Torrington resident retiring from appliance store at 91
TORRINGTON – Ray Aeschliman has been part of the Cooper family at Dick Cooper TV & Appliance’s service desk for decades.
But 90-year-old Aeschliman will retire on Friday.
While he also retired when he was 65 and had a big party, he decided to come back not long after that. This time, however, he said he was leaving for good.
“I’m going to be gardening and gardening with my granddaughter,” he said. “The senior center has a community garden and we also have a plot of land there. I like going to the senior center if they ever open up again. “
As a service manager, Aeschliman handles service calls and troubleshooting, helps customers figure out what they need, and sends the team of repair personnel to phone calls. He also oversees Cooper’s extensive collection of parts for the many appliances they sell, from televisions, washers and dryers to ovens, freezers and refrigerators, he said.
While the technology behind these necessities has changed, the need for good service has not changed, and the Cooper family has run a successful business for 37 years.
But Aeschliman remembers selling the first microwaves.
“They were the size of a small refrigerator,” he said. “People were scared of them because they thought they were going to get radiation poisoning. There weren’t many dishwashers yet, but when someone had one we worked on them. There were also no self-thawing refrigerators or self-cleaning ovens. “
Dick Cooper TV & Appliance Repair says goodbye to Ray Aeschliman, second from left, who is retiring this week. He is joined by Service Manager Jim Ferrentino (left) and the owners Sherry (Cooper) Percivalle and Rich Cooper.
Emily M. Olson / Hearst Connecticut Media /
Now Cooper’s is keeping pace with the demand for new equipment and busier than ever.
“Lots of new people are coming to town, especially from New York, and they all want new things,” said Aeschliman.
Dick Cooper founded the company in 1984, and his son Rich Cooper and daughter Sherry Percivalle now run it, taking care of their father, whose health is deteriorating.
“Dick is my oldest friend,” said Aeschliman. “He retired six years ago … it’s hard to see him in poor health. I want to remember him as he was. “
Aeschliman grew up in Torrington and graduated from Torrington High School. His first job was in Florida, where he was in charge of a warehouse of lighting fixtures used by contractors building homes in the greater Miami area. He was drafted and joined the US Marine Corps, which served during the Korean War from 1951 to 1953.
“I was very lucky, I didn’t see a fight,” said Aeschliman. “I was stationed in San Diego and managed three warehouses for the commissioner. They were full of food. “
He returned home looking for a job and when his father bought a new television it was delivered to the house one night. “He got it from a dealer in Bantam and when it was delivered he said his service technician would leave. He hired me and sent me to school to learn the trade. “
After this job, Aeschliman joined Ducci Electrical Contractors as a soldier in 1953. E. John Ducci, the company’s founder, sold the equipment business to Cooper a few years later. At the time, he had a column on the Citizen tab, “Ask Ray,” answering questions from readers about their devices.
Aeschliman and his wife Kay had been married for 60 years; She died in 2009. The couple had two sons, Glen, who died in 2013, and Alan, who lives in East Granby with his wife, Lori. Aeschliman has four adult grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
For Aeschliman, being part of Cooper is more than a job. It’s a connection to the world and the people in it, especially the Coopers. The business owners say they are close to all 11 of their employees.
Aeschliman’s successor as service manager, Jim Ferrentino, has been working for the Coopers for 19 years.
“We all know each other here,” said Ferrentino.
“I remember when Rich was born,” said Aeschliman with a smile. “Sherry’s husband was my son’s best friend, and that’s how they met.”
“We’re like family here, that’s very true,” said Rich Cooper. “Some of us practically grew up together.”