Gerald Bogatz, who built 19 homes across Long Island and laid floors for thousands more, died March 12 at Sunharbor Manor, a rehabilitation facility in Roslyn Heights.
He was 87 and lived with his wife in North Bellmore. The cause of death was cardiac arrest, said his son, Bill Bogatz, a retired teacher from Great Neck.
Gerald “Gerry” Bogatz was born Nov. 13, 1929, in Brooklyn to Herman Bogatz, a knitting mill worker, and Adele Bogatz, a homemaker. Gerald Bogatz was raised in the East Flatbush neighborhood, attended Tilden High School there and graduated from Brooklyn College with a business degree.
Bogatz married Sandra Rubin on Nov. 22, 1950, and they were profiled last year in “Love Story,” a Newsday feature about how local married couples met. Gerald Bogatz said the two grew up on opposite sides of East Flatbush’s East 92nd Street, but their casual acquaintance turned serious one night in conversation at a beach party in the Rockaways. It didn’t matter that they’d both come with dates. “By the end of the night, I knew that Sandra would be my soul mate and the love of my life,” he said.
Bogatz started work as a flooring contractor in the 1950s, when tract housing was booming across Long Island. When he went into business for himself in 1977, though, it was as a spec builder. With a team of contractors he managed to keep mostly intact over the years, he built six high ranches in Freeport and Merrick and 13 contemporary homes in East Hampton. The East Hampton homes were distinguished by towering main rooms with two-story windows and sliding glass doors.
The spec business was financially risky, but it allowed Bogatz near-total control over the details of a home’s construction. His son described seeing the master bathroom of one of the homes for the first time: “Steam shower; sauna; indoor open-air Japanese garden; very creative, angled tile work. It shocked me. I didn’t think my father was creative as that.”
Bogatz weathered the recession of the early 1980s, but in 1990 embarked on a new career as a millwork specialist at the Farmingdale Home Depot, where he worked until January. He was for a time one of the oldest full-time Home Depot employees in the nation, the company said.
In addition to his wife and son, Bogatz is survived by daughters Debbie Klein of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Rhonda Levy of Roslyn. Services were held at Gutterman’s chapel in Westbury, and burial was held March 17 at Beth Moses Cemetery in West Babylon.