Joseph Ferrante of East Hampton, a man of many talents who worked for 30 years at Brookhaven National Laboratories assisting scientists in the search for the source of matter, died on Oct. 2 at Stony Brook University Hospital at the age of 88. He had been in declining health and he was taken to the hospital by helicopter after an apparent heart attack.
Drafted during World War II at the age of 18, Mr. Ferrante was a member of the 15th Air Force 450th Bomb Wing, serving as a gunner on B-24s in 50 missions out of Italy. His family wrote that his crew had dropped bombs over Romanian airfields and was one of very few to survive. After the war, Mr. Ferrante attended aeronautics school and worked at Fairfield Republic Airport before beginning his career at Brookhaven.
He was born in Brooklyn on May 28, 1925, to Nicholas and Anna Ferrante. His father was an iceman, making rounds in a horse and wagon, and later ran a luncheonette and small wine business, in which family members, such as Joseph, helped.
Mr. Ferrante met his future wife, Lynne Addelston, at a Parents Without Partners meeting in 1976. The couple lived in Wading River, where they built a house. Later, Mrs. Ferrante opened an art gallery in Westhampton Beach, before the couple moved to Water Mill, where they renovated a 100-year-old barn and where Mrs. Ferrante’s mother, Sarah Addelston, also lived until her death. Selling the barn, they moved to Sag Harbor, where they built another house, and eventually settled in East Hampton about 10 years ago.
Among Mr. Ferrante’s talents was bowling. At the age of 71, he bowled a 300-game during a 1995 blizzard, which caused a newspaper to describe him as the “oldest guy on Long Island to bowl a 300.” His name was inscribed on a wall at the now defunct East Hampton Bowl. His family said he bowled until recently, however, only giving it up within the last year.
Mr. Ferrante also played a mean piano, in the style of the legendary jazz musician Erroll Garner, although he never learned to read music. And, his family said, there was nothing he couldn’t fix with his “magic hands.” He would wake up in the night, they said, and say things like, “That pump is telling me that it needs some water.” Even after retiring in 1990, he kept busy, never losing his sense of humor nor his story-telling ability. They also described him as smart, sensitive, and gentle.
Mr. Ferrante was the last surviving member of his generation of the Ferrante family. Two sisters and two brothers, as well as his parents, died before him. He is survived by his wife, Lynne Addelston Heffner Cortes Ferrante, three daughters, Joanne Rewinski of Westhampton Beach and Francine and Lori Ferrante of Cranston, R.I., and three grandchildren. His also is survived by seven stepchildren, Lynne Elise Calabrese, Andrew Heffner, Kevin Heffner, Tracy Jones, Bruce Heffner, Wendi Heffner, and Caryn Malchman, and 10 step-grandchildren.
A funeral service was held on Oct. 6 at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton. A military burial ceremony followed with the playing of Taps at the Jewish Cemetery on Route 114 in Sag Harbor.