Samuel ‘George’ Kravis, engineer, Navy veteran and avid amateur photographer, dies at 96

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Samuel “George” Kravis could always be relied on to carry two things with him: a WWII veteran baseball cap on his head and a camera around his neck.

A proud WWII Navy veteran and avid amateur photographer, Kravis often recalled a poignant image from his own memory, his wife Barbara Kravis said. It was while he was returning from the war, when the ship entered New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty appeared in front of him.

“I stood there and cried,” he told her.

Kravis, a longtime resident of Babylon Village, died on October 22 of natural causes at the Luxor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Sayville. He was 96 years old.

Kravis grew up in Lindenhurst and graduated from Lindenhurst High School in 1942. Immediately afterwards he joined the Navy where he served in the engine room on destroyers in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

A year after returning home, Kravis married Beryl Gittelman and the couple are said to have two sons. Kravis attended the University of Arizona where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1950.

Kravis worked as an engineer at several electronics companies, including Telephonics Corporation in Huntington and Hazeltine Corporation in Greenlawn. He retired from Hazeltine in 1987 and the following year his wife died.

Barbara, 72, who worked at Telephonics, met Kravis when he came to see his former colleagues at a bowling alley party. The couple married in 1989.

After his retirement, Kravis remained active, serving as a member of the Great South Bay Power Squadron, the American Legion Post 1738 at West Islip, and the Suffolk Camera Club.

Kravis often spoke of his childhood and his clams and crabs in the Great South Bay, his wife said. The couple regularly took their boats off the Montauk coast in New Jersey.

“He loved being on the water,” she said.

His other passion was photography and he set up his own darkroom at home, as well as a studio where he took family portraits for neighbors.

A strong supporter of fitness, Kravis was a runner who trained for over an hour a day. Her vigor was often on display when the couple went to events, Barbara Kravis said, with Kravis going wild on the dance floor with spins and partings.

“Everyone was in a circle around him,” she recalls.

He remained active until five years ago, when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, she said.

Terence McSweeney, Kravis ‘neighbor and Babylonian city councilor, said that “Kravis’ pride and respect for our great country always seemed to shine through his eyes.” So in 2020, when the local Memorial Day parade was canceled due to the pandemic, McSweeney helped organize a car parade for Kravis.

As the cars passed, Kravis bowed, the sight of the American flag making him swell with emotion.

“He just stood there and cried,” his wife said.

Kravis is survived by his sons David of Lafayette, CA; Jeff from St. Helena Island, South Carolina; and two grandchildren. He is buried in Wellwood Cemetery in West Babylon.


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