Ira Kornbluth, 76, Aesthete and Attorney

May 24, 1941 - Dec. 28, 2017
Ira Kornbluth, May 24, 1941 - Dec. 28, 2017

Ira Kornbluth, whose love of history, literature, and the arts outpaced his career as an attorney, died on Dec. 28 at the Kanas Center for Hospice Care in Quiogue. He was 76 and had been diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago.

Mr. Kornbluth’s aesthetic interests brought him in 1980 to the South Fork, where he bought a house at the foot of a preserved field on David White’s Lane in Southampton. He furnished it with sophisticated finds from East End shops and hung its walls with the work of artists who became his friends‚ among them Larry Rivers, Howard Kanovitz, Sheila Isham, Peter Dayton, and Dora Frost.

 His law degree was from the University of Virginia, and he worked as what he called a “country lawyer” for a time in East Hampton, with an office on Muchmore Lane, within walking distance of Main Street, where he soon was a familiar figure. He also had a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., and Bologna, Italy. He was fluent in German, having read Thomas Mann in the original, was a student of Germany’s philosophers, and he kept abreast of German history. Over the years, he was called on by The East Hampton Star to review such books as “Hitler’s Banker: Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schact” and “Odyssey of Hope” by Joseph Kazickas.

He was born on May 24, 1941, in the Bronx to Alfred and Dorothy Lehner Kornbluth. He attended the Bronx High School of Science, where Anita Rosenshine, the woman who was to become his wife of 30 years, was a classmate. After graduating with a B.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin, he worked for the United States State Department in West Germany. His varied later career including work for the New York State Council on the Arts, the Bankers Trust Company, several Manhattan political campaigns, and public radio. Before settling on the South Fork, he had spent a few days as a cook for Ethel Kennedy.

“He taught me how to aspire to appreciate beauty and to pay attention to it,” said James Williamson, who as a young man worked with Mr. Kornbluth in East Hampton. As an example of Mr. Kornbluth’s appreciation of natural beauty, Mr. Williamson noted how Mr. Kornbluth insisted they drive on Further Lane when the cherry trees were in bloom rather than taking faster routes along Montauk Highway.

Dedicated to the life of the mind, Mr. Kornbluth also was serious about keeping in shape. He frequently was seen running on Southampton’s back roads, and he regularly attended yoga classes at the Hampton Jitney’s Omni. He was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Southampton, but no funeral service has been planned. 

Mr. Kornbluth was married first, in 1967, to Vera Schrecker. Their daughter, Elena de Noue of Manhattan, survives him, as does a granddaughter, Gioia Anne de Noue. He and his high school classmate, Ms. Rosenshine, were married on April 24, 1987. She survives, as do two stepsons, Jon Rosenshine of New York City and Andrew Rosenshine of Westborough, Mass.

Memorial contributions have been suggested to Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.