Ralph J. Strocchia, the second-generation owner of an iron-works company with an Albertson office that works throughout the New York City region, died of complications from cancer on May 11 at his Manhasset Hills home. He was 88.
Known for his precision and passion, Strocchia grew the company his father founded, Strocchia Iron Works, into one of the region’s most respected, Ralph Strocchia Jr., his youngest son, said. He went into his Albertson office every day until just before his death.
“He taught a lot of people a lot of things,” Strocchia Jr. said. “ … The way he mentored people, including myself, was very memorable.”
Strocchia was “born on the kitchen table” of a row house on Jackson Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on March 22, 1929, Strocchia Jr. said.
His father, Pasquale Strocchia, founded Strocchia Iron Works in 1922. Ralph took over the company in 1952, after serving with the U.S. Army in the Korean War and studying engineering at the Pratt Institute, Strocchia Jr. said.
Strocchia and his wife, Anna Carmela Strocchia, moved into their first house together in Elmhurst, Queens, after their wedding in 1957, said Pasquale Strocchia, Ralph’s oldest son. The family moved to Manhasset Hills in 1973.
Strocchia led the company through a period of great growth during a housing boom in Queens from the 1950s through the 1970s, Strocchia Jr. said. He had a strong reputation in the borough’s construction industry and served as president of the Queens Builders Association, his son said.
Strocchia had a “low tolerance for things that are incorrect,” Strocchia Jr. said. “He was very exact.”
Ralph Strocchia Jr. and his older brother, Len Strocchia, took over the company in 2001, just before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Strocchia Iron Works had been involved at projects at the site before attacks, and was heavily involved in the cleanup and reconstruction in their aftermath, Strocchia Jr. said.
While he no longer managed the day-to-day operations, the elder Strocchia stayed on as president and “chief experience officer,” Strocchia Jr. said. The company’s headquarters and shop are in Bridgeport, Conn., but its local office moved to Albertson from Greenpoint in 2014 to shorten his commute.
“It was so clear that he really did love what he did,” Pasquale Strocchia said.
At the end of March, Strocchia had pain and went to see an oncologist, who said he had cancer but that several biopsies would be required to give a prognosis, two of his sons said.
Strocchia initially agreed, but after sleeping on it decided not to get the biopsies. The oncologist told him he was not in immediate danger, Strocchia Jr. said
In mid-April, he went to an emergency room in Arizona, where he spent about three months each year, with swelling and pain in his legs. Doctors told him the cancer had spread throughout his body, and he decided to just live the “last chapter” of his life as fully as possible, Strocchia Jr. said.
“It was a very strong thing that he did, and he was very brave to take death head-on like that,” he said.
Strocchia was honored with a funeral Mass at the Church of St. Aidan in Williston Park on May 15. He was buried the same day at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.
Strocchia is survived by his wife, five children — Clara, 58, Lenore, 57, Pasquale, 55, Len, 50 and Ralph, 49 — and eight grandchildren.