SALINAS, Calif. — Andy D’Arrigo, chairman of the board at D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, marked his 90th birthday in a celebration outside the grower-shipper’s Salinas headquarters.
More than 100 colleagues and friends came out to greet D’Arrigo, namesake of the Andy Boy fresh produce label, at a Jan. 31 luncheon.
“I’ve never seen this many people before, other than outside the county jail,” he joked as his wife, Phyllis, looked on.
He wasn’t the only nonagenarian on hand. His brother Steve D’Arrigo and D’Arrigo Bros. Co. veterans Gene Schmit and Frank Arredondo — each 90-plus — offered birthday wishes.
Arredondo’s career with the grower-shipper ran from 1946 to 2011; Schmit’s, from 1953 to 2012.
“My brother and I are about two years apart,” Steve D’Arrigo said. “Somehow we’ve made it up to our 90s. There are three generations in this company, and I understand a fourth is in business school at Santa Clara University.”
“Being 90 is not difficult. You only have to wake up every morning,” Andy D’Arrigo said. “That’s the whole answer. At 90, I’ve slept 30 years of my life.”
Some guests, though, expressed doubts that he’d slept eight hours daily all that time.
He had become head of West Coast operations for D’Arrigo Bros. when his father, Stefano, died in 1951 at age 57. Andy D’Arrigo was two years out of college. He’d grown up working in fields in summer or tagging along on produce buying trips.
His father and his uncle, Andrea D’Arrigo, had emigrated to the U.S. from Italy and served in the army during World War I. On July 27, 1920, they signed a partnership agreement on a single typescript page that marks D’Arrigo Bros. Co. origins as a Boston and California operation.