We never had that meeting.

 

 

Dan Caruso was as much a part of Canonsburg as Pike Street or the East End. He was born here, in 1921. When he went into the hospital this May, just before Memorial Day, he expected to come back. Unfortunately, he didnít.

He was a busy man, Daniel A. Caruso, our mayor, devoted and proud of our town. He wanted nothing but the best for the town and its citizens, and he gave his best. Honor and integrity were integral to his character.

As a young man just out of high school, he served in the Army in North Africa and Italy during the Second World War. He was immensely proud of his service. Then, after returning home, he earned his degree in education. He taught industrial arts while earning his principalís certificate. He was Canonsburg High Schoolís last assistant principal and was principal of four elementary schools.

Danís brother, Fred Caruso, was Canonsburgís last burgess. Dan followed his lead by winning a seat on borough council and serving eight years, four as council president. He had been mayor eleven years.

The mayor was a member of the Jefferson College Historical Society for many years. Two years ago, when we were getting ready for the Phi Gamma Delta 150th Anniversary, he was quite active, even to the point of helping to clean the rooms. On the day of the celebration he went to the W&J campus to take part in the program.

The photograph shows Mayor Caruso with Kellie Gordon, producer of the fraternityís video for the occasion. They came early in the morning to videotape the log cabin school, and Dan was on hand to greet them and tell them about Canonsburg.

Dan Caruso was very much looking forward to Canonsburgís Bicentennial. His brother, Fred, had been burgess during the sesquicentennial. For many months, Dan would say, "We have to get together about the bicentennial."

The celebration is two years away, but he never had that meeting. It was left to Council President Joe Gowern to hold it. He referred to notes Dan had made and Danís name was mentioned throughout the meeting. Dan Caruso may not be here to enjoy the celebration, but he surely will be part of it.

JTH

 

 

 

Eulogy and Tribute

to

Mayor Daniel A. Caruso

 

May 30, 2000

St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church

Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

 

by

Gary J. Caruso

 

On behalf of Mayor Carusoís family, thank you for your expressions of sympathy and friendship. My father was raised in the ethnically diversified East End of Canonsburg where tolerance and friendship were a way of life. He learned devotion to his country, his faith, his family and his community. His Italian immigrant parents taught him two things...that your honor lies in the good reputation of your family name, and that education is the key to success. I guess thatís one reason why he chose to be an educator.
My father could not walk down the street, go shopping or travel to such cities as Washington, D.C., without running into one of his students. Just two weeks ago, I was fortunate to accompany him to witness the unearthing of a time capsule at the Hills-Hendersonville Elementary School, a time capsule he helped bury 25 years ago. Many of the students there were the children, even the grandchildren of my fatherís students.
Education was not the only key to his success. Love for and loyalty to Canonsburg and his neighbors were driving factors in a fierce friendship he extended to others. He would do anything for Canonsburgís most internationally notable personality, Perry Como, and he spearheaded the Como statue project. Once that statue was erected, he immediately visualized expanding recognition for Bobby Vinton, The Four Coins, Bishop Theodosus, Paul Binotto and others. In fact, in 1991, when Paul Binotto was performing at Fordís Theater in Washington, D.C., my father arranged to go up on the very stage where John Wilkes Booth leapt from President Lincolnís box, to present a Canonsburg proclamation to one of her native sons.
My father would do anything for his fellow Canonsburg classmates...like while on our tour in the mid-1980s in Rome, Italy, when he and I posed as doctors to enter a hospital to see his classmate Lynette Santora who had broken her hip at the Vatican.
His friendship was not limited to those he knew. It extended to strangers like a man who fainted in an Italian Cathedral during that same European visit. My father rushed over to help the man when I, along with others, simply stood by and watched.
And I recall him telling of the time during Word War II when he brought an old man, who was banished by his children to a cold barn, back into the house where he set up the old manís bed next to a fireplace. Then my father established his Army observation post in that very room so that he could guarantee the old manís comfort.
Mayor Caruso would have been so pleased to hear all of the good-hearted and wonderful comments I heard the past two days, as nearly a thousand of his friends paid their final respects. Itís not difficult to know why so many said such kind comments. My father always made time for everyone...children and adults, men and women of every race or creed, those with important positions and titles...those who are passed by on the street as though never seen...those with doctorate degrees and those with handicaps. If someone crossed his path, he had time to talk.
My father lived a rich and full life thanks to each and every one of you present today. Just as he may have uniquely touched you...you uniquely enriched his life.
He wanted to be mayor so he could make life better. He was able to re-trace his steps in Italy where he fought in World War II.
Last fall, he was able to join me at the White House where he recalled marching as a Boy Scout down Pennsylvania Avenue for President Roosevelt. His parents bought him new shoes, and he developed blisters on his feet. A nurse had to place Band-Aids on his feet. Later that evening when we visited the FDR Memorial, he had a good laugh and repeated the story again.
One thing that always intrigued me was the circular scars located on the outside of my fatherís shins. He told me that that is where his army boots rubbed during the war. He never thought much of it or complained.
He was a man always in motion...ready for another project. He wanted to run for a final term next year. He wanted to make the bicentennial in 2002 the best celebration in Canonsburgís history. And he would have.
I cannot tell you how many times our family heard someone say, "Dan Caruso was like a father to me." I cannot count the number of times that I personally heard people say that Dan Caruso was so energetic...he did so much, he had so much more to do...that he was one-of-a-kind who can never be replaced. Countless numbers of visitors said that Dan Caruso dedicated his life to Canonsburg.
To me, there seems to be a thin line between politics, which tends to polarize people, and public service, which separates politics from friendship. My father always tried to separate politics from parts of his life where he felt it did not belong. In fact, he felt so strongly about his Catholic faith that my father retired as a Eucharistic minister because he believed that his political standing might force a parishioner to feel uncomfortable when receiving communion from my father.
My fatherís passion for friendship has been memorialized this weekend by these comments I heard: "While my son was in his school, your father told him to shine his shoes. Today my son is a vice president in a software company, and to this day he still shines his shoes." "He always took time to talk to everyone. One day I asked him what the Mayor does, and he stayed there with me to explain it until I understood. So I needed to stay with him today."
Terry Lee Wright walked in the pouring rain to sit silently for two hours with my father. When Terry first approached the casket, he said, "Thereís the man who built Perry Comoís statue."
Many said that they chose education as a career because of my father. Lori Patterson, now an assistant principal in Maryland, recalled the time during fifth grade when she cut her forehead on the Cecil Elementary playground. She said, "Mr. Caruso picked me up, blood pouring down his arms, and carried me while running up the hill."
Loriís father said, "If you see Dan in Shop íN Save, here comes a long conversation...expect to stay a while."
A teacher said, "Your father trained us to be successful teachers."
Another person said that my father was liked by so many because "he never threw a stone in anyoneís path."
Each of us here today can tell a unique story in tribute to my father. He touched so many during his 36 years in education, his three years as an officer with the senior citizens after his retirement, and eleven years as Mayor.
Iíve always thought that Senator Ted Kennedyís remarks about his brother Robert described my father. Kennedy said, "He was a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it. Saw poverty and tried to cure it. Saw war and tried to stop it."
My sister Karen saved a verse entitled "Success" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. She had planned to make a plaque for my father once he retired as Mayor. It reads:
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
I hope you will join me today in celebrating my fatherís life by passing his friendship onto others, by being as helpful, by showing loyalty and respect to others. Those are his greatest successes...those are the reasons why we in his family loved him.
To those who called him husband, father, brother, Pap-Pap, Mayor, boss, teammate, coach, colleague or Danny.
He called you friend.


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