John P. ‘‘Jack’’ Moloney could often be found sitting on a lawn chair outside his Central Islip funeral home, holding court.
Throughout 60 years of substantial changes to his community, he was the constant.
Moloney, who died Sunday of heart failure at the age of 81, ran the Moloney Funeral Home on Carleton Avenue long enough to serve the families of roughly 5,000 deceased. They ranged from the fellow Irish-Americans who once made up the bulk of the hamlet’s population to the African-American and Latino residents who later represented significant blocs.
“He just had a way about him; a quick wit and, always, something nice to say to a family,” said his nephew, Dan Moloney Jr., recalling favorite sayings off his uncle’s, such as, “Nice to meet me,” and “Remember, Jack and Jesus love you.”
“The reverence he had for taking care of the families is what allowed him to adapt the business and its role in the community for all these years,” said Moloney, 56, of Hauppauge.
A lifelong Central Islip resident, John Moloney served as the funeral home’s director beginning in 1956, at age 21, after the death of his father. He continued in the role until an illness last summer.
Moloney, who was divorced with seven children, also owned the funeral home into the late 1980s, when it was merged with another Moloney Funeral Home in Ronkonkoma run by his brother.
At the very start, he found some of his workers by shouting down the street.
“I got out of the service, I was 20, and lived two blocks from the funeral home,” recalled a longtime friend, Tom Tracey. “I walk by and, I hear, ‘Tommy, I got a job for you!’ I said, ‘I ain’t working for no ... funeral home.’
He laughed. “I worked there 55 years — retired three years ago.”
Tracey said Moloney realized that comforting grieving families by trying to making them laugh, even just a little, was crucial to gaining their trust.
“He had a personality that when he walked in, he could light up the room,” Tracey said. “He was dynamic.”
An avid motorcycle rider, Moloney was a longtime member of the Blue Knights and a retired member of the Central Islip Fire Department.
The man who presided over thousands of services will be honored with a religious service at his funeral home at 8 p.m. Friday, followed by a funeral mass at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. John of God Church, 84 Carleton Ave., Central Islip.
Interment will follow at the church’s cemetery. The funeral home will transport Moloney in the motorcycle hearse he had purchased.
“Jack wanted to be sure we had it for him,” said Dan Moloney.
John P. Moloney is survived by a longtime girlfriend, Grace Mayer, of Central Islip; his ex-wife, Dorothy Moloney, of Flagler Beach, Florida; sons James, of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, John, of West Babylon, Kevin, of Three Rivers, Massachusetts, Brian, of East Quogue; daughters Linda Farinha, of Fairfield, Connecticut, Elizabeth Reilly, of Wardsboro, Vermont, and Alicia Webb, of Wapakoneta, Ohio; and 21 grandchildren.