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Frank S. Gambino

April 8, 1926 November 28, 2018
Frank S. Gambino
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Obituary for Frank S. Gambino

Frank Salvatore “Francis “ Gambino entered into eternal life on Wednesday, November 28, 2018. He was 92 years young.

Born in Otisville, New York on April 8, 1926, he was the youngest son of Salvatore “Sam” and Rose LaBarba Gambino.

Frank was born, raised and lived in Otisville his entire life.

In his youth, he was an avid hunter who loved the bow and arrow, an master fisherman and an accomplished boater that earned him the nickname “POPEYE” (“I mean what I say and I say what I mean!”), a staunch Democrat and political advocate and a lifetime member of the Otisville Fire Department.

When Frank was 17, he forged his mother’s signature on his enlistment papers and joined the United States Navy. He wanted to follow his two brothers, Charlie and John, who had enlisted to aid in the war effort. Frank boarded his ship, the LST 588, in Evansville, Indiana. He would tell you that they were still welding her as it slipped down into the Ohio River.

The ship sailed down to the Gulf, across the Panama Canal, to begin the long journey across the Pacific to the Japanese war theater to partake in the invasion at Iwo Jima. His ship delivered the soldiers to the battle. Frank and his ship remained on those shores for the battle until the end. Frank was present for the well known raising of the United States flag on Mount Suribachi. This event became an iconic Pulitzer Prize Winning photograph of six United States Marines raising the flag which came to be regarded as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war.

Frank loved his country and was proud to serve Her well. He wore his IWO JIMA SURVIVOR hat every day. It looked like it had been through the war with him!
Frank was a lifetime member of The Town of Mount Hope Memorial Post 5497.

Frank had an entrepreneurial spirit, learned from his mother Rose, who established and built a restaurant/bar business after she was widowed at 26 years old.
He was a gifted mechanic and builder. He built two houses in Otisville for his young family. He launched Central TV Service in Middletown, NY on East Main Street. He would travel to homes in Otisville and the surrounding areas to trouble shoot and repair televisions and install antennas when televisions were in their infancy.

The entrepreneurial spirit continued as he envisioned progress and betterment for his hometown of Otisville. In 1974, Frank purchased a piece of property on the corner of Rt. 211 and Sanitorium Avenue. This was the site of the old Coppola house which was just a stone’s throw away from Rose Gambino’s Bar and Grill. Even though all that stood there was a rundown house and garage, Frank’s saw the potential. He rebuilt the garage himself into what became known as “The Gingerbread House“, Otisville‘s first custard stand.

The vision lived on. A few years later, he turned the custard stand into Otisville’s first convenience store. It had a painted concrete floor and dirt parking lot. Over time, he doubled the size of the store and added VHS tape rentals. When they faded in popularity, he purchased a Chester Fried Chicken franchise and added a full service deli and pizzeria for his customers. In time, he tore down the adjacent house on the property where he lived. This made room for the gas tanks, pumps and an enlarged and paved parking lot.

In 2005, Otisville’s only bank closed it’s doors. Frank negotiated with Hometown Bank and provided them with a location in an unused portion of his store. Wallkill Valley Federal now resides there.

Frank had a very generous nature. The family spent numerous Thanksgivings eating at his store and sharing the table with numerous people from Otisville that were less fortunate. Finally, after 30 years of hard work, fun and laughter, Frank sold the store, with all of its memories and experiences to the Patel family.

Frank’s true passion was music. He was a self taught piano and organ player who had a number of different bands that played throughout the area. Many a Sunday afternoon was spent at Rose’s Bar and Grill where musicians would show up for open jam sessions. Until just recently, it was not uncommon to hear music coming from his apartment next to the store with him singing “Georgia on My Mind”.

Frank was honored in 2014 with an invitation to participate in the Hudson Valley Honor Flight on its fifth mission. This flight to Washington DC honors and recognizes the service and sacrifice of the veterans and heroes of our country. He was also honored in 2017 at the first annual Veteran’s Day Parade in the Town of Mount Hope as VFW post 5497’s only WWII Iwo Jima Veteran. As his VFW comrades presented their oldest member, Frank was truly moved, humbled and honored by the reception and admiration he received from the community.

Frank is survived by his loving wife of 43 years, Dawn, as well as his daughters Rose Watt and her husband Joe of Winchester, KY, Lois Adamson and her husband Phil of Middletown, NY, and Jane Gambino-Ernissee and her husband Chris of Palm Bay, FL.

He leaves behind seven grandchildren, Jesse Watt, Carrie Puckett, Graham Watt, Katherine Dooros, Andrew Adamson, Evan Adamson, and Melody Gambino. He was also blessed with three great grandchildren, Julia and Isla Puckett and Cecilia Dooros. Although he had many friends, Billy O’Connell, Alayna Waizenegger, Swarn Dhillon and Matthew Manani were always his most faithful companions.

Frank was predeceased by his first wife Louise Graziano, brothers Charles and John, and his two grandsons Jon and Nico.

Visitation will be from 5-8 PM on Monday, December 3 at the Applebee-McPhillips Funeral Home located at 130 Highland Avenue, Middletown, NY. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Holy Name of Jesus Church at 11 AM on Tuesday, December 4. The church is located at 45 Highland Avenue in Otisville. A burial with military honors will follow the mass in the family plot at the church.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to:
VFW Post 5497, PO Box 16, Otisville, NY 10963
or
Hudson Valley Honor Flight 176 North Main St., Florida, NY 10921

To plant a tree in memory of Frank S. Gambino, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events

Visitation

Monday

3

Dec

5:00 PM 12/3/2018 5:00:00 PM - 9:00 PM 12/3/2018 9:00:00 PM
Applebee-McPhillips Funeral Home

130 Highland Ave.
Middletown, NY 10940

Applebee-McPhillips Funeral Home
130 Highland Ave. Middletown 10940 NY
United States

Service

Tuesday

4

Dec

11:00 AM 12/4/2018 11:00:00 AM
Holy Name of Jesus

Highland Avenue
Otisville, NY 10963

Holy Name of Jesus
Highland Avenue Otisville 10963 NY
United States
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