Marcus Stinchi was 12 or 13 years old and just starting his landscaping service in his Westhampton Beach neighborhood. He had his heart set on a new gas-powered lawn mower but didn't have enough money.
He mentioned his plight to Robert Morgan, a neighbor and customer.
"Bob called the store and told them to give me credit and he'd back it up if there was any kind of issue," said Stinchi, remembering Morgan's phone call of more than 25 years ago. "It was a small thing, but looking back now, it was a pretty big thing."
"He did a lot of nice things for people and for this community," said Gary Nesbitt, Morgan's partner of 40 years. "He believed that if you were doing what you liked and you really enjoyed it, that you would be a success. That's how he lived."
Stinchi, a former Southampton Town Republican Party leader, said Friday that without Morgan's helping hand he might not be running the landscaping company that bears his name.
"Bob would give people a chance where others might not," Stinchi said. "He was a fixture in Westhampton Beach and a fun guy to be around."
Raised in Patchogue, Morgan was acting in summer stock in the 1950s when a friend gave him the keys to a house on Dune Road. Nesbitt said Morgan was burned out at the time and needed a getaway. As he walked the beach, Morgan noticed a small hot-dog stand for rent. He made a call and turned the hot-dog stand into a popular bar, restaurant and night spot, Morgan's White Cap Bar.
Nesbitt said he transformed the bar into a lively night spot almost single-handedly. "He was in show business, and he'd perform routines behind the bar," Nesbitt said. "He knew all the Broadway routines, and he'd entertain guests that way. . . . He always had something going, always had a gimmick."
Stinchi said Morgan often gave to needy causes, shunning recognition. He recently provided carillon chimes for two village churches, St. Mark's Episcopal and Beach United Methodist. "He was artistic, creative and liked things to be beautiful," Nesbitt said. "He had a sense of the way things should be."
Visitation is Saturday and Sunday at Follett & Werner Funeral Home, Westhampton Beach. A funeral service is 11 a.m. Monday at Beach United Methodist Church, followed by burial at Westhampton Cemetery.