Gordon 'Skip' Hargraves, amateur pilot, 80

Gordon S. Hargraves, of Lloyd Harbor, a banker

Gordon S. Hargraves, of Lloyd Harbor, a banker and amateur pilot with a sly sense of humor who went on to raise funds for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, died of complications from cancer. He was 80. (Credit: Handout)

Gordon S. "Skip" Hargraves always wanted to be the president of a company. So he founded lofty sounding Hargraves Aviation, which proudly boasted a fleet -- of one Cessna.

Hargraves, of Lloyd Harbor, a banker and amateur pilot with a sly sense of humor who went on to raise funds for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, died last Thursday of complications from cancer. He was 80.

Hargraves was born Jan. 20, 1932, in Philadelphia. He received degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Business School, and served as an officer in the Navy from 1953 to 1955.

He met the woman who would become his wife of 50 years a few years later when they shared a ski house with friends. Was it love at first sight?

"For me, it was. It took him five years," Margy Hargraves said with a laugh. The two married in 1961, and moved to Marblehead, Mass., and Portland, Maine, before settling on Long Island.

Hargraves became a banker after several years in marketing, working for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. in New York. But it was after his retirement that he began his most enjoyable work, Margy Hargraves said, directing Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's planned-giving program, which urges donors to leave parts of their estates to the lab.

Hargraves also volunteered at St. John's Church in Cold Spring Harbor and joined the boards of several nonprofits, including St. Johnland Nursing Center in Kings Park, Huntington Hospital and the Caumsett Foundation, which supports Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve.

There, Hargraves would don a bunny suit during the annual Easter egg hunt, riding up to the children in a golf cart dubbed the "Eggmobile."

Hargraves also enjoyed flying his Cessna 182 to Nantucket or to the couple's second home in Portland.

His one-liners endeared him to family and friends, on whom he would often bestow pet nicknames. His wife, for example, was "The Marginator."

"He had a great sense of humor and a great sense of fun," Margy Hargraves said.

In addition to his wife, Hargraves is survived by four children, Gordon "Peter" Hargraves Jr., Elizabeth Mandy and Anna Hall, all of Manhattan, and Sam Hargraves of Denver; and six grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for noon Saturday at Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club. His remains were cremated.

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