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Shelter Island Reporter obituary: Seymour Joseph Weissman

Seymour Joseph Weissman died on March 26, 2024, at the Jewish Home of Rochester in Brighton, N.Y. at the age of 92. 

 Seymour, known to most as Sy, was born in Brooklyn on May 28, 1931. He attended James Madison High School and went on to graduate from Kenyon College in Ohio, where he worked on the well-known literary journal, the Kenyon Review.

After college, he joined the U.S. Army, where he trained in film production, making movies of missile launches and other tests. He attended film school at the University of Southern California Graduate School of Cinema.  

Sy’s career in television, advertising, and film was the creative outlet for his many talents as a producer, director, and writer of network news specials for CBS news, corporate films, public affairs pieces, and many notable commercials of the 1960s and 1970s. 

Photography, music, literature, storytelling, travel, poetry, and humor were his life’s passions. He shared these with his late wife Liz Durbin, whom he met in the 1970s and married in September 1990 in a wedding ceremony at the West Neck Creek home of their good friend John Wilson.

After Sy retired, he accompanied Liz, a British economist who taught at New York University, to her teaching posts in Rome and Ukraine. While living in Kyiv, he helped start an all-news television network.

Sy and Liz traveled the world but enjoyed their home on Shelter Island, where they together hosted and entertained friends and family from around the globe, until Liz’s sudden passing in 1999.  

After moving to Shelter Island full time, Sy kept himself busy by helping his friend, winemaker Harold Watts, with the marketing campaign for Ternhaven Cellars, a boutique North Fork winery specializing in Bordeaux-style reds. When asked for assistance by Supervisor Alfred Kilb to help the Town organize and improve Channel 22, Sy lent his expertise and gave endless hours to get the job done.

He co-founded the Senior Citizen Foundation of Shelter Island and served as its president. The foundation is a fundraising organization to help Island seniors who are having trouble paying bills and supports the Senior Citizen Center by paying for expenses not covered by the town. 

Before moving to The Highlands in Pittsford, N.Y. to be closer to family, Sy could most often be found visiting with the members of the Center’s Silver Circle and photographing their portraits.

 Sy is survived by his daughter Judith and his sons Adam and his wife Cindy, Eric and his wife Debbie, David and his wife Ann, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A local Celebration of Life will be held in summer at his beloved Island home where one can drink wine or sip a Manhattan while enjoying his favorite hors d’oeuvres of shellfish, herring, and cheese. L’Chaim.  

Donations in Sy’s honor may be made to the Senior Citizens Foundation of Shelter Island, P.O. Box 352, Shelter Island, NY 11964.