South End Pioneer,Personality Carl Lizio Passes

There were few things that Carl Lizio couldn’t tackle – whether woodworking, redeveloping old buildings in the South End, or simply being a caring human being.

In his life, family, friends and neighbors said he did it all, but his notable life came to an end on March 25 when the Union Park resident died of complications from leukemia.

For 45 years, he and his wife, Sheila Grove, were fixtures on the stoop of their South End home, as well as in community organizations like Washington Gateway Main Street (WGMS) and the Newmarket Business Association.

“Carl and his wife, Sheila, moved to Union Park in the 1973, and Carl was one of the first developers that converted a row house to condos on Union Park,” said Randi Lathrop, a longtime friend. “He was a friendly, outgoing neighborhood advocate that you would find on Tremont Street and Union Park talking to neighbors and businesses. For many years, Carl decorated Union Park green space at the holidays.”

Elisa Daley was also a long-time friend who met Lizio through WGMS, but grew to know he and his wife like family.

“Carl was a wonderful friend,” she said. “You knew you could go to Carl for an answer or a hug. It’s a terrible loss. He had a beautiful spirit…We became friends over 25 years or so getting involved in our neighborhood and politics. We became more than friends. We became family…Some years ago, my husband died in a tragic accident. They were there every single day until I was back on my feet. He’ll always be dear to my heart.”

Lizio was born in Dorchester to a large Italian family, and he and Sheila moved to Union Park in the South End in 1973 when things were much different, and the neighborhood was more seedy than hip.

One of his major accomplishments was redeveloping, literally saving, many of the classic buildings in the neighborhood. His wife, Sheila, said he saved nine buildings on Union Park, more than a dozen on Worcester Street, many on Warren Avenue, many more on East Springfield Street, and a stately townhome at 15 St. George St. After buying his first building in 1972 along with his brother, Carl, he went on to renovate more than 60 buildings in the South End.

“Carl prided himself in the quality of the craft, going to painstaking lengths to ensure his building renovations were not only long-lasting but also respectful of the historic beauty,” read his obituary from the family.

In fact, things were so different when he started developing in the South End, that friends said there was no retail stores to buy milk and diapers for the growing Lizio family. So, as he redeveloped a building on Tremont Street, he purposefully put in a market so his wife could have a place to get diapers, friends recalled. That market eventually became Five Seventy Market, and now Muscarella’s Market.

He had a motto of “Doing well while Doing Good,” and it was something that he would often tell people while visiting with them on Tremont Street – always wearing a flannel shirt and blue jeans as he made his rounds.

In addition to development, Lizio was a fixture in the community within the Union Park Neighborhood Association, WGMS, Newmarket Business Association and the D-4 Crime Meetings. He received a Community Revitalization Award from WGMS in 2003 for his work in editing the test that is on the panels for the Silver Line Stations.

His many hobbies included wood carving, making stained-glass windows, riding motorcycles, making Victorian mirrors and other fine artisanal items.

In 1995, Lizio founded ReTec America Foundation Inc., to provide donated computers to Boston’s Youth Centers. A regular at community police meetings, ReTec’s partnership with the D-4 Police community Services Division won a Better Government Award from the Pioneer Institute in 1996.

Lizio is survived by his wife of 42 years, Sheila Grove, his son Warren and his wife Andrea (Dixon) and their two sons, Conrad and Heath, all of Dorchester, and his daughter, Deirdre of London, England, and her fiancé Vladimir Kostadinov and his brother Steve Lizio of Ogunquit, Maine.

A celebration of Lizio’s life will take place on Saturday, April 7, at Amrhein’s, 80 West Broadway, South Boston, from 2 to 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please follow Carl’s example and give an extra tip to someone for a job well done or send a contribution to the youth organization, Vibrant Boston, P.O. Box 230405, Boston, MA 02116.

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