Caesar Julius Crosta

Caesar Crosta

ILWACO — Caesar Julius Crosta, 97, died May 7, 2013, in Ilwaco. He was born April 22, 1916, in St. Helens, Ore., the son of Domenico Rocco and Rosalia (Boschi) Crosta who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in 1904. Family history has it that he was born Julius Caesar Crosta, but at some point it was switched to Caesar Julius. He had two brothers, older brother Giovanni “John” Defendente and younger brother George Mario.

Caesar grew up during the Depression on the family ranch in Yankton, Ore. Besides working on the ranch he held many jobs to help make ends meet. He worked for St. Helens Pulp and Paper, worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Columbia River Gorge, was a camp cook in a logging camp in Zig Zag, was a bouncer in a bar (his favorite job, he once said), and carried mail between St. Helens and Vernonia.

During World War II he moved to Seattle, working at Boeing building bombers. It was at Boeing that he met Betty Baker, his wife to be. After the war he moved back home to St. Helens, Ore. Caesar and Betty were married in 1947 and they lived in St. Helens for 25 years. They had one daughter, Victoria, born in 1950.

In the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, Caesar owned and operated the St. Helens Transit Company, which was the first to provide city bus and taxi service. In June 1953 Caesar became a member of Local 68 of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, first working out of the Port of St. Helens, and later transferring to Local 8 and working out of the Port of Portland. He was a hard worker, enjoyed working on the waterfront, and later told many stories of longshoreing. He retired in 1977 and he and Betty moved to Ocean Park.

Family vacations were often spent on the Long Beach Peninsula, digging clams and fishing. About 10 years before he retired, Caesar built a small weekend cabin north of Ocean Park with a view of the ocean on the horizon. Betty made friends with the owner of a beachfront home, and it wasn’t long before they started building their retirement home on the beach.

Caesar enjoyed golfing, gardening, building and fixing things. Before he retired he played an occasional round of golf at Wildwood Golf Course, and if he was just passing by, he’d place his hat over his heart to show his respect. After he retired he joined the Surfside Golf Course Men’s Club where he played nine holes every day except Sunday when he played 18. He won “Hole-In-One” trophies on Dec. 6, 1982, and on Nov. 16, 2001. He took first place in the Surfside Golf Course Turkey Shoot-Out in 1999.

Caesar kept a beautifully landscaped yard, especially liking red and purple rhododendrons and spider dahlias. Bright petunias and blue lobelia were favorites in his summer flowerbed and planters. Recently he planted two palm trees, hoping to see them grow tall on his beachfront property. (Caesar’s father planted fruit trees when he was 90 years old; he passed away at age 91 before the trees bore fruit.) Someday there will be palm trees in Caesar’s garden.

Although he wasn’t a licensed carpenter, electrician or plumber, Caesar built his home in St. Helens, as well as his weekend cabin and his retirement home in Ocean Park. He liked modern architecture and enjoyed decorative surroundings. He fixed most anything that broke, and fabricated any parts that he needed. A broken item was a puzzle to be solved. Being left-handed, the results of his efforts sometimes seemed backwards to others but were always functional.

Both Caesar and Betty enjoyed good friends and good parties. For many years they went to the Ocean Park Eagles every Friday night for drinks and dinner with friends. They often entertained. Caesar was a charming and gracious host and they had many friends on the Peninsula.

After Betty passed away in 2005, Caesar enjoyed the company of his two cats Maxine and Mitzy. He continued to live independently until very recently. His granddaughter, Bree, and great-granddaughter, Azaria, visited him weekly, and his daughter, Victoria, visited at least monthly. Other friends and relatives were frequent visitors.

He was a kind, generous, and gentle man, loved by all who knew him. He was the last family member of his generation and he will be missed by all.

Caesar is survived by his daughter, Victoria and her husband Monte Saager of Hillsboro, Ore.; nephews, Roger Crosta of Manzanita, Ore., and Chris and his wife Liane Crosta of Wasilla, Alaska; nieces, Georgiann Crosta of Anchorage, Alaska, Kathi Karnash of Lake Oswego, Ore., Cindy Simmons of Portland, and Sharon Dietz of Mukilteo; grandchildren, Brian and his wife Sheri Kantor of Portland, Bree Anderson of Astoria and Jessica (Saager) and her husband Dave Demuth of Portland; great-granddaughters, Azaria Damghani, Alison Kantor, Audrey Kantor and Hannah Demuth.

A celebration of life in Caesar’s honor is being planned for early July in Yankton, Ore. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Peninsula Senior Center, 21603 “O” Lane, Ocean Park, WA 98640. His guest book is available at www.penttilaschapel.com.

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