Rocco “Rocky” Cingari, 89, a lifelong resident of Stamford, Conn., and the longtime president and CEO of Grade A Market, Inc., which owns 11 ShopRite stores in Connecticut, died June 3 with his family at his side.
Cingari ran Grade A Market for nearly 40 years until January, when his nephew, Tom Cingari, Sr., succeeded him as president and CEO of the family company. He continued to work alongside his brother Sam, three nephews and two great-nephews.
Trained as a master butcher, Cingari (left) worked most of his life in the grocery business founded by his father, Salvatore, an Italian immigrant who opened the family’s first store, Grade A Market, in Stamford in 1943. In 1991, Rocky led the family company as it joined Wakefern, the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the U.S., and began opening ShopRite stores in Fairfield and New Haven counties.
He was a past member of Wakefern’s Meat committee and also served on the company’s Board of Directors. He received the Chairman’s Award during Wakefern’s 2013 Annual Meeting and retired from the Board of Directors in 2014.
“Rocky cared deeply about his family, his associates, and the community. He had that passionate spirit that defines an entrepreneurial family business and Wakefern. He will be missed,” said Wakefern President and COO Joe Sheridan.
Cingari also worked as a community leader and fundraiser and served on the charitable boards of many different groups. He had a long affiliation with the Yale Eye Center, where he served for many years as chairman of the Yale New Haven Hospital Eye Research Center Advisory Board. He was a 45-year member and past president of the Darien Lions Club, as well as a founding member and past president of the CT Lions Eye Research Foundation.
Rocky served his country in the U.S. Navy and spent the next seven decades helping build his family’s grocery business. He served as vice president of Grade A Market before taking over as president and CEO of the family company in the early 1980s, and he worked closely over the years with his brothers and nephews in running all parts of the business.
He is survived by two daughters, Susan G. Cingari of Boca Raton, Fla., and Karen R. Cingari of Stamford; his former wife, Christine ”Chris” Cingari of Stamford; brother Salvatore ”Sam” Cingari, Jr., of Stamford; his companion, Marthalou ”Marti” Bruno, of Hampton Bays, N.Y., and many nieces and nephews.