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Dec 7, 2008 1:48 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former Town Supervisor Vincent Cannuscio dies

Dec 7, 2008 1:48 PM

An estimated 300 people attended Tuesday’s funeral mass for former Southampton Town Supervisor Vincent Cannuscio to pay their respects and honor the man who held the highest elected position in the municipality for three terms.

Mr. Cannuscio’s four children—Aubrey, Michael and Thomas Cannuscio, and Carolyn Rader—delivered an emotional eulogy for their late father, who died Saturday, just months after he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He was 66 years old.

Choking back tears, Mr. Cannuscio’s four children described their father as a generous, affable and family-oriented man who also loved the town he led from 1995 until 2001. They called for mourners gathered inside Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Church in Southampton Village to celebrate their father’s life with a round of applause that lasted more than a minute.

Michael Cannuscio recounted a recent tale of his father’s generosity while battling cancer. He explained that a few weeks before his father’s death, while receiving chemotherapy treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, he bought 50 boxes of cookies at a Southampton bakery. He then took the treats to Manhattan and distributed them to the doctors and nurses who were caring for him.

“He had a smile on his face the whole night,” Mr. Cannuscio’s oldest son said.

Vincent Cannuscio’s youngest son, Thomas, also recalled his father’s generosity and noted that some of the tenets his father lived by included holding the door for three to five people at a time, saying “howdy” to every person he crossed paths with, and calling his sons and daughter three times a day. “Dad always went the extra mile and often surprised people,” he said.

On Monday, Aubrey Cannuscio said his father always tried to make everyone he knew feel special, noting his uncanny ability to remember not just the names of everyone he came into contact with, but the names of their children and spouses as well.

Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot also looked back on the former supervisor’s life with fond memories. “There is an emptiness in our hearts,” she said on Monday. “But there are so many memories that fill us with joy for having enjoyed his good company.”

Originally from Brooklyn, Mr. Cannuscio spent most of his childhood in Wantagh before eventually moving to Hampton Bays. He graduated from Wantagh High School in 1960 and attended Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus on a soccer scholarship. After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration from LIU, he enrolled in law school at St. John’s University. He left after two years without completing his degree.

During his career, Mr. Cannuscio worked as a real estate broker, developer and appraiser. He built more than 70 single-family homes on Long Island.

In 2002, he founded Beacon Communications, a company dedicated to developing cellular towers. He ran the business until his death.

Mr. Cannuscio met his future wife, Carol, at an engagement party for a mutual friend in August 1964. That night he drove her home in his red 1957 MGA Roadster convertible, and they were married four years later. The couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

An avid sports fan, Mr. Cannuscio coached his sons’ Hampton Bays Little League team in the 1980s and continued coaching after they graduated from the league. Michael Cannuscio said his father would arrive at games directly after work, sometimes removing his tie and rolling up his sleeves as he walked onto the field.

“I realize now, as an adult, how difficult it was for our dad to make time to be our coach,” he said during the eulogy he delivered for his father.

In 1993, Mr. Cannuscio, then a member of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, decided to run for town supervisor on the Conservative Party line against then-supervisor Fred W. Thiele Jr, a Republican. Ms. Kabot explained that Mr. Cannuscio decided to run against Mr. Thiele, who is now a state assemblyman, because he did not like the prospect of an uncontested election. Mr. Cannuscio lost that bid.

Mr. Cannuscio ran for supervisor again in 1995 when Mr. Thiele stepped down from the position to serve in the State Assembly. Mr. Cannuscio won election that year and was reelected as town supervisor in 1997 and again in 1999. He decided not to seek reelection in 2001.

Ms. Kabot, who served as Mr. Cannuscio’s executive assistant during his tenure as supervisor, said that while he exemplified the ideals of the Southampton Town Republican Party, Mr. Cannuscio was not afraid to disagree with party members when he deemed it necessary. “He was quite a maverick,” she said. “He was an independent thinker, he was courageous and he was a man of integrity.”

Southampton Town Management and Services Administrator Richard Blowes agreed that Mr. Cannuscio was a hard-working and dedicated public servant. “He was the best supervisor I have ever served under,” he said after Tuesday’s mass.

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I didn't always agree with Vince Cannuscio, but I counted him as a friend, and I always found him to be a gentleman. He handled his final months with great courage and remarkable composure. His love of family, friends and community was clearly on display--at a time when many of us would be angry, he focused on talking about the things that were important to him. I'm honored to have been able to give him a platform to do that in his recent Viewpoint, and to have had the chance to tell him my sincere ...more
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Dec 8, 08 3:56 PM
Thanks Vince for all that you did for our town you clearly loved it. My heart felt sympathy to your family. Your handling of the supervisor's job was beyond reproach. Our town became a better place because of you.
By harbor man (47), sag harbor on Dec 8, 08 11:00 PM
Vince was a visionary for the town....maybe a bit ahead of his time, but remarkable and will be missed
By rabbit (65), watermill on Dec 9, 08 11:17 AM
R.I.P. Vince.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Southampton on Dec 9, 08 2:16 PM
Mr Cannuscio lived around the corner from my parent's house in Hampton Bays and conducted the backyard wedding ceremony for my husband and me. Mr. Cannuscio was so gracious when I called to ask him to perform the ceremony - he didn't know me, my husband or my family. I explained that the Village of Southampton suggested I contact him. He was more than happy to marry us and his presence and grace left such a deep impression on all of us. My family and I always look back on that beautiful, sunny ...more
By Beth Meixner (1), Brightwaters on Dec 11, 08 7:35 PM
Vince Cannuscio was a tremendous, noteworthy individual -- he loved public service, especially when it boiled down to serving people -- all the people -- who he viewed were just like the parents of the kids he coached, met at the Post Office, grocery store or around the town. He was never infected by a "'Master of the Universe" superior mentality but was a man of all the people. He truly wanted to leave a legacy of a better life for all residents of the town. I had the privilege of knowing him ...more
By Oshaunnessey (11), Round Rock on Dec 16, 08 9:09 PM
My cousin Vinny was a great guy and a wonderful person. He will be truly missed. I remember being sick two years ago, and receiving these beautiful pink roses which were from him. He followed up with a lovely phone call. My family was so proud of his accomplishments, and he will never be forgotten. He was a self-made man who made it all on his own. May God rest your soul Vinny, and I know one day I will see you again. I know you are in heaven. I will never forget you. Love Cousin, Ro
By Cousin Ro (3), Ozone Park on Jan 14, 09 8:37 AM
I just wanted to add rest in peace Vinny. I know your Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Frank, Aunt Julie & Uncle George, Aunt Celie & Uncle Frankie, Cousin Sally-Boy, are with you now. We miss you tremendously, and always keep your memory alive by talking about all the good deeds you did. Please prepare a way for me when it is my time. See you in heaven, beloved cousin.
Love always & forever, Cousin Ro-Ro, Uncle Ralphie and Aunt Irene
By Cousin Ro (3), Ozone Park on Mar 4, 10 3:03 PM