By Shoshanna McCollum ~ Family man, service veteran, fireman, retired police detective and longtime proprietor of the local favorite variety store in Ocean Beach known as Kline’s, Edward “Ed” Lindberg died last month at the age of 78.
In a world of online shopping and big box stores, Kline’s now exists as something of a rare gem – a place where one can purchase a beach chair, a nice bathing suit cover-up, and a paperback book so you can be set up for that stint of Fire Island seaside bliss. They also sell Fire Island souvenir hats, sweatshirts, and coffee mugs, as well as shelves of inexpensive toys to keep the children occupied – most notably bubbles and colored sidewalk chalk. Most every Fire Islander has a favored item in their possession that started out as a Kline’s purchase. For this writer, it’s a straw hat that was chosen after my first one went air born before sailing off into the Great South Bay.
A Massapequa Park native, Ed purchased Kline’s from its former owner, Richard Sheldon, in 1986, shortly after retiring from the Nassau County Police Department, where he had served as a detective in the 1st Squad in Baldwin and the Narcotics Bureau. Prior to his tenure with Nassau County police he was a sergeant in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany during the Berlin Crisis. Ed also was a former member of Engine 5 with the Hempstead Fire Department.
However it only took a brief conversation with Ed to know his greatest pride was his family. His wife, Jean, who always kept a watchful eye in the store; as well as his five children: Kristen, Matthew (Matt), Meghann, Gretchen and Katie, who all grew up working behind the cash register and often creating the attractive window displays Kline’s has become known for.
Ed was like the crocuses, for in the early spring he was often one of the first shopkeepers to come out making small fixes around the store to get things ready for the summer. He was always congenial and chatted with his customers. He spoke about his children, and with time grandchildren that followed: Carly, Hannah, Abigail, August, Brendan, and Lillian.
Matt started slowly taking over more responsibility in the operation of Kline’s about eight years ago. Ed could still be seen doing early season chores around the store, but they became lighter over time, and his visits to Fire Island less frequent in recent years. He was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer during the COVID-19 shutdown, and passed shortly before Memorial Day Weekend. With Phase I reopening on Long Island in place, Kline’s was one of many shops in Ocean Beach tending to a few clothing racks in front of the store in early June.
“I couldn’t have done it without the help of these ladies,” said Matt humbly, as he gestured to three young women who are part of his sales staff. And so Kline’s continues.
A memorial service and celebration of Edward Lindberg’s life will be scheduled at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to Island Harvest or the Wounded Warriors Project, at www.JamesFuneralHome.com.
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