Thomas E. Gaines, of Dayton Lane, East Hampton Village, died on Saturday with his wife, the former Frances L. Carl, and their three children, by his side. He was 85.
Gaines, who was born and raised in East Hampton, was the former president of the Sag Harbor Savings Bank.
The son of Thomas M. Gaines and Evelyn M. Ernest, he was born in the family home on Aug. 26, 1926.
He graduated from East Hampton High School in 1943. While attending high school, he ran a record 100-yard dash and pitched a no-hitter for the school baseball team. He also played clarinet in the school band and earned the nickname "Benny." He also showcased a wonderful singing voice with solo performances at the Edwards Theater and at , according to his family.
After graduating high school, he joined the Navy and served during World War II aboard the Destroyer USS Aiden and the Cruiser USS Oregon City. After discharge from the Navy, he lived in New York City with his cousin Bill Stafford, of Sag Harbor, and he met his future wife.
He left the city to attend Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State University, to pursue a degree in business and commerce. While attending, he hitchhiked back to New York City and proposed to Frances, his family said. They were married in June of 1947 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and lived in Stillwater, OK, for three years, while Gaines finished school.
After graduation in June 1949, the family — which by then included a son, Thomas — returned to East Hampton, where they lived with the Gaines family on Middle Highway. Thomas and Frances later moved to Dayton Lane.
Gaines worked at Bohack's under the management of Sy Karp. While working as a dairy manager, Frank B. Smith, a trustee of the Sag Harbor Savings Bank, approached him about taking a job at the bank. "Having never applied for a job at the bank he thought that it was a joke and was not going to go to the interview until his wife urged him to at least attend and listen," his family said,a adding he wanted to turn down the position due to a drop in pay.
"Fortunately, he acquiesced to his wife's better judgement and accepted an entry level position and under the tutelage of Peter Garypie Sr., he quickly rose from building shelves and sorting archived material in the basement and shoveling snow in the small parking lot to the position of clerk, then treasurer, and upon retirement of Mr. Garypie, assumed the position of president," his family wrote.
In the 1970s, as president and chairman of the board, he negotiated the change from a state chartered mutual savings bank to a stock corporation and then directed the sale to Apple Bank for Savings, according to his family.
He stayed on at Apple as Senior VP of Eastern Operations. He retired three years later in 1989.
His family said hat as a young caddy at the Maidstone Club, he carried the bags for golfing legend Sammy Snead and the actor Gary Cooper. Later, he was a member of the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett and served on the board of directors, and as president in 1978.
Also, he was a member of the zoning board of appeals and served as chairman from 1997 to 1999.
Gaines was also a member of the East Hampton Fire Department and "would fondly recount the escapades of "Ol' #5." He was also a member of the Star of the East Lodge #843, in which he served as Master, and The Independent Order of Oddfellows. "He also enjoyed being a member of the Lodge's often-awarded bowling team and was proud of the fact that he and his teammates often prevailed over teams from the city," the family said.
"He also cherished his daily men's business luncheons at the Paradise Restaurant, often attended by John Steinbeck, whose friendship was always special to him," they wrote.
Warren Whipple, a trustee at the Sag Harbor Savings Bank and creator of "There Ought to be a Law," dedicated a cartoon to him.
Gaines was also an active member of the East Hampton United Methodist church, where he served as a Sunday School teacher. He later became president of the board and delivered sermons as the lay leader.
"Tom will be remembered for his honesty, integrity, fairness, empathy, sage advice, infectious smile and mischievous sense of humor," his family said.
In addition to his wife of 64 years, he is survived by his children Tom Gaines and his wife Patti, of Port St. Lucie, FL, Ronald Gaines and his wife Terri, of East Hampton, and Sandra Cohen and her husband Steve, of Eat Hampton. He is also survived by seven grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. His sisters Dorothy Sayre and Jane Kovar, of Williamsburg, VA, also survive. His sister Betty and Adele pre-deceased him.
Visitation will be held at Yardley & Pino Funeral Home on Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m., and on Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m., and 7 to 9 p.m. A service will be held at the Methodist Church on Thursday at 1 p.m., followed by a burial at Cedar Lawn Cemetery.
Donations can be made in his memory to the Methodist Church, the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association, or the East End Hospice.
Thomas Gaines' family submitted his obituary.