MERIDEN — Family and friends are remembering Salvatore “Sam” Carabetta, one of the original founders of the Carabetta Companies, as a hardworking family man who was kind to everyone he met.
“He was the nicest man,” Sam Carabetta’s great-niece, Cristina Carabetta, said. “He seemed to be tough on the outside, but inside his heart was pure gold. He was very compassionate, caring, gentle. He always cared about his family.”
Sam Carabetta died at his home Saturday at the age of 94, according to his obituary. He founded Carabetta Brothers Builders with his brothers — Joe, Sonny, Michael, and Donald — in the late 1940s, and the brothers went on to build thousands of apartment units throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. He is survived by his wife, Carol Carabetta, brothers Joe Carabetta and Donald
Logodicio, four daughters, six grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.
“It’s a tremendous loss for our community,” Mayor Kevin Scarpati said. He noted Sam Carabetta and his brothers were responsible for providing housing for “thousands of people” over the years, including in Meriden, where the company manages a large portfolio of residential properties.
Sam Carabetta, a son of Italian immigrants, was born in Meriden in 1926 and grew up during the Great Depression. After his younger brother, Joe, was drafted to serve in World War II, Sam Carabetta enlisted to be with him, longtime family friend Tony Tomassetti said. The two served together in the South Pacific and were one of the last sets of brothers allowed to serve together. Soon after, new policies were adopted to prevent pairing of family members after a family lost five sons all aboard a sunken ship in 1942.
“The bond those brothers had, bar none, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Tomassetti said.
Sam Carabetta and his brothers founded the family business after returning home from the war, building their first home on Kensington Avenue in Meriden, Sam Carabetta’s great-nephew, Joe Carabetta III, said.
Sam Carabetta specialized in demolition projects, his great-nephew said, and his demolition portfolio included large factory buildings and 8-story wood and brick structures, according to Carabetta’s website.
“It didn’t matter how big a building was, he would figure out a way to get it down and do it right,” Joe Carabetta III said.
Sam Carabetta could be a tough, “no-nonsense” boss to work for “because when he wanted something done, he wanted it done right then and there,” his great-nephew said.
But he also had a softer, caring side, family and friends recalled. Everyone, regardless of whether they were family, affectionately referred to him as “Uncle Sam,” Joe Carabetta III said. His brother, Joe, called him a “collie dog” because “everybody loved him,” Tomassetti said.
“Don’t get me wrong, he was tough,” Joe Carabetta III said. “Growing up in the Great Depression and coming from nothing and then starting a company and being one of the founders of Carabetta and getting it to where it is today, it doesn’t come easy.
“That’s one side of him, but I would say another side of him that people don’t know because you had to spend time with him is he was so kind and loving and smart. He had a heart of gold. His heart was so big, he would do anything for anyone.”
A lifelong Meriden resident, Sam Carabetta “loved being from Meriden,” his great-niece said, and was active in the community and gave back throughout his career, including to the local Boys and Girls Club.
He particularly enjoyed working for the family real estate business because it allowed him to work with his brothers, family members said. He stayed involved in the business until the very end, Joe Carabetta III said, and was doing daily checks of construction sites up until his last few days.
“He would tell you he never retired,” Joe Carabetta III said. “In his eyes, he was always working. He loved it.”