A former editor of the Riverhead News-Review and a “lifelong newspaper man,” Robert Wacker died Tuesday night. He was 92.
Mr. Wacker, who helmed Riverhead’s weekly newspaper in the 1970s, also worked in numerous public relations and journalism jobs, including handling East End and court coverage for Newsday.
He met his wife of over 50 years, Ronnie, while working as a reporter for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
One of Mr. Wacker’s proudest moments of his career was when he broke for Newsday the story about former New York Governor Hugh Carey seeking state condemnation on his neighbor’s home on Shelter Island because he believed it would block his view. His son, Tim Wacker, said that after his father reported the story, the neighbor was allowed to build the home.
“He wrote for papers for [many] years so it’s hard to pick out which [stories] are his greatest,” his son said, adding that his father loved covering the court system.
In addition to journalism, Bob Wacker, as he was known, was a political junkie and a skilled debater able to argue any point, his son said. He also served in the United States Army during World War II, from which he was medically discharged.
Among the greatest memories his family has of him were those captured during family vacations, his son said.
“When we were very young, we were living in New Jersey, my father quit his very high-paying job, packed the whole family into a van and took the whole summer to drive up to Alaska,” Tim Wacker said. “That was the kind of person he was. He took chances and always came out on top.”
After that trip, the Wacker family settled in Cutchogue, where Bob lived until moving to Peconic Landing in Greenport.
“He was the most fun, that’s the truth,” said Tim Wacker of his late father, who he described as always being the center of the party and very able to command a stage.
Mr. Wacker is survived by his five sons: Jim, Christopher, Jonathan, Tim and Thomas. The family is inviting friends of Bob Wacker to celebrate his life at their Nassau Point home June 14 from 2 to 5 p.m.