Niskayuna Co-op worker going strong at 90 with no plans to retire

Rita Fazzone plans on working at the Niskayuna Co-op supermarket until she’s 110 years old.

Rita Fazzone plans on working at the Niskayuna Co-op supermarket until she’s 110 years old.

That will give her another 20 years on the job. On Monday, the grocery bagger and store greeter turned 90.

“I just love working and seeing all the nice people,” she said at a small birthday celebration the co-op held for her. “I really have no plans to retire.”

Fazzone tried to retire several decades ago after working at the co-op in the 1960s and then at Macy’s in Colonie as a retail buyer in the men’s department, but she said she got bored. “I couldn’t stand it.”

She worked several other jobs at the state Department of Labor and the Schenectady Municipal Golf Course before returning to the co-op in 2005 at the age of 84.

She was rehired by General Manager Don Bisgrove, who in 1959 worked as Fazzone’s bag boy when he was 17.

“Now she bags for me,” said Bisgrove, adding how Fazzone lights up everyone’s morning.

When she returned, Fazzone worked in the back for several

years wrapping meat. She moved up front after the co-op bought an automatic plastic wrap machine.

“She’s very social, which is an important part of the business,” said Front End Manager Toni Boughton. “You don’t even look at her age because she has an amazing work ethic. That was just the age she grew up in.”

Fazzone works Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. She also still drives and plans on buying a new Buick this week as a birthday gift to herself.

She also had a full weekend of birthday celebrations.

Every Saturday for more than 50 years, Fazzone has driven to Manchester, Vt., to go shopping at the Orvis store. While she was there last Saturday, Orvis employees greeted her with a new pocketbook and a birthday card with a $100 store gift card inside.

“The people there are so nice. I couldn’t believe they remembered my birthday,” Fazzone said.

On Sunday, members of her family — she has nine children, 33 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, 11 great-great-grandchildren and one great-great-great-grandchild — brought her to the racino in Saratoga Springs for dinner, and she won nearly $1,000 playing slots.

On Monday, the co-op threw a small party for Fazzone and gave away free cookies and punch to customers. A small table was filled with birthday cards and multiple corsages were pinned to her shirt.

“I feel blessed,” she said.

Five-year-old Katherine Makrin, of Niskayuna, who shares a birthday with “Miss Rita,” stopped in with her mother to wish Fazzone a happy birthday. Fazzone returned the favor by giving Makrin an M&M cookie.

Makrin said she was hoping to get Tinkerbell things at her party that night, while Fazzone said she had everything she could ask for.

Her advice to younger generations? “Keep busy.”

She added, “Try not to let anything bother you. Just keep going and good things will happen to you.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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