Rocco and Josephine Cagno on their wedding day in 1951.

Rocco and Josephine Cagno on their wedding day in 1951. Credit: Nicole Cagno-Angerame

Rocco Cagno enjoyed traditional Italian Sunday dinners. His koi pond was a labor of love and he embraced backyard barbecues, especially a clam bake. But more than anything else, he relished being a father, his family said.

“My dad was a nurturer — a wholesome, honest, loving man — who simply loved being a father more than anything in the world," said Cagno's daughter Nicole Cagno-Angerame, of Miller Place. "When his children were smiling, he was smiling.”

Cagno died from bladder cancer on May 20 at the age of 94.

Rocco “Sonny” Cagno was born Jan. 22, 1930, in Manhattan. After graduating from Benjamin Franklin High School in East Harlem he began work for Allied Chemical Corp. before landing a job as a bookkeeper/accountant at Adam Hats Corp. in the early '50s.

Cagno married Josephine Pironello in 1951. In 1956, the couple moved to Wantagh, where they would raise four children.

Daughter Raquel Cagno-Gesmondi, of Port Jefferson Station, recalled Cagno as “an honest, sincere and compassionate father who loved his family deeply.”

She remembered as a child waiting up late at night for her father to come home and find notes she had left him on the kitchen counter.

“I would tell him how much I loved him or ask a question. I even gave him multiple-choice responses. When I got up in the morning, I looked forward to seeing what he would write back,” she said.

Cagno began his printing career at Typo Printers in Plainview as a printing apprentice, and was hired by Newsday in 1973, working the night shift in the composing department as a printer. He took great pride in his workmanship and the friendships he established at Newsday. In 1987, it became a family affair when his daughters Raquel and Nicole joined the research and publications departments, respectively.

In the late 1970s, Cagno started Debonair Limousines as a second income with his friend Joe Zagorski. He worked nights at Newsday and days with the limo business.

Cagno's son, Robert Cagno, of Wantagh, recalled his father always being present at baseball games, no matter how busy he got.

“He signed me up for Little League and always would practice with me whenever he could. From a child to a teenager, he would always come to watch me play, even when I was playing softball for the local pub he would show up,” he said, adding that he also spent time with his father washing cars. “He was completely obsessed with washing cars, not just his but everyone in the family.”

In 1994 Cagno retired from Newsday, but frequently attended gatherings with his former colleagues.

“Dad was a hardworking, gentle man of integrity. He was never shy about telling any of his children how proud he was of us, no matter what age we were at the time,” said Cagno-Angerame, who treasured her time working with her father at Newsday.

In 2021, the Cagnos left Wantagh after 65 years and moved to a condominium in Mount Sinai to be closer to their daughters. There, they met neighbors turned dear friends Mauro and Angelina Lamagna.

Mauro Lamagna recalled Cagno as “a kind and wonderful man, who was very straightforward and heroic.”

“He was always happy to see me,” said Lamagna, who would frequently visit Cagno. “He had a good, strong handshake. He was usually under a blanket and even though he was weak — and never complained — he made a point of shaking my hand.”

In May 2022, Cagno was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer.

Anne Trotta, of Patchogue, served as Cagno's aide since November 2022. She remembered Cagno as “a sweetheart of a person who loved meeting new people.”

“We went for a walk every day around the complex, and so many neighbors got to know him. We spoke Italian together and he always listened intently and gave great advice whenever I needed it,” she said.

In addition to his wife and children Raquel, Nicole and Robert, Cagno is survived by his daughter Denise Cagno and grandchildren. He was buried at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury. Donations in Cagno's honor were made to the Tunnels to Towers Foundation and the Beagle Freedom Project.

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