Andrew Armonas, a Long Island home builder who fled Lithuania during World War II, died last month at the age of 94.
Armonas, of Huntington, died Jan. 30 in hospice in East Northport. He built more than 150 homes during the past 60 years in Huntington, Northport, Wantagh, Islip, Smithtown and Centerport, his family said.
“He took pride in building something a family’s going to live in for the rest of their lives and making a house a home,” said his grandson Andrew Armonas of Huntington.
The elder Armonas was born in Lithuania and worked on a ship when he was 18 trading along the local rivers. He fled the Russian occupation of Lithuania in 1942 and lived in Germany working as a trade boat captain to escape being exiled to Siberia, his grandson said.
As a ship captain, he would often trade alcohol for goods such as bacon and in 1948 traded bacon to a photographer who was unable to pay him, but took his portrait.
Armonas was able to immigrate to the United States in 1950 under the Marshall Plan and moved to Brooklyn where he married Mary, his wife of 65 years. He initially turned down an offer to move from Germany to Canada.
“He said absolutely not. He wanted to be an American,” the younger Armonas said. “The American dream is what he wanted.”
Armonas started his first job working on the tunnels to Manhattan and moved to Long Island in 1954 where he started his first construction company, Amgal Construction.
He would go on to build homes for Caja Builders and Alex Armonas Development Corp. from 1958 through 2016.
He is survived by his wife, Mary, of Huntington; son Alexander of Huntington; daughters Laura Coneys of Oyster Bay Cove, Tina McGowan of Lloyd Harbor and Vaira Van Son of Cold Spring Harbor; seven grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.
He was preceded in death by his son Gregory.
Armonas’ funeral was held Feb. 3 at the Church of St. Patrick in Huntington, followed by a private burial.