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Recognition: Linda Karos’ summer job turned into a lifetime at E. Armata

Linda Karos started working at E. Armata Inc. on July 6, 1966, when the company was still located at the Washington market at Washington and Chambers streets in Manhattan. Fifty one- plus years later, she decided it was time to leave.Linda-Retires

“It was supposed to be a summer job. I had plans to go back to Pace College to finish my education that fall,” said Karos. “I never made it back to college because my grades weren’t up to par. Peter J. Armata, the president at the time, and another owner, along with Peter’s brothers, Frank, Joe and Nick, asked if I wanted to stay on with the company. I accepted their offer. It became a very long summer job. I was with the company for the next fifty-one-and-a-half years.”

Karos joined the Armata family business shortly after the first-generation company founder Erasmo Armata died. Karos worked with the second-generation brothers as they oversaw the company’s operations following Armata’s death.

Erasmo Armata entered the United States through Ellis Island in the late 1890s as a poor Sicilian immigrant. He settled in Manhattan, frequenting the fruit auction in lower Manhattan. Armata purchased lemons and sold them out of a burlap bag he carried on his back as he walked the streets of Manhattan. As people continued to buy the lemons, he developed a solid customer base. Eventually, in order to continue to fulfill the growing needs of his customers, he traded in his burlap bag for a pushcart with additional items.Wedding-1968The wedding of Linda and Chuck Karos in 1968. Seated at table second from left: Peter Armata and his wife, Florence. Standing at far right: Nick Armata with his wife, Lee, seated at table below him.

The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market opened in 1967, and E. Armata was among those companies that pioneered the move to the new market. Karos went with it.

“When I started with E. Armata, I was doing general office work,” said Karos. “I later worked on inventory. The company moved from adding machines to computers in 1993. By then I was working under Chris Armata, the current president of the company. I was scared to death. Chris did not think I was going to make the transition to technology, and neither did I.”

Karos proved them both wrong and ultimately got the hang of using a computer. Despite her eventual grasp of new technology, she held on to the old adding machine that had moved with her from the Washington Street Market to Hunts Point.Linda-50th 4247Nick Armata, John Acompora, Chelsea Armata, Chris Armata, Linda Karos, Paul Armata and Michael Armata celebrate Linda’s 50 years.

“I continued to use it until the day I retired,” she said. “My husband, Chuck, took that machine apart and cleaned it up because it had been damaged in a minor fire we had in the office. While doing so, he noticed a date plate on it, which stated 1929. I hope the Armata family always holds on to that adding machine — for memory sake.”

The company said it most certainly will.

Karos decided to retire at the end of 2017. Dec. 29 was her final day.

“I’m over 70 years old, and the travel back and forth to Hunts Point every day had become pretty daunting, especially having to deal with the Cross Bronx Expressway,” she explained. “Anyone who travels that road will know what I mean. My plan for retirement right now is to just relax and enjoy life with my husband, Chuck, of nearly 50 years. Unfortunately, we have no children, but that’s what probably made the Armata family feel like my own.”

It is surely that family feeling that kept Karos at E. Armata for so long. She pointed out how the company was, and still is, family-operated, and that they have always cared for its staff members the way they care for one another.

Mutual Respect
The fourth-generation of Armata family members — Michael, Nick and Chelsea, all children of Chris Armata — now also work in the firm and hold Karos in the highest esteem, as does everybody at E. Armata. Karos’ admiration for those at E. Armata is shared in return.

“Linda’s tireless and devoted work ethic was respected and admired by all at E. Armata Inc.,” said Paul Armata. “She was a pleasure to work with, and a very intricate part of the daily office functions that complete each day’s end. My brother, Chris, and I have only the finest things to say of a woman such as Linda, and we sincerely wish her all the best in her retirement. She is well deserving of her time ahead.”Adding-MachineThe treasured adding machine that went with Linda Karos from the Washington Street Market to Hunts Point in 1967.

Karos added, “I have deeply enjoyed and appreciated working side-by-side with all of my colleagues throughout the years. I will miss them all dearly, especially Amanda and Ruth, and most especially Marilyn, my partner in crime for the past 35 years.”

It is that closeness that that keeps the company going, said Karos. “We endured many sad events over the years, but we also enjoyed many happy events.”

The sad events include the deaths of the second-generation brothers Pete, Joe, Nick and Frank Armata.

“The death of Louis Acompora, the son of long-time Armata team member, John Acompora and his wife, Karen, in March 2000, was an immense tragedy for everyone at the company, its associates, friends, colleagues, neighbors and everyone else who knew the family or knew of them,” said Karos.

Playing in a lacrosse game, the then 14-year-old goalie Louis blocked what appeared to be a routine shot with his chest protector. He took a few steps and collapsed. Paramedics arrived with a defibrillator almost 15 minutes later, but were too late. His death was caused by a syndrome known as Commotio Cordis, which occurs from blunt impact trauma during the critical cycle in the rhythm of the heart.

Learning that had there been an automated external defibrillator, or AED, on hand, he would have been saved, Karen and John Acompora felt they had to do whatever possible to help prevent as many similar deaths as possible. Within a month of Louis’ death, they founded the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation. The organization’s goal is to raise awareness about the need for schools and other public places where youth congregate to be better prepared to respond to sudden cardiac arrest by having AEDs.

Since its founding, the organization’s work has expanded across the country and beyond borders, and it now engages in numerous aspects of education and training related to sudden cardiac death and other sudden death risks.