Roc’sanna Rivers

Roc’sanna Rivers

GUILDERLAND — “On Dec. 15, 1940, Roc’sanna Tresa (née Martelli) Rivers was born in Schenectady, New York to the late Rocco and Mildred Martelli,” wrote Mrs. Rivers’s family in a tribute. “And so began a 78-year-long story of a strong, fiercely stubborn, mischievous, humorous, and all-around marvelous woman.

“With heavy hearts, her family bid her farewell at St. Peter’s hospital on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, after a brief illness. Raised in Schenectady, Roc’sanna graduated from Mont Pleasant High School. She married her beloved husband, Kenneth Rivers, on Sept. 28, 1959, after he dazzled her with his quick wit and charms on a date where he drove the woman he had fallen so hard for around town and startled her with just how fast he liked to drive.”

Kenneth and Roc’sanna built their life together in the Rivers family home on Depot Road in Altamont. Together they raised four children: Roseanne Palumbo and her husband, James, of Guilderland Center; Kenneth Rivers and his wife, Nancy, of Schodack; Alesia Warner; and Kimberly Zupan.

“When you got hugged by her, you knew it, because she was the best hugger ever,” said her daughter, Ms. Palumbo. “Everybody she met, she liked, and everybody liked her. If you ever needed to talk to her, she always took the time to sit and listen.”

Mrs. Rivers worked for many years at the nursing home in Guilderland Center, formerly named The Guilderland Center Nursing Home and now known as The Grand. “She was a certified nurse’s assistant and tended to the residents there with unparalleled compassion, concern, and a sense of humor that caused laughter from residents and staff alike to ring throughout the three wings of the building anytime she was working,” her family wrote.

“Later in life, she assisted her husband, Ken, in the on-site beauty shop he ran at the nursing home,” the tribute said. “On any given day, the beauty shop was packed full of residents getting their hair coiffed, family members of those residents and staff who all enjoyed visiting Roc’sanna and Ken for their humorous escapades and Freihofer cookies that Roc’sanna kept stashed in the shop.

“Roc’sanna hung family photos on the door of the beauty shop for everyone to admire. Roc’sanna was especially proud of her large family and welcomed each new addition with open arms. When her grandchildren were growing up, school photos were put up on the beauty-shop door. When her great-grandchildren arrived, it was hard to tell that a door even existed as it was completely plastered with new photos.

“Roc’sanna was a woman of great faith. She and her husband were both members of the Helderberg Reformed Church for over 30 years. Roc’sanna lent her beautiful singing voice and love for music to the church every Sunday as she sang in the choir. Her husband sat one pew in front of the choir; he was her most steadfast fan and would tell everyone who would listen that Roc’sanna had the most beautiful voice of anyone.

“Roc’sanna was a talented pianist and one of her most beloved treasures was an organ that her husband bought her. It was a treat for all to hear her play. When Ken passed away in 2011, Roc’sanna continued to organize, in his honor, the church blood drive he had organized every year in May. She worked tirelessly to uphold the legacy that her husband left behind, working with the Red Cross to save countless lives and remained fiercely devoted to him and anything he had treasured in his time here on earth with her.

Roc’sanna was a woman who savored and enjoyed the little things in life ... floating in her swimming pool in the summer, her unique collection of flip-flops, large earrings that dangled to her shoulders, vibrantly colored clothes, and most of all, her family and the time she spent with them, including her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She will be greatly missed by all who were fortunate enough to have known and loved her.”

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Calling hours are on Thursday, Jan. 31, from 5 to 8 p.m., at Fredendall Funeral Home, 199 Main Street in Altamont. “All are welcome to send their love to Roc’sanna as she makes her journey home to her husband,” her family wrote.

“Burial on Friday in Prospect Hill Cemetery, beside her beloved Ken, will be private.” Mourners may leave condolences online at https://fredendallfuneralhome.com/.

As she “adored animals and was especially fond of therapy dogs,” her family wrote, memorial contributions may be made to Therapy Dogs International, 88 Bartley Road, Flanders, NJ  07836, and reference Schenectady Chapter 74.

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