James E. Carll Jr.
WESTERLO — James Carll’s heart was in his hands. A locksmith, then a crane operator, Mr. Carll enjoyed machines as puzzles, and helping people with a piercing humor.
James E. Carll Jr. died of lung and bone cancer at his home on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. He was 53.
The disease was painful, but the softspoken Mr. Carll never complained and remained upbeat, said his sister, Cynthia Leffler.
“The day before he died, he was very weak, could barely talk, and we were trying to get him out of his favorite chair into the hospital bed,” Leffler said. “So the aid wrapped her arms around him…‘OK let’s dance ourselves over other bed,’” she recalled the aid, Jennifer, saying to her brother, who responded with a joke. “‘Jen, I don’t want you to tell Bonnie,’ his other nurse, ‘I don’t want her to get jealous.’”
Mr. Carll was born in Albany on Oct. 14, 1960 to Mabel Qualtieri, a homemaker, and the late James E. Carll, a crane operator with the union his son would later join.
As a boy, Mr. Carll had an affinity for tinkering. He viewed objects as puzzles — a Rubik’s cube, a jigsaw pieces, or tools in hand — and taught himself the inner workings of his car as soon as he had one. He became the go-to mechanic among his teenage friends and was always willing to lend a generous hand, his sister said.
“Like, 6, 7, 8, he was always looking at the engine,” Leffler said, referring to her precocious brother’s age. “Anytime my dad would change the oil, he’d be right there watching.”
They were raised in Guilderland, but Mr. Carll moved to Westerlo with a girlfriend after he had spent four years in the United States Navy as a machinist’s mate on a submarine and in the engine room of the surface ship USS Charleston. He traveled in the Mediterranean Sea and among the Caribbean islands.
“His letters were always upbeat,” said Leffler. “He would come home when he could and he seemed happy, he seemed to be flourishing.”
A lifelong fan of the New York Giants and the New York Yankees, Mr. Carll worked on models of classic and muscle cars, and of construction vehicles, as he grew older. He was still eager to work on puzzles and as a automobiles.
“He was just always so talented with his hands, he was very mechanically inclined,” said Leffler of her brother. “It was like a puzzle to him to be able to work with locks. He just loved to figure things out, to take things apart.”
Mr. Carll began working with Edward C. Mangione Locksmiths Inc. after he moved to Westerlo, locksmithing on his own after several years. In 1996, Mr. Carll joined the Operating Engineers Local 106, and remained a member the rest of his life.
“He was generous to a fault and often lent his mechanical skills to others. He was a kind and very loyal friend and brother,” Mr. Carll’s family wrote in a tribute. “He bravely fought cancer with a warrior’s spirit.”
James E. Carll Jr. is survived by his mother, Mabel Qualtieri; his brother, Dan Carll; his sister, Cynthia Leffler; his beloved friend, Brenda Burke; his nieces, Danette Carll and Amber Swim; and his nephews, Brandon Swim, Ian Leffler, and Michael Leffler.
There will be a celebration of Mr. Carll’s life from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Blanchard American Legion Post 1040 at 16 West Poplar Drive in Delmar.
The family would like thank Mr. Carll’s Hospice nurses and aids, Bonnie Zappolo and her team, Jennifer Carnbucci, Tess, Deanne Busch, Tricia Murphy, Nadine Angelotti, and Michele Sundeen.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Care, The Community Hospice Foundation 295 Valley View Blvd. Rensselaer, NY 12144.
— Marcello Iaia