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Thomas E. Gaines

Posted on 20 April 2012

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Thomas E. Gaines, 85, of Dayton Lane in East Hampton, died Saturday, April 14, 2012. His wife, the former Frances L. Carl, and three children were by his side.

He was the son of Thomas M. Gaines and Evelyn M. Ernest and was born in the family home in East Hampton on August 26, 1926.

Mr. Gaines was best known in Sag Harbor as head of the Sag Harbor Savings Bank. In the 1970s, as president and chairman of the board, he negotiated the company’s change from a state chartered mutual savings bank to a stock corporation. He then directed its transition and sale to Apple Bank for Savings. Upon relinquishing the helm of the bank, he agreed to stay on with the new owners as senior vice president of Eastern Operations. In 1989, after three years in the position, he stepped down to enjoy retirement and “put on my sunglasses and head south,” but soon developed health problems and, said his family, never fully realized his dream of days in the sun.

Mr. Gaines was a 1943 graduate of East Hampton High School. He joined the Navy and served aboard the USS Aiden and the USS Oregon City during World War II. After discharge from the Navy, he lived in New York City where he met his future wife, Frances. Mr. Gaines attended Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) where he earned a degree in business and commerce. He and Frances were married in June 1947 and lived in Oklahoma for three years while Mr. Gaines finished school.

In 1949, the couple and their young son, Thomas, moved to East Hampton. Mr. Gaines was working as a dairy manager at Bohack’s market when he was approached by Frank B. Smith, a trustee of the Sag Harbor Savings Bank, about a job. He accepted an entry level position at the bank and, according to his family, under the tutelage of Peter Garypie Sr., quickly rose from building shelves, sorting archived material 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.

Mr. Gaines was a member of the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett and served on its board of directors (and as president in 1978). He became a member of the East Hampton ZBA in 1995, and served as chairman from 1997 to 1999. Mr. Gaines was also a member of the East Hampton Fire Department, a member of the Star of the East Lodge #843 (where he served as Master), and a member of The Independent Order of Oddfellows.

His family recalls that Mr. Gaines also cherished his daily Men’s Business luncheons at the Paradise Restaurant in Sag Harbor, which were often attended by John Steinbeck, whose friendship was special to him. The family adds that Mr. Gaines also cherished a cartoon dedicated to him which was penned by Warren Whipple, creator of the syndicated cartoon “There Ought to be a Law” and a trustee at the Sag Harbor Savings Bank.

Mr. Gaines was also active in the First Methodist Church where he served as a Sunday School teacher, a trustee, 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,” said the family.

Mr. Gaines is survived by Frances, his wife of 64 years, and children Tom (Patti) of Port St. Lucie, Fla., Ronald (Terri), of East Hampton, and Sandra Cohen (Steve), of East Hampton. He also leaves by seven grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, as well as sisters Dorothy Sayre and Jane Kovar of Williamsburg, Va. He is predeceased by his parents and his sisters Betty and Adele.

Visitation was held at Yardley & Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton on Tuesday an Wednesday, April 17 and 18. A funeral service will be held at the First Methodist Church in East Hampton on Thursday, July 19 at 1 p.m.. Burial will follow at Cedar Lawn Cemetery.

Donations can be made in his memory to the First Methodist Church, East Hampton Ambulance Association, or to East End Hospice, PO Box 1048, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978.

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