By Fred Stabbert III
COCHECTON CENTER A man who built his reputation on generations of hard work, good will and generosity, Douglas Heinle died Wednesday at his home surrounded by family following a battle with cancer. He was 82.
With community roots going back more than 160 years, Doug was proud to carry on traditions which included being proprietor of Heinle’s General Store in Cochecton Center, Cochecton Center Postmaster and director of The First National Bank of Jeffersonville.
Jeff Bank President Wayne Zanetti, who talked with Doug just this past week, said, “He was a lot of history. His grandfather was on the original board of directors of the Jeff Bank and Doug really enjoyed being a board member.”
Zanetti said it was common for Doug to stop in at most any branch of Jeff Bank, to talk with customers and chat with tellers and staff.
“He was our greatest ambassador,” Zanetti said. “It was unbelievable the amount of business he brought in.”
In 1913, Doug’s grandfather, William F. Heinle, helped start The First National Bank of Jeffersonville. Doug’s father also served on Jeff Bank’s board for 30 years and Doug then replaced him for the past 38 years.
“There’s been a Heinle on our board since 1913,” Zanetti said. “A tradition has been broken… unfortunately.”
Cochecton Supervisor Gary Maas also recalled Heinle as a friend and helping hand.
“I can remember playing Little League on Heinle’s Field,” Maas said. “I used to ride my bike down to Cochecton Center. After the game we would go into Heinle’s General Store to buy candy and a soda.”
From Little League, Maas graduated to the Heinle’s Generals, one of the county’s top men’s softball teams from the 1970s through the ’90s.
“Doug always followed his team,” Maas, who joined the Generals in 1975, said. “We had some great times at that field.”
Maas also remembers Heinle’s General Store as the hub of the community.
“I still remember their motto, ‘If we don’t have it, you don’t need it,’” he said. “They had hardware, shoes, boots, flannels, a deli and grocery.”
According to a written history, Heinle’s General Store was founded by William F. Heinle in 1840 and remained in the family for four generations. The two-story building included the Cochecton Center Post Office and a general store which had thousands of items. It stayed in the family for four generations, from 1840 until 2006.
“Heinle’s was like a community center. Everyone would stop there after Sunday church to get their hard rolls and cold cuts,” Maas said. “I also got my first loan from Jeff Bank and I’m sure Doug and Solly [Katzoff] had something to do with that.”
Many of Heinle’s Generals former players remembered Doug for helping sponsor the team and taking care of the field.
“He did a lot of the maintenance work himself,” Kirby Tyler, who played shortstop for the Generals, said. “He was always mowing, a real go-getter. He enjoyed and loved to watch sports. He kept it alive in Cochecton Center.”
Brian Starr, who played catcher for the Generals from the 1980s on, said, “Everyone would come to Cochecton Center to try and beat the Heinle’s Generals. It was mostly all Narrowsburg guys and Doug would follow us when we played in big tournaments.”
A man of many interests, Doug also loved antique farm machinery. He helped the Neversink-Rondout Antique Machinery Association host several shows and was an avid tractor parade attendee for many years.
The man with deep roots in the community loved its history, its happenings, and above all, its people.