Longtime downtown jeweler Louis Castiglione Jr., the quintessential upstanding businessman, died Saturday morning following a long battle with cancer.
“He was just a sterling guy,” said Bob Castiglione, his cousin. “His handshake was his bond.”
He said Castiglione was diagnosed with prostate cancer years ago. Despite treatment, it spread to his bones and ended his life at 68.
Those 68 years were very productive. Castiglione left a career in marine biology in 1976 to take over his father’s jewelry business in downtown Gloversville. Over decades, he expanded the business and, according to Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce President Mark Kilmer, helped the area economy while he was at it.
“Back in the late ’80s, he was the first business in the area to advertise in the whole Capital Region,” he said. “He brought in people from all over to his business, and they’d stop and have dinner while they were here.”
Kilmer said Castiglione thought outside the box with his advertising, for example asking customers to guess how much snow would fall during an upcoming Christmas season, or when.
“If they guessed right, he’d give them a prize or their money back,” he said. “At the time, that sort of thing was new.”
As Castiglione Jewelers became a downtown cornerstone, Castiglione became a cornerstone in the entire community, serving on various boards and giving to local charities. Kilmer described him as a hard-working guy with an astonishing grasp of the English language.
“You just had to respect him,” he said. “You could tell he was very well-read.”
Decades before attaining community pillar status, Castiglione was a fun-loving youth, according to Bob Castiglione.
“Lou senior, my uncle, used to have horses,” he said. “Lou junior and I used to go out there and ride around. We had a whole lot of fun.”
Following the easygoing years of childhood, Castiglione plunged into education. Bob Castiglione said Louis got his Ph.D in biological oceanography through the study of kelp’s effect on the whale population.
Even after he took over his father’s jewelry store, Castiglione continued his education, becoming certified as a gemologist in 1989.
His work ethic was passed down to his children. Matthew is a bank branch manager and Andrew runs the store.
The jewelry store is still in operation, and is successful, according to Kilmer, though it will be closed through Monday during funeral arrangements.
Castiglione is survived by his wife of 34 years, Barbara, and his two sons.
The family will receive relatives and friends from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Walrath & Stewart Funeral Home in Gloversville.
A service will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Church of the Holy Spirit. Interment will follow at Mount Carmel Cemetery, Johnstown.
Memorial contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to St. Mary’s Healthcare or Mountain Valley Hospice.