John Richard Cavalari, an inspiration to all who knew him, passed away of a sudden illness on February 7th. He was 98. Just one week ago he was still driving himself to the bus four or five days a week to take the 3 ½ hour one-way trip to the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City. There he would play Black Jack, drink one scotch, and take the bus home the same day. The story of the dedicated 98 year old Black Jack player was well known. The casino manager said that he was a tremendous person, full of life and loved by everyone there.

His disciplined system of play is symbolic of the disciplined way he lived his life and it assured that his losses would be limited to the entertainment value he gained from the hobby which he studied like a science. He would not stay overnight even though thirty-seven years of patronage there would have entitled him to a complimentary room. He wanted to do it his way. Frank Sinatra's “My Way” defines a great deal about John's time with us. He knew sorrow and disappointment in this world. He also had great satisfaction resulting from the knack he had for enjoying the pleasures brought to him from his opportunities and labors.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, he began work in his father's car wrecking business before answering his country's call to serve with the Seabees in WWII. In the service, he worked on building the US Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland. While home on leave he arrived at the family home in Brooklyn to find that his parents had moved away without his knowledge to purchase the upstate Meadowbrook Lodge summer resort in a deal that included a swap for the Brooklyn home. After the war John married Joan Lissenden, a girl from his childhood, who predeceased him at age 25 after only seven years of marriage. He worked in the family business in which he eventually became a partner with his brother Frank. John was a natural born comedian, a harmonica player, and had what amounted to an act as the resort's social director and host. Together the brothers turned The Meadowbrook into a leading catering business now owned by nephew Frank Cavalari Jr.

In 1960 John married Frances Vesely of New Windsor, to whom he was married for 47 years before she passed away in 2007. Together they would raise three children and build an active and social life, always hosting large gatherings of numerous friends and family both in New Windsor and in Florida. Their parties were legendary. Through the decades John was at various times an active jogger, bowler, golfer, and gardener.

In addition to his two wives, John was predeceased by his parents Alfred and Sophie Cavalari and brother Alfred F. Cavalari. He is survived by daughters Diane Brown and her husband Barry of Cornwall, son John Cavalari of Washingtonville, sons Marc Cavalari and his wife Patricia, David Cavalari and his wife Tammy; all of Florida, daughter Angela Cavalari of Monroe, brother Frank Cavalari of Cornwall, brother-in-law Paul T. Vesely and his husband Vincent DiLauro of Virginia, sister-in-law Agnes Cavalari of New Windsor and numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank every staff member at St. Luke's Hospital in Newburgh for the diligent and compassionate care John received there during his last days on earth. Their attentive consultations and guidance made it possible to fulfill his wishes. Family members were with him the entire time. On Wednesday morning he was alert and conversant telling his nurse “I want to go home”. During treatment a short time later he closed his eyes. After leading a full life, he went home, his way, with few regrets to mention. We will never stop missing him but we are all happy for the 98 years he had, for everything he gave us, and for the quick and peaceful way he left.

Services will be provided by Brooks Funeral Home, Newburgh, New York

John’s viewing and life celebration will be held at the Meadowbrook Lodge, 1 Meadowbrook Road, New Windsor, NY 12553, from 2-5 Sunday. The funeral Mass will begin at 10:30 AM Monday at St. Joseph’s Church, 4 St. Joseph Place, New Windsor, NY 12553. Burial will follow immediately at the Cavalari Family Plot at Calvary Cemetery, Windsor Highway, New Windsor, NY.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made for your favorite charity in the name of John R. Cavalari.

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