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In Memoriam: Roger F. Cocivera, Penn Linen/TRSA

68-year career progressed from washing trucks to leading association, consulting

LARGO Fla. — Roger F. Cocivera, whose 68-year career in the industry began with a job washing trucks for Penn Linen in 1951 and included the co-leadership of that company, as well as service as president of TRSA, the association for linen, uniform and facility services, died Aug. 6 due to an illness, the association reports. 

He was 87 years old.

Cocivera began working in the laundry business while still in high school, when he took a job with Penn Coat and Apron in Allentown, Pa. During the next 50 years, he rose through the ranks in the family company owned by Max Stettner. They became business partners and operated Penn Linen, Penn Healthcare and Tartan Textile Services. 

Cocivera received an Operator Lifetime Achievement Award from TRSA in 2001 in recognition for his work with Penn, as well as activities he pursued on behalf of the association. Most prominent among these was the founding of the Production Management Institute (PMI), which now bears his name. 

TRSA says Cocivera contributed to a number of other association volunteer efforts, including the chairmanships of the plant operations committee and the research and development committees.

After retiring from Penn Linen, Cocivera joined the staff at TRSA as vice president of industry affairs in May 2002. He advanced to the post of interim president in February 2005 and was named president two months later. 

Cocivera served five years in the post, the association says, overseeing a period of growth and change that culminated in the “blending” of TRSA and the Uniform & Textile Services Association (UTSA) in October 2008.

Cocivera continued to work in the industry after stepping down from TRSA in March 2010. For several years, he served as a senior partner in CoBe Consulting LLC in Whitehall, Pa.

Before launching his career in the laundry industry, Cocivera was a basketball standout at Kutztown University. He is sixth on the all-time scoring list in KU men’s basketball with 1,231 points. He was a two-time Pennsylvania Conference all-star and once scored 44 points in a game in 1956. He averaged 23.8 points a game in 1956, scoring 404 points, which broke the single-season mark he had set in 1955.

He was inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame in 1991.

Cocivera graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in education. He also completed a program at the University of Houston Executive Development Institute.

TRSA says Cocivera was long active in civic affairs as well, including service as the founding president of the Allentown-Lehigh Chamber of Commerce Small Business Advisory Council. Other efforts included service on former Gov. Milton Shapp’s (D-PA) small business council in Harrisburg, Pa.

Funeral arrangements and other details are pending.