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Daniel Pattarini, who helped usher in nuclear Navy submarines, then restored classic car, dies at 94

Daniel M. Pattarini, seen in this undated photograph,

Daniel M. Pattarini, seen in this undated photograph, died April 6, 2015. He was 94. Credit: Courtesy photo

Daniel Pattarini was always a "math guy." Always tinkering. Always building something.

The holder of three patents for nuclear submarine equipment, the Glen Cove resident loved airplanes and automobiles. It began when he was a little boy, right around the start of the Great Depression.

"When he was 8 or 10, his mother got him and his brother a ride in one of those barnstorming planes at a show at Ebbets Field," said Steve Pattarini, Daniel's son, referring to the Brooklyn Dodgers' ballpark. "He was hooked."

Pattarini spent most of the next 80-plus years engineering something. He earned a mechanical engineering degree, served in the Navy, working on the B-24 Liberator bomber, and later helped develop nuclear submarine components. He built model airplanes with his sons and spent a vacation installing a car engine. He even built a monorail in his home to move his wife around in her final years, when she was stricken by Alzheimer's.

Pattarini died April 6. He was 94, and even then he always had a project going: He was closing in on a task that had run 40 years -- restoring a 1951 MG TD.

"One time, when he was 92, I called and he didn't answer the phone," said his son, a vice president at Utica College. That was unusual and it gave the son pause.

"Then, he calls a little while later and says, 'I was under the car and I couldn't get to the phone," Steve recalled. "Can you imagine that? A 92-year-old says he was under the car."

Daniel Pattarini's parents came to America from Italy around 1901. They settled in New Rochelle in Westchester County, where they had three boys, including Daniel, the oldest, who was born in 1920.

He earned his engineering degree at The Cooper Union. He was drafted into the military in 1944 and was "extremely proud" of his service during World War II, his son said.

He married Rita L. Loving in 1949, and they bought their first home in Glen Cove. He first worked at Edo Aircraft Corp., which was known for its float planes, where he designed floats and aircraft for the Navy. He moved on to Target Rock, then based in Hempstead. The company, on its website, says it was "founded in 1951 to meet the special severe service valve requirements of the United States Nuclear Navy."

While at Target Rock, Pattarini registered his first patent in 1953, for a pressure relief valve. He earned two more for different types of valves; the latest in 1979. He retired in 1989 from Curtis Wright Flow Control, which had taken over Target Rock.

"His designs for nuclear control valves were an essential part of the safe development and deployment of the nuclear Navy and the success and growth of Curtiss Wright's Flow Division," Steven Pattarini wrote in his father's online obituary.

Daniel Pattarini spent almost the next two decades caring for Rita, who died in 2007 after a 20-year struggle with Alzheimer's.

"If you want to understand my father, you have to understand his love affair with my mother. They were inseparable," their son said. "In his 80s, he was still physically lifting her out of the bedroom, into the living room, into a chair. Always the engineer, he eventually put in a monorail -- he could put her in, and roll her around to where she had to be."

Pattarini stayed active with his pet project, the 1951 MG TD, black with a tan interior and tan rag top. He was near the finish line when, his son said, "he ran out of gas."

"Ninety-five percent of it's done," the son said. "He's got all the upholstery. We just have to install it."

Pattarini also is survived by his brother, James; son, Charles; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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