■ BY SUE ERWIN
Although you might not see her on most days when you come into Hudson’s Market to grab lunch, Donna Caso is usually very busy working in the kitchen preparing food and stocking other items to keep the store running smoothly.
Donna has been working at the store for more than two years.
Originally from Medway, Mass., she started coming to the area in 2005. Donna had a condo on Siesta Key, and she would come down for a month every year. After realizing that she preferred the warmer weather instead of the cold winter months up north, she and her husband, Paul, decided to make the move to Florida once they retired.
Donna worked for Siemens Corporation in Massachusetts for 40 years. She worked for Corning Glass after she graduated from Medway High School. The company was bought by Bayer Aspirin, which was eventually bought by Siemens. She worked eight to ten hour days while taking college courses three nights a week at Dean Junior College in Franklin, Mass. After three years, she earned an associate degree in business administration.
Donna started out in manufacturing as an assembler and worked her way up to supervisor of printed circuit boards. She trained new employees from 1971 to 2009. There were only 14 employees when she started with the company, which is now a well-known worldwide corporation.
She retired in 2009, and Paul retired from CSX Railroad in 2013. He worked there for 35 years. They moved to Rotonda Lakes in the fall of 2013.
Shortly after moving here, Donna learned from her twin sister, Dianne, that there was an opening at Hudson’s Market. She came to the store for an interview and has been working there for more than two years.
“I really enjoy working at the store. Emily and Howard (the owners) are very nice, and they treat their employees really well. And I like working in Boca Grande because everyone is so friendly,” she said. She said she also likes working on the island because it is such a dog-friendly place. “I always enjoy seeing them on the golf carts everywhere with their owners,” she said.
Donna’s twin sister, Dianne Pavia, also works at Hudson’s Grocery. Dianne works full time as a cashier.
Donna prefers working behind the scenes at the store, doing food preparation and stocking the produce items in the kitchen needed to handle the daily lunch rush at the store. Dianne moved down three years ago from Massachusetts as well. The twins live next door to each other in Rotonda. They have always lived close together throughout their lives.
“No one could tell us apart when we were little. Dianne had a birthmark that was the shape of a four-leaf clover on her chest, so that’s how people could tell who was who,” Donna said. Donna calls Dianne her younger sister because she is five minutes older than Dianne. Their sister Janet has since moved from Massachusetts to South Golf Cove, making it easy for all the sisters to get together on a regular basis.
Donna’s father was in the Navy and traveled a lot while the girls were growing up. The girls were raised by their grandmother, Rose.
Donna has a daughter, Lauri Rose, who is named after her grandmother. She lives in Franklin, Mass. Lauri Rose has earned two degrees, one in art, and she also attended law school at New England School of Law in Boston. She currently works at Middlesex Bank as a senior officer.
“I’m very proud of her and all she has accomplished,” Donna said.
Donna and Paul met through friends at a social engagement in Massachusetts. “He lived in Boston at the time, and we met at a party in Medway,” she said. They met in 1990 and were married in 1994. They currently live in Rotonda, where they share their home with two dachshunds, Harley and Oscar, which Donna refers to as “the loves of my life.”
The dogs are from the same breeder and are one year apart.
Donna and Paul recently sold their house and are moving down the road to a larger home with a pool. “I’m a little nervous, because we are closing just before Christmas and it doesn’t give us a lot of time to move. And then, because of the holidays, I am working more hours at the store, so it’s going to be a very busy few weeks,” she said.
When she is not working, she can often be seen socializing at the South Gulf Cove Moose Lodge along with Paul, her sister Dianne and her husband Bill. They enjoy playing competitive games of table shuffleboard. Donna also likes to play cribbage. “I like all kinds of card games,” she said.
She also enjoys going to the beach and traveling whenever she gets the chance. In particular, cruises are one of her favorite adventures. Donna usually travels back to Massachusetts a few times every year to visit family and friends. She likes to do a little gambling at the casinos up north whenever she feels lucky. Some of her favorite places include the Twin Rivers Casino in Rhode Island and Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
“I went in May, but I won’t be able to go again until next year,” she said. When asked about the person she admires most in life, she had a hard time choosing. “I love my family – my husband, my daughter, my sisters and my dogs – I just can’t pick one,” she said.
Next time you are heading into Hudson’s, look for Donna keeping busy in the back of the store and be sure to stop and say hello.