He came to the Five Towns by motorcycle and was saved from death in World War II by a fellow Inwood neighbor.
Chester F. “Chet” Cafasso, a long-time Hewlett resident, who moved to Florida, died on March 4 in Ft. Meyers. He was 88.
Born in Everett, Mass. on April 10, 1924, Cafasso was an infant when his parents, Philomena and Amerigo Cafasso, transported him in a motorcycle sidecar from New England to the Five Towns.
He grew up in Inwood and graduated from Lawrence High School in 1942. That same year, Cafasso was one of 54 area young men who boarded a train out of Cedarhurst and began their military service during World War II.
In November of 1944, the 87th Infantry — Cafasso’s unit — was involved in a fire fight with the Germans in Luxemburg. A seriously wounded Cafasso was dragged to safety by a fellow infantryman. “We were a couple hundred feet apart [when Cafasso was hit], I didn’t know who it was, I called for the medics to come over, then one of the medics stepped on a S-mine canister. It threw Chet over the rock wall and one medic died,” said Andrew Parise, who grew up with Cafasso in Inwood and is the mayor of Cedarhurst village. “I was shocked to see it was Chet.”
Parise, who was on that same train out of Cedarhurst, and Cafasso lived a block away from each other in Inwood, attended Lawrence schools together and served together in the army.
Awarded the Purple Heart, Cafasso returned home and helped operate the Inwood-based family-run Cafasso Lathing and Plastering Co., a major contractor in the New York construction industry from the 1950s through the ’80s. He was president of the company.
Also he served as assistant Nassau County architect in the 1950s and early ’60s, as a supervisor in the Town of Hempstead’s Parks Department and was commissioner of Sanitary District 1 for 37 years.
Active in the community, Cafasso drew up the plans for the building that is home to the Inwood-based John J. Oliveri Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1582. “He designed the building in Inwood at no charge,” said Parise, who at the time was the post’s treasurer. Cafasso also belonged to Five Towns Kiwanis and the Knights of Columbus Father Farrell Council connected with St. Joseph’s R.C. Church in Hewlett.
He will be remembered as the dearly loved father of Janis (Harry) Craswell of New York City and Chester F. “Chet” Cafasso II (Carmen of Cedarhurst,) and grandfather of Cesare “Chez” Cafasso. Cherished brother of Marie (Gerald) Killane, Amerigo Jr. (Antoinette), the late Patsy (Margaret) Arthur and Sylvia (David Hammar) all of the Five Towns. Also as the beloved husband of Maria (Ria) and the late Josephine (Joey). Cafasso is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews.
A funeral service with full military honors was held in Florida, followed by cremation. A graveside service was held on April 27 at Trinity-St. John’s Cemetery in Hewlett at 9:30 a.m.