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Reporter obituaries: DiGregorio, Capon, O’Connor

Dr. Vincent DiGregorio
Dr. Vincent DiGregorio

Vincent DiGregorio
Vincent DiGregorio, M.D., passed away peacefully on Monday, February 9, 2015, while on a sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands. His wife, Jennifer Ruys, was by his side. He was a loyal husband to Jennifer and a devoted father to Nicole, and although he came to have a family late in his life, he embraced it fully with love and compassion, a friend said.

Dr. DiGregorio was a practicing plastic surgeon with the Long Island Plastic Surgical Group of Garden City and was Chief of Plastic Surgery at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola. He used his skills as a surgeon and doctor far beyond the operating room.

His humanitarian qualities complemented his professional skills and he often gave freely of his talents to support friends and others in need. His patients loved his honesty, caring and sense of humor.

Dr. DiGregorio was born in Brooklyn in 1942 and attended Poly Prep Country Day School. He graduated from Hobart College, where he studied literature and science, and played lacrosse.

His medical studies began at Albany College of Medicine, followed by an internship at Cleveland Clinic, residency at Boston University Medical School, surgery residency at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and plastic surgery residency at Nassau County Medical Center.

He served his country as a surgeon on the front lines of combat in Vietnam between 1970 and 1971, where he worked to stabilize the lives of wounded soldiers while under fire at the U.S. Garrison at Khe Sanh.

His interests were many and diverse. His skills as a plastic surgeon were reflected in his artistic work, his paintings capturing the beauty and sensitivity he saw in life. So too did his short stories that clearly show his talents as a man of letters. His love of sports was reflected in his many activities, including squash, sailing and especially golf. He was a single digit golfer and lifelong member of Gardiner’s Bay Country Club.

He considered Shelter Island his home and a sanctuary for his family. In Garden City, where he was a resident for 36 years, he was also a member of the Garden City Golf Club.

He leaves behind his loving wife Jennifer Ruys, his beloved daughter Nicole DiGregorio and his sister Maryanne Bennett. The number of people whose lives he touched and who loved and will miss him are too numerous to count.

A memorial will be held at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City on February 28 at 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be sent to Hobart and William Smith Colleges in his name.

Kenneth E. Capon
Kenneth E. Capon of Shelter Island died at his home on Thursday, February 12, 2015. He was 82 years old.

He was born on September 10, 1932 on Shelter Island to Katherine (née Smith) and Charles Capon and was a graduate of Shelter Island High School. Besides his parents, he was predeceased by a brother, Charles Eugene Capon. He is survived by his younger brother, John “Jack” Capon.

Mr. Capon was a 63-year member of the Shelter Island Fire Department and was twice chief, in 1961 and again in 1966-67.

In 2000, Mr. Capon was selected as Fireman of the Year. He served as deputy secretary of the Board of Fire Commissioners from 1967 to 2009 and worked for the Shelter Island Fire District for more than three decades, helping to maintain the firehouses.

He was also active in fire service throughout Suffolk County, serving on the Suffolk County Arson Task Force; the County Fire Rescue and Emergency Service Commission, which he chaired in 1996-97; the County Fire Advisory Board from 1976 to 2011 of which he was chair in1996-97; a member of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, the Radio Board and several other boards.

For many years, Mr. Capon was the supervisor of the auto body repair shop at Wells Pontiac-Cadillac in Peconic and learned his skills at a General Motors Corporation body work program.

Calling hours took place on Sunday, February 15 at the Shelter Island Funeral Home where Catholic prayers and firematic services were held that afternoon.  The Liturgy of Christian Burial was celebrated on Monday, February 16, at Our Lady of the Island Roman Catholic Church by Father Peter DeSanctis.

Interment was in Our Lady of the Isle Cemetery.

Robert H. O'Connor
Robert H. O’Connor

Robert H. O’Connor
Robert “Bob” Hartley O’Connor, 90, of Bronxville and Shelter Island, died on January 14, 2015 in Bronxville.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 65 years, Julia (née Sturges) O’Connor; children Sandra O’Connor (Edwin Hydeman) of New York and Shelter Island, Russell O’Connor of Cody, Wyoming and Linda (Drew) Casertano of Millbrook, New York and Weekapaug, Rhode Island; and grandsons Alexander (Renee Bissell) Casertano of Mill Valley, California, Tyler (Annie) Casertano of Washington, D.C. and William Casertano of New York.

Born January 24, 1924 in Kansas City, Missouri to A.H. O’Connor and Mildred M. O’Connor, Bob attended Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, New Jersey and entered Yale University with the Class of ‘45W in July 1942. Called to active duty in the Navy in February 1944, when he received his ensign’s commission at Yale, he served as a gunnery officer aboard destroyer escorts in the Atlantic and the Pacific until his release as a lieutenant in September 1946. He returned to Yale and graduated in 1948.

After a year on Wall Street, he had a 30-year career in sales and marketing with IBM in Hartford, Albany and New York. He was an avid tennis and paddle tennis player and sailor.

A devoted Yale alumnus, Bob worked tirelessly for the classes of ‘45W and ’48 and the Aurelian Honor Society, which has named its scholarship in his memory. He attended countless reunions and 69 consecutive Yale-Harvard football games. He was chairman of the ‘45W 70th reunion scheduled for this May.

A resident of Newington, Connecticut for 10 years, Loudonville, New York for 14 years, Bronxville for 40 years, and a summer resident of Shelter Island since 1961, Bob was a member of the Yale Club in New York, the Bronxville Field Club, Christ Church (Bronxville), where he was warden for six years, and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on the Island. He was a former member of the Shelter Island Yacht Club.
Bob first came to Shelter Island as Julie’s beau in 1949.

They were married in 1950 and continued to spend time each summer at the Sturges home on Nostrand Parkway, which had been in Julie’s family since 1903 and became their summer home in 1961. They joined the Shelter Island Yacht Club and rebuilt the Sturges clay tennis court, which would be the scene of hours of friendly, competitive mixed doubles, men’s doubles, ladies doubles and family tennis through the years. Introduced to the waters around Shelter Island on his father-in-law’s (Perry “Mac” MacKay Sturges) New York 32 cruiser-racer Sapphire, Bob skippered a Wood Pussy and a Lightning and crewed for Herreshoff 12½ skippers, Henry Tilden and Dave Scudder — all in the Shelter Island Yacht Club’s One Design series.

However, he loved nothing more than spending afternoons on the water on his 27-foot sloop Princess, an International One Design Princess class, which he purchased in 1966 for day sailing in Island waters. His regular crew were Hugh Luddecke and Warner Griffin and more recently Lou Schmitt, Rich Macintosh and George Bradley.

Last summer Bob’s beloved Shelter Island was just the place for his recuperation from the debilitating effects of chemotherapy treatments for metastatic gastric cancer that he underwent earlier in the year.

Although he could no longer play tennis or sail on Princess, he looked forward to the almost-daily Stars Cafe morning coffee gathering and visiting with friends on his front porch with its views of views of Southold Bay and beyond.

A funeral service will be held at Christ Church, Bronxville, in the spring. A private interment will take place in St. Joseph’s Memorial Garden at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on the Island.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Mary’s, P.O. Box 1660, Shelter Island, NY 11964 or Shelter Island Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 1950, Shelter Island, NY 11964.