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Arthur J. Cortes, Charter Fisherman

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 11:34

Arthur J. Cortes, who owned and operated Halfback Charters in Montauk for 30 years, died from a fall at his home adjacent to Montauk Downs State Park on May 28. He was 74.

Sportfishing and the ocean were Mr. Cortes’s passions, and he worked on many Long Island charter boats before moving to Montauk in 1991, because “that was where the fish were,” as he put it on the Halfback Charters website. He owned the company, which operated from a 39-foot Hatteras Express, from that year until his death.

Halfback Charters’ honors included the International Game Fish Association’s record for the biggest blue shark, at 15 feet and 528 pounds, in 2001. Mr. Cortes also took first place in the Star Island Shark Tournament in 1991. He spent winters in South Florida, fishing the Keys and Pine Island Sound.

“Unfortunately, for many who knew and loved him, the fishing season and the summer will never be the same,” according to a statement from his family. “We are heartbroken to share this loss with so many who treasured, trusted, and loved him as Captain Art of the Halfback.”

Mr. Cortes was born in the Bronx on June 16, 1945, to Arturo Cortez and the former Olga Jimenez, and grew up in Commack. He attended the Eastern Military Academy in Cold Spring Hills, Commack High School, and Suffolk Community College. He married Michelle Cortes in 1966, and lived in Port Jefferson until 1991. The marriage ended in divorce.

Mr. Cortes earned his Coast Guard Merchant Mariner credential in 1977 and was a member of the Montauk Boatmen and Captains Association from 1990 until his death.

He is survived by four children, Kenny Cortes of Mineola, Dave Cortes of Setauket, Leigh Ann Cortes of Huntington, and Clare Schaeffler of New York City. Three brothers, Marcel Jimenez of Ormond Beach, Fla., Richard Cortez of Tampa, Fla., and Willie Cortez of Hartford, and eight grandchildren also survive.

A private memorial service will be held at the Montauk Community Church. A boat procession will leave the Star Island Marina in Montauk on Monday at 6 p.m. and continue to the Lighthouse, where Mr. CortesÕs ashes will be dispersed at sea. Anyone with a boat wishing to join the procession will be welcomed, according to his son Dave.

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