Capt. Robert A. Moore, a respected maritime ship pilot who safely steered everything from giant oil tankers to aircraft carriers over a career that spanned nearly 50 years, died Aug. 15 at his home in Winter Springs, Florida, relatives said.

The longtime Hauppauge resident, who had battled lung cancer for several months, was 67.

Moore grew up in Brooklyn before moving to North Merrick as a child, said Cheryl, his wife of 48 years who met her future husband while both attended Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick. Shortly after both graduated, the couple eloped.

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Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who both worked as tugboat captains, Moore pursued a career on the water. Moore began as a deck hand, and through hard work and intense studies, rapidly graduated to becoming a ship captain, and then a pilot -- climbing on board large vessels to bring them into the Port of New York and New Jersey.

"He was regarded as not, 'one of the best.' He was regarded as, 'the best,' " his son, Thomas Moore of Stony Brook, said. "When other pilots said a job couldn't be done, if my dad said it could be done, it could be done. And he did it."

Working early in his career for the Moran Towing Corp. and later for McAllister Towing & Transportation, Moore's skill in piloting ships "the size of three football fields" under bridges, through rough seas, and along narrow waterways became "legendary," his wife said.

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When the U.S. Bicentennial celebration required an aircraft carrier to be brought into New York Harbor, Moore was called upon. When a pilot was needed to move the USS John F. Kennedy in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1998, Moore was flown out by helicopter, Cheryl Moore said.

"He always wore a jacket and tie to work. He always spoke softly, even in tense situations. And he commanded attention," she said. "When they saw him coming aboard a ship, they knew the job was going to get done."

Relatives said if there were one thing Moore loved more than the seas, it was his family -- especially his three granddaughters. On the day he died, "Poppy," as they knew him, was supposed to set sail with his two youngest "beauties" on a Disney Cruise.

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In addition to his wife, son and granddaughters, Moore is survived by his daughter, Kerry Moore-Kelly of Port Jefferson; sisters, Bella Sadowski of Lake Mary, Florida and Betty Clark of Abilene, Texas; and brother, Frank Moore of Mount Sinai.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at St. James Funeral Home, 829 Middle Country Rd. in St. James.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Moore's name to the St. Baldrick's Foundation at www.stbaldricks.org or to the Ronald McDonald House at www.rmh-newyork.org.