Paul J. Wesoly, a founding member and the first president of the Greater New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, died at his New Hyde Park home on Sunday, Jan. 15. He was 87.
Wesoly, the president and owner of New Hyde Park-based Rayo Oil Co. for more than 50 years, was a well-known community businessman and was “the cornerstone of the chamber” after helping to found it in 1962, Jerry Baldassaro, the current chamber president, said.
He was buried with a Chamber of Commerce pin on his lapel.
“He always enjoyed the organization and he came a number of times,” said Mark Laytin, a New Hyde Park marketer and former chamber president. “He was just a good person in the community.”
Wesoly, the son of Polish immigrants, was born on Jan. 8, 1930, in New Britain, Connecticut, according to his published obituary. He was the youngest of eight children in his family, Julie Wesoly, his daughter, said.
He served in the U.S. Air Force stationed in North Carolina and the Hamptons and was honorably discharged in 1952, the year before he married Marion M. Schultz, his wife of 59 years until her death in 2013.
Wesoly joined Rayo Oil Co., a fuel oil seller founded by his father-in-law, Stanley Schultz, after getting engaged to Marion Schultz, Julie Wesoly said.
He took over the company after Stanley Schultz’s death in the mid-1960s and ran it for decades.
In the late 2000s he sold it to Skaggs Walsh, a Queens-based company that now operates a branch out of Rayo’s former headquarters on Lakeville Road, Julie Wesoly said.
One of his sons, Paul S. Wesoly, now works for Skaggs Walsh.
After founding the Greater New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce with a group of other local merchants, Wesoly stayed involved with the group for many years, eventually attending its 50th anniversary party in 2012.
Other business owners regarded Wesoly so well that they did not hesitate to help him when his business encountered struggles, Baldassaro said.
“He was probably one of the friendliest people — really listened to people, had a great relationship with most if not all of his customers,” Julie Wesoly said. “And he was always one to go out in the main office and talk to people.”
Wesoly helped pave the way for Angela Powers, who became the chamber’s first female president in the 1990s, to join the chamber in 1973 at a time when it was still “an all-boys network,” Baldassaro said. Powers died in December 2015.
“He wasn’t from the old school, that was one thing,” Baldassaro said. “He was very progressive.”
Wesoly was involved in many other community organizations, including St. Hedwig’s Roman Catholic Church in Floral Park, the Salvation Army, the Knights of Columbus, the New Hyde Park Elks Lodge, the New Hyde Park Little League and the North Hills Country Club, according to his published obituary.
He was once named the chamber’s Man of the Year and received several service awards from the New Hyde Park Lions and Rotary clubs.
“I think he always felt fortunate enough to be able to give back to the community, and he grew up in a really close tight knit family, and I think he just kind of brought that ethic of hard work and making something better than it was when you got it,” Julie Wesoly said.
Wesoly and his family spent summers at their second home in Noyac on the South Fork, where he would harvest and serve clams.
He also loved Polish music and polka dancing, his published obituary says.
Wesoly is survived by five children — Lorrie Wesoly of Trumbull, Conn., Julie Russell of New Canaan, Conn., Paul S. Wesoly of New Hyde Park, Barry Wesoly of Summerfield, N.C., and Melissa Wesoly of Long Beach — as well as his brother, Frank Wesoly, and 13 great-grandchildren.
Wesoly was honored with a funeral mass at St. Hedwig’s Roman Catholic Church on Jan. 21. He was buried at the Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.