Benjamin Morales, the owner of Esmeralda Jewelry, which was destroyed in the fatal Jay Street fire last year, has died.
Morales, 65, died on Saturday due to heart failure, his daughter Claire Morales said.
“He went really peacefully,” she said on Wednesday. “He looked peaceful to me anyway.”
Morales’ jewelry store was located on the ground floor of 100-102 Jay St. The apartment building was destroyed and later demolished after an accidental fire that started next door at 104 Jay St. in March 2015.
The store reopened on the Jay Street Pedestrian Mall last summer. The new location at 127 Jay St. is now closed.
Claire Morales said it was difficult for her father to operate the store due to health and financial issues.
“The store closed down,” she said. “We were working on a lawsuit. That takes a lot of time.”
Morales filed a lawsuit against the property owner and manager of 104 Jay St. and also filed a notice of claim against the city seeking damages for loss of business.
Claire Morales said she couldn’t run the store after opening her own daycare in February out of her home on Elmer Avenue.
“It’s called Munchkin University,” she said. “I love it. Kids make me smile.”
Claire Morales said her mother, Maria Suero, and her three children took her father’s death pretty hard.
Her mother was in the Dominican Republic at the time and flew back after hearing the news on Sunday.
Claire Morales said her three children — Jaden, 14; Xiana, 10; and Gavin, 8 — miss their grandfather.
“My oldest took it pretty hard,” she said. “They were really close. My daughter is still in denial. My little one likes talking him up.”
Claire Morales described her father as a caring and loving family man.
“I am the only child to my dad,” she said. “He was so devoted to my kids and spoiled them rotten. He went to every karate class, soccer and basketball game.”
Benjamin Morales was born in Ecuador, later moving to Brooklyn. After he got married about 35 years ago he moved to Schenectady, where he lived ever since.
He owned and operated Esmeralda Jewelry for about 30 years.
Funeral services for Morales will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. on Friday at Light’s Funeral Home at 1428 State St. in Schenectady. A short service will follow.
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.