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Mar 17, 2011 12:31 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

William Berkoski Jr. Dies At 56; Services Announced

Editor's Note: Update: Services announced as follows.
Visitation will be held Sunday, March 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at O’Connell Funeral Home in Southampton. A funeral Mass will take place Monday, March 21, at 10 a.m. at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church in Southampton.
Mar 17, 2011 12:31 PM
A black belt, businessman, pilot and Southampton Town Planning Board member, William A. Berkoski Jr., who was well-known throughout the community for his good deeds, died at his home Tuesday night of an apparent heart attack. He was 56.

Mr. Berkoski, whom friends and family called “Bill” or “Billy,” lived in Water Mill and was the owner and operator of Southampton Village-based Berkoski Enterprises, which primarily sells ice and fuel oil.

He is survived by his wife, Michele, and three daughters, Jennifer Caruso, Amanda Frantzen and Lisa Berkoski, according to Kelly Dondero, the office manager at Berkoski Enterprises. He is also survived by his parents, William and Dorothy Berkoski, and a brother, Allan Berkoski, all of whom live in Arizona, and a sister, whose name wasn’t immediately available.

Ms. Dondero said that Mr. Berkoski was at home Tuesday night and went to lie down to rest because he felt winded. She said his wife later found him unresponsive.

Southampton Ambulance responded to the home at about 8 p.m., at which time they administered CPR. They were unable to resuscitate Mr. Berkoski.

Ms. Dondero said the family did not wish to speak about Mr. Berkoski’s death on Wednesday morning.

News of Mr. Berkoski’s death left community members shocked and saddened.

James Nelan, a resident of Southampton Village, said he was a close friend of Mr. Beroski and was with his wife at the hospital after Mr. Berkoski was admitted on Tuesday night. Both men worked as instructors at the Aikenkai Shotokan Karate Federation karate studio. Mr. Nelan said Mr. Berkoski felt ill after training at the studio on Tuesday night.

He described Mr. Berkoski as a man with a strong work ethic. “He was like a brother,” he said. “He has a natural brother who lives in Arizona with his parents, but those of us in karate, it’s like a brotherhood.”

Mr. Berkoski’s contributions to the community were many, Mr. Nelan said. He volunteered in the Southampton Fire Department and supported breast cancer fundraising efforts.

Mr. Nelan said he and Mr. Berkoski had a strong friendship—they would often socialize outside of the karate studio at dinners with their wives.

“Bill was always generous, always the first one to grab his wallet and try to pay the bill, and would not let anyone pay the bill,” he said. “He had the nicest smile. He could tell you stories about everything. He was a master at so many things.”

Mr. Berkoski led an eclectic life, wearing different hats and taking on diverse roles, Mr. Nelan said. He said Mr. Berkoski loved to fly and had a knack for mechanical things. He was a licensed electrician and plumber. He had recently fully restored his high school car, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, into “perfect condition,” he said. He loved driving his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He could drive most kinds of trucks and enjoyed racing cars in Riverhead.

“He loved to drive fast,” Mr. Nelan said.

Other community members also remembered his dedication and generosity to the community.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said Mr. Berkosksi would open his doors to let the community take ice from his warehouse at no charge during power outages and hurricanes.

“I mean, if you can picture in situations where most businesses would price gouge, he would go the opposite,” Mr. Finnerty said. “Any major hurricane or power outage, where you’d have widespread power outages for days, Bill was known to just open his warehouse. And the local people knew if you were out of ice you could go to Berkoski and load up.”

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said Mr. Berkoski and his drivers drove all night in company trucks last year to Miami to deliver supplies for doctors going to Haiti. “And he never thought twice about something like that,” Mr. Epley said. “That’s just kind of the guy he was. He will be sorely missed.”

Members of the Planning Board were devastated Wednesday morning, Mr. Finnerty said. Mr. Berkoski offered a “remarkable intellect” on the board and had a good grasp on the historical perspective of Southampton Town. He described Mr. Berkoski as a devoted family man.

“You could almost characterize him as a renaissance man,” he said. “From business and community service, to his passion for martial arts and for his family. He was very much a family man. You couldn’t characterize a more complete person and sort of an inspiration for other people to model themselves after.”

Visitation will be held Sunday, March 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at O’Connell Funeral Home in Southampton. A funeral Mass will take place Monday, March 21, at 10 a.m. at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church in Southampton.

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Very sad! Deepest sympathies to his family and many, many friends. Billy will be missed by many :(
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Mar 16, 11 10:05 AM
I will never forget how he took ice trucks to new orleans after katrina.....
By rabbit (65), watermill on Mar 16, 11 10:41 AM
There will never be another like him!!! Hard working - good family man - and just loved life!!! God Bless the entire Berkoski Family!! :(
By krs1115 (2), Southampton on Mar 16, 11 10:57 AM
We will really miss him, he was such a great guy and so full of life. Always smiling! Our love and prayers go out to Michelle and all the Berkoski family. Southampton just lost a good man.
By The Butler (1), Southampton on Mar 16, 11 11:48 AM
Wow. This is really stunningly sad news. Bill had a heart of gold and this community will certainly feel this loss. My deepest sympathies to his family. What a tragedy.
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Mar 16, 11 12:36 PM
i just saw bill on monday & i have known him a long time, a total loss, RIP bill
By Coxie (14), southampton on Mar 16, 11 1:31 PM
Bill was a great person and truly a valuable person to this community. Always one to help you with his smile, his business, or even a good conversation. When he asked what he could donate once for a benefit I was putting together of course I said I needed ice. When he asked me and found out how big the event was he said he would have to register a truck back on the road just to get the ice there since it was off season. Talk about someone who was always so commited to things he did. God Bless ...more
By hamptonfoody (9), southampton on Mar 16, 11 2:27 PM
if only i could write the whole story of how, at 7 a.m. on a Sunday Billy was at my home because Ferby's batteries were low and I thought the burglar alarm was broken. One of the most giving people I ever knew. R.I.P. Billy.
By local (106), north sea on Mar 16, 11 3:09 PM
I just heard from "Mr. Nixon" at Waldbaum's about Bill's untimely passing.

Great guy, always tipped the trashman at Christmas, and never hesitated to offer a job opportunity driving, even when I already had one!

Bill will be sorely missed. To Michele, and the rest ot the family, our deepest condolences, sympathies, and prayers go out from our family, to yours.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 16, 11 7:43 PM
RIP Billy. We'll miss your magnificent smile, your gentle ways and the twinkle in your eye. Our prayers are with you and your family. xoxo
By kerric (1), Southampton on Mar 16, 11 11:29 PM
May God bless him and his family at this sad time in there lives. Bill was a man who always did his best and had FUN doing it. I well miss him and his warm smile. We can all laern sonething from Bill ,LOVE LIFE. George P. Giacoia Costa Rica.
By org2000@optonline.net (2), Southampton on Mar 17, 11 1:40 PM
RIP Cousin Billy. Your family and friends will never forget you.
By TedZaluski (1), Shadow Hills on Mar 17, 11 11:41 PM
Didn't know him personally, but sounds like a wonderful person this community has lossed. May he rest in peace and may his family's sorrow not be too great as he left them such a good legacy and wonderful memories. RIP Mr. Berkoski.
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Mar 18, 11 9:42 AM
OMG!! What a shock!! It's hard to believe someone so vibrant and "living every moment" would succumb at such an early age. Bill was a great guy and he will be sorely missed. My deepest sympathy to his family.
By Jan (25), Hampton Bays on Mar 18, 11 2:37 PM
Our deepest sympathy to Michele and family.
By jobslanejewelers (1), Southampton on Mar 18, 11 5:10 PM
The Village has lost a wonderful, fun-loving, honest, hard-working and gernerous person. Bill used to stop into Village Hall frequently just to come in and say hello to me. He always was smiling. He was a great fellow Rotarian and had a reputation for always buying multiple tickets when the internal Club ticket total grew to a large number. He also was an asset to the Village's Planning Board. My sympathies to the Berkowski family. I have fond memories of Bill that will remain in my mind and heart. ...more
By JAVN (1), Manorville on Mar 18, 11 8:34 PM
hello michelle, uncle bill and chocie dot...i am deeply saddened by billy's sudden passing...as you well know, we were not only cousins but best friends as kids...i will miss him terribly...i'm so sorry i could'nt be there to say good bye in person..dale
By harleydale (1), hobe sound on Mar 19, 11 9:31 AM
Our heart felt sympathies to Bill and Dottie. Not much else in life is worse than losing your own child. Please know our prayers are there for you and your family.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Mar 19, 11 9:46 AM
My profound condolences to Billy's family. Billy and I grew up together and were best friends. His family was like a second family to me, and my hearts breaks for the loss of their son. I have such fond memories of us boating, fishing, camping and biking everywhere. We enjoyed hiking the woods and making forts that nobody could find. As teenagers, cars gave us pure joy, and Billy had a natural driving talent. We did everything together, including our first jobs as delivery boys for McClaren's Market ...more
By Charlie Brown (1), Fremont on Mar 19, 11 12:37 PM
Our sympathies to Bill's family. You will be very much missed.You have giving so much to our town.
By MR.? (8), southampton on Mar 20, 11 12:27 PM
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