“To hear of the passing of Tony Sauta was one of the most painful things I have been informed of in a very long time,” AASP-NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant said in a statement. “When one of our own very special people goes much too early, it is really heartbreaking.
“Tony always seemed so full of life, and I can’t recall even one time seeing him get really mad. I will miss the enjoyable rides to our Board meetings, because he always made it a fun trip. My heart goes out to the many, many close friends, people he employed and his relatives, because I can only imagine the sadness they are feeling.”
The trade group called Sauta, 59, a “devoted” board member who “was always active in the association prior to joining the Board.”
“AASP/NJ has been very good to me, and there are people who take a lot of time out of their lives to be a part of that and make the association work,” Sauta told New Jersey Automotive in 2012. “I’d like to give something back to an industry that’s really given my employees and me the opportunity to enjoy a lot of things in life.”
Sauta founded Neptune, N.J.-based East Coast Auto Body and built it into an empire that also included four mechanical repair facilities, a tow company, a warehouse and even a furniture store. Prior to that, he spent time as a mechanic and repair shop manager.
“I knew Anthony for about 25 years, both in business and as a personal friend,” fellow AASP-NJ board member Joe Amato (Amato Insurance Agency) said in a statement. “He was a great father to his daughter, and a great husband to his wife Theresa. He was a brilliant business person. Brilliant.”
An obituary posted on O’Brien Funeral Home’s website recalled his “infectious laugh and smile that will never be forgotten.”
“Anthony always had a smile on his face,” Amato agreed in a statement. “No matter what was happening in his life, he was smiling. He had that bubbly voice that just made you feel better when you talked to him. And he was a real devoted Board member. He made every meeting he could, he always contributed and he’d always give you that 110 percent.”
Amato is survived by his wife, Theresa; daughter, Brittany; siblings, Stephen Sauta and Dianne Donato; and a niece and nephew.