James V. Posillico, one of Long Island's most influential developers, died Tuesday after a life devoted to his family and lifelong home of Westbury. He was 79.
Posillico came home from the Korean War almost completely deafened from repairing and flying helicopters. The disability meant he would have a hard time working for someone else, said one of his sons, Dominic.
"He knew he had to go out into the business world on his own," Dominic Posillico said. "He wasn't afraid to try different things."
The company he founded grew into Posillico Real Estate and Construction and was a significant force in developing the busy Old Country Road corridor in Westbury. As the business grew and expanded, his children became involved and it became ever more successful.
"He never did anything half-baked," his son said. "He set the bar pretty high for me."
Posillico also devoted 40 years to the Sons of Italy's Galileo Lodge in Hicksville, of which he was a founding member and president. At various times, he did everything from designing and remodeling the lodge to cooking meals in the kitchen, while overseeing the organization's charitable efforts.
In addition, he was also a decent golfer, although his son recalled a hair-raising day on the course almost 20 years ago with his father's brother-in-law, Joseph Iannotti, who had lost much of his vision after a stroke. Still, if he knew where the ball was, he could play.
"If you could only hear and I could only see, we'd both have one heck of a golf game," Dominic Posillico recalled his uncle saying. "What a day that was. I was happy I got off the 18th green alive."
After Posillico's wife, Rita, was killed in a car crash 16 years ago, he organized a charity auction in her memory to raise money for children with AIDS.
Posillico was an accomplished clarinet player as well, playing in a jazz band "and also to put me to sleep when I was little," his son said.
Besides Dominic, of Hampton Bays, Posillico is survived by a daughter, Margo Messina of Westbury; another son, James Jr. of Westbury; a sister, Mary Calazza of Westbury; his companion, Vestra Chianese; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Brigid's Church, Westbury. Burial will be in the Cemetery of the Holy Rood.
Contributions in Posillico's name may be made to the American Lung Association.