Among the things that made Augustus J. Nazzaro especially proud was driving around parts of Deer Park and North Babylon, pointing to homes, in some areas one on every block, that he and his partner at Pana Homes were responsible for building.
A special thrill was for homes to be referred to as "Pana colonial" when residents advertised those houses for sale, which would have been shorthand for "good quality," his son said.
Nazzaro, 81, nicknamed "Smiley" by friends in the Town of Babylon, died of lung cancer Sunday at his home in Bay Shore, said his son, Jim Nazzaro, also a custom home developer.
In all, Pana Homes, with the elder Nazzaro handling the business side and his partner the construction, is credited with constructing more than 1,000 homes on Long Island from 1964 through 1985, as well as office buildings, shopping centers and industrial projects, his son said.
Coming from humble beginnings, his father would want to be remembered most for his integrity and honesty, said Jim Nazzaro, also of Bay Shore. "His word and his handshake were his bonds," and when his dad bumped into a customer in the community, "he never had to be embarrassed."
"This man was always, always smiling," said Dan Hesse, 66, of the friend he met 39 years ago when Hesse was commissioning his first home -- one of those Pana colonials in Deer Park. Nazzaro went out of his way to coach him in various building matters that a first-timer wouldn't know, so much so that Hesse, who since moved to East Islip, said he's kept those home drawings all these years.
More recently, he and his friend headed out to lunch or dinner two, maybe three times a month, with Hesse feeling like he was accompanying a celebrity, so well-liked was Nazzaro in the community. "This guy was such a good guy," Hesse said.
Of special pride to Nazzaro, his son said, was his role in the 1970s in helping to develop the Bohemia headquarters of AHRC, the Association for Habilitation and Residential Care, which provides resources for children and adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
Born May 30, 1934, in Brooklyn, Augustus Nazzaro was a graduate of St. Ephrem school, and for more than a decade worked side-by-side with his father at his two Gulf gas stations in Brooklyn. Pana Homes came about when a friend of Nazzaro who was working in the concrete business suggested the two team up.
Meeting as teenagers in Brooklyn on a blind date, Nazzaro and his wife of 61 years, the former Patricia Turturro, moved first to North Babylon, then to East Islip and ultimately to Bay Shore, his son said.
Semiretired since the late 1980s, Nazzaro continued overseeing some of his commercial developments, finding time, too, for golf, as well as drawing and painting.
Besides his wife and son, Nazzaro is survived by another son, Victor Nazzaro of East Islip; and five grandchildren. His daughter, Ann Nazzaro-Iovino, died in 1999.
A wake is planned Wednesday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Fredrick J. Chapey & Sons Funeral Home in East Islip. The funeral will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore. Burial will be at St. Charles Cemetery, East Farmingdale.