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Paul Augustine

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Paula Gitto most remembers her father's spontaneity and love for leisure.

On a whim, local restaurateur and club owner Paul Augustine would fly his three daughters, then children, to Chicago for an after-school shopping trip – heading north with a pilot in his Cessna 310.

Other times, they'd grab a last-minute weekend getaway at the family's vacation home at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

"He was a very quiet man but was full of surprises," Gitto said Tuesday. "He was in his glory when we were all together."

Augustine, 68, died Friday due to complications related to diabetes and liver illness.

"He adored and lived for my mother," Gitto said. "But when we'd call on him, he was always there to help."

For years, Augustine owned and operated Augustine's Restaurant on Centerville Avenue in Belleville, looking to upgrade the local dining scene with the restaurant's swanky lounge and banquet hall.

"It was rated the best restaurant in Southern Illinois," said Augustine's sister Geraldine Waldrop, who worked at Augustine's after its opening in 1956. "There'd be times when people were waiting in line on (Illinois) 15, and we'd have to close so we could wash dishes and open up again."

Augustine's affection for good eats and good times was apparent in his many business ventures, some of which he shared with brothers Charlie, Tony and Ralph.

Over a career that spanned nearly 50 years, Augustine ran other successful restaurants and social establishments in the metro-east and across the Mississippi River. They included Cadillac Bob's on Washington Street in downtown Belleville; Club Celebration in East St. Louis; Paulie's in Fairview Heights; Rose's Cantina in Ballwin; First Street Alley on Laclede's Landing in St. Louis; and the Palace Car under the Poplar Street Bridge.

"We were competitors, but we were friendly competitors," said longtime friend Kenny Fischer, who owns Fischer's Restaurant on West Main Street in Belleville. "If he ever needed anything, I'd try to help him out. We'd help each other."

Fischer also recalls Augustine's love for shopping. When Augustine purchased a condo in Boca Raton, Fla., Fischer helped him pick out trendy furnishings for the new place.

"He had a plane, I was a pilot," Fischer said, "and away we'd go."

The Florida residence soon became one of Augustine's favorite places to be.

Augustine is survived by his wife of 48 years, Suzanne; three daughters, Paula Gitto of Chesterfield, Mo., Lisa Barrow of Belleville and Julie Musa of Highland Beach, Fla.; a brother, Ralph Augustine of Collinsville; three sisters, Geraldine Waldrop and Carmella Thomas of Belleville, and Mary Hudson of O'Fallon; and eight grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by parents Anthony and Martha Augustine, and brothers Charlie, Frank and Tony.

Friends may visit from 4 to 8 p.m. today at the Kurrus Funeral Home in Belleville. A Mass of Christian burial will take place Thursday at 11 a.m. at St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville. Burial will be at the Green Mount Catholic Cemetery also in Belleville.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Dec. 20, 2006
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