At his core, Martin J. Racanelli, Sr. (“Marty”) was first and foremost a loving family man. He and his wife of 56 years and childhood sweetheart, Rochelle, who he met at Seton Hall High School, raised five children on Long Island. His legacy, which lives on in each of them, is one of honesty, integrity, loyalty, respect for others, hard work, and enjoying life to the fullest. Marty, along with Rochelle, was the nucleus of his family. He believed that family always came first. Being a devoted, loving, caring husband and father exemplified that belief. His children will say that among their fondest memories of their father was the tradition of the family always eating together, which he cherished, along with the many wonderful vacations and recreational activities they shared, from boating and tennis to golf. He also was a consummate storyteller, sharing memories about his father (their grandfather) and his friends with great warmth and humor. He inspired them to be the kind of father he was to their own children, which was: their Dad, mentor, friend and one of their favorite people in the world. He taught them humility, fatherhood, and how to be successful – all at the same time. He lit up any room he entered with his charisma, and anyone who knew him, loved him. He is already greatly missed and his children will say with love that they are as proud of him as they know he is of them.
A life lesson he taught his children was to be respectful of everyone; treat everyone equally with the same respect. He also carried that philosophy in business. He believed in working hard, doing the best you can and that a “deal is a deal.” He held that one’s obligations should always be honored. He also believed it was important to return everyone’s phone call personally, no matter who they were. Each of his children saw firsthand, their father’s belief in the honor of people. Marty never worried about contracts, believing they were just a formality. Instead, he trusted the people he knew and they trusted him. His business colleagues, more like longstanding friends, will confirm that a handshake was his preference over formal legal contracts. One contractor and longtime friend, John DeLollis, recalled, “I don’t believe in all the years I did business with him, I ever had a written contract.”
Through good times and bad, Marty could be counted on to stay strong, remain positive and keep things moving forward. He was, at heart, an eternal optimist – always appreciative of his family and all the good things in his life. He brought wit and an electric personality everywhere he went, and was able to adapt to any personality. He was a trustworthy and reputable businessman, a gentleman, generous and humble, and a kind soul.
Marty’s legacy lives on in his third-generation family business, Racanelli Construction Company, Inc., and the family that continues to love and honor his memory.
Marty was proud of his family business’ contributions to the region’s growth, development and quality of life. He was at ease discussing the company’s major development and construction projects as a member, first, of N. Racanelli Associates, the business started by his father, Nicholas Racanelli, Sr. in the early 1950s, and then led by him and his brothers into the second generation through the 70s and 80s. Marty was the eldest brother and could not be prouder to be working alongside his brothers.
Over the years, he and his family changed the landscape of Long Island, developing in excess of 1,750 acres of commercial/industrial property and constructing over 750 buildings occupying in excess of 20 million square feet across the island.
In continuing the family legacy, Marty was known both for his quiet leadership, engaging warmth and contagious sense of humor. But, more importantly, he was recognized as a man who never failed to help others in business and in life, whenever he could. Within the real estate and construction industry, there are scores of business owners who will tell you that it was Marty who was always there to give a young businessman a hand up and an opportunity to succeed. Owners, real estate brokerage firms, suppliers and subcontractor trades were as loyal to him as he was to them.
Marty also made it his business to give back to the community he loved. From the Hospice Care Network’s Children’s and Family Bereavement Program which honored him, his wife and children in 2010 for their support, to the American Heart & Stroke Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Southside Hospital, North Shore-LIJ Health System (Northwell Health), St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School, Special Olympics, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the YMCA of Long Island, among many others, Marty gave of himself to help make the lives of others better. And, he and Rochelle instilled in their children and 12 grandchildren the importance of continuing the family tradition of giving back to their community.
Born in Bellmore, NY on November 15, 1937, a graduate of Providence College in Rhode Island, Marty passed away on September 28, 2015 of cardiovascular and respiratory illness.