Collecting and selling objects of artistic and sentimental value "was his true love," said his business partner, William Dillon. He recalled the day Mr. LaCorte came up with the shop's name, explaining, "You think of an owl as old and wise. Every old item has a tale to tell."
Born and raised in Boston, Mr. LaCorte briefly taught English at a business school there before joining the Army. He spent part of the Korean War at Fort Dix, as secretary to a top officer. Anxious to be stationed somewhere of importance, he asked for a transfer - and wound up in Greenland.
After two years in the service, he returned to New Jersey, finding work in the court system in Atlantic City as a court reporter. He next took his skills to the Burlington County courts, and stayed more than 16 years, Dillon said.
When he moved to Mount Holly, he needed an affordable way to furnish his apartment, and began scouring local auctions.
"He bought such beautiful things - marble statues, bronze figurines, Victorian furniture," said Dillon, a friend since 1973. "When people walked into that apartment, their jaws dropped in amazement."
Soon Mr. LaCorte was attending antiques shows as a dealer, and teaching his future partner the ropes.
By 1978, the two men set up their own business, occupying the front windows of the Haddonfield Mall, an old A&P refurbished for a dozen or so small entrepreneurs. They did so well there that by 1984, Mr. LaCorte retired from court reporting and put his full energies into what, Dillon said, he loved most.
That year they rented, and eventually bought, a shop down the street on Kings Highway as a permanent home for the Owl's Tale.
Mr. LaCorte is survived by a nephew and three nieces. He was predeceased by his 11 siblings.
A visitation will be held from 10 to 11:15 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at Holy Eucharist Parish at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 344 Kresson Rd., Cherry Hill. A memorial Mass will follow at 11:30.
Donations may be made to Interfaith Caregivers, Box 186, Haddonfield, N.J. 08033.
Contact Kathleen Tinney at 610-313-8106.