Whether it was the awning over his swimming pool or the machinery for his textile business, Frank Catallo of Old Westbury was constantly trying to make engineering improvements to the things around him.
From his early years in Brooklyn, building engines for model cars and planes, to his final days of work at his Port Washington manufacturing plant, Catallo was fascinated by how things worked -- and how to improve them, his family said.
Catallo, who died Jan. 16 at age 89, had scores of patents to his credit, according to his son-in-law, the sportscaster Al Trautwig.
The website patentmaps.com lists 54 patents issued to Catallo, and most appear to stem from his work at Fab-Con Machinery Development Corp., a manufacturer of equipment for the textile industry. One of his inventions, in 1998, was for a "fabric detwister" that aided in the manufacturing process.
"He was at his desk the day before his death, and there are pending patent applications for machinery he invented in his 89th year," Trautwig said.
But Trautwig said there was much more to Catallo's life than inventing things.
Catallo and his wife of 64 years, Teresa, loved to dance.
"If we went to a wedding, they would be the first ones up there on the dance floor," Trautwig said. "In the car, I always put Sinatra on the radio."
Catallo joined the Marines in 1941 and maintained refrigeration units as he island-hopped through the Pacific with the infantry during World War II. After the war, he attended Pratt Institute at night to get his engineering degree.
He met his future wife, Teresa Melville, in 1947 at Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom, according to his daughter, Cathleen Trautwig. She said they married in 1948 and moved from Brooklyn to East Hempstead, then to Elmont and finally to Old Westbury about 1970.
Catallo worked for Ideal Toy Co. in Queens after the war and then formed Fab-Con in Port Washington in 1965.
Catallo is also survived by a son, James, of Roslyn, and daughter, Janet Moorman, of Darien, Conn., and four grandchildren.