Italo (Sonny) Castagnola

Date of Birth

February 24, 1928

Date of Death

April 6, 2017

Italo (Sonny) Castagnola, grandpa extraordinaire, commercial fisherman, war veteran, and survivor of inviting Julia Child over for a home cooked meal has passed away at the age of 89.

He was born in Santa Barbara, California, February 24, 1928 to Salvatore and Cesira (Ghio) Castagnola. The youngest of 11 children, “Sonny” is predeceased by his brothers Baptisto, Albert, Victor, Laurence, Dario, George, Americo, and sisters Mary Acquistapace and Della Malengo. He is survived by sister Eva Bregante, 103.

Sonny attended Santa Barbara Jr. High and Santa Barbara High Schools. At the age of 16 he joined the merchant marine and served on a merchant vessel during WWII. While his ship was in Okinawa, his brother Dario who was in the Army was on the island fighting. Sonny later served two frigid years during the Korean war.

Our father was a devoted family man, any decision ever made was based on what was best for our family. He had an old world selflessness probably inherited from his turn of the century immigrant parents, and his living through the depression. This selflessness was so profound that my brother and I could not remember our father ever buying anything for himself.

Our dad got pleasure from cooking, and he certainly got the opportunity to pass on a lot of knowledge. He fished for 40 years on the family boats, and some of the trips could be overnight, or as in the case of summer swordfishing, these trips could take 2 weeks. He did the cooking. He also loved to have family and friends come over and visit so he could cook the meal. In fact, celebrity TV cook, “The French Chef”, Julia Child was a regular customer of our fish market. My dad used to talk about his recipes and one day invited her over for dinner. After a one week delay because she forgot, she did come to dinner and loved her meal.

After his fishing career ended he worked for 5 years on the ‘Vaquero II’ with his friend Russ Collins. The “Vaquero II’ a large wooden cattle vessel that hauled cattle to and from Santa Rosa Island. He enjoyed these trips very much and knew all the cowboys on the island, and sometimes cooked spaghetti for them.

Sonny absolutely delighted in children and loved doting on his three granddaughters, Gina, Andria, and Marcella when they came along. He is also survived by his sweetheart and wife of 64 years, Carolyn. Together they continued to connect between the tiny gaps in his dementia. Also surviving are son Michael (Cristina), and son Matthew (Josie), many nieces, nephews and friends.

A special thank you to all Sonny’s caregivers, Hector Guerrero, Luis Castrejon, Rudy Guerrero, and Liliana Hernandez while he was at home. To Joe Franken and all the staff at Oak Cottage Care and the wonderful Assisted Care Hospice Nurses, Marianne, Colleen, and Pat.

A celebration of Sonny’s life will be planned at a later date.


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