John and Fran Gutleber

John J. Gutleber, president and chief executive officer of Castagna Realty Co. Inc., died last Friday due to complications from pneumonia. He was 71.

A native Long Islander, Gutleber oversaw the purchase, development and management of all of Castagna Realty’s commercial, residential and mixed use properties, including the Americana Manhasset, the luxury shopping center that houses such designer brands as Chanel, Prada and Ralph Lauren.

Castagna Realty also on Long Island operates Wheatley Plaza, Dealertrack Headquarters, Syosset Park and office buildings in Garden City. Other properties in New York State include Rock Rim Ponds in Pound Ridge and Brady Brook Falls and Castagna Senior Park in Pawling.

“John Gutleber was an enormous part of the heart and soul of Castagna Realty Company,” said Frank Castagna, a principal in the firm. “His expertise, integrity and leadership were integral to the development and success of the company, including Americana Manhasset. We worked side by side for over 30 years, and this is a significant loss to the company, and to me and our family personally.”

Gutleber was known for his humility and for always bringing a joke and a smile on his face wherever he went. His associates said Gutleber was as comfortable on the dance floor as he was in the boardroom.

After earning a BBA in law and finance and a master’s degree in finance from Adelphi University, Gutleber managed his family’s real estate firm, Corwin Gutleber Agency. In 1972, he joined Marine Midland Bank as an executive trainee and rose through the ranks at Marine Midland and its successor company HSBC to become head of real estate lending for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and international clients. Gutleber joined Castagna Realty in 1988.

In addition to his successful real estate career, Gutleber was involved in several philanthropic organizations, sat in several boards including the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, the Viscardi Center and the Long Island Association. Long Island was always his home and he spent much time in Montauk as well as Manhattan.

Gutleber is survived by his wife, Fran; his daughters Stephanie, Jaclyn and Megan; stepdaughter Lauren and stepson Cory; sisters Irene, Therese, Kelly and Ann, and his brother Edward. Gutleber was predeceased by his first wife, Lee.

A wake will be held at Fairchild & Sons Funeral Home, 1570 Northern Boulevard, Manhasset, tonight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Tuesday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. A funeral mass will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church, 1300 Northern Boulevard, Manhasset, N.Y.

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