OSWEGO — Joseph Castaldo, known for his dedication to family, candid honesty and enduring work on the Oswego skyline, has passed away at the age of 92.
Castaldo died Saturday peacefully at his home, according to family members. He was described by local leaders and friends as “direct, passionate and totally committed to his community.”
“Oswego has lost a great contributor to our community, but his legacy, through his family and through his work, will live on,” said Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow.
After training in masonry as a young man, he founded the Joseph D. Castaldo Construction Company in 1952 which over 30 years took on contracts from some of the largest names in the region: Alcan, Sealright and the James A. FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point nuclear power plants among them. Castaldo was a supporter and advocate for local organizations like the Salvation Army, the Elks Lodge and the Knights of Columbus and served 10 years in the National Guard. He was an avid outdoorsman and sports fanatic, his family told the Palladium-Times on Monday, and stayed busy after his retirement by raising cows and chickens on his family farm, and used his green thumb to grow grape vines and fig trees.
Tom Schneider, president and CEO of Pathfinder Bank, met Castaldo when the bank was looking to expand its parking options, but over the last several decades the usual business conversation blossomed into a close friendship.
For Schneider, Castaldo’s lasting legacy is his construction work: Oswego’s City Hall, St. Joseph’s Church and the former Riverfront office building are among the many notable projects in the Port City and beyond.
“His forthrightness was a skill, and you had to be able to accept the bluntness,” Schneider said. “He was a strong man. He leaves behind a legacy as a great builder and property manager. He leaves behind a great family that is still very active and productive in our community.”
Last week, one of Castaldo’s most prominent edifices was rededicated by Schneider and Pathfinder to the man who created it: 120 E. 1st St., formerly the Oswego City School District’s Education Center, will now bear a bronze plaque emblazoned with Castaldo, and the name of his late beloved wife, Alma.
Castaldo’s love for his family was legendary, and his influence in the city of Oswego and Oswego County will be felt for generations.
“My grandfather played an influential role throughout my life, and I am grateful for the lessons and insights that he taught me along the way,” said Katie Toomey, executive director of the Greater-Oswego Fulton Chamber of Commerce and one of Castaldo’s six grandchildren. “He always stressed the importance of learning from the past, living life authentically and hard work.”
Even in his golden years, Toomey said, her grandfather’s traveling, reading and playing with his grandchildren was always accompanied by the lesson that it was possible because of hard work — and Joe Castaldo never stopped working hard.
“He exhibited incredible fortitude, was incredibly bright, loved this community and adored his family,” Toomey said. “I will miss him very much.”
Calling hours will be held Thursday at Nelson Funeral Home on West Albany Street from 3 to 6 p.m. Masks are required and social distancing measures will be enforced.
A Catholic Funeral Mass will follow on Friday at St. Joseph’s Church at 11 a.m. Anyone attending must register in advance with the church rectory. Surviving Castaldo are daughters Cindy Murabito, Sandra Bilson and Patricia Reynolds; six grandchildren Joseph Murabito (Ana Maria), Michael Murabito, Gregory Bilson (Erin), Jessica Cousens (Cassidy), Katherine Toomey and Nicole Reynolds (Daniel Jones); seven great-grandchildren, Isabella and Joseph Murabito, Thea Bilson, Jude Cousins, George and Patrick Toomey, Nicolas Jones; sister-in-laws, Roseanne Castaldo, Florence Castaldo and Beverly Mitchell.