John A Cataldo was a first generation Italian American, born on November 29, 1925 to Giacomo and Amelia (Repucci) Cataldo. He was raised in the proud, vibrant, diverse community of Boston’s West End. Among the highlights of his youth were two Young Scientists field trips to the 1939-49 New York World’s fair sponsored by the Elizabeth Peabody House. John enrolled at age 16 at Tufts University’s Engineering program, where he was the youngest participant in the naval ROTC program. He served in the US navy as a commissioned officer aboard the USS Montpelier in the Pacific Theater where he participated in the liberation of the prison camp at Wakayama and witnessed the devastation of Hiroshima.
After the war, John began a career as a civil engineer at Volpe Construction Company and Aberthaw Construction Company. He managed numerous projects along the entire East Coast, including Boston landmarks such as One Boston Place and the Christian Science Center. In 1978, he began an extraordinary lifelong partnership with Arturo Gutierrez. They developed and built commercial Office and Research and Development projects throughout the Boston region, several of which can be seen today from Route 128.
Despite achieving financial success and playing a significant role in the development of of Boston and metro area, John remained humble, living until the end of his life in the same small house in Arlington he and his wife Elaine purchased with GI loans in 1955. This home has been the center of family gatherings and celebrations spanning multiple generations. John took quiet pride in his philanthropy, some of his largest donations exemplifying Maimonides’ belief that charity is most blessed when it is anonymous.
John was a devoted son, brother, husband father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He experienced both great sorrow and great joy throughout his long life, losing his beloved wife Elaine in 1969 and his cherished daughter Linda in 2004. He is also predeceased by his siblings, Leonard and Yolanda, and sister-in-law Mary. Throughout it all he was sustained and inspired by his Roman Catholic religious faith and a truly remarkable group of lifelong friends.
John leaves his daughter Diane and son James, his grandchildren Simon, John, Eva (Berlin), and Anna, and great-grandchildren Lev, Hank, Alan, Charlie, and Beau. A funeral mass will be held on Tuesday, April 18 at Saint Agnes Church in Arlington, and will be laid to rest next to his beloved wife Elaine in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. All family and friends are welcome to a reception following the funeral at the Escadrille in Burlington. Details are available at Keefe’s Funeral Home Arlington website.