Southern Brooklyn

Neal Lauro, Last Surviving Founder Of Stella Maris, Passes Away At 86 Years Old

Courtesy of NewNewYork2010 via Flickr

Neal Lauro, the last remaining member of the six brother team that founded Sheepshead Bay-staple Stella Maris Fishing Station, passed away in his sleep early Sunday. He was 86 years old.

Lauro, along with brothers Mike, Salvatore, Anthony, Tony and Joseph, partnered to found Stella Maris Fishing Station in 1947, expanding on an earlier business named Mike’s Rowboats, based in Coney Island. In addition to bait and tackle, Stella Maris once rented out rowboats handmade by the brothers, as well as crafting their own supplies like nets.

When they purchased the property 64 years ago, the brothers took on a very frugal approach.

“They put all their money into the purchase of the land and had no additional funds to renovate the property,” Tom Lauro, the son of Salvatore Lauro, recounted in a 2007 Astella Development Newsletter. “They rowed their boats from the bay to the Hudson River Narrows. They waited during storms to collect the driftwood that had loosened from the docks and had dropped into the river. The brothers then towed the wood back with the rowboats to Sheepshead Bay where they used it to build their own docks, piers, bulkheads, and buildings.”

Little did they know that their ramshackle docks and rough-hewn storefront at 2702 Emmons Avenue wouldn’t just last the next six decades, it would end up being one of two remaining bait and tackle shops on a boulevard once lined with them.

The Lauro family was not available to speak on the death by the time of our publication.

The viewing is today only at Cusimano & Russo Funeral Home (2005 West 6th Street), from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Call (718) 372-1348 for more information. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 am, Ss. Simon & Jude Parish, 185 Van Sicklen St, Brooklyn NY 11223.

Feel free to share your memories of Neal Lauro in our comments section.

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  1. Ohh Noo!! 🙁   RIP.

    i used to buy all my fishing equip there!   i hope someone is gonna keep that place going!

  2. Our condolences to the entire Lauro family from Bay Improvement Group! Please bites list the dates for the funeral and wake, as your announcement left them out. Again, Neil was a kind understanding supportive member of our waterfront community and worked with us fighting for the waterfront use and history. In fact we honored him at one of our BIG Oscar nights in years past.  Deepest sympathies from his friends at BIG and the Sheepshead Bay community.

  3. RIP. I remember my first fishing experience 48 years ago. Shopping at Stella Maris was part of the experience. They had me hook, line and sinker from day 1.

  4. Aside from getting ice and bait, before going offshore, we use to gas up at their dock. Since the closing of their gas outlet, private power boats must go outside the Bay to find gas. Most of the time, they have been nice people, and I would think Neal was one of the reasons. The Bay many of us once knew, continues to slip into memory. R.I.P.

  5. Neal to me was the nicest of the brothers I knew..  I was familiar with Sal and Joe
    (also a great guy. Had been buying bait and tackle since the store opened. In fact,
    I remember the rowboats and outboard motors they rented.  The boats were grey with red trim.  The also sold Texaco Gas at the dock.  Family members have been operating the store for years.  What an investment in property owning the land where the Dunkin Donuts store and Limans is located…  I know the store was up for sale some years ago
    and was happy it was not sold.  It certainly is needed in the neighborhood.  Even though Bernie’s is still arund and does a good job, there is enough business for both
    locations and needed.

  6. This was the last paragraph of the original article.  (November 1, 2001)

    The viewing is today only at Cusimano & Russo Funeral Home (2005 West 6th Street), from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Call (718) 372-1348 for more information. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 am, Ss. Simon & Jude Parish, 185 Van Sicklen St, Brooklyn NY 11223.

  7. This is such a nice article. My grandfather lived for his family and Stella Maris. I remembering being a little girl and going with my dad to help out at the store packing bloodworms and fiddler crabs. Watching my grandfather laugh while his brother my uncle Sal would be cursing in italian and everyone laughing. This was a store where people would stay for hours and share family stories. At my grandfathers wake so many men came in and introduced themselves to us saying your grandfather and Stella Maris was my life and made me the man I am today. On behalf on me and my family thank you for all the support, condolences and tributes for our father, uncle, husband, grandfather, great grandfather and friend. He really was an amazing man and we are extremely lucky to have had him in ourlives. RIP we love you always xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  8. Back in the 60s, my family’s boat was tied up along the main pier.  We were treated like family.  We had free reign of the place, took whatever we needed (gas, bait, ice, etc.) and was completely on the honor system.   We’d call Niel or Joey on the dock intercom, go out for the day, come back and square up the bill. (Unless of course when Sal would be sitting between the bait boxes. 
    Then he would hand me a ticket and make sure I brought it to the front
    before he would let us leave the dock.) My condolences to the Lauro family and best regards and wishes to the next generation of Lauros to keep the shop running.

  9. I loved my uncle very much.  I will miss him so.  He was the anchor of the Stella Maris Fishing Station business.  I worked with him and his other brothers and my father at the bait store since I was 7 years old.  The experience that I received working there has had a lasting effect on where I am today.  If it wasn’t for Uncle Neal, I probably would not have become an attorney since he nicknamed me at an early age “The Philadelphia Lawyer”.  I will try along with my cousins to continue the family business in the same spirit and integrity that my uncle and his brothers ran it for so many years.  After all, they always taught us that there are only two things in this world that matter, your reputation and your respect for others.  Tom Lauro.

  10. My grandfather was Mike, one of the brothers and I have so many fond childhood memories of the Stella Maris.  The Lauro’s are wonderful people and the Stella Maris should be a landmark.  RIP Uncle Neil.

  11. Yep. My grandfather was Anthony Lauro, one of the founding brothers.
    I know I am late to this article, but when I used to go visit my grandmother in the early eighties, (my grandfather passed away in 72) I would always go the shop. It has the smell of a real tackle/ bait shop. I always remember three things when going back to Sheepshead. Stop at the Stella Maris, grab Dunkin Donuts and for lunch it was Roll N Roaster.

  12. I will keep it as simple as possible; Neil Lauro was amongst a large group of some of the kindest men, that I ever met. Moreover, the station was the “home” of some of the most skilled anglers of all time.
    Does anyone remember the Sheepshead Bay Youth Council of the 1950’s?
    Those kind men helped me enormously.
    Some of those men’s sons were real heroes on 9/11/01.
    for many years we had roots of one kind or another in Sheepshead Bay.
    I am a 70 year old retiree living on the West Coast of Florida, and still fishing.


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