Ralph Capurso Jr., owner of the popular Stables Toymart & Garden Center in North Babylon, died on Tuesday after a long battle with skin cancer. He was 69.
Capurso loved tending to the plants in his shop and interacting with customers and vendors, friends said.
"He was very dedicated to his garden center and very personable," said Lori Spitzner, a longtime friend and business associate.
Capurso was born on Dec. 26, 1943, in the Brooklyn Navy Yard area. When he was a child, the family relocated to Long Island. In 1953 they opened Stables, named after the horse stables owned by the Guggenheims, the Long Island Gold Coast family.
Capurso graduated from Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick and began working full-time for the family business.
As a teenager, he met his future wife, Geri. The two fell in love and started dating. At the time of his death, they had celebrated 49 years of marriage, the family said.
The couple settled in Bayport in the 1970s, raising four children.
In the 1980s Capurso took over Stables from his father. Geri Capurso helped with the business.
A hardworking family man, Capurso would head home from the garden center to tend to his own backyard garden, the family said. The business will remain in operation, run by Capurso's sons and staff.
Besides his wife, survivors include three sons, a daughter and seven grandchildren.
A viewing will be held at Moloney's Bohemia Funeral Home Saturday and Sunday, 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of the Snow in Blue Point.
The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the NYU Cancer Institute, NYU Langone Medical Center, Office of Development, 1 Park Ave., 17th floor, New York, NY 10016.