John Pellegrino

Oct. 25, 1941 - Jan 24, 2018
John Pellegrino,  Oct. 25, 1941 - Jan 24, 2018

John Pellegrino “embodied the zeitgeist of the times he lived through,” Frank Voso, a friend from Southampton, wrote. A former model, actor, and high school teacher, Mr. Pellegrino had traveled and lived all over the world before finally settling in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a decade ago. 

He was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and died in Chiang Mai on Jan. 24. He was 76.

Mr. Pellegrino, who lived on and off in East Hampton and Springs from the 1970s through the early 2000s, was “a man who, in the immortal words of Frank Sinatra, ‘Did It My Way,’ ” wrote his brother, Nicholas Richard Pellegrino of Utah. 

Born in Hempstead on Oct. 25, 1941, to Nicholas Thomas Pellegrino and the former Louise Velente, he grew up in Lynbrook and earned an English degree at Hofstra University. 

“His father owned a car dealership, and John usually had some sort of sports car or convertible,” Mr. Voso wrote. 

As a younger man “he was the impossibly handsome and personable guy driving the English sports car with an equally impossible beautiful girl riding shotgun,” his brother recalled. 

Mr. Pellegrino taught English in the United States Virgin Islands. He had toured Europe in a convertible Sunbeam, lived on a houseboat in Sausalito, Calif., modeled in Manhattan and Miami, and lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in Ischia and Umbria in Italy, and in New Paltz and High Falls, N.Y., as well as in San Francisco, among many other places. He held dual citizenship in the U.S. and Italy. Ultimately, he “embraced life in Thailand: the food, the people, and the culture,” wrote another friend, Fred Fickera. 

“He was an avid reader, movie lover, and foodie long before the term existed,” Mr. Voso wrote. 

Mr. Pellegrino was married in 1967 to the former Diane Williams, who died before him. In addition to his brother, he is survived by a sister, Rosemary Eichenfield of California. 

He was cremated and a service was held on Jan. 29 on the grounds of McKean Hospital in Chiang Mai. His ashes are to be spread at Wat Palad on Doi Suthem Mountain there