Dennis T. Coglianese, a World War II veteran, worked at a Long Island insurance agency for nearly three decades before purchasing it at age 62.
He persuaded his youngest son, Steve, to come on board at Toscano & Slimmer Inc., which has served New Yorkers since the 1960s. Coglianese retired in February from the Plainview firm.
"I have no intention but to carry it on," said his son, now agency president. "It's done a lot for a lot of people because of what my dad did."
Coglianese, of Levittown, was admitted to Plainview Hospital on May 2 for an intestinal blockage and died May 4 of cardiac arrest. He was 89.
"He was a quiet, friendly, good-to-be-around person," said his son, also of Levittown. "He loved to joke -- but all clean stuff. . . . He always had a witty word."
Coglianese was born in Brooklyn, where he first worked in Dime Savings Bank's mortgage department on property, casualty and life insurance. He served in World War II as a quartermaster, 3rd class, in the Navy.
Coglianese returned to Dime Savings after the war ended in 1945. In the early 1950s, he moved to Levittown with his wife, Nancy. He joined Toscano & Slimmer a little more than a decade later. In the 1980s, one of the firm's original owners was looking to sell and approached Coglianese, his son said.
Coglianese had always wanted his own business and knew at his age that he would either have to retire or get another job, said his son, who was an assistant manager of what was then Genovese pharmacy.
In October 1987, Coglianese bought the agency and named his son vice president.
Ten years later, Coglianese's wife died of complications from heart surgery at age 70. They had been married 47 years and raised three sons.
On the way to the funeral parlor for his mother's service, Steve turned to his father and said: "Dad, you're not folding up your tent. You've still got a lot to do."
He started a bereavement group at St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church in Levittown. Years later, Nancy's best friend from grade school in Brooklyn, who was also widowed, became Coglianese's sweetheart.
"He was very kind . . . as much as you were looking for an argument, you couldn't get it from him," said Rita Sciarretta, 90, who lived with Coglianese in Levittown for 16 years.
On Jan. 2, Coglianese served as the best man at Steve's second wedding. "I was just so happy, and I know he was very happy for me and my wife," Steve said.
Besides his wife, Coglianese was preceded in death by a brother, Ed Cogland.
Other survivors include two sons, Dennis J. Coglianese of Pittsburgh and Richard Coglianese of East Islip; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
Burial was at Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury.