Rocco "Rocky" Fallone
ALTAMONT — A devoted family man, Rocco “Rocky” Fallone knew how to fix just about anything.
“His strongest characteristic was a sense of persistence,” said his son, John Fallone. “In the dictionary, there should be a picture of Rocky next to the word ‘persistence.’”
He went on about his father, who had a career in the bottling industry, “Combined with his mechanical ability, he had a reputation to fix anything. He’d doggedly stick with something after everyone else had given up. He’d solve the problem.”
Mr. Fallone died suddenly on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. He was 88.
He was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y. on Feb. 15, 1925, to the late Anthony Fallone and Anne Marie (née Pallone) Fallone. His father died when he was 2; his mother later married Stephen Wallace and moved to Voorheesville, where Mr. Fallone was raised.
“He didn’t now his real father,” said John Fallone who called the Wallaces “Grandma and Grandpa Kicky.”
“They lived along the railroad tracks,” he said. “My grandfather worked for the railroad.”
In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, the roads in Voorheesville were unpaved. “He told me about the dirt streets,” said John Fallone.
Mr. Fallone left school after the eighth grade to help support his family. He had an older sister, Tomasina, and two younger brothers, Peter and Stephen.
When he was old enough, he volunteered to fight in World War II. “He didn’t want to be left out,” said his son of volunteering. Although he didn’t know how to swim then, Mr. Fallone joined the Navy.
Years later, when his son asked him why, he said, “I didn’t want to sleep on the dirt.”
Mr. Fallone served in the Pacific on the USS Chauncey, one of three destroyers that, working together, saw intense action. “They would go in so close to shore, the Japanese couldn’t deflect their guns low enough to hit the ships,” said his son.
A gun trainer, Mr. Fallone was small in stature. “He was the right size for a seat in the turret,” said John Fallone. “He could hear small-arm fire bouncing off his turret. He couldn’t swim a stroke.” The cannon fire would streak overhead while the machine-gun fire pinged off the side of the ship.
Mr. Fallone survived an attack when the Chauncey was struck by a Japanese plane. “My mother told me, for the first several years of their marriage, he would wake up with bad dreams about losing his shipmates after the plane hit,” said John Fallone. “He lost some close friends.”
It wasn’t until recent years that Mr. Fallone would talk about his war experiences. “Late in life, he became more comfortable with it,” said his son. “He was proud of his service.”
After the war, Mr. Fallone returned to Voorheesville and got a job there at the Duffy-Mott Company, which bottled apple sauces and juices. That is where he met Phyllis Carl, the woman who would become his wife. “He chased her,” said their son with a chuckle.
The couple married on April 4, 1947; their marriage ended only with her death. “They had a great, great marriage and gave me an absolutely fantastic childhood,” said John Fallone.
“I was an only child. They included me in everything,” he said, giving an example. “Dinnertime was not only for eating but for talking, telling the story of your day in great detail. They listened to each other and gave advice to each other. It was a uniquely intimate family we had.”
The Fallones built a small home in Guilderland Gardens. “The houses were built after the war for people to raise their families,” said John Fallone.
Mr. Fallone had launched his long and successful career in the bottling industry, working first for Canada Dry and later for Pepsi Cola.
The family moved to Rochester when Canada Dry was building a plant there. “He played an instrumental role in building the plant,” said his son. He also learned how to swim as the Fallones’ Rochester home had a pool.
The family later moved to Hudson when Mr. Fallone worked for Pepsi. He then had a “key role” his son said, in building a Pepsi plant near the airport in Albany County.
“He was a force of nature,” said his son. “He was really, really something. There was nothing he couldn’t do, mechanically or managerially.”
He recalled how Canada Dry has “a zillion flavors” with all different sizes of drinks and labels. “It was very complicated,” said John Fallone. “He ran that. He was really good at it despite having just an eighth-grade education. He was inherently intelligent and really good with machinery.”
John Fallone, in his youth, had worked summers at his father’s bottling plant. “I saw him in action,” he said. “He worked really hard, maybe too hard; that’s who he was.”
All of his life, Mr. Fallone devoted his free time to his beloved wife and son and to his extended family.
In recent years, Mr. Fallone was a regular at the Home Front Café in Altamont, where he would meet his friends almost every day for coffee. He’d tell his son, “We just solved the world’s problems this morning.”
The morning coffee drinkers call their group the CRAFT Club, which stands for Can’t Remember A Friggin’ Thing.
“He had the greatest friends at the Home Front,” said his son. “They were so dear to him. This went on for years. In the end, when he was less able, they would drive him around and take him to a church dinner. They would pick him up at Delmar Place,” the assisted living facility where he last resided.
“After he died,” said his son, “I stood next to him and thought, ‘This is the man that taught me what it was to be a man, a real man.’”
Through tears, he described those well-learned lessons: “Be loyal to your wife. Be a strong father. Be persistent through adversity. Be authentic.”
Rocco Fallone is survived by his son, John Fallone, and his daughter-in-law, Sue Fallone; by his sister, Tomasina Kilmade; and by his granddaughter, Kate.
Family and friends are invited to calling hours at the Fredendall Funeral Home at 199 Main Street in Altamont today, Jan. 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. A funeral service will be held on Friday, Jan. 3, at 11 a.m. at the Altamont Reformed Church at 129 Lincoln Ave. in Altamont. Online condolences may be made at www.fredendallfuneralhome.com.
The family would like to acknowledge the excellent care given by Dr. Alan Rauch and the Apheresis/Outpatient Transfusion Unit at Albany Medical Center.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Apheresis/Outpatient Transfusion Unit at Albany Medical Center, 43 New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY 12208.
— Melissa Hale-Spencer