James Castro of Hampton Bays died at home on Thursday, May 28th, with his wife of 53 years and his daughter by his side.
James was born in Fort Greene, Brooklyn in 1944. He was orphaned by the age of 15 and worked to support himself from that point on, with odd jobs in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that made for a lifetime of unsettling yet hilarious stories. He put himself through high school and became the first in his family to get a college degree, earning a Bachelors from St. Francis College in Brooklyn and a Masters from NYU Stern School of Business.
James married Mary Siton in 1967. They lived together in Brooklyn Heights until the early 90s, when they moved to the family’s Hampton Bays summer home to raise their daughter, Elizabeth, who was born 18 years into their marriage. He had a lifelong career in banking, starting at the Bank of New York. He served as the Vice President of the Trust Department at North Fork Bank and ended his career as a bank examiner for the New York State Banking Department in New York City, a job that allowed him to travel the world extensively with his wife in his final years before retirement.
James believed passionately in the power of charity and public service. Instead of using his success at overcoming hardship to argue that anyone with grit could do as he did, he remained forever grateful to those who supported him in times of need and paid it forward for the rest of his life. In both Brooklyn and Hampton Bays, he spent decades contributing his time and money to homeless outreach organizations, and made a point of taking his daughter to soup kitchens and shelters at a very young age. Through the final years of his life, he was an active member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hampton Bays, where he helped bring the Maureen’s Haven homeless outreach program to the east end.
He was an unapologetic liberal, yet maintained lifelong friendships with people of every political leaning. He was a voracious reader who devoured Lyndon B. Johnson biographies and books on New York City history. He was the most devoted husband and father, who treated all of his daughter’s friends like his own. He will be remembered most for his generosity, kindness, intelligence and dry sense of humor.