Obituary: John Joseph Caruso

LANTANA — Beloved family man and restaurateur John Joseph Caruso died Aug. 4. He was 80.

12213875462?profile=RESIZE_180x180Born June 19, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York, to Esther and Francis Caruso, John was the youngest of seven children: two sisters and four brothers, who were raised to love God, family, country and their fellow man. His parents moved the family upstate to Phoenicia, where they operated Villa Caruso hotel and restaurant.

Despite working hard in the hospitality business, Mr. Caruso cherished his memories of growing up in the Catskills alongside his siblings with an abundance of love and laughter.

The family shared a strong bond with their Catholic church community, St. Francis de Sales, where John served as an altar boy.

He loved performing in the musical variety shows his father put on for the benefit of the church, as well as in the annual Passion play in their former parish in Brooklyn.

As a young man, Mr. Caruso attended Onteora Middle/Senior High in Boiceville, New York, where he excelled in sports.

He joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany, where he was trained in tactical missile defense.

After his honorable discharge in 1967, Mr. Caruso worked in several of Manhattan’s premier restaurants. Thereafter Mr. Caruso enjoyed a decade-long career with Hylan Chesler in the Hamptons at the Dune Deck Hotel and at Chesler’s Palm Beach restaurant.

When Mr. Caruso opened his own business, the Marrakesh Disco in West Palm Beach, he met the girl next door, Sandra Panais, whose family owned and operated the Royal Greek Restaurant and the Royal Palm Motor Lodge.

His other ventures include the famous Dune Deck Café at Lantana Beach, which he founded in 1991 and operated with his wife and her family.

John and Sandra were together in love for 45 years. They were members of St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church. When in Mr. Caruso’s company, you knew you were special.

His heart, sense of humor and irresistible charm made him sought-after and remembered by a wide circle of family, friends and business associates. Whether on the golf course, at the casino, or greeting customers at the Dune Deck Café, Mr. Caruso made every encounter a party.

He is remembered in love by his wife, Sandra, and the Panais, Calomiris, Caruso, and Carrano families, including cousins, nieces and nephews — too many to count — all of whom held a place in his enormous heart.

A funeral was held Aug. 9 at St. Catherine’s in West Palm Beach.

Donations may be made to St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church or the Heroes Foundation of America: www.heroesfoundationofamerica.org. Memories may be shared at www.dorsey-smithmemorygardens.com for the Caruso family.

— Obituary submitted by the family

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