Within a few months after Philip Caputo’s second daughter was born, the family realized she was blind. By about age 2, they learned she was autistic as well.
Rather than being filled with despair, Caputo vowed to do everything possible to make his daughter Susan’s life fulfilling and comfortable — and the lives of others like her, too, relatives and friends said.
A successful businessman who summered in Bayville, Caputo worked to establish group homes for the blind and handicapped, and donated to many other charities, relatives said.
Caputo and his wife, Angela, “never forgot my sister,” said the couple’s other daughter, Jessica Woerner of Syosset.
“He was very successful, but he always gave to charities,” she said.
Caputo died Dec. 28 at St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill after a brief illness. He was 90.
He grew up in Brooklyn, the offspring of Italian immigrants. After serving in the Air Force in New Guinea during World War II, he returned to New York and attended St. John’s University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting and became a CPA.
He went to work as an accountant at Noll Metals, a company based initially in Brooklyn that did smelting and refining of zinc and aluminum. He went on to become a managing partner of Noll Metals.
The company later expanded and relocated to Long Island City. Caputo retired at 75 but remained active as an accountant and maintained his CPA license into his early 80s, Woerner said.
When his youngest daughter was born in 1953, it was still a time when many of the blind and handicapped were placed in large institutions, Woerner said. The Caputos resisted that, keeping Susan at home.
She eventually attended St. Joseph’s School for the Blind, a residential school in Jersey City, New Jersey, run by Roman Catholic nuns. By her late teens she moved into a group home in Westchester for the disabled. Her parents frequently brought her home for weekend and holiday visits up until she died of cancer in 2014 at age 62, Woerner said.
Joe Catalano, a longtime neighbor of Caputo’s in Bayville, said Caputo had a natural charm and generosity that made him extremely popular and well-liked.
“He was one of the nicest men you’d ever meet,” Catalano said. “He was generous to everyone. He gave to charities all over the place.”
Caputo was also an avid golfer, and belonged to the Brookville Country Club. He and his wife, who were married for 65 years, also had a residence in Beechhurst, Queens.
Besides his wife and daughter, Caputo is survived by two grandchildren. A funeral Mass was held Jan. 4 at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Bayside. Burial was at Locust Valley Cemetery in Locust Valley.