Dunmorean of the Month: Rocco Riccardo

By Steve Svetovich

Riccardo’s Market has been a part of Dunmore for the past 100 years.

And current owner and operator Rocco Riccardo, Dunmore, has been a major part of it for 45 of those 100 years.

There have been only three locations in 100 years. 

The business has been owned by four generations of Riccardos. 

Originally owned by his great-grandfather Salvatore Riccardo, the family-owned business originated in the early 1920’s.

“Our family was produce people back then,” said Rocco, 59. “Those were the horse and buggy days. We were hucksters.”

Riccardo’s original location was where DePietro’s Pharmacy is today at 617 Third St Dunmore. 

In 1993, Rocco took over the family business and bought the old Giant Market building on Blakely Street near the Dunmore police station and borough building. Riccardo’s Market occupied that location from 1993 until 2009. 

In 2009, Riccardo’s moved to its current location at 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore.

Son of Betty and Salvatore Riccardo, Rocco has been working in the family business full-time since he was 14. “I used to go there right after school and on weekends. I worked 40 hours a week while I was in high school.”

Rocco’s grandfather, also Rocco, took over the family business in the 1930’s. Eventually Rocco’s dad Salvatore took over Riccardo’s Market. Rocco has been running the family business since 1993. 

Rocco is married to the former Nancy Jennings. The couple has five children: Anna, 40, Sal, 38, Lexxus, 24, Elizabeth, 21, and Michael, 15. 

The couple has two grandchildren:,Anna Lea, 6, and Aribella, 3.

Riccardo’s Market is open seven days a week, Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m, to 8 p.m.

Rocco said his market has functioned extremely well throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Like everybody else,” he said, “we followed all protocols. We socially distanced and followed the mask mandate. We put up the plexiglass screens at the checkout lines.

“Most of our employees were vaccinated. We have a great relationship with Tommy DePietro of DePietro’s Pharmacy across the street. He took care of all of our people with the vaccinations for COVID. 

“The Riccardo and DePietro families go back over 100 years. The two families used to be neighbors in the Bunker Hill section of Dunmore.”

Rocco, always a hard worker and people person, said his busy months are usually September to May. “Right now In December we are really busy. People are out shopping for their holiday food.”

At 59, Rocco is showing no signs of slowing down, generally working seven days a week. “I’ve been doing this full time, seven days a week for 45 years now. That’s a long time. I worked for my grandfather and then my dad. I plan on doing this a few more years. I still feel young. 

“There is an open invitation for my son to take over someday. He is in commercial refrigeration. He owns SR Mechanical. I can always go work for him when I eventually retire.”

Rocco is a 1981 graduate of Bishop O’Hara High School. He also has a pilot’s license and studied welding at Johnson School of Technology. 

“I used to own a plane, but got rid of it a few years ago.”

Rocco, still full of energy, enjoys serving the public. 

“I love what I do. I wake up everyday and can’t wait to get to work. I want to keep going. They change the rules all the time and you need to keep up with the times.

“If my son or other kids ever want to take over, they are welcome to it.

“But right now it is business-as-usual for me, I’m doing it for a very long time and enjoy it. I enjoy the work and the people.”

Dunmorean of the Month: Tim McGrath

By Steve Svetovich

Tim McGrath, Dunmore, has been involved in politics and business his entire adult life, so he should have no problem shining in his new venture.

McGrath, 56, is the new Executive Director of COLTS Bus in the Lackawanna County Transit System.

He begins his duties Monday, Nov. 8.

Married 24 years to the former Heather Perrone, the couple resides with their three children on Jefferson Avenue, Dunmore. 

He worked for the past 20 years as General Manager of the Viewmont Mall, Dickson City. 

 “It should be an easy transition for me,” he said. “Retail is very challenging. Staffing is always challenging and especially during a pandemic. You have competition from online shoppers. But we overcame the challenges and strived even during tough times.

“I am very excited to get involved in the Lackawanna County transit system with COLTS at this critical time. Of course, we will have competition from the Ubers of the world, but we want to serve the people of this county in the best possible manner.”

McGrath is on the Board of Directors of both Goodwill Industries of NEPA and the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

He has also been on the Board of Directors of the Lackawanna County Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2002 to 2018.

He received a bachelor of science degree in communications from the University of Scranton in 1990. He also attended Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, from 1983 to 1985. McGrath was raised in Florida, graduating from Pompano Beach High School in 1983.

McGrath served as Assistant to the Chairman for President  Clinton’s Summit for America’s Future in 1997; as Events Coordinator for the Steamtown National Historic Site Grand Opening in August 1995; as Events Coordinator for Gov. Robert Casey’s Inaugural Committee in January 1991; as Field Coordinator for Pat Casey for Congress in 1998, and as Statewide Field Coordinator for Robert Casey for Auditor General in 1996 and 1997.

Dunmorean of the month Tim McGrath is shown with his family, including from left: wife Heather, daughter Mary Grace, and son Timothy. In front is son Robert.

The Dunmorean also campaigned for Bob Casey for Governor in 1985-86 and 1989-91, and for U.S. Senator Harris Wofford in 1991-95. 

Additionally, McGrath was Regional Officer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of NEPA in 1997; Deputy Clerk for the Lackawanna County Recorder of Deeds Office in 1998, working under Evie McNulty, and was Community Development and Events Coordinator for the Springwood Group in 1995-96. McGrath was also director of the Lackawanna Trolley Museum for two years in the late 1990’s.

Most importantly to him, he is a family man who takes great pride in Dunmore and surrounding areas. 

He and his wife are proud parents. The couple’s son Timothy, 22, is a student studying sports management at Lackawanna College. A daughter Mary Grace, 20, is in the general studies program at Saint Joseph’s University and wants to become a forensic psychologist. Another son Robert, 13, is a student at Saint Paul’s Elementary School in Green Ridge. 

“Given the climate of retail,” he said, “I think we had great success during my 20 years at the Viewmont Mall in Dickson City. It was a great experience and a very fulfilling 20 years. It was very challenging at times. I am proud of the success we had as the premier shopping center in the region.

“I want to transfer that feeling of success and fulfillment to my new position at COLTS. There will be some similarities. I will be able to draw from my previous experience. I am very excited about this new opportunity to serve the public. I am very much looking forward to this new opportunity.”

Dunmorean of the Month: John Barrett

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore lost an educator in every sense of the word when John C. Barrett passed away Monday, Sept. 27, after a battle with prostate cancer.

Son of the late Louis “Bud” and Evelyn Margaret “Peggy” Barrett, he died at the home of his devoted partner, Peggy Burke.

A humble and always well-dressed man, Barrett graduated from Dunmore Central Catholic High School in 1969. 

He was a proud graduate of Kings College earning a bachelor of science. degree in secondary English education in 1973. He then earned a master of science degree in secondary school administration from the University of Scranton. 

Barrett began a lengthy and satisfying career as an educator when he started teaching English and speech composition in 1973 in the Dunmore School District. He later served as vice principal of Dunmore High School and principal of Dunmore Middle School. 

He was an inspiration not only to his numerous students, but also to his nieces and nephews, who looked at him as a second father or grandfather.

He looked at education as bringing a student’s potential into actuality.

If you looked at the definition of “gentleman” in the dictionary, you would find John C. Barrett of Dunmore. 

He had many other interests including traveling, architecture, reading historical biographies, working in real estate, and gardening.

He was well-known for walking in a polyester or corduroy suit to and from the high school throughout Dunmore neighborhoods. 

A man of humility, he was polite and kind to those who met him throughout his years as an educator.

And it was quite a journey. 

His career as an educator lasted until 2008. His final position was principal at the Dunmore Middle School. 

“He owned rental properties and loved houses and architecture,” his beloved partner Peggy said. “He loved traveling and reading.

“He was truly a gentleman, very humble. He was the epitome of kindness. He put family first ahead of himself. John never married or had children, but treated his nieces and nephews as if they were his own children.” 

A Notre Dame and Boston Red Sox fan, he always put his students first. 

“He believed in treating students fairly and was always there for them,” Peggy said. “He treated every student the same.

“He was a tough disciplinarian and believed in working to the best of your ability. He believed in a strong work ethic.

“He believed a student should come to school everyday and earn his or her paycheck. Your report card or grade was your paycheck.”

His sister, Barbara Jordan, said he was dedicated to giving the best of himself to the students of Dunmore. “The world has a few good men and he is one of them,” she said.

“He lived by the rules of kindness and selflessness. 

“He loved landscaping and walking. He bought his first car when he was in his 30s. Everyone in Dunmore saw him walking in his corduroy sport coat and tie. He loved walking to school and throughout the neighborhood.” 

Tom Jordan, retired Robert Morris Elementary School principal, was his brother-in-law. “John Barrett was a total gentleman his entire life,” he said.

“He was one of those men who looked the role, acted the role, was the role and dressed appropriately.

“He has a brother, Jimmy, who owns Roads Scholar Transport. I called them ‘Flash’ and ‘Cash,’ with John being ‘Cash.’ John had a good business mind too.” 

Besides his sister Barbara and twin brother Jimmy, Barrett is survived by his sister Betsy Laffey and numerous nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews, including one on the way. He was the godfather of eight children.