Joseph R. Castoro, a retired Baltimore businessman and a World War II veteran, died Dec. 5 of multiple organ failure at Brightview Assisted Living in Bel Air. He was 87.

The son of a builder and a homemaker, Joseph Robert Castoro was born in Camden, N.J., and moved with his family to a home near Patterson Park.


After graduating from Calvert Hall College High School in 1943, he immediately enlisted in the Army Air Forces.

A musician who played drums and guitar and wrote music, Mr. Castoro dreamed of becoming a bandleader. While in basic training in Biloxi, Miss., he won a band-leading contest whose prize was conducting a musical number at a live performance of the Sammy Kaye Orchestra.

"He did such an outstanding job that Sammy invited him to conduct a second song," said his wife of 64 years, the former Margaret DiDomenico. "It was a highlight of Joe's life."

Trained as a tail gunner, Mr. Castoro joined the 15th Air Force, where he was stationed in Lecce, Italy, and flew 15 missions over Germany and Austria.

He was discharged at the end of the war with the rank of sergeant.

"After he was discharged, he refused to ever again get on an airplane. End of story," said his wife.

In addition to composing songs, Mr. Castoro owned and operated a jewelry store and a small restaurant before taking over as manager of the New Motel on Pulaski Highway, a family-owned hostelry. He retired in 1986.

The former longtime Madonna resident moved to Skidaway Island, near Savannah, Ga., where he and his wife lived for 12 years until moving to the Avondale Retirement Community in Bel Air. For the past two years, he had been living at the assisted-living community.

Mr. Castoro was an avid golfer. After he retired, he was a volunteer instructor with the Maryland Optimist Junior Golf Program.

He also was an accomplished artist who worked in oil, acrylic, watercolors, chalk and pastels. He was a devoted fan of Italian food, especially his wife's meatballs and homemade tomato sauce, family members said.

Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Castoro is survived by a son, Dr. Charles Castoro of Baldwin; a daughter, Lilli Filichia of Ocean City, N.J.; a sister, Dr. Vira Froehlinger of Towson; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.