New Hyde Park resident and war veteran dies at 88

New Hyde Park resident and war veteran dies at 88

Edward Smolenski, a longtime New Hyde Park resident and World War II veteran, died on Nov. 29 at the age of 88 due to a malignant brain tumor.

Smolenski, who served as commander of the G&E Linder Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8031, served longer than any other commander, according to William Hothan, New Hyde Park’s VFW adjutant.

“Most people only serve one or two years,” Hothan said. “Ed served 10.”

Smolenski retired from the VFW in November, having been a part for over 20 years.

Members of the VFW post took part in a ceremony on Dec. 3, firing three shots into the air to honor Smolenski.

“We gave him a good send off,” Hothan said.

Hothan said Smolenski “would always tell us, ‘I’m taking it one day at a time,” adding he used the phrase so often it should be placed on his tombstone.

Smolenski joined the Navy during World War II at the age of 17. He never saw combat, but traveled to parts of Europe and North Africa during his time at sea.

Smolenski’s daughter, Elaine Thompsen, said that her father became impassioned with the military after hearing stories from his own parents about growing up in eastern Europe.

“He always talked about how lucky we were to have freedom,” Elaine said. “He would do anything for his country.”

She said her father was also a devout Christian who would “always talk about the blessings of God.”

Village of New Hyde Park Mayor Robert Lofaro said that Smolenski was a key part in organizing many of the village’s events over the years, including Veteran’s Day celebrations.

“He was a true American hero,” Lofaro said. “The village and the residents will miss him.”

During his time with the VFW, Smolenski fathered initiatives to raise money and give scholarships to active duty officers throughout the country.

While waiting to enter the Navy, Smolenski worked for the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, a defense manufacturer that created military supplies and had an office located at 1111 Marcus Avenue in Lake Success.

Smolenski said in a previous interview with Blank Slate Media in early November that the highlight of his career at Grumman was the day he was picked up and driven to work by Leroy Grumman, the company’s founder.

Around 1994, Smolenski was invited to join the VFW, a place he enjoyed due to the feeling of camaraderie of its members, he said.

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