Daniel J. D'Addario, LI aerospace industry pioneer, dies

Daniel J. D'Addario, who founded a Farmingdale company Daniel J. D'Addario, who founded a Farmingdale company that built parts for the aerospace industry, died earlier this month from complications arising from a stroke and Parkinson's disease, his family said. He was 89. Photo Credit: Handout

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Daniel J. D'Addario, who founded a Farmingdale company that built parts for the aerospace industry, died earlier this month of complications arising from a stroke and Parkinson's disease, his family said. He was 89.

D'Addario, the son of Italian immigrants, grew up in Astoria, Queens, and went on to fight in World War II. He started General Mechatronics Corp., a manufacturing business that made parts for aerospace giants Boeing, Sikorsky and Northrop Grumman.

Born in 1923, he was the oldest of six children. During the Great Depression, he scavenged driftwood with his father along the East River, said his son Robert, of Commack.

After high school, he attended the University of Oregon. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he served in a tank battalion under Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, Philippines, his family said.

Those experiences shaped his life. "Once you've gone through the Great Depression and the greatest war in world history, World War II . . . your attitude toward life, your priorities are shifted," Robert D'Addario said. "He just never gave up."

Twice his eyes failed him and changed the course of his life. In the Philippines, D'Addario's captain noticed his thick eyeglasses and shipped him back to the United States because of his poor vision. He went to night school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and earned a degree in industrial engineering, his son said.

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He met his future wife, Ann, at a dance in Sunnyside, Queens, in 1947. It was a case of mistaken identity, said his daughter, Susan, of New York City. Weeks earlier he met Ann's sister Ida at the hall.

"My father was back at the dance and went up to my mother and said, 'Hi, Ida,' and my mother said, 'No, that was my sister,' " Susan said. "They took it from there."

After working for others in manufacturing and making a failed attempt to start his own business, he founded General Mechatronics in Farmingdale in 1961. His children recalled their father showing designs produced for a lunar exploration module. The company manufactured parts for the defense industry including the B-1B bomber.

He later changed the name of the company to GenMech Aerospace and sold it to North Carolina-based SPX Corp. in 2003 for $15.4 million, according to regulatory filings.

He also is survived by his wife; another son, Peter, of Farmington, Conn.; brothers William, Joseph and Ron; and six grandchildren.

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