Albert J.J. Cavagnaro

08/12/2010 12:00 AM |

Albert Joseph John Cavagnaro passed away in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 23, 2010, shortly after celebrating his 83rd birthday with family and friends.

He was born on Feb. 20, 1927, in Brooklyn to Albert and Rosa (Schenone) Cavagnaro. His first marriage, to Cletus Duggan Cavagnaro, now deceased, ended in divorce in 1984. His second wife, Bertha Kelly Cavagnaro, died in 2004.

He is survived by three daughters, Maryellen Stedman (Paul) Farnham of East Hampton, Rosemary (Hector Alferi) Cavagnaro of Springs, N.Y., and Marguerite (Patrick) Wetzel of Montauk, as well as one son, Albert N. (Laura) Cavagnaro of Wilmington, N.C. Mr. Cavagnaro is also survived by eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

His family moved to East Hampton during the Depression, and he grew up in the building that housed his father’s restaurant. He graduated as salutatorian of East Hampton High School in 1944. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard as a pharmacist, third class, during World War II aboard the USS Breckenridge, CGTS Alameda, USS Hutchinson and USS Annapolis. He was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Area Campaign Medal and the Victory Medal. After his honorable discharge in 1946, he received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, Class of 1948.

After college, during the summer, Mr. Cavagnaro worked as a lifeguard at Main Beach and the Maidstone Club in East Hampton. He rescued numerous swimmers from the rough Atlantic Ocean, including Sarah Churchill, daughter of Winston Churchill.

Mr. Cavagnaro attended Brooklyn School of Law at night for a time before serving full-time as a detective with the Suffolk County Seventh Squad. He was later appointed by judges on the Court of Appeals to serve as Commissioner of Jurors for Suffolk County. During his tenure, he also served as president of the New York State Commissioners of Jurors. He retired in 1984 after serving over a decade as commissioner.

Mr. Cavagnaro was active in many community activities in East Hampton, including acting with and directing the Guild Hall Players. He also served as a member of the Lions Club for over 20 years, including service as president of the local group, and was the head of the East Hampton Township Republican Party in the early 1980s. In his retirement, Mr. Cavagnaro honed his skills as an artist, painting numerous landscapes of the countryside, which he then used as covers for his Christmas cards.

A Memorial Mass and Christian Burial will be celebrated for Mr. Cavagnaro on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 10 a.m. at Most Holy Trinity Church in East Hampton.