in the Army and was part of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. Charles, who died in 2011, marched with Allied troops during the liberation of Paris.
After the war, Korth earned a law degree from St. John’s University and a Master of Laws from New York University before landing a job in the Wall Street area. He met his future wife, Grace Marie Miller, while attending St. John’s in 1952, and they married and soon moved to the village. In Lynbrook, he started his own firm as a negligence attorney. In addition to their son, the couple raised two daughters, Donna-Marie Korth-Williams and Lorraine Korth-Smith. Jay T. said that his father loved raising a family in Lynbrook.
“When he was retired, he would spend a lot of time with a book in the backyard and enjoy bird watching and the big trees — all the things that made suburbia different from Brooklyn,” Jay T. said. “He was a big bird watcher in the backyard, and even claimed that a cardinal actually once landed on his shoulder.”
Korth retired from his legal practice in 1985, and was honored as a 70-year member of the Nassau County Bar Association in May. Even after he retired, he donated his time as a pro bono legal adviser to Our Lady of Peace Church in Lynbrook. He was a parishioner at the church for 66 years, and served as a lector and fundraiser.
He was also a member of the Lynbrook Elks Lodge and the Knights of Columbus. He served as grand marshal of Lynbrook’s Memorial Day Parade, and in 2014 he was named Man of the Year by the village board. He remained active in the American Legion, which prompted its members to throw him a celebration in honor of 65 years of service to the post in June 2017.
“He knew how to press your buttons and zing you in a friendly sort of way,” Post 335 Adjutant Bill Marinaccio said. “He was always willing to help in a legal sense to give advice, or if you needed a hand or something. He was always willing to give you his opinion on something.”
In addition to his patriotism, Korth is remembered for his love of golf, hiking and astronomy and his affinity for nature and history. Jay T. said his father was never driven to become a lawyer by money, and added that his passion for the law inspired all three of his children to become attorneys.
“He introduced it to us, and he was happy doing it, so it kind of made us want to do it,” Jay T. said. “It was more of like he enjoyed it so much, and he would tell these stories about clients and strategies for a case, and we were intrigued.”
Visitation for Korth was held at Flinch and Bruns Funeral Home on Dec. 5 and 6. His funeral Mass was led by Bishop Robert Brennan at Our Lady of Peace Church on Dec. 7, the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Marinaccio said that 20 members of the American Legion attended the services. He added that the wake was standing-room-only, and the funeral Mass was well attended. Korth was buried at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury, and the Lynbrook Police Department provided an escort to the cemetery during the funeral procession.
Outside the church during the Mass, the Lynbrook Fire Department hung American flags from the ladders of its fire trucks as a salute to Korth. At Monday’s village board meeting, Mayor Alan Beach and the board of trustees observed a moment of silence in Korth’s memory.
“Jay Korth was such a gentleman,” Beach said. “That sums up Jay Korth. He was just a good-hearted man and a gentleman.”
In addition to his wife and three children, Korth is survived by his sons-in-law, Brian Smith and Kenneth Williams; his daughter-in-law, Susan Korth; his grandchildren, Brian, Jay, Kristen, Brooke, Jack, Thomas and James; and several nieces and nephews.
In the days after his father’s death, Jay T. said, he took walks where the two of them played golf together in Bay Park as a way to honor his memory. “We really did love him,” he said, “and we still do.”