Longtime Bay Shore developer Louis J. Modica, who helped establish the village’s downtown and co-founded St. George’s University in Grenada, died April 4 at the age of 92.
Modica and his family lived in Long Island’s South Shore community of Brightwaters since the 1950s, where he served as president and secretary of the Suffolk County Real Estate Board.
Modica and his five sisters were born and raised in Brooklyn, where he graduated from high school. He lived there until he married in 1946 and moved to Long Island to start a chicken farm.
He took agriculture classes at Farmingdale State College and ran the farm for about a year. He shifted his career to real estate development a year later when his chickens were wiped out by a virus.
In his 40s, he received a bachelor of arts degree from Dowling College.
While working in Bay Shore, Modica helped turned around the village’s declining downtown with new developments and financing its revitalization in the 1960s. Family members say he saw Bay Shore’s potential and was dedicated to restoring the community.
“He was committed to bringing downtown back and made a difference in those buildings,” his son Charles R. Modica of Hobe Sound, Florida, said. “It wasn’t something that was noticed at the time, but he was bringing it back up to speed.’’
Louis Modica was later encouraged by son Charles to co-found St. George’s University on the Caribbean island of Grenada. Charles Modica worked with his father to establish an independent international school of medicine in 1976.
The university’s board of trustees was formed with the Modicas, Patrick F. Adams and Edward McGowan. Charles Modica, who is the private university’s chancellor, described it as an “International center of higher education” with clinical sites at 50 U.S. hospitals. A three-story study hall in True Blue, Grenada, was named for Louis and Marion, his wife of 70 years.
“He always had a smile for everyone,” Charles Modica said of his father. “But once he was focused on an idea, that smile was present, but his ability was never in doubt.”
Louis Modica later became involved in politics when he ran for Congress in 1980 in a failed bid as the Republican nominee in the Second District against Rep. Thomas Downey (D-Amityville).
Modica continued to work later in life in real estate in Bay Shore and Brightwaters.
“I don’t think he ever retired,” Charles Modica said. “He was always making another project and moving ahead with other real estate developments.”
Modica is also survived by a daughter, Lorraine of Hobe Sound, Florida; another son, John, of Putnam, Connecticut; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass was said April 11 at St. Patrick Parish in Bay Shore. The family asked that donations be made in his memory to the Fund for the Orphans and Elderly in Grenada and to University Support Services, c/o Jackie Alaimo, 3500 Sunrise Hwy., Building 300, Great River, New York 11739.