Tree honors late Probate Court judge
FAIRFIELD — The windows of the Probate Court office look out onto a delicate, pink-and-white-blossomed saucer magnolia tree.
But whether the tree, planted in memory of the late Probate Judge Daniel Caruso, was so court employees could “always keep an eye on Dan, or Dan can keep an eye on the Probate Court” depends on how you look at it, Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau said.
A ceremonial tree planting was held Friday, marking Arbor Day with the magnolia, donated by Caruso’s friends, family, and colleagues.
“It was an amazing outpouring of generosity for a wonderful person,” said Susan Barrett, who served in the state legislature with Caruso.
After three terms in the legislature representing the 134th District, Caruso ran for probate judge, a position he held until his sudden death in February at the age of 60. Caruso had also served on the Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting.
“That is what he was born to do,” his sister Nancy said. “Help people, make people better.”
She said her oldest brother was a role model to her when their father died when she was just 12.
“He was just so busy with his work, but he was always there for people in need.”
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman became friends with Caruso during their time in the legislature, despite the fact that she was a Democrat and he was a Republican.
“He was a truly caring person,” Wyman said. “It didn’t matter who you were, if you needed a hand held, if you needed something done, Dan was the person to do it.”
She recalled how she and a colleague went to Caruso for some advice on what to wear to an education discussion being held at a church in Fairfield. Tan skirts and pants, blue blazers, white shirts, he said. “We all get to the church, and we were all in tan and blue.”
In Caruso’s honor, Wyman said, the Connecticut Probate Assembly on Wednesday voted to name a service award in his name.
And the reason it was raining Friday, Wyman said, was because Caruso wants the new tree to grow.
“We all loved Dan, and we all miss him,” said his brother, Fred, a detective with the Fairfield Police Department.