May 19 – Happy Birthday Vincent Rossi

It was a particularly tough time for my Mom. She was recovering from her first battle with cancer and trying to get her small catering business off the ground at the same time. Her signature side dish was a mushroom and broccoli rice casserole that was absolutely out of this world. The stars aligned for her when today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant happened to be at an affair she catered and he had the opportunity to taste that casserole. A few days later, Vince Rossi called my Mom and asked if she was interested in catering a post funeral gathering for a family he was serving. A business alliance was forged that helped my Mom get her new business over the hump.

Vincent J. Rossi was born in Amsterdam, NY on May 19, 1958. He graduated from Bishop Scully High School in 1976 and then got his degree in Mortuary Science from Hudson Valley Community College two years later. He has been a Licensed Funeral Director since 1979, when he purchased the Sargalis Funeral Home that used to be located on East Main Street, near St. Mary’s Church. In my humble opinion, since the day he took overthat location, Mr. Rossi has set the standard for funeral direction professionalism in this town.

Most of us have experienced the trauma of losing a loved one. We know firsthand how the resulting emotions, concerns, and important decisions and actions that must be taken can be extremely difficult to deal with. It seems as though Vince Rossi was put on this Earth to help people make it through that unwanted but inevitable moment of life.

But he’s also a very wise businessman. In 1984, he merged his business with David Bellinger, who had earlier purchased the Johnson & Lindsay Funeral Parlor on Mohawk Place, to form the Rossi Funeral Home. It turned out to be a great partnership and they built a solid business together.

In the mid nineties, I met with Vince and Dave to discuss a new product my publishing company was considering for the funeral industry. During the hour or so we chatted, they gave me a concise overview of that industry. My Aunt had passed away the previous year and they took the opportunity to ask me why my family had chosen one of their competitors to handle the funeral. I told them my Aunt had written instructions for her funeral and my family felt obligated to follow them.

Both guys completely understood and went on to explain how such requests made it so challenging for a funeral home, particularly a newer one, to increase market share in any market. As hard as they tried, great service, community service and word of mouth references just didn’t outweigh the expressed instructions left by the deceased and since Rossi Funeral Home didn’t even exist at the time most of those instructions were written down, I quickly realized their point. Vince went on to tell me there was then a huge movement toward consolidation in the industry. Large companies were coming into markets and purchasing all the funeral homes.

When I left them that day, I remember thinking that they probably had been approached by such a company with an offer to buy their business. A few short months later, however, it was Rossi and Bellinger who changed the funeral business landscape in Amsterdam with their stunning announcement that they had merged with their biggest competitor, Betz Funeral Home.

Since then, the business has added five more funeral homes to their network and today the Betz, Rossi, Bellinger and Stewart Family Funeral Homes have become the largest provider of funeral services in Montgomery and Fulton Counties. One of the things that most impresses me about their operation is how they have constantly recruited new  talent to their staff. Many of them like Marty Hughes, Pete Rose and Ninja Sagarese grew up in this community, like Vince himself and you can tell he takes great pride in helping them grow professionally.

Vince Rossi himself hasn’t changed. He’s as personable, professional and compassionate as he was during his earliest days in the business. But Vince’s life has changed in a big way. He and his partner Rob are now loving and proud parents of a son named Luca Marc and he absolutely loves being a dad!

He has also given much back to this community over the years. He was a driving force behind the formation and early success of the Horace J. Inman Senior Center. He has been an incredibly valuable member of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Office for Aging, Inc. for many years and in 2015 was awarded that organization’s Father Joseph F. Girzone Crystal Pillar of the Community Award for his years of volunteer service to that agency.

Happy Birthday Vincent! Thank you for what you did for my Mom and for what you’ve done and do for Amsterdam.

 

 

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