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Albert P. Caruso, 85, pioneer in manufacturing pepper spray devices

Aug. 11, 1934 – Aug. 16, 2019

Albert P. Caruso, of the Town of Tonawanda, a pioneer in the manufacturing of pepper spray devices, died Aug. 16 in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a short illness. He was 85.

Born in Kenmore, he was a member of the Class of 1953 at Kenmore High School, then worked for seven years as a life and health insurance agent for Manhattan Casualty Co. in Syracuse.

In 1960, he founded his own firm, 3024 Del Corp Insurance Agency, in Kenmore.

As a boy, he was an apprentice to his father, John Thomas Caruso, a shoemaker, in making orthopedic shoes for children. He eventually took over his father’s shop and did holster repair work for the Kenmore Police Department. That led him into designing custom leather goods, including gun holsters and other products for police officers.

In the early 1970s, he devised an aerosol dispensing system for pepper spray and in 1975 founded Avanti USA Ltd.

Based in the City of Tonawanda, it is a leading manufacturer of pepper spray devices for police departments and civilian customers across North America.

“Tear gas or pepper spray was never an industry for civilians until I invented and patented the combined holder for keys and spray,” Mr. Caruso told Buffalo Business First in 1996.

The company also produces key cases, belt and pocket clips, quick key releases and key ring accessories. He remained active in the business until his death. His wife and sons continue to operate it.

Mr. Caruso received 10 patents for his aerosol container components and was inducted into the American Society of Inventors in 1980. He was nominated for the annual Western New York Inventor of the Year Award in 2006 for his patented actuator for aerosol containers.

He also was instrumental in the development of soccer locally.

He founded the Buffalo Dynamo FC, the state club champions from 1994 to 1998. He was a founder of the North American Soccer Association and its local affiliates.

For his support of youth soccer, he received the Robert L. Swift Volunteer Service to Youth Award from the Town of Tonawanda Youth Bureau. He also was a life member of the New York State West Amateur Adult Soccer League.

He met his wife, the former Gloria J. Van Norman, while working in the insurance business. They were married in 1978.

In addition to his wife, survivors include four sons, Nicholas, Greg Van Norman, Adam and Matthew and six grandchildren.

A memorial service was held Aug. 31 in St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, 2368 Eggert Road, Town of Tonawanda.

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