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John Gutleber dies; real estate developer, Long Island advocate was 71

John Gutleber, 71, a developer from Brookville, died

John Gutleber, 71, a developer from Brookville, died on Friday from complications of pnemonia.

John Gutleber, a sharply dressed and witty man, was serious when it came to working to improve life for Long Islanders, his loved ones and colleagues said.

“He helped us move the mission of the Long Island Association towards continued growth and economic development for our region and for the need to invest in infrastructure,” said Kevin Law, president and CEO of the association, a Melville-based business advocacy nonprofit.

Gutleber, of Brookville, died Friday of complications from pneumonia. He was 71.

In addition to serving on the board of the Long Island Association, Gutleber was president and CEO of Manhasset-based Castagna Realty Co. Inc.

The real estate executive was a loving family man who treated everyone — from all walks of life — with respect, his friends and family said.

“He was a very rare combination of confidence and humility,” said his wife of 11 years, Fran Gutleber.

John Joseph Gutleber was born Sept. 16, 1946, to John and Irene Gutleber, and raised in Setauket.

He earned a bachelor's in business administration in law and finance and a master’s in finance from Adelphi University, officials from Castagna said. After graduating, he managed the Suffolk County office of the Corwin Gutleber Agency, his family’s real estate firm.

In 1972, Gutleber was hired as an executive trainee at Marine Midland Bank. He advanced at the company and its successor, HSBC, to the position of head of real estate lending for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and international clients.

In 1988, Gutleber became president of Castagna Realty, where he received the additional title of chief executive officer in 1999.

He oversaw the purchase, development and management of all Castagna Realty’s commercial, residential and mixed-use properties, including the Americana Manhasset and Wheatley Plaza shopping centers, Dealertrack's headquarters in North Hills, the proposed Syosset Park mixed-use development, and office buildings in Garden City.

“John Gutleber was an enormous part of the heart and soul of Castagna Realty Co.  His expertise, integrity and leadership were integral to the development and success of the company and all of our properties,” Frank Castagna, principal at Castagna Realty, said in a statement. “We worked side by side for over 30 years, and this is a significant loss to the company, and to me and our family personally.”

Gutleber was selfless in his philanthropic endeavors, his wife said.

“John didn’t just give money.  He gave himself. …He was generous with his soul and his time,” she said.

His volunteer positions included serving as a trustee emeritus of Adelphi University and as a board member of The Viscardi Center, an Albertson-based network of nonprofits that employs and educates people with disabilities, and the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville.

“John Gutleber was a true role model as a business leader who was committed to making our community a better place. Long Island is stronger because of the indelible mark John left. He will be greatly missed by all of us who were fortunate enough to work with him and call him a friend,” Scott Rechler, CEO & Chairman of RXR Realty, said in a statement.

Gutleber was a former chairman of the Real Estate Institute at Stony Brook University and a council member of the Urban Land Institute. He was given the Brotherhood Award by the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

“The world is truly a worse place without him,” said his daughter, Stephanie Gutleber.

In his free time, Gutleber enjoyed golf, exercising, tennis and boxing, his wife said.

In addition to his wife and daughter Stephanie, Gutleber is survived by daughters Jaclyn Gutleber and Megan Silva, stepdaughter Lauren Brunwasser and stepson Cory Brunwasser.

He also is survived by sisters Irene Melomo, Therese Lack, Kelly Farmer and Ann Dempsey, and brother Edward Gutleber.

Gutleber was predeceased by his first wife, Lee Gutleber.

A wake will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday at Fairchild Sons Funeral Home, 1570 Northern Blvd. in Manhasset.

A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mary’s Church, 1300 Northern Blvd. in Manhasset. Interment will follow at Locust Valley Cemetery.

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