Fred Scheiner, a Roslyn restaurant owner, pilot, civil rights activist who earned a spot on President Nixon’s enemies list and father, died on the morning of June 5 at 95.
Scheiner was born on May 8, 1927. He joined his parents, Max and Frances, in the restaurant business in 1951, following a brief spell as a carpenter, where they launched The Jolly Fisherman & Steak House in Roslyn in 1957.
The Jolly Fisherman has been in the Scheiner family for three generations. Today, it is owned and operated by his son, Steven Scheiner, and it remains a significant piece of Roslyn’s history.
Steven reflected on his father’s life in a Facebook post. He said that The Jolly Fisherman is still going strong because of the great foundation he established.
“He had a full life. He was a businessman, a family man, a pilot, a political gadfly,” he wrote. “When much younger, he worked towards various (far) left goals.”
Steven admitted that, while he was mentally alert, his father’s body had gotten physically drained towards the end of his life.
“Right now there are more people coming into flying than in a long time,” Scheiner told the Times. “I think it’s replacing golf. It’s a middle‐class thing and the airports out here are full of guys who want to learn.”
Scheiner was one of several North Shore Jews who were early and constant supporters of Dr. Marin Luthere King’s civil rights initiatives and were among his primary financial backers.
“More than particularized categories of melting pot and salad bowl, more than a spectrum from ethnicity to acculturation to assimilation to cultural pluralism, North Shore Jews, identified above, shared with Dr. King the deeper American Experiment commitment to a principled society in which all had a chance to proceed based on the content of their character,” then columnist Michael D’Innocenzo wrote in 2018.
This all came together on March 25, 1968, when he flew Martin Luther King Jr. to a conference in upstate New York in his four-passenger jet. King had traveled to Long Island after hearing from his Jewish acquaintances that there was a pressing need to combat escalating antisemitism, particularly in New York City and other major cities.
“Dr. King’s lawyer lived near Fred, and their sons were friends,” the Times article explained. “Between the two of them, they decided that Fred could fly Dr. King to and from Monticello, keeping him within his calendar of appointments.”
He did so, heard King give a speech in Monticello, flew them back, as well as delivered a tape of the speech to a television station. King was assassinated about a week later.
Former President Richard Nixon also had Scheiner on his “enemies” list in the 1970s, which he considered “a badge of honor.”
Scheiner siad he was a supporter of Sen. George McGovern for president and that he had donated a dinner that was part of a fundraising event to support Daniel Ellsberg, who had been spied on by Nixon and his administration. But he never found out why he was on the list.
Regarding his father’s life, Steven Scheiner had a simple conclusion: “As we say in the restaurant business, raise a cocktail fork: to Fred!”
Scheiner is survived by his wife of 72 years, Rosalind; his three children, Terry, Steven and Carol; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.