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Erasmus Tafuro, ex-Muttontown highways commissioner, dies

Erasmus Tafuro, a World War II veteran, died

Erasmus Tafuro, a World War II veteran, died Jan. 23 of natural causes. He was 86. Credit: Handout

Erasmus Tafuro was better known in the Syosset and Muttontown communities as "Raz."

And he was best known for his eagerness to assist others.

"If he liked you, there's nothing he wouldn't do for you," said State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), a friend of 30 years, "and there wasn't a lot of people he didn't like."

Tafuro, a World War II veteran, a former Muttontown highways commissioner and a Syosset business leader, died Jan. 23 of natural causes. He was 86.

Tafuro spent much of his life in Muttontown, but moved recently to East Northport.

"He was always so busy, and it was always in the service of someone else," his son-in-law George Haggerty, 54, of Fort Salonga, said.

Tafuro gave of his time and energy, for example, raising funds to build the Church of St. Paul, the Apostle, in Brookville, helping a neighbor to move and lending an ear to a grandchild.

He was raised in Westbury. He attended what is now known as Farmingdale State College, but left to join the Army's 5th Armored Division during World War II and the Central Europe Campaign.

"He never really boasted about it, but he was very proud of the fact that he served his country," Haggerty said. He did not know when Tafuro was discharged or what decorations he received.

Upon his return to Long Island, Tafuro expanded his family's masonry business into Syosset and married his wife, Henrietta, now 81, of East Northport.

He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Westbury post, the Sons of Italy's Giuseppe Verdi lodge and the D'Ella Sunta Society.

Tafuro worked in real estate in Syosset and was so active in civics that residents called him the hamlet's unofficial mayor.

He served as Muttontown's highways commissioner for more than 40 years and as its deputy police commissioner. The road on which Village Hall sits is named for him.

He drew deep satisfaction from living his life to its fullest, his family said.

" 'Don't sweat the small stuff,' that was Razzy," Haggerty said.

Tafuro's daughter, Jacqueline Haggerty, 53, recalled a childhood of contentment on their Muttontown farm amid sheep, dogs and chickens.

"He would let the sheep out, and we would sit on the lounge chair and we would watch them graze," she said.

In addition to his wife and daughter Jacqueline, Tafuro is survived by daughters Janet, 51, of Cold Spring Harbor; and Eileen Reidy, 57, of Snyder; son James, 55, of Syosset; and five grandchildren.

Tafuro's wake was held Sunday and Monday at Beney Funeral Home in Syosset. His funeral Mass was said Tuesday at St. Paul's. He was buried at Calverton National Cemetery.

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