‘HOOSIERS WE’VE LOST’: Restaurant owner employed and fed thousands over four decades

Editor’s note: This is one of a continuing online series of profiles of the more than 12,000 Hoosiers who have died from COVID-19. The stories are from 12 Indiana newspapers, including The Republic, who collaborated to create the collection to highlight the tremendous loss that the pandemic has created. The series appears daily at therepublic.com.

Name: Tom Casaburo Sr.

City/Town: Fort Wayne

Age: 80

Died: Nov. 23

He made a living running Fort Wayne restaurants that employed thousands and fed thousands more over four decades.

It was the disciplined side of Tom Casaburo Sr.’s personality that made him a successful businessman, for years the face of The Casa Restaurant Group, now led by two of his sons.

Known as a perfectionist, Casaburo expected employees to provide exceptional customer service.

“He was exactly what a United States marine would be,” one of his sons, Jim Casaburo, said in November. “He was tough. He paid attention to detail.”

Casaburo opened his first restaurant, Casa D’Angelo on Coldwater Road, with the late Jimmy D’Angelo, in 1977. D’Angelo retired from the business in 1993 and sold his share to Casaburo and his wife, Sharon.

But before the run with restaurants, Casaburo spent five years with the FBI and later in the 1970s became Fort Wayne’s first public safety director. A Highland, New York, native, he moved to Fort Wayne in 1968.

Despite the restaurant grind, Casaburo made family time a priority and was known for supporting several local nonprofits.

Casaburo retired about 15 years ago and was in Sarasota, Florida – where he typically spent winter months – as coronavirus cases began rising in many states. Casaburo and his wife contracted the virus, and both required hospital stays.

He was in three weeks and spent two weeks on a ventilator before his death. It was attributed to COVID-19.

— Contributed by the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette