Port Washington resident Salvatore “Sal” DeFeo, a lover and renowned seller of motorcycles, died at 94 on Aug. 19.
DeFeo, nicknamed “The Ghost” after the speed he used to avoid police on his white Harley-Davidson motorcycle, was born on May 14, 1927, in Port Washington. After graduating from Schreiber High School, DeFeo was drafted into the U.S. Army in August 1945 during World War II. After completing his basic training in South Carolina, DeFeo was shipped to Europe where he was stationed in France, Belgium and Germany before being honorably discharged in April 1947.
As a teenager, he repaired and sold motorcycles out of his garage before incorporating his nickname when he opened Ghost Motorcycles in 1950. Aside from motorcycle enthusiasts, competitive bikers and mechanics, the store attracted some big-time names to come check out what DeFeo had to offer.
“Celebrities from Billy Joel to Alan Jackson would frequent the shop just for a chance to rub elbows with Sal and enjoy the array of new, vintage and unique motorcycles on display,” DeFeo’s son Salvatore Jr. “Sonny” said.
While Ghost Motorcycles offered a wide variety of motorcycles for 50 years before closing in 2000, it was DeFeo’s interactions with customers and members of the community that his son Robert remembers fondly.
“He was just really good to people,” Robert said in an interview. “He never judged anybody. If somebody had a problem with drugs or drinking, he would try to help them. He wouldn’t say they screwed up.”
DeFeo’s nephew Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as the communications director for former President Donald Trump, reflected on DeFeo’s life in a tweet.
“Veteran, Entrepreneur, Motorcycle enthusiast, son, brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather. A force of nature. We all learned not to take any bulls—t from him. Live without fear,” he tweeted.
DeFeo’s status in Port Washington did not go unnoticed, as displayed by the procession of motorcycles from Fairchild Sons funeral chapel to St. Peter of Alcantara Roman Catholic Church during the funeral Mass last Wednesday.
Jay Corn, vice president of the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District, said DeFeo sold him his first bike, a 50cc Ducati, when he was just 14.
“I rode [the bike] all over with a miniature N.Y. State license plate from a Kellogg cereal box. He complimented me on my ingenuity, and we became good friends. I would stop to say hello and never walked away without a smile on my face.”
In 2014, DeFeo was chosen by the VFW Henderson-Marino Post 1819 to be the grand marshal for the area’s Memorial Day Parade. Robert said being selected to lead the parade meant the world to his father. Post Commander John Baptisto Fiore said he was taken aback by the loss of DeFeo.
“I consider myself so proud to have known Sal DeFeo,” Fiore said in an interview. “My only regret is that I didn’t know him longer.”
DeFeo is survived by Robert, Salvatore Jr., his other son, Christopher, daughters Susan Oldford and Sally-Ann Witcomb, and 12 grandchildren.