We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Bethel Funeral Home
Longtime Bethel resident Anthony “Tony” Joseph Caruso Jr. died unexpectedly at home of natural causes at age 74. Born on July 20, 1948, in Norwalk, CT to the late Grace (Miller) and Anthony Caruso Sr., he is predeceased by his loving wife of 49 years Margaret (Dubois) Caruso and two sisters: Barbara (Caruso) Carter and Santa “JoAnn” Caruso. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Tina and Dennis Hamilton and their children Ashley and Dean of Goffstown, NH; daughter and son-in-law Tara and Andrew Shortt and their children Amanda, Dylan and Ryan of Deering, NH; son and daughter-in-law Anthony “T.J.” and Shanda Caruso III and their children Bella, AJ, Lilly, Landon and Lauren of Thomasville, NC. In addition, Tony is survived by his brother Peter Caruso of Norwalk, CT, his aunts Carole Huse of Norwalk, CT and Patricia Lopez of Mahtomedi, MN and many cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
After graduating from Norwalk High School in 1966, Tony joined the military in 1967. He then married his high school sweetheart, Margaret and was stationed in Germany for two years. He served honorably in the United States Army and Army Reserve until 2008, retiring with the rank of Sergeant Major. His love of country, patriotism and belief in the American way of life was at the core of who he was. Tony earned an Associate’s Degree in Engineering from Norwalk Community College and had a long career with Southern New England Telephone and AT&T. He was a member of the American Legion, VFW and the Laurel Athletic Club in Norwalk CT. Tony was extremely proud of his ethnic heritage. He had a very humble upbringing and took every step necessary to ensure he would be successful in life becoming the first in his immediate family to go to college, own a home and provide ample opportunities for his own children. Tony and Margaret raised three children with more than they ever had growing up and, in our opinion, we turned out pretty good.
To his children Tony was the most loving, hardworking, smart, loyal, strict, meticulous, proud and stubborn pain in the ass who was the best dad ever known. He was the kind of dad who saved everything you ever gave him because it was all “special.” Dad was known to save up all those coupon books we made for Father’s Day as kids and cash them in all at once. You could spend a whole weekend washing the cars, doing yardwork and household chores - until we finally wised up an put expiration dates on those things! You could always find a puzzle board under the sofa and the last piece in his pocket. He was infamous for his stall tactics when we visited as he simply never wanted you to leave. It was a common routine for your car keys to go missing or to find the hood of your car up with Dad under it as you were trying to hit the road. We have fond memories of family game nights, picnics at Mt. Tom, camping trips to Kettletown, hiking in Putnam Park, vacations on Cape Cod, road trips to Hershey and Action Park. And…maybe not so fond memories to the Lebanon Bologna Factory, yuck! Dad liked to entertain everyone with his bad “dad jokes” and he could do a mean MC Hammer dance.
He was a master practical joker with some of his greatest stunts being when he put a rubber snake in grandma’s purse - which did not go over well. Or when he hid a plastic spider in the toilet paper roll. And then there was that time he changed all the clocks in the house and convinced mom that she overslept!
Tony did not like to see anything go to waste. He loved a hearty Italian meal and good bread, large family gatherings crammed into their small house, Dunkin Donuts coffee-if you were buying it, a great pizza slice, Dr. Mike’s ice cream and a good craft beer. Mom cooked an apple pie for the house and one just for dad. He was known for his midnight snacking on potato chips and ice cream, and you had better label your leftovers, or they would be gone in the morning. Tony was well versed in local, New England and military history, not to mention anthropology. He could often be found birdwatching, taking nature walks and visiting all the town spots with his wife. He enjoyed taking his family to the New Britain Red Sox minor league games and Sunday drives all over the state. A Jets fan until the end and not afraid to wear his hats and sweatshirts proudly, even in opposing team territory. Watching UConn Huskies basketball games was a favorite past time as well. He was very fitness minded, enjoying running and practicing Tae Kwon Do. If you wanted to talk about politics or more accurately listen to someone talk about politics, Tony was your guy. He tuned into NPR, Italian House Party, the History Channel and the Home Shopping Network. He loved all kinds of music, listening to records on the player, muscle cars and making homemade wine.
He was lovingly known by his grandkids as “Papa.” His grandchildren describe him as kind, sweet, giving, thoughtful and funny. He had high expectations for his children and spoiled the heck out of the grandkids - and that is just the way it is supposed to be. Even after Mema passed away, he made sure they all always got their birthday cards and holiday gifts. They remember him bringing “Papa rolls” from the bakery and always taking a seat at the “kids table.” They have many fond memories of sleepovers and amazing adventures to museums, factories and parks with Mema and Papa. They loved gathering for spaghetti and homemade meatballs around the dining room table. Papa was known to be a quite the storyteller. He was the founder of the “Skunk Club,” for the boys which was his answer to Mema’s “Princess Club” for the girls. The skunks got blamed for a lot of Papa’s antics.
He was the best neighbor and friend you could ask for. He would do anything for you if he liked you. And if he didn’t like you, there was probably something wrong with you anyway. The truth is that he died of a broken heart. As sad as that is, it gives us some comfort to know that mom and dad, aka Mema and Papa, Uncle Tony and Aunt Margaret, Tony and Margaret and Mr. and Mrs C. are together once again.
There will be no formal calling hours. Tony will be given a burial with full military honors at a later date to be announced by the family. Tony and Margaret will be interred together at that time followed by a celebration of life. Further information will be forthcoming.
In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation in Tony’s name to the following organizations:
Bridgeport Rescue Mission https://bridgeportrescuemission.org/donate
WJMC Catholic radio www.ortv.org