The Chair Man
John L Celli
April 18, 1947 – September 9, 2013
“Let me tell you a story about your Dad….” I have heard those words often in my life and the stories are always filled with laughter. People gravitated towards Dad because he had this positive energy about him that people were drawn to like a bee to a flower. My whole life, I thought Dad was a salesman who embellished his life stories. Eventually after hearing the identical stories from others along the way, I began to understand that these far-fetched wild stories of his life were actually true. Some of the stories are even harder to believe because they always ended with “JC always knew how to get us out of a pickle”.
It is safe to say that the world became a little brighter on that 18th day of April back in 1947. From the beginning he was a complete ball of energy. It didn’t take long before he became the pied piper of his neighborhood. People followed his laughter and love for a little mischief. Dad was the life of the party from the beginning. He knew how to love and he loved with all his heart. He was always a very generous person. If you needed something, Dad would always provide. He liked to feel like he made a difference.
Children gravitated towards Dad. He always had so much fun watching them, spoiling them, and became the big kid in the group. The grandchildren will tell you he was full of magic and silliness. Growing up we had a magic handkerchief that literally produced candy. It was tucked away in a box because it was so full of magic that when Dad opened the box, the handkerchief would just start to produce candy! So much candy that dad would have to put it away because we couldn’t eat it quick enough. It was the most amazing thing to watch as a child. I still can’t figure out how it worked to this day. It was pure magic and complete mystery.
Dad began working in the mailroom at L&B Furniture back in the late 1960’s. He worked his tail off and everyone noticed. He eventually became a salesman selling chairs and quickly became the Sales Manager. His personality took over from that point on; he was their number one sales man in the country.
He started his own business in 1967 called JC Sales and taught us the love he had for selling at an early age. His company grew and his employees always included family. In the beginning my mom worked as his secretary. My Aunt Anita and my Uncle Frank, his siblings, also worked for him. Selling was natural to him. Dad could have sold you anything.
Sometimes, his love for showing us the jobs he sold was a little embarrassing. I remember my freshman orientation at college taking the tour with him and Dad wanted to show me that he sold the chairs in the cafeteria. In the middle of a group of strangers, he flipped the chair over to show me that even in this school in Albany, the chairs were ours. I’ll never forget it. There isn’t a restaurant I go into that I don’t flip the chair over or reach down and rip the little tag off to see if our name is on it.
Dad finally retired and gladly turned the keys over to Marc and I. He was most proud of this growing empire that he created and loved watching it flourish. When we finally went to print with our very first JC Furniture catalog last year, Dad brought it to all the doctors and nurses just to brag a little. He knew he left his legacy in good hands and he is especially proud of Marc.
I’ll never forget how silly he always was with everything. He didn’t take life too serious. I think that is why he was so much fun and always had a good laugh. Today we celebrate his life, his legacy, and all those wonderful memories of a man who was larger than life. Dad had a twisted sense of humor and was always filled with jokes to share. At 66, the man lived a great life.
We will miss you daddy more than you’ll ever know. I’m sure you didn’t want to leave but somehow it was your time to go. Watch over us until we meet again. We love you Dad.
-Lynette Celli Rigdon