Obituaries: Elmer August Kestler Jr., Lawrence William Sliker

Elmer August Kestler Jr. passed away on Friday, April 19, 2013. He was 88. Hundreds came to pay their respects both in Flushing, Queens and on Shelter Island. The Shelter Island American Legion provided honor guards, and the Freedom Riders paid tribute with a ceremony and provided him escort. He was laid to rest at Our Lady of the Isle cemetery with full military honors.

Elmer was born in Astoria, Queens on February 16, 1925 to Maria Negron de Battle and Elmer August Kestler. He lived his entire life in Flushing and Shelter Island and enjoyed annual vacations in St. Petersburg, Florida. He met Frances Roe in 1952. They were wed at Our Lady of the Isle on May 22, 1954. Two thousand people attended the wedding and reception held on Westmoreland Farm.

Elmer graduated from Bayside High School, attended Fordham University, the University of Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Dental School.

Elmer served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1944 and was decorated in the American campaign with the World War II Victory Ribbon. From 1947 to 1948 he served as an NCO in Korea and saw hostilities even though the UN had not officially stepped into the Korean conflict yet. He transitioned from the United States Army Air Corps to the United States Air Force at this time. After Korea, Elmer graduated from a ROTC program at the University of Pennsylvania Dental School. His first active duty station as a captain in the United States Air Force Dental Corps was Mitchell Field in 1952. One of his last commands as a full colonel was on Governor’s Island off New York City where he was in charge of military physicals for active, reserve and prospective soldiers from all branches of the military.

While serving in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, Elmer also had a career in public heath dentistry for over 30 years from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. He was a supervisory dentist of over 100 dental personnel in New York City in the former Department of Social Services. Elmer served in this role in dental clinics in all of the five boroughs. His family said it was a very exciting and rewarding time for Elmer and he played a large role in helping the city’s dental clinics transition from the Department of Social Services to Medicaid.

In addition to these accomplishments, Elmer maintained a successful private practice in Flushing and was still practicing dentistry until this past December.

A lifetime member of Gardiner’s Bay Country Club, Elmer enjoyed his memberships in numerous military clubs and taying at bases with his family on the countless journeys “south.” He loved a good cigar, a good book and the occasional “Manhattan,” but his greatest pleasure was always the pleasure of others, in caring for others and sharing the joys of life with his wife, family and friends.

Friends and family attest that he spent his time ensuring the enjoyment of all in a constant open invitation and flow of gatherings, huge outdoor cookouts at Westmoreland, hosting and always treating one and all to gracious dining out experiences, annual vacations in Florida and fishing adventures. Elmer loved good company and he was the best of company.

A humble and generous man who never cared for fancy clothes or himself, Elmer was most at home in a T-shirt and suspenders — dashing nonetheless. A role model ­— one hundred percent responsible and dependable, Elmer’s life was and is an inspiration. His ability to be a straight-shooter with a wise and tender touch, to balance justice and mercy put all at ease — you knew you could trust him. A listener, playful and a whole lot of fun — Elmer could sum up the situation in a few humorous, insightful words. Most of all, Elmer never sought the center of attention but by virtue of this, he was, and all gravitated to him.

The center of his family’s world and loved greatly by all, Shelter Island and Flushing will miss this kind and loving man, as will the countless others who had the privilege of knowing him and whose lives were touched gently and profoundly by his. His name, Elmer, means “noble,” and that he was and ever will be.

Elmer was pre-deceased by his infant son, Elmer August III. He is survived by his wife, Frances; his children Francis August, Margaret Mary, Katherine Ann and Gerald Anthony; his grandchildren, Sean, Tara, Hayley and Kieran Wilson, Jacqueline, Francis Jr. and Nicholas Kestler; and his great-grandchild, Brooke Faith Kestler.

Lawrence William Sliker
Lawrence William Sliker died peacefully on April 30, 2013 at San Simeon on the Sound after having recently suffered two strokes. He was 92 years old. He was born in Newark, New Jersey, to Lloyd Conover and Elsa Suhring Sliker on June 10, 1920, and grew up in Irvington, New Jersey.

After graduation from Irvington High School, Larry worked for the Prudential Life Insurance Company before starting studies at Rutgers University Newark. He served in the United States Army Air Force in England and France during World War II. Upon his honorable discharge with the rank of major, Larry married Doris Wessberg in 1946 and returned to his studies at Rutgers, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 1947 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a masters of business administration in 1953.

Larry and Doris settled in Colonia, New Jersey where they raised their family. Larry began his career in the construction industry in 1947 working for the Damon G. Douglas Construction Company, moving on to H. K. Ferguson and Starrett Brothers & Eken.

In 1962 he began working for the Sigmund Sommer Construction Company, a builder developer, where he held the position of vice president. He was the chief estimator and project executive for numerous commercial and residential buildings in the metropolitan New York area, primary among them were The Sovereign on Sutton Place, 280 Park Avenue and the North Shore Towers complex in Lake Success. Larry then worked for Fisher Brothers before ending his career as the owner’s representative for New York Hospital on the construction of a nursing residence and out-patient clinical facilities.

Doris and Larry’s home on Shelter Island was another one of Larry’s construction projects. Designed by Larry, they began building it in 1975, working weekends and vacations for nine years, with the help of many friends and relatives. They moved to Shelter Island permanently in 1986 after his retirement. They joined the Shelter Island Yacht Club in 1988, where he was a member of the Marine Committee and Protest Committee and actively involved in racing his Etchels Elemental. Larry’s passion for boating extended to another construction project when he built his sea skiff, Alaskan.

Larry is survived by his wife of 67 years; a daughter Leslie LaRocca of Philadelphia (Robert LaRocca); a daughter Joanne Sliker of Manhattan (Scott Matthews); a son Neal Sliker of Colorado Springs (Jane Johnson Sliker); a sister Dorothy Woodenschek of Basking Ridge, New Jersey; grandchildren Karl LaRocca, Lauren LaRocca, Rachel Sliker, Levin Sliker and Colin Matthews; and great-grandchildren Deckard Blankenship and Evelyn LaRocca.

There will be a private family gathering and memorial celebration of Larry’s life planned for later this spring. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation or the Shelter Island Library.

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