Howard "Corty" Bishop learned the value of hard work early in life.
Bishop was 9 years old when his father died in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, and he took it on himself to help his mother every way he could.
"He sold newspapers, he mowed lawns, he sold greeting cards during the holidays, he ball-boyed at the Meadow Club," in Southampton, recalled Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), his son.
"Corty," short for his middle name Cortland, died Monday at his winter home in Naples, Fla., after several years of deteriorating health due to a neurological disorder. He was 88. His wife of 65 years, Catherine, was at his side.
"He had an overpowering work ethic," said his son, referring to his father's 34-year career at the New York Telephone Co. "He would literally work 80-90 hours a week and go weeks at a time without a day off" to help support his five children and pay for their college educations, the congressman said.
Bishop called his father a "private" man who "never had an unkind word for anyone and was unfailingly civil and polite to everyone." Above all, he said, his father was "a wonderful, loving and attentive parent."
A Southampton native, Howard Bishop graduated from high school in 1941. He enlisted in the Navy after the outbreak of World War II and served in the Pacific as a medical corpsman. He also served briefly during the Korean War.
Bishop started in Brooklyn with New York Telephone, and later worked for the company in Patchogue, Riverhead and East Hampton until he was assigned to the local office in Southampton.During his career with New York Telephone, he worked as a splicer, a lineman and later a test deskman, diagnosing complaints and sending out repair crews. He retired in 1980 and then worked for more than a decade at Catena's Market in Southampton Village.
"He was just a real friendly, down-to-earth guy," recalled Victor Finalborgo, whose family has owned the store for generations. When the store first installed adding machines, Finalborgo recalled, "He didn't trust the machines and would add up the bill in pencil on the bag, just to check."
Bishop met his wife while she was a student at Bridgehampton High School and he was at Southampton High, when the schools had joint trip to Washington, D.C. After the war, the couple resumed dating in Brooklyn. They married in 1947 and moved to the family home in Southampton.
Other survivors include his sons, Cort of San Rafael, Calif., Chris of Southampton and Dan of Fairfax, Va.; his daughter Anne of Southampton; 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
A wake will be held Thursday at O'Connell Funeral Home, 30 Little Plains Rd. in Southampton, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.