Retirement is something most
people look forward to. According to a Gallup poll, the average American
expects to retire at 67.
Rocky Battista is not your
average American – or
“Every time someone asks me when I’m going to retire, I laugh,” Rocky says. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re going to have to rip this uniform off of me!”
At just a few months short of
90 years old, Rocky rolls in to
“Nobody questions me because they just know that I’m here!”
And after 75 years of working
“Through and through, from head
to toe, I’m as
Born in Italy on November 21, 1923, Rocky grew up in a small, Italian farming town called Giovinazzo. Rocky’s family decided to move to the United States when he was 14, boarding a ship called The Roma to cross the Atlantic. Eleven days later, in October of 1937, they arrived in New York City.
“Here I am at 6 o’clock in the morning with my mouth wide open watching the Statue of Liberty go by. I thought what is that thing?” he remembers.
Rocky and his family passed
through Ellis Island, then traveled to Newark to move into a home just 500 feet
from a local
Each day, Rocky and his friend
Anthony would walk by the
One day, the worker took a break from his inspections to invite the boys inside.
“He reached over, grabbed a
bottle of Coke and gave it to me,” Rocky says. “I took a sip, and from that
moment on, I was in love with
The employee asked the boys if
they’d like to work at the plant, and just six months after he arrived to the
United States, Rocky became a
Rocky and Anthony would attend school,
walk home to change clothes and return to work at
“My mom needed a little more money, so I gave her my 50 cents every night. I would put it on her table and go to sleep,” he says.
Rocky also had a passion for singing.
He would save up his earnings at
From 1942 to 1944, Rocky served as a corporal at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina, even joining the local Marine Corps band. When the war was over, however, he knew exactly what he would do.
“Hello? I went back to Coke!” Rocky says.
Rocky returned to his job at the North Brunswick facility. On the weekends, he once again found comfort on stage, singing at nightclubs and lounges in the New York area. It was here that he would also find his beloved wife – Rossie.
Rosalyn and Rocky Battista married in 1956 and had two children.
With a happy family at home,
Rocky continued his journey at
Not long after, Rocky decided
that his job at
“In October of 1984, I was
still working for
A Labor of Love
Ask Rocky where he works and
he’ll tell you “everywhere.” Ask what he does and he’ll say “the things that
need to be done for
“He’s just the hardest working guy I’ve ever met,” said Michael Sullivan, Vice President of Sales for the New Jersey Market Unit. “We will be required at midnight to set up a meeting for the next day, Rocky is always there.”
“At the end of our management
meetings, when we’re leaving at the end of the night, he’s walking by turning
off lights,” said Brian Wynne, Senior Vice President of Strategy, Franchise
Leadership and Business Transformation for
Wynne first met Rocky when he
“The value he brings transcends his job description. He is a representation of the historical greatness of our Coke system, the generational greatness of the Coke system and the enduring love of our brand. He’s a beacon for the rest of us,” Wynne said.
In 2002, Rocky was honored with
a special “Employee of the Century” award, receiving a standing ovation from
region employees. Jim Brennan, Senior Vice President of Region
“Everyone that works for
It’s a sentiment echoed by just about everyone Rocky has come in contact with.
"We often talk about the importance of living our
values – thinking and acting like owners, being the brand, operating with
passion and integrity in all that we do. I can't think of a better example of
someone who has exemplified these values day after day than Rocky Battista,”
said Glen Walter, President and Chief Operating Officer of
While he appreciates the kind words, Rocky says praise is not the reason why he’s still here.
“It doesn’t go to my head. I’m
a human being just like everyone else. I just happen to love what I do,” says
Rocky. “Nobody loves
Rocky’s bond with others extends beyond the workplace as well. He connects personally with employees, regardless of age or title or years with the Company. He knows associates’ names along with their children’s, and greets everyone with a smile.
When Rocky’s wife passed away
in 2005, hundreds of
“When you describe some of your colleagues at work, ‘I love him’ is not usually something that comes out of your mouth. You might say ‘I respect him’ or ‘I admire her.’ But with Rocky, we do. We all love him,” Wynne said.
It’s a shared emotion, Rocky
says. His fellow associates are his family, and
“At the end of the day, when
you close those doors, you’ve just ended another wonderful day at
More on Journey
- Why You Never Finish Your To-Do Lists at Work (And How to Change That)
- Midnight Bike to Belgium: When a Commute to Work Starts on a Sunday
- Getting a Grip on Calories: On the Road to Poor Health, Coke Leader Decides to Change. Does He Ever.
- Tegan and Sara Celebrate LGBT Pride Month with Coke Music Spotify Playlist
Photos: Selena Gomez Visits