George B. Motchkavitz, lifelong Great Neck resident, dies at 89

George B. Motchkavitz, lifelong Great Neck resident, dies at 89

George B. Motchkavitz, who served in the Great Neck Alert Fire Company in different capacities for 70 years, was a man of many skills and talents who always put the needs of those around him before himself, his son, John Motchkavitz said.
“He was the fisherman, the gardener, the builder, the plumber, the leader, the person we looked up to,” Motchkavitz said. “Everybody knew him and loved those pieces of him, but for [our family] he was all of those pieces in one and that’s a wonderful memory to have.”
George Motchkavitz died last Wednesday of an infection. He was 89 years old.
John Motchkavitz said his father lived nearly his entire life in Great Neck.
George Motchkavitz was born on May 27, 1927, in the Great Neck home his father built after he escaped Poland to avoid serving in the Russian Army, his son said.
He was one of 13 siblings who grew up in the house.
John Motchkavitz said his father’s only stint living away from Great Neck was when he served in the Navy during World War II. His twin brother, Lenny, served with him in the Navy.
George and Lenny Motchkavitz were partners in the family’s Great Neck-based business, M&P Plumbing and Heating.
John Motchkavitz said his father treated customers “more like friends” because he believed that the “human element” was more important than anything.
“If people couldn’t make bills or afford everything, he would always give them breaks and made sure he was doing the right thing by them,” his son said. “That’s uncommon; people don’t care anymore.”
“He always said do good things and it’ll come back to you,” John Motchkavitz said.
George Motchkavitz’s role in the Great Neck community went deeper than his business, his son said.
His father was a former chief, president and trustee of the Great Neck Alert Fire Company.
John Motchkavitz said his father’s dedication to the Alert Fire Company stemmed from his desire to help those around him.
“I think it was just his good heart to constantly, anywhere he could, help his neighbor and fellow man,” his son said. “That’s what drove him.”
John Motchkavitz said he and his brother, George Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps in serving in the Alert Fire Company. His son, Ryan, will be joining the department in January, which he said is a “beautiful legacy.” John Motchkavitz’s daughter, Julia, is a Junior Alert Officer.
While most might associate George Motchkavitz with his role in the Alert Fire Company or with his business, his son said, gardening was one of his most impressive skills and passions.
“He had a beautiful garden, like his father, who always had a big garden,” John Motchkavitz said.
He said his father would often deliver fresh grown vegetables to his neighbors and customers of his business.
John Motchkavitz said one of the things he remembers most about George Motchkavitz was his love of splitting firewood, which he developed a love for as well.
“Splitting firewood is my tranquillity. I learned it from my father,” he said. “Splitting firewood was just a peaceful thing and we loved it.”
John Motchkavitz said he spoke with his father, while he was in the hospital, the night before he died and he wanted to ensure the family was doing well back home.
The next morning, he said, he received a call from someone at the hospital saying his father was not doing well.
John Motchkavitz said he immediately went to the hospital and held his father’s hand as he died.
“I’m a lucky man for that,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more than to hold my father’s hand once he passed away.”
The family founded the George B. Motchkavitz Scholarship through the Great Neck Public Schools.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking donations be made to the scholarship fund.
Donations can be sent to the attention of Eleanor DeMarco, 340 Lakeville Road, Great Neck, NY 11020.
Checks should be made payable to “Great Neck Public Schools” and the memo should read “George Motchkavitz Scholarship.”
George Motchkavitz is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dorothy, his brothers, Lenny and Ronnie, his children, John, George and Diane, three grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
John Motchkavitz said that before his father was buried at All Saints Cemetery in Great Neck, his coffin was taken via antique fire engine from the Alert firehouse to St. Aloysius Church in Great Neck, then past the house he was born in, and finally by the coffee shop he had gone to nearly his whole life.
“It was all right here on Great Neck soil,” he said. “It’s what he would’ve wanted.”

By Joe Nikic

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