James Rosetta worked seven days a week at Fresno Ag Hardware, the store he owned for 56 years with his brother, helping to make business decisions while stocking shelves, waiting on customers and even cleaning the shop.
Nothing was beneath him, say family and friends who remember a man deeply devoted to his work, his employees and his family. When he wasn’t working, he liked to travel.
Mr. Rosetta died on July 23 after a brief illness. He was 95.
“Everyone respected my dad,” said daughter Vicki Bassett who worked at Fresno Ag for 42 years alongside her father. “He was loyal to his suppliers. He was loyal to his employees. He was a good family man. The store was like a big family.”
Mr. Rosetta was born in Richmond, in the Bay Area, to Italian immigrant parents, but ended up in foster care after his mother died at a young age. He graduated from Kerman High School and Fresno Technical College. He attended Fresno State College until 1941 when he joined the Army serving as an administrative specialist at Camp Pinedale. He earned the rank of technical sergeant.
After the war, Mr. Rosetta worked for Southern Pacific Railroad in Bakersfield where he met his wife, Arlene Holladay Delmarter. She died in 2011.
Jim was a devoted family man and devoted to Fresno Ag. He was there every day … he was always really nice. He was really focused on his business.
Aletha Lang, family friend
Mr. Rosetta returned to Fresno in 1956 as co-owner of Fresno Ag. His brother, John, bought the hardware division of Fresno Agricultural Works and opened his own business under the Fresno Ag name. The store developed a reputation for having what nobody else did — an odd-shaped pipe, an obscure bolt and other knickknacks.
Jim Salvatore, owner of Al’s Distributing, a Fresno wholesale automotive, industrial and hardware supplier, did business with Mr. Rosetta at Fresno Ag for decades.
“He would not buy a lot of anything,” Salvatore said. “He would rather buy two of something one day and come back the next day and buy two more. That was pretty old-school.”
Mr. Rosetta “was a very honest person and he cared about his customers,” Salvatore said.
The store operated at Blackstone and Gettysburg avenues for 40 years. In 2008, it moved to the current location at First Street and Gettysburg. Mr. Rosetta sold his interest in the business to his brother’s family in 2012. John Rosetta died in 2003.
Mr. Rosetta’s children, with their father, opened Clovis True Value at 1890 E. Shaw Ave., just east of Fowler Avenue, in September 2013.
“Jim continued to come in and work,” stocking shelves and offering suggestions, said Bassett, who owns the store with her husband Steve and sisters Lynda Rosetta-Hall, Donna Rosetta-Hansen and her husband Brad.
“It was Jim’s lifelong dream to have his own hardware store, and it happened.”
Birth: Nov. 28, 1919
Death: July 23, 2015
Occupation: Co-owner of Fresno Ag Hardware between 1956 and 2012
Survivors: Sister, Mary Struthers; children, James Delmarter, Lynda Rosetta-Hall, Vicki Bassett, Donna Rosetta-Hansen and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Services: 10 a.m. Friday at Whitehurst, Sullivan, Burns & Blair Funeral Home, 1525 E. Saginaw Way, Fresno. Interment to follow at Belmont Memorial Park.