George Robert Mariano, a Long Island educator who worked with local businesses to give West Islip High School students work experience, died Saturday. He was 82.
“He taught us to be business-minded,” his daughter, Allison Mariano-Bonoff of Easton, Connecticut, said. “Not just to instill skills at a specific job but a work ethic.”
Mariano grew up in Brooklyn where his father, an Italian immigrant and laundry truck driver, taught him to be frugal and plan for the future, Mariano-Bonoff said.
“His biggest thing was to always improve from one generation to the next,” she said.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in business from St. John’s University, he sold cars. One day a woman who taught elementary school came to buy a car. Not only did he make a sale to Sally Burden, the two began dating. They married in 1962.
“She might have got the car first, but he finished off the payments,” she said.
Sally convinced Mariano to go back to school and become a teacher. After he completed a master’s degree at Hofstra University, the couple moved to Farmingdale and both taught in public schools while raising a son and daughter. Mariano ended up at West Islip High School where he taught business for almost three dozen years, his daughter said.
He taught classes that prepared students to join the workforce and was acknowledged by the New York State Department of Education as a contributor to a state handbook for what later came to be called “work-based learning.” His students would get jobs after classes.
“He would go around to the businesses and see how they were doing,” she said. “He kept this really big pool of open positions for all the students that wanted to take the course.”
His Catholic faith was an important part of his family life and his brother John was a priest and theological educator, Mariano-Bonoff said.
He never lost his love of cars and later in life, while on vacation in Florida, he spotted a 1967 Rolls-Royce for sale and bought it and drove it up to Long Island, his son Christopher said.
“He loved cars,” his son said. “My mother used to say, ‘The man has no hobbies but he loves washing cars.’”
He retired in 1994 and after Sally died in 2005 he sold his house and the Rolls-Royce and moved to Hampton Bays where he loved going to a community center, his son said.
His health had been deteriorating for several months before he died of cardiac arrest on Saturday, his daughter said.
He is survived by his daughter, son, one grandchild and two step-grandchildren.
A viewing will be held on Wednesday at William E. Law Funeral Home in Massapequa and a funeral Mass will be held on Thursday at St. William the Abbot Roman Catholic Church in Seaford. His burial will follow.