Nancy Denofio flipped through the pages of an old General Electric booklet, “Beyond the Paycheck,” stopped on page 25 and smiled.
At the top of the page, her father, former Schenectady mayor Frank Duci, stood behind a model of the Schenectady County Public Library.
“I was so proud of this,” she said. “These people are from all over and he’s the only one from Schenectady.”
The 1950s-era booklet, of which she had duplicates, was part of a vast collection of the longtime politician’s belongings his daughter was trying to sell Saturday during a garage sale at her Saratoga Springs home. Duci served as mayor of Schenectady from 1972-83 and again from 1992-95, and was involved in local politics for nearly 50 years.
At the time of the GE pamphlet’s publication, Duci was a lab technician in the Materials and Processes Lab in Schenectady and supervisor representing the city’s second ward.
“I work at home or at the county office building three or four nights a week and spend endless hours at various political functions because I think we should all do our part to keep our free, democratic society,” he’s quoted as saying.
Denofia held the sale Friday and Saturday and said there will be another one at some point. The family plans to sell her father’s Avenue A home in Schenectady’s Goose Hill neighborhood, where he has lived since he was 9.
“I have to get rid of my stuff, too,” she said. “I decided, how much can one house hold? And so I’m keeping the important things, but I can’t keep everything.”
The motley assortment of items — old books about American presidents, a golf ball-shaped whiskey flask, annual city manuals from every decade, a tiny GE light bulb — offers glimpses into the character of the Republican city leader who fought for what he believed in, even when it wasn’t the most popular point of view.
During his political career, Duci, now 93, battled to save the Proctors marquee, pushed for the creation of Schenectady County Community College and advocated to build a new and improved county library downtown.
“He loved people all his life, and the people loved him,” his daughter said. “Sometimes, the party didn’t.”
Denofia said her father saved “every single thing” because of his upbringing during the Great Depression. He was 10 when his father died, leaving his mother to raise him and his two younger brothers. When he was old enough, he worked a paper route and gave every nickel he earned to his family, his daughter said.
“He never had good clothes. He wouldn’t go to dances because he didn’t look like anybody else. He felt different from the other kids,” Denofio said. “So now, all through his life, he never throws anything away.”
He kept a bottle opener with a golf club handle and a maroon tie decorated with fish that he never wore — it was still inside a Carl Co. gift box.
“I’m not saving the fish tie, and I don’t think anybody’s buying it, either,” Denofio said.
He even held onto four plates decorated with former president Ronald Reagan’s face.
“What am I gonna do with four plates of Reagan?” Denofio asked.
Denofio said the more personal items — his writings about Schenectady, his photographs, the signed portraits he drew of presidents — aren’t for sale. They are already being passed down to her five grandchildren.
“He got to meet every single president from Hoover on up, and he’s got signatures by all of them. And he drew every picture of them,” she said. “I’ll never sell those. Never, never, never.”