Benito “Benny” Tauro, the soft-spoken East Boston businessman, community leader and philanthropist who spent a lifetime fighting to protect the quality of life for residents and preserve the neighborhood’s Italian-American culture, has died.
Mr. Tauro, or ‘Benny’ as he was affectionately known throughout the community, died on Saturday, March 24 surrounded by his loving family. He was 85 years old.
When Mr. Tauro immigrated from Avellino, Italy to East Boston in 1952 he brought with him a strong sense of family and the belief in the Catholic Church. It was here that he found a second home among East Boston’s Italian community that was part of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.
“If it wasn’t for this Church, I probably would have gone back to Italy,” Mr. Tauro told the East Boston Times in 2011. “Here I found a second family, and we all became very active members of the church and community.”
Then, when it was announced that the Archdiocese would close Mt. Carmel, Mr. Tauro and his neighbors banded together and held a vigil at the church until 2011. Mr. Tauro, along with other community leaders like the late Gina Scalcione, fought to keep the church open because it was a place built by Italian immigrants that became the center of Italian American culture in East Boston.
“We hoped that the Archdiocese would see our commitment to the church and change their mind but it never happened,” Mr. Tauro said in 2011.
Aside from his deep commitment to saving his beloved church, Mr. Tauro spent his career building several successful businesses. After arriving in East Boston from Italy Mr. Tauro founded Empire Sportswear in Lynn before starting Logan Sportswear on Saratoga Street. His next investment was Day Square Door & Window and in the 1980s he purchased Logan Glass, a business his family still runs today.
Mr. Tauro was perhaps best known as the owner of the former Rapino Funeral Homes in East Boston both in Maverick Square and in Orient Heights.
Through his business ventures Mr. Tauro became one of the most celebrated businessmen in the community, and was named East Boston’s Businessman of the Year.
However, Mr. Tauro will always be remembered for giving back to the community and was a member of several civic associations and committees and was a founding member of East Boston’s Italia Unita, a group that fought to preserve East Boston’s rich Italian American culture through social events, parties, educational seminars and performances.
In 1980 Mr. Tauro summed up his philosophy of community organizing to improve the quality of life for residents here: “No one will solve these problems for you, but if the people stick together we can get results,” Mr. Tauro told the East Boston Community News at the time.
In a statement from the group he helped founded, Italia Unita called Mr. Tauro a true spirit of family and the Italian community. The group said his devotion and passion throughout his life to his church and community will live on as Italia Unita continues its mission in East Boston.
“Benny was very instrumental in forming Italia Unita,” said the group in a statement. “He was an active member for many years and helped our organization grow, specifically with the Italian Festival which he held very close to his heart. Ben was a strong community activist in East Boston and proud promoter of Italian culture. He never backed away from a “Good fight” to help people, especially with his beloved church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel which was built over 100 years ago by Italian immigrants and prospered under the Italian community for many years before its unjust closure by the Archdiocese.”
Throughout his life Mr. Tauro had a deep appreciation for the men and woman that protect the community. Each summer, Mr. Tauro and his wife, Deb Tauro, would host an annual BBQ to honor the Boston Police who worked in East Boston’s District 7 station and the East Boston District Court. Officers from the station and court, as well as the Boston Police’s top brass, Mayors and elected officials, would turn out for the annual event. It was an event few would miss and the generosity and hospitality demonstrated by the Tauros kept guests coming back year after year.
“East Boston hasn’t just lost a friend with Benny’s passing. It’s literally lost an institution,” said former Boston City Councilor and Suffolk County Clerk Magistrate John Nucci. “Benny was always there to help his friends and neighbors. I never heard him utter an angry or unkind word about anyone at all.”
Longtime East Boston resident and community activist Fran (Ippolito) Riley said Mr. Tauro, above everyone else she’s known, stood tallest in her eyes because of the lives he touched in East Boston.
“Time and time again he was our champion and a gentleman who served all of East Boston’s beloved Italians and everyone else who lived here,” said Riley. “He worked his entire life to make us proud to be Italian Americans and was exemplary to all of us who volunteer year after year working to always improve East Boston. Benny never complained but showed his concern immediately when there was a serious problem in East Boston. He cherished the Italian culture and showed us how to celebrate our music, our scientists, our opera and our rich abundant history of Italy. We learned always to appreciate it and never take it for granted because of Benny. He dressed in a suit and tie when he went to meetings and spoke so eloquently with passion and knowledge of the issues.”
Riley thanked Mt. Tauro’s family for sharing with the community “a remarkable exemplary, one of a kind man.”.
“Cherish your memories with him, it will always keep him alive in your hearts and his spirit will watch over you,” she said.
Former City Councilor Sal LaMattina, a longtime friend of Mr. Tauro, said Mr. Tauro was a true East Bostonian.
“Benny was someone who I loved and admired,” said LaMattina. “Benny was an immigrant from Italy who came to America to make a better life for he and his family. He worked hard as a businessman in East Boston and he gave back to his community. He was involved in many East Boston groups and was so proud of his Italian heritage and tried to keep it alive with his work with Italia Unita. I am so fortunate to have him and his family as friends and I will miss him terribly.”