KEASBEY, N.J. — Wakefern Food Corp. and ShopRite is mourning the loss of Rocco ‘Rocky’ Cingari, the longtime president and chief executive officer of Grade A Market Inc., which owns 11 ShopRite stores in Connecticut. He died at age 89 on June 3 with his family at his side.
Rocky Cingari served as president and CEO of 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. Rocky Cingari continued to work alongside his brother Sam, three nephews and two great-nephews.
Trained as a master butcher, Rocky Cingari worked most of his life in the grocery business founded by his father, Salvatore Cingari, an Italian immigrant who opened the family’s first store, Grade A Market, in Stamford in 1943. In 1991, Rocky Cingari 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 chief operating officer Joe Sheridan.
Rocky Cingari served on various charitable boards including chairman of the Yale New Haven Hospital Eye Research Center Advisory Board and as 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.
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.