Founder of Ghost Motorcycles, celebrated WWII veteran, grand marshal, great great grandfather, entrepreneur and stoic family man through-and-through, Salvatore DeFeo was a pillar of the Port Washington community.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in August of 1945 during World War II. After basic training with the 35th Infantry Battalion in South Carolina, he was transported via ship to Europe as part of the U.S. Occupancy Forces. He was stationed in France, Belgium and Germany.
Because of his prior experience in civilian U.S. Postal Service work, he was involved in keeping mail going to and from Troops, Rifleman MKM, Victory Medal and rose to the rank of Tech Five. He was Honorably discharged in April of 1947, and returned to his lifelong home of Port Washington. His dedication, strength and resolve never faded, only transformed as he turned his focus to a building family, in a post-war, civilian life.
He started repairing and selling motorcycles as a teenager from his own garage in 1942, After the war he opened a shop on Davis Ave., and eventually moved to Main Street, later founded the iconic Ghost Motorcycles shop on 194 Main St. in 1960. Always passionate about motorcycles, the business would grow to the largest East-Coast Motorcycle Dealership. Sponsored road racing, scrambles, and motocross racers worldwide, bicycle motocross programs for neighborhood kids, and providing a fixture for bikers, motorcycle enthusiasts, mechanic historians and people from all walks of life. Celebrities from Billy Joel to Alan Jackson would frequent the shop just for a chance to rub elbows with DeFeo and enjoy the array of new, vintage and unique motorcycles on display.
DeFeo was blessed with five children, and almost 30 combined grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. DeFeo lived life on his own terms, dreamed big, never stopped riding his Harley sidecar. He had unwavering dedication to his family, a formidable work ethic, dedication to his craft, integrity in his relationships and a willingness to take chances. Although the legendary “GHOST” has passed, his legacy will live on in the hearts of all that knew him.
My sympathies to the members of his extensive family and most especially to his son Augie who I knew while I was a student at Main Street School and later Weber Junior High.
As a student at Main Street School in the mid-1960’s and early 1970’s, I can recall being intrigued by the “motorcycle shop” activities – the revving of engines, the gatherings of mechanics and motorcycle aficionados – that were visible to us kids through the chain link fence on the eastern side of the school playground. Ever present at the shop, Mr. DeFeo possessed (and delivered) a look that made a lasting impression on me.
Many years later, I recall seeing a photo that adorned an album sleeve of the 1980’s band the Psychedelic Furs in which one of the band members was wearing an iconic Ghost Motorcycle t-shirt. I flipped out and at once felt as if I were one of only a few people that would understand what the shirt stood for. And many years after having moved away from Port, I returned for a visit. One day durning my visit I was out for a walk along Main Street when I saw Mr. DeFeo sitting comfortably on a chair in front of the shop. I approached him to say “hello” and introduce myself as a former classmate of his son – and a person who recalled memories of when his shop was vibrant and bustling. And then I bought myself a Ghost Motorcycle t-shirt of my very own.
The man was an icon. May he rest in peace.
I just saw this. Sal was an icon. His crew were wonderful and I thank them all for the late evening gatherings on hot summer nights on Main. Those were the best days RiP Sal