Unfathomable Loss

East Hampton has not suffered so shocking a loss in modern times as the deaths on Saturday of four people when a small plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Ben Krupinski and his wife, Bonnie, both 70, were influential members of the South Fork community, as builders, restaurateurs, and quiet philanthropists. Their only grandson, William Maerov, 22, was a promising young man with the world in front of him. Jon Dollard, a pilot aboard the twin-engine Piper aircraft, was 47 and also anticipated many good years ahead. We grieve for the losses that their families and friends now must endure.

Ben and Bonnie Krupinski were at the top of a multi-faceted empire here. The Krupinski company was known for high-end houses, as well as a string of public and charitable projects, from the now-iconic new Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill to the restoration of a modest house in East Hampton that had been the home of George Fowler, a Montaukett Indian whose tribe was the victim of the brutal dispossession of their ancestral lands in the late 19th century. Ben and Bonnie Krupinski understood that they had benefited from having grown up here, and they were dedicated to giving back. 

They were restaurateurs, too, operating the local favorite Cittanuova and the consistently impeccable 1770 House on Main Street in East Hampton. They also were founders of the East Hampton Business Alliance. Ms. Krupinski, a member of the Bistrian family, was a force independent of her husband, advocating for her extended family’s interests, lately on the future of land they owned in Amagansett. They also were politically active, contributing to local Republican candidates and speaking out frequently at town and village government meetings.

But beyond the Krupinskis’ business and political accomplishments and their considerable charitable giving, they cultivated and maintained ties to others who helped make this place a real community. The Krupinski organization has been described by many since Saturday as like a family. Its members were loyal and had the ability to excel at what they did. Mr. Maerov and Mr. Dollard were part of that extended family.

This feeling of family is perhaps the greatest legacy that Ben and Bonnie Krupinski leave behind — and though the pain is unfathomable to their families and friends, their kindness to others and guiding hand will be what we remember most.