In 37 years, Michael Carbone's art classroom at Herricks High School produced its fair share of artists.

And even the students who didn't take up art for a living said they picked up a few things.

"He taught me how to stand back from a painting and look at the whole composition," said Tom Oliva, 55, of Greenlawn, who is now a home improvement contractor. "To this day, I do that. I tell my guys working for me: 'Get off the ladder, stand back, look at the whole composition.' "

Carbone, 79, of Commack, died June 2 due to an illness that was never diagnosed. He told family members that he felt symptoms in March after giving a lecture on the painter Claude Monet, his son, Kye Carbone of Brooklyn, said Friday.

Carbone, the son of Italian immigrants, was raised in upstate Rochester. He attended the Albright Art School and Buffalo State College, where he met his wife, Georgette, a fellow art student. The two married in 1953 and graduated the next year.

The couple moved to Long Island, where Michael Carbone joined the Herricks school district. He was on the faculty when Herricks High School opened in 1958.

Carbone taught art and later chaired the school's art department. "He enthused people, he got people interested," said Oliva, whose three siblings also took his classes. "He wanted to teach the kids to look at things a little differently and to open themselves, to get involved."

Richard Ganes, who Carbone hired in 1971 for the art department, said Carbone brought together art, music and history "decades before interdisciplinary teaching became popular."

"I would watch him teach and literally learn a lot from him," said Ganes, 62, who still teaches at Herricks. "He was an artist in teaching, as opposed to a teacher who dabbles."

After his retirement in 1990, Carbone continued to paint, travel and build birdhouses and other structures for the family home, Georgette Carbone said. He also gave art talks and supervised art teachers at Dowling College.

"He was enthusiastic about everything," she said.

In addition to his wife and son, Carbone is survived by a sister, Mary Recco of Rochester; three daughters, Lisa Lurie of Huntington, Kira Terrusa of Holtsville, and Tanya Coan of Hauppauge; and nine grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the Art League of Long Island, 107 E. Deer Park Rd. in Dix Hills, at 2 p.m. on June 26. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Hospice House, 101 Laurel Rd. in East Northport; the Art League of Long Island; or the Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Dr. in Smithtown.

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