John Cataldo

John sitting on a chair at his home with his grandaughters Eva and Anna standing next to him

John A. Cataldo’s support of the Carroll Center spanned nearly 40 years and the gifts he made during his lifetime make him the largest and most impactful supporter we have had since our founding.

John was a first-generation Italian American raised in the diverse community of Boston’s West End. John enrolled in Tufts University’s Engineering program at the age of 16, where he was the youngest participant in the naval ROTC program. He served in the U.S. 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 where he managed projects along the entire East Coast, including Boston landmarks such as One Boston Place and the Christian Science Center. In 1978, he began a lifelong partnership with Arturo Gutierrez.  They developed and built commercial office, research and development projects throughout the Boston region, several of which can be seen today from Route 128.

Despite achieving financial success and his prominent role in the development of the Boston 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. 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’s connection to the blindness community began early on when he was inspired by a family member and a member of his church who were both blind. Neither let their blindness stop them from living their lives to the fullest. Through his interactions with them, he became dedicated to supporting the Carroll Center to enable more blind and visually impaired individuals to lead independent and fulfilling lives.

In 2020, the Carroll Center embarked on our first comprehensive fundraising campaign – Generations, A Campaign for The Carroll Center for the Blind. In typical John fashion, he was eager to support our efforts and made the very first lead and transformational gift to the campaign that inspired many others to follow in his footsteps.  But John didn’t stop there. John cemented his commitment to the future success of the Carroll Center by leaving a $3 million bequest in his will. Half of this transformative gift was added to the Center’s endowment, which will ensure the Carroll Center is prepared to help future generations of people who are blind and visually impaired. John passed away in April 2023 and leaves a tremendous legacy of dedication and commitment to the Carroll Center that will continue to be crucial to those we serve.