James Caruso, a longtime educator and volunteer in the community has died. Mr. Caruso passed away unexpectedly on Monday, February 25. He was 55.
Mr. Caruso was born and raised in East Boston and lived his entire life in the Jeffries Point area. Mr. Caruso was graduate of St. Dominic Savio and would later dedicate his life there as a teacher, coach and mentor.
“I go back with Jimmy (Caruso) as far back as I can remember,” said longtime friend Vinny Schettino. “He was non stop and involved in everything. He was a sweetheart of guy that always had time to help out.”
Schettino said that Mr. Caruso ‘bled Jeffries Point’ and his students at Savio that lived in the neighborhood could always call on him for help and advice.
“He lived among many of the kids he taught,” said Schettino. “Any kid that had a problem down the Point could knock on his door and go to Jimmy.”
At Savio Mr. Caruso coached track and taught economics. He was pioneer in his field and introduced financial literacy courses at the school long before they became a popular part of education.
Each year Mr. Caruso and his students would enter a regional stock market game, a program where students learned the importance of investing and saving money for the future. Mr. Caruso’s class once won the regional stock market game and put Savio on the map as a school that taught quality financial literacy.
When Savio first faced closure in 1993, Mr. Caruso became the a champion of the school and fought to keep the high school open under the guidance of staff and community members.
He would later serve as Savio’s treasurer and helped form the ‘Save Savio’ committee to keep the school from closing a second time in 2007.
But it was Mr. Caruso’s dedication to kids of East Boston through his work with the Salesians Boys and Girls Club and East Boston Athletic Board that really defined his personality.
“Jimmy always put the kids in East Boston first and made sure they got what they deserved,” said friend and fellow Athletic Board member Bob Anthony. “When it came to youth programs, sports programs, summer programs–Jimmy was always trying to find ways to make them better for the kids of East Boston. Although he was younger than me I considered him a mentor on how to make sure no matter what school or sports kids in East Boston were involved in they got the support they needed.”
Former Senate President Robert Travaglini who worked with Mr. Caruso on East Boston’s waterfront development project and the efforts to save Savio said his wake and funeral this week were indicative of the respect the community had for him.
“The number of hours he spent in East Boston and on the young athletes he influenced was evident this week because they all showed up to pay their respects,” said Travaglini. “It was a final fitting tribute to a man that gave his entire life to this community. It was a true measurement that before during and after his children benefited from his efforts that his role in the community was continuous. In my opinion that is a sincere commitment based on values rather that convenience. He was real friend and will be missed.” As a lifelong Jeffries Point resident, Mr. Caruso served on the Pier One Waterfront Development Advisory committee to ensure one-day East Boston’s waterfront would get the same treatment as waterfronts across the city.