Louis W. Amoruso Jr., whose marine expertise and humor endeared him to generations of local fishermen, recreational boaters and competitive racers from around the world, died unexpectedly Wednesday, June 5, 2013. He was the husband of Carolyn Jessey Amoruso.
In 1959, the late J.T. O’Connell opened a hardware and paint store on Thames Street and sent Louie there to manage it. He had worked for O’Connell’s electrical department after being honorably discharged from the Army after the Korean War. A loyal and hardworking employee, Lou remained at work during Hurricane Carol in 1954, when water — and boats — from Newport Harbor washed against the top of the store’s door.
The hardware store was transformed into J.T.’s Ship Chandlery. The store became a landmark and its manager became a legend. In addition to supplying an international fleet of America’s Cup challengers and defenders with needed supplies, advice and equipment, Lou introduced many foreign yachtsmen to American, more specifically Newport, cuisine, culture and traditions. He was a longtime guide, promoter and good will ambassador for the City-by-the-Sea.
Lou was born in Newport on March 29, 1929, the only child of Louis W. and Alexia Gauthier Amoruso. He grew up at 472 Thames St., steps away from Newport Harbor and blocks south of the ship chandlery he later managed for 50 years. His grandparents had a grocery store and tailor shop next door to the family homestead; the buildings now house stores and restaurants.
He spent countless hours on the water, fishing and swimming. He joined the Army after graduating from Rogers High School and resumed his relationship with the sea when he returned to Newport. Lou belonged to the Newport Saltwater Fishing Club, which raised funds for the children of Meeting Street School and took them on annual fishing excursions. He served on the board of directors of the Rhode Island Striper Tournament and wrote a weekly fishing column for The Newport Daily News for many years.
Lou appeared in a Polaroid ad published in “Look” magazine and was featured in Kate Whitney Lucey’s “Born Newporters.” He was a member of the Newport Lodge of Elks and a former member of the Knights of Columbus. During his career at J.T.’s, Louie made many friends and fans associated with the Newport-Bermuda Race and became a so-called “agent” for the Bermuda Trade Council.
But for all his fame and success, Lou was first and foremost a devoted family man. He and Carol raised their family in their home on Eadie Street in Newport, where they lived for 50 years before the two moved to Middletown several years ago.
In addition to his wife of 60 years, Lou leaves his son and daughter-in-law, Louis and Holly Amoruso. He was the father of Kim Louise Amoruso McCarthy, who predeceased him in 2000, and the father-in-law of Edward “Ned” McCarthy.
He also leaves his grandchildren, Gina Marie, Alison Elizabeth, Kristen Koh Eun and John Nathan; his step-grandchildren, Alexander, Dominic and Francisco Amaral; his great-grandchildren, Nieema Louise, Lorena May, Arion Louis, Colby Louise, Daniel Avery, Olivia Elizabeth and Avery Elizabeth.
Calling hours will be held Sunday from 3-6 p.m. at the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring St., Newport. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Monday at 9 a.m. at St. Lucy’s Catholic Church, 909 West Main Road, Middletown. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Lou’s name may be made to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 20 Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Blvd., Newport, RI 02840, or the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, 200 Niantic Ave., Providence, RI 02907.