If you wanted to find Flora Cafaro, you could count on seeing her at one of her favorite restaurants – Station Square in Liberty.
“Great lady,” said Station Square owner Ottavio Musemeci. “Every time I go [see her], she [would] give me hug, give me kiss. She was always, ‘How’s your family doing?’ She was very personal, very generous.
“She didn’t want to be the center of attention,” Musemeci said of her personality. “She was very quiet. She can talk when you asked her a question or about her family, but very reserved.”
When he found out she had died, it was “very emotional,” he said.
Cafaro, 58, was pronounced dead at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital on Thursday after being rescued from a fire at her home on Stewart Sharon Road in Brookfield, according to a statement from the family released Friday.
Her death was a result of smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, officials say.
“Our family is just devastated by this tragedy,” said her brother, Anthony Cafaro Sr., retired head of the Cafaro Co. He called his sister a “wonderful mother, a businesswoman and a philanthropist.”
“Our family is deeply saddened,” said her other brother, John J. Cafaro. “Flora was loved by everyone inside and outside our family.”
Musemeci said Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays were nights he’d count on seeing Cafaro at his restaurant.
“She was a “very, very, very generous person,” Musemeci said Friday. One way she was generous was in helping in the community.
“Family and community” were the topics she liked to discuss the most, Musemeci said.
“Everybody was sad. Honestly, when I found out about it, it was very emotional,” he said.
Cafaro is survived by her two adult sons, William Cafaro-Ferraro and Jon Cafaro-Ferraro; her brothers and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements are pending. The statement adds that the Cafaro family thanks all who have expressed their condolences and asks for privacy at this difficult time.
Firefighters responded to an alarm call from the second floor of the gated home in the 5000 block of Stewart Sharon Road about 4 p.m. Thursday, said Brookfield Fire Capt. David Coffy.
Coffy said firefighters had to break through the property’s locked gate and found smoke coming from the home’s second floor. When they got into the home, the bedroom at the back was fully involved.
“We got her out of the house, and she was transported to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital,” Coffy said.
She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Among her charitable activities, Cafaro served the Angels of Easter Seals, which helps those with disabilities and special needs through child development centers, physical rehabilitation and job training for people with disabilities.
She also served Hospice of the Valley, which helps patients at the end of life. She served and donated to The Youngstown Symphony Guild.
Cafaro was wrapped into the prolonged Oak-hill government corruption trial. She was indicted in 2010 on charges related to a campaign donation to Martin Yavorcik, who ran unsuccessfully in 2008 for Mahoning County prosecutor against Prosecutor Paul J. Gains. That case was dropped. When state charges related to the case were filed a second time, she was not charged.
Also, former Mahoning County judge Maureen Cronin took an $18,000, no-interest cash loan from Cafaro while the family’s shopping mall development and management company had cases pending in her court. Cronin, however, failed to report the income and pleaded guilty to two felony counts and was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and fined $4,000.