Hector LoFaro, a longtime Farmingdale resident and business owner who traveled the world and discovered his artistic passion in retirement, has died. He was 88.
Artistic ability ran in the family, but it wasn't until his mid-60s that LoFaro became serious about sculpting, drawing and painting, culminating in local exhibits of his work, family members said.
"He was a natural, raw talent, and he had no inhibitions about creating -- he just did it," said his son, Jerry LoFaro, 53, of Henniker, N.H. "He even started painting the backs of cicadas, much to the delight of some young kids in the neighborhood."
Jerry LoFaro, himself an artist, said he was influenced by his father growing up -- the house decorated with Renaissance art and sculptures, accompanied by an "ever-present soundtrack" of classical music.
"When he retired, his artistic muse exploded like a volcano," the younger LoFaro said of his father, who occasionally sold his work. "He was more likely to just give his art to someone."
Hector LoFaro, who had suffered from several health complications, was recently placed on life support after suffering a massive heart attack, the family said. He died Dec. 20 at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage.
His travels led to some of his best stories. In Austria, he drew a mustache on the portrait featured on the currency because he thought the guy looked like Adolf Hitler. That incident led to his being detained by police and getting a stern lecture by a judge, the family said. He caught a bullfighter's hat intended for the president of Spain and was yelled at by thousands of angry Spaniards when he attempted to keep the prize for himself, Jerry LoFaro recalled.
Hector LoFaro was 18 when he enlisted in the Coast Guard in December 1941, three days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was sent to the Pacific, where he was part of a landing ship crew, delivering troops to beaches in Iwo Jima and Okinawa, said his grandson, Carl LoFaro, 30, of Baltimore.
After the war, Hector LoFaro married and settled in Farmingdale, where he founded Hector LoFaro Roofing and Siding. He and his wife, Matilda, were together for 65 years.
Jerry LoFaro said he'll always think fondly of his active childhood, filled with fishing trips, frequent visits to the zoo and annual deer-hunting expeditions in Vermont.
He and his father once camped out near the shore of Oak Beach, where they came across a decaying whale.
"Dad cut out several huge vertebrae for our personal museum," the son said.
Besides his wife and son, Hector LoFaro is survived by a daughter, Jill Doukas, 58, of Lindenhurst; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. The funeral service was held Monday at St. James Catholic Church in Seaford.