Howard Mouzakes Sr., former general foreman of the Newsday press room and a Korean War veteran, died Monday of pneumonia at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown.
The Mount Sinai resident was 86.
“He had beat so many illnesses, including lung and bladder cancer, and then his death came from a fall on a flowerpot that broke four ribs on the side where he had no lung,” said his daughter, Doreen Mouzakes of Hartford, Connecticut. ‘‘He and my mother, Rose, recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. He was a great dad and a great grandfather.’’
Her father, who grew up in South Ozone Park, where he went to school, joined Newsday in 1953 after leaving the Army, where he was a combat engineer sergeant. There, he received three Korean service medals, four bronze service stars and a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, among other awards. “He was in the 11th Engineers, and he blew up things,” said his daughter.
At Newsday, where he was promoted, first from apprentice to pressman then press supervisor, deputy general foreman and finally general foreman — the top job in the press room — Mouzakes became a teacher and friend to a flock of pressmen before his retirement in 1992, said his friend Richard Lizzi, now Newsday’s manager of press operations.
“He was a workers’ boss. He was a mentor, not just to me but to so many people,” said Lizzi, “and he’d tell stories that you could listen to for hours and never get bored. Heck, he was one of the people who helped build this newspaper. When he was young he was an excellent baseball player, a catcher. He would show you his hands and talk about how he broke his fingers, and you’d be interested in that, too.’’
His friend Jim McBride, of Del Rey Beach, Florida, said he and Mouzakes both started at Newsday in 1953 as fly boys, taking the papers off the conveyors. “When we were promoted, he became a pressman, and I became a stereotyper, but we continued as friends. When we retired, we played a lot of golf together. We both loved it. Our wives used to have to send out search parties to find us.” He added that they both were “snow birds” spending the winter in Florida, but he ended up staying there.
“When I was an apprentice at Newsday, he was a journeyman. He taught me the trade, then he was my boss and soon everybody’s boss as foreman,” George Tedeschi, a pressman who now is president of the Graphic Communications Conference and a past president of the Graphic Communications International Union, said from his office in the District of Columbia.
“He was an Army guy and I was a Marine, and we would plant fake bombs and then we’d go ‘boom’ and tell each other ‘I got you Marine’ or ‘I got you soldier.” He was a really good guy, a fun guy. Our pressroom Christmas party used to be called “Howie’s Christmas Party.”
Besides his wife and daughter, Mouzakes is survived by two sons, Howard Jr., of Valrico, Florida, and Todd, of Levittown; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Viewing will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday at Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place. A service will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson. Burial will follow at Washington Memorial Park Cemetery in Mount Sinai.