In Batavia business lore, there are few who loom as large as Joseph Mancuso, an incurable entrepreneur who bequeathed ambition to his children as if it were a heritage.
Mancuso died Tuesday at the state Veterans Home in Batavia, the Daily News reported. He was 88.
Reporter Roger Muehlig writes: "A son of Italian immigrants, Mancuso grew up during the Great Depression and once picked beans on a farm for $1 per 100 pounds."
From those modest beginnings, Mancuso flourished. He was a star athlete in high school, class president, later became a master sergeant in the Army Signal Corps and, once he returned home from World War II, became the first president of the Batavia Area Chamber of Commerce, Muehlig reported. (And those just a few of his social successes).
But the big fish came a little later:
"In 1956, Massey-Ferguson, the largest industry in Batavia, N.Y., closed down, leaving vacant an 850,000 square foot complex of multi-story buildings and driving unemployment to more than 20 percent. The Mancuso family wanted to reverse the situation. They purchased the complex and charged Joe Mancuso, then a hardware store manager, with filling it, creating jobs and making money.
"He tried to find a single company to rent the behemoth plant riddled with maintenance needs but after a month resolved that was a "crazy" idea. Instead, he decided to divide the building and rent to separate businesses that he would nurture by providing shared office services, assistance with raising capital and business advice. Within a short time he had recruited his first tenants, including a winery, a charitable organization and a chicken company. "We were out on the road a lot of the time, trying to interest investors and attract companies to the center," he told the NBIA Review, "and in a joking way, because of all the chickens, we started calling it 'the incubator.'" The name stuck long after the chicken company left, and Mancuso would forever be known as the man who coined the term business incubator." (From the National Business Incubation Association Web site).
"Joe was a visionary, years ahead of his time," Steven Hyde, president of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, told the Daily News.
Friends may call at the Gilmartin Funeral Home and Cremation Company on Friday, May 2, from 4:00 to 8:00pm. A Memorial Mass will be held Saturday, May 3, at 9:30am in St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church, 122 Liberty St., Batavia, NY 14020. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the local Boy Scouts, the Batavia Kiwanis Club, the YMCA or the National Incubation Association. Go here for more details.
UDPATE: Buffalo News Obituary.