Jesse R. Goodale II, a potato farmer who went on to co-found Riverhead Building Supply, died Saturday at his Riverhead home, his daughter said.
Goodale, 97, died of natural causes, his daughter Carol Cambi said.
"My father never sat down . . . His work ethic was just astounding," she said. "If he saw something that needed to be done in this town, he would just go do it."
Goodale started his building supply company in 1948 with his brother Harold and uncle Percy "Pete" Ketcham, Cambi said.
The business has grown to employ 500 people and form 10 retail sites on Long Island, two in Rhode Island and a distribution and manufacturing center in Calverton, family members said.
Born in Aquebogue to Lavinia Ketcham and Robinson J. Goodale, Jesse R. Goodale II was raised on a farm growing mostly potatoes, along with cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. He graduated from Riverhead High School in 1934, Cambi said.
"He wanted to enlist in World War II, but they wouldn't let him because he was a farmer," she said. "They had to stay and grow the food."
Goodale married Mary Lupton in 1942. The pair had five children and were married 68 years until Mary's death.
Goodale's son, Edgar Goodale, of Calverton, said his father never formally retired from the supply company. "He would just always be in the background as a guiding light," he said.
Edgar Goodale described his father as disciplined, supportive and passionate about life -- even running on the golf course between swings.
"He took everything to its maximum," he said.
Goodale previously served on a number of community boards, including those of Central Suffolk Hospital, now called Peconic Bay Medical Center; the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce; and the Suffolk County Historical Society.
"They're a very, very generous family, both to the community and to charitable organizations," said Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter. He called Goodale's death "a big loss to the town."
In addition to Carol and Edgar, Goodale is also survived by children Jesse "Bobby" Goodale III, of Flanders; Russell Goodale, of Aquebogue; Diane Sadowy, of Wading River; 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
A wake was held Sunday at Reginald H. Tuthill Funeral Home in Riverhead. A funeral will be held at 10 Monday at Old Steeple Community Church in Aquebogue, followed by burial at the church's cemetery.
Donations can be made to Peconic Bay Medical Center or Old Steeple Community Church in lieu of flowers.