LOCAL HAPPENINGS AND MORE IN THE SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY CITY OF SAN CLEMENTE

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Everyone’s Best Friend

Tony Carbonara

“I offer San Clemente to the lovers of beautiful California, with a firm conviction that there are many who will appreciate what I am doing and who will help to make it The Village Beautiful.” –Ole Hanson

Written by Brad wright

San Clemente is where Tony Carbonara provided sunshine, each day—365 days a year. He made San Clemente into The Village Beautiful, even when he was in Chicago or Vegas.

Tony and San Clemente were synonymous. Boxers have entourages, and golfers have galleries, Tony had an army. An army of friends. Rank was not important in Tony’s army—you had a heart, Tony could hear it beat.

I just found out Tony was everyone’s best friend in San Clemente, where until now I thought it was only myself, Bob Novello and Tony.

“There was no Tony without Bob, and there was no Bob without Tony, even when they were apart,” says fellow comrade Leo Gibbons. “Bob was Tony’s best friend. After that we all were.”

Tony wasn’t just my friend, Tony was my brother. The Wrights will feel Tony and breathe a part of him forever, as will all of San Clemente, and it will be cross-generational.

What will San Clemente become without Tony Carbonara? A dinner without the wine brought, a kiss with your sister or a dance with your brother’s girlfriend… It’s Fred Astaire without Ginger Rogers, a beach without waves, a morning walk across Avenida Del Mar without Tony’s belly in the lead, on the way to Cafe Calypso.

Walt Disney needed to meet this guy—he would have caricaturized Tony, who was always meeting someone across the street, to design and strategize on how to make San Clemente more beautiful, better, safer, friendlier and of course, more generous as a community.

Tony was to San Clemente what Clark Gable was to Gone with the Wind, what Judy Garland was to The Wizard of Oz, what Frank Sinatra was to his famous song, “I’ll do it my Way.”

Tony was the stud poker element of San Clemente. He was certainly typecast as the (good) Godfather of San Clemente. In my eyes, Ole Hanson had nothing on Tony Carbonara. No person and his family—his “la familia”—did more or gave more to San Clemente, at least not since 1925, Dick Arons and Tony played to a tie.

So it all came down to Sudden Death Overtime. Death ran Tony down from behind in the third quarter but declared sudden death. Tony got no overtime, and Death ran over Tony’s family, friends, kids, grand kids and every resident of San Clemente who knew him.

Death got lucky—Tony’s QB called the wrong play and it was sudden death for Tony, who should have traded for Jim Everett before the trading deadline. He would have made a better call than the doctor with Tony’s blood pressure so high.

A stroke for Tony Carbonara—take him down with one hit—are you kidding us? A stroke so sudden, conspired against nature, diabolical at best.

Let San Clemente tell you something, Death: You lose, this overtime period never ends, it’s called a legacy… and it is Tony’s.

Cheaters never win, Death, and you cheated us all. But from now on, when anyone mentions Tony’s name in this seaside village we will all smile, exalting glory. We actually thank you, Death. The glue Tony spread throughout this community is now more adhesive, more bonded and galvanized than ever. You picked the wrong opponents; we rebuke you. Go elsewhere.

Tony once told me, “Brad, go ahead, knock the chip off your enemy’s shoulder but make sure you look over your own shoulder before you do so.” This was Tony.

“Brad, let me tell you something,” he would say to me during one of our life conversations, “This is the bottom line…” He would move his spectacles toward his forehead with his forefinger, a half smile and brown eyes gleaming at my soul. Tony was not right every time but he was right most of the time, specifically when it came to relationships.

Tony was a puppy with kids but a mountain lion when it came to standing up for a friend. Tony understood the truth. He also knew when someone tried to twist it and he would say “Let me tell you something…”

Tony played for everyone’s alma mater, and he played the game for free. He was Rudy for Notre Dame, Marcus Allen for USC, and he was everything for San Clemente.

I feel Jennifer Blake said it best: “Tony was a man’s man who completely understood women. He was definitely one of a kind.”

Tony’s horse will always come in first, the eternal figurehead of San Clemente.

I heard someone ask Bob Novello how old Tony Carbonara was when we let him go. Bob answered that he was “59 X 2” and then he Pictured is Tony carbonara’s birthplace, Bria, Italy added that there was no possible way to do everything Tony did, generated or gave in 59 years on earth. Bob went on to explain that “it wasn’t possible to keep up with this guy, he would not stop and it positively impacted most organizations in this community.” And, obviously by the testimony of his life celebration, it affected more individuals than we’ll ever know.

As my man Bob said, no one other than Tony could do this in 59 short years. Tony lived 59 X 2 giving, generous years. The math is exact. We got two for one with this man.

San Clemente without Tony Carbonara. Now we know how Chicago felt.

If you were not at the Casa Romantica for the celebration of Tony’s life, I probably don’t know you, or you hadn’t heard yet that Tony had gone on to be with his father in heaven. Our Father, the champion of the skies, provided not just a mere sunset in San Clemente that evening, but a spectacular skyline picture with God’s own paintbrush that seemed to stretch almost to eternity. I’m not sure about you, but it will be eternally embedded in my soul.

Hey Tony, let me tell you something this time, you died a billionaire with an army of friends. “La Familia!” Do not cry my friend, hear me and talk to me again, I will love you from heaven as I have loved you on earth. Goodbye Tony, from your brother Brad, sister Rose and our kids Brianna Marquee, Colby Bryant and Tanner McCall, all of whom you and you’re beloved wife Mary helped to raise. Each one of our kids was in your restaurant before they were two months old; we love you and yours. Thank you for your kindness to us, our community and for the memories of laughter. Tony, you lived a purpose-filled life.

“San Clemente is where the sunshine spends its winters.” –Ole Hanson