Charles A. (Chuck) Caligiuri, 91, passed from this life on Sunday, December 6, 2020 at Morning Star Assisted Living in West Des Moines, Iowa, where he was under the care of Hospice. Due to the current COVID Pandemic, a private burial will be held at his gravesite. A celebration of his life that reflects the joy and love he brought to everyone he came in contact with will be held at a later time. The celebration will include a mass at St. Anthony’s Church where he was a life- long member.
Charles was born in Des Moines, Iowa on April 2, 1929 to Theresa (Murano) Caligiuri and Charles J. Caligiuri. Both of his parents emigrated from Italy in the early 1900s. Charles lived on the south side of Des Moines up until the last two months of his life. He was a very proud south-sider. Charles graduated from Lincoln High School in 1948, where he played football, earning All City Honors and was Treasurer of his senior class. In 1948 Charles began working for Paramount Pictures delivering film to theaters across Iowa. He worked his way up to Branch Manager for Paramount Pictures, a position he held for much of his adult life, retiring in 1986. This career gave him the opportunity to travel all over the country and to meet film stars. Charles had many promotional opportunities which would have required him to move out of Iowa. He turned them down so that he could stay near his family and friends.
Charles married Virginia A. Fazio at St. Anthony’s Church on October 16, 1949 and loved her for nearly 70 years until her death on February 3, 2018. Charles and Virginia had three children, Carol Caligiuri (Peter McDermott) of Bedford, New Hampshire; Charles L. Caligiuri of Sacramento, California; and Connie (Russ) Rozinek of Ankeny, Iowa. He had one granddaughter, Myah A. Rozinek, who was the joy of his later life. They shared a love of all sports and a drive to succeed. His influence on her life was a blessing. He lived long enough to know that she was accepted to Grinnell College, where she will start this fall. He was so proud of her hard work and accomplishments.
Charles had five brothers, Jim (Rose) Caligiuri, Bruno (Helen) Caligiuri, Frank (Beatrice) Caligiuri, Dominic (Ilena) Caligiuri and Sam (Betty) Caligiuri, all of whom have preceded him in death. Charles also had one sister, Mary (Mando) Tonini, who he was able to spend his last days nearby at Morning Star.
There was not a more loved uncle than Charles, Uncle Chop. He was fortunate to have the love, companionship and support of so many nieces and nephews throughout his life. He never missed a graduation, wedding, reunion, get together or funeral. These were all chances for him to see his family, which was one of the things he cherished most in life. He was fortunate to have nieces and nephews who always cared and cherished him.
Along with his family, Charles had many friends and neighbors with whom he stayed in contact. He was fortunate to have neighbors looking out for him in his later years. They were always willing to give him a hand when he needed it. During the COVID pandemic, his neighbors were there to check on him and bring him meals, which he greatly appreciated. He often said that he was able to live independently in the house he loved for so many years because of the help and support of his neighbors.
At the end of his life Charles was fortunate to have the help and support of many nurses and care givers. He was very thankful for the help and support he received. He always tried to stay pleasant and positive when most would have behaved differently. He never complained about his situation and when asked replied, “everything is fine”.
Charles joined the Army in 1951 and served for six years. He was honorably discharged in 1957. During his life he also owned many movie theaters and drive-ins. His latest theater was the Merle Hay Cinema and a Drive-in Theater near Carroll, Iowa. He owned one of the last drive-ins in the state of Iowa. Charles also owned King Tuts Lounge in Des Moines.
Most importantly, Charles lived by a few simple philosophies: always be positive, always think the best of people, always be there for friends and family when they need you, and never give up. While these philosophies were simple, they led Charles to a very long and loving life. He was the greatest role model anyone could have. He was an inspiration in courage and integrity throughout his life and will continue to be in his death.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Charles’ honor to the American Lung Association or St. Anthony’s Church.