When Sebastian "Pete" De Rosa's wife liked a sweater in a clothing store, the Huntington man would buy her the top in every color.
De Rosa met the former Betty Friedman when he was 15 while they worked in a Rocky Point potato field, his children said.
And his affection for her never waned, said their son David, of Melville. "He ridiculously adored my mom," he said. "I've never seen somebody who never lost that passion for another human being."
A father of six and a longtime contractor, De Rosa died last Saturday at The Hospice Inn in Melville, several months after a fall. He was 83.
Born in Brooklyn, De Rosa fondly recalled riding in a horse and buggy while his father delivered milk, his son said.
His first date in 1943 with the woman he would marry didn't go as planned, said their daughter Diana, of Huntington. "When they were at the movies, he tried to kiss her," she said. "She wouldn't go out with him after that."
Despite the first impression, the couple married in 1947 after De Rosa spent two years as a Marine aviator, their daughter said. They had their first three children while living in Rocky Point.
The family moved in 1959 to Huntington, raising three more children and opening Mrs. D's School of Riding, a stable for novice horse riders.
De Rosa worked as a private contractor for more than 40 years, specializing in home interior improvements and repairs. Holidays highlighted his handiwork, his daughter said, as De Rosa often gave homemade jewelry at Christmas.
His wife was an avid gardener and before she died in 2008, De Rosa always made sure she had fresh flowers throughout her long bout with cancer, their children said.
"She was his world," their daughter said. "When she died, his world was taken away."
Along with son David and daughter Diana, De Rosa is survived by two other sons, Peter, of Huntington Station, and Vincent, of Garrison; and two other daughters, Susan Saccardi, of Cornwall, Conn., and Donna, of Huntington. He also has 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. His younger and only brother, Thomas, died in 1992.
A memorial service is planned for Sunday at the A.L. Jacobsen Funeral Home in Huntington Station. De Rosa will be buried at Melville Cemetery.