Vincent D. Lauria immigrated to the United States with his family during the Great Depression and went from shining shoes to managing defense contracts for a Long Island company.
Lauria died Sept. 18 from pneumonia at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, surrounded by his family. He was 92.
He was born in Cosenza, Italy, the son of Giulia and Thomas. The family arrived in the United States in 1934 and settled in Forest Hills, Queens, where the family shoe business operated until the 1970s.
Lauria's first job was as a shoeshine boy, often for celebrities who worked at nearby Astoria movie studios.
He graduated from Newtown High School in Queens in 1940. He then worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and briefly attended New York University, the family said.
During World War II, Lauria served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The day before he was to be shipped overseas, he was told he would be staying stateside, said his daughter, Julia Lauria-Blum, of Farmingdale.
After the war, he attended the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, graduating in 1947 with a degree in industrial engineering. He worked for the Curtiss and DuMont laboratories in New Jersey.
He married Margaret LaFata in 1952 and they bought a home in Jericho in 1962, where they raised their family. Lauria worked for A.I.L. in Deer Park, an electronics defense contractor. He later became vice president of manufacturing and product support, managing several military contracts.
He retired in 1985, but continued working as a consultant for companies and educational institutions, including Farmingdale State College. "He was the embodiment of the American dream come true," Lauria-Blum said.
On a personal level, she called her father "an exceptionally devoted family man." Lauria-Blum said her father stood by her mother while she battled breast cancer for 12 years. She died in 1981. "He was an amazing husband, father and friend," the daughter said.
Lauria remarried in 1988 and he and his wife Sue traveled the world for the next two decades.
In addition to his daughter and wife, Lauria is survived by his sons Thomas, of Bradenton, Fla., and Vincent, of Northport. A funeral was held on Sept. 23. Burial followed at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, Westchester County.