The Honorable Thomas George DeCaro passed away peacefully on August 21, 2020, surrounded by family, at his home in Rye, New York. He was 99.
He was born in the Bronx on July 2, 1921, the son of Nicholas and Mary DeCaro.
After graduating from high school, he was accepted into the Aviation Cadet program of the United States Army Air Corps and upon completion of training was commissioned and assigned to heavy bombers. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant and then promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
During World War II, he was assigned to the 337th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group, flying a B-17 out of the United Kingdom and bombing sites in Germany.
On his second mission, on June 13, 1943, his plane was shot down by Germans over the Danish Peninsula. Fortunately, even though he was wounded in the attack, he was able to escape the flaming aircraft. He bailed out over the Baltic Sea and landed in waist-deep water off a Danish beach. Fighting against the wind, he was unable to get his parachute off and it filled with water and dragged him out to sea. He was recovered by a Danish fishing boat, and they turned him over to the German authorities.
For the next 23 months, he was a prisoner of war in several different German prison camps, including Stalag Luft III, which was memorialized in the film, “The Great Escape”. He was liberated when General Patton’s 3rd Army took control of the region where his camp was located.
For his distinguished military service, Mr. DeCaro received the Purple Heart, American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Distinguished Unit Badge with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster.
Upon his safe return stateside, his parents held a large celebration. His father was a machinist at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and invited several of the women who worked at the Yard to attend. It was at this party that Tom met Violet Lewis, and, after a short courtship, they were married on December 23, 1945.
After the service, he worked as an adjuster for Allstate Insurance while attending New York University at night where he received a degree in engineering. He then realized that law was his calling. He attended law school at night at St. John’s University School of Law and became a trial lawyer in 1955.
He moved from Mount Vernon to Rye Beach Avenue in 1966, where he and his wife raised three children. Mr. DeCaro was actively involved in civil service in town. He was a member of the Rye Fire Department and served on the Board of Wardens. In 1973, he was appointed to the Rye City Court and served as Rye City Judge for 18 years, until his retirement from the bench at age 70. He continued working in his private practice, DeCaro & DeCaro, P.C., with his son Phil until the age of 90.
In his spare time, he could be found traveling across the country with his wife in their motorhome or tinkering in his basement workshop using copious amounts of wood glue. He had an affinity for purple, loud patterned shirts, and plaid shirts and ties. He loved listening to books on tape and sitting for hours doing research on his iPad.
Tom DeCaro was a humble and modest man who believed that every new day was a great one. He loved spending time with his family in Rye and invited all for Sunday dinner.
At the time of his wife Violet’s passing in April 2017, the DeCaros had been married for nearly 72 years. “He talked about her every day and missed her immensely,” said his children.
Thomas DeCaro is survived by his children, Tom (Faye) DeCaro of Greenwich, Lori DeCaro of Rye, and Phil (Leah) DeCaro of Rye; ten grandchildren: Kristin Rodriguez, Peter Junggren, Andrew Junggren, Stephen Burkly, Lauren DeCaro, Chelsea DeCaro, Carson DeCaro, Callie DeCaro, Molly DeCaro, Thomas DeCaro; as well as one great-grandchild, Riley Rodriguez.
The family would like to thank Elliot Aboagye for the incredible care he provided. Tom DeCaro will be interred with his wife Violet at Arlington National Cemetery.