Charles Montalbano gained responsibilities at a young age while caring for his family in Brooklyn after his father died.
He joined the Army and toured Europe, seeing "that the world has a little bit more to offer," said his daughter Sonia Montalbano.
"His blinders had been taken off," she said, explaining that his new, cosmopolitan view of the world "was what he wanted for his children."
Charles Montalbano died Friday at 85 after suffering a stroke. Montalbano, who lived in Huntington with his wife, Ingrid, previously lived in Valley Stream and Hewlett. He worked in advertising sales and founded Northern Exposure Magazine, which chronicled life on the North Shore of Long Island.
Charles Anthony Montalbano was born in Brooklyn on April 1, 1929. He lived in East New York, Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn. He left Franklin K. Lane High School on Jamaica Avenue in Brooklyn after completing ninth grade, deciding to care for his mother and sister after his father died of kidney disease.
He served in the Army from 1956 to 1957, where he finished his schooling and gained an equivalency diploma. Montalbano was stationed in Fort Dix, New Jersey, and traveled to Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Denmark, his family said.
"Charlie" as he was known to friends, always had a good story to tell, his family said. Sometimes he would talk about the cast of colorful characters in his neighborhood growing up. Other times, he'd recall seeing his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field.
His abilities as a conversationalist proved invaluable in his work selling advertising, family said. He could talk and put others at ease in an industry where those skills mattered.
"He liked being in advertising because he wasn't at a desk," Sonia Montalbano said. "He was out socializing, and he was an incredible storyteller and very good with people."
The family's move to the North Shore meant Montalbano could realize a passion: cruising the waters on his boat, Ol' Blue Eyes.
"He wanted his family to appreciate the water and the woods," Sonia Montalbano said.
In turn, his daughters would settle in areas reminiscent of Long Island's North Shore: wooded and near water. Sonia Montalbano, an attorney, lives in Portland, Oregon, and Andrea Montalbano is an architect living in Marin County, California, near San Francisco. Maria Scorzelli, a physician assistant, lives in Bayville.
Sonia Montalbano pointed out that Montalbano's daughters succeeded in fields traditionally dominated by men.
"He taught us to love what you do for a living and if you do that, and you treat people with decency and honesty and kindness, you'll succeed," she said.
Along with his wife and daughters, he is survived by grandsons, Odin, 12, and Honor, 10. A wake is scheduled at M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A service is set there Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Burial will follow at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Huntington.