IN THE PEWS: Leigh rewrites definition of the word ‘retirement’

Last Updated on October 14, 2017 by Editor

Leigh D’Agostino with her husband, Gregory, and daughter Alison.

Leigh D’Agostino has worked for nearly her whole life, including now in retirement. She was retail manager at the former Doyle-Knower and was tour manager at the F.X. Matt Brewing Co. She volunteers at the Boilermaker Road Race and spearheaded the Buono Fortuna raffle for this year’s festival. Most would say she needs a break. Not her.

After more than 40 years in the workforce, you’re now retired. How is your new life treating you?

I love retirement. My family was very surprised that I like the new relaxed schedule. My job took up six days a week for many years and they thought I would have a hard time adjusting. I like not having to watch the clock all day.

What was is like being tour manager at the F.X. Matt brewery?

People often think because you work in a brewery you drink beer all day! Seriously, it was a very rewarding job as I managed Saranac Thursdays into a very popular annual summer event for the city. I am most proud of working with the brewery tour guides and helping them develop their individual speaking skills. Everyone needs to know how to communicate.

You also worked at Doyle Knower for 22 years prior to the brewery. What did you like best about that job and what didn’t you like?

Doyle-Knower was my first job out of college. I started working there as a retail business intern from MVCC and became a buyer and merchandise manager until the store closed. I did not like cleaning out fitting rooms, but it was part of the job.

You might be retired, but that doesn’t mean you’re not busy. You volunteer for the Boilermaker each year. What do you do, how long have you done it and why do you do it?

I started being involved with the Boilermaker as part of my job 21 years ago. The tour center is responsible for all the morning refreshments (5 a.m.) for media, elite runners, back-stage crews on race day. We also pour beer at the volunteer party, sample soda at the expo and make sure that all the beer is at each location for all Boilermaker activities during the week.

In addition, we host refreshments for the Committee Run one week prior to the race. The tour guides used to call me “The General,” as I have a talent for being organized and handling logistics. Last year, I volunteered to manage the Boilermaker clothing for the expo at MVCC. This involves buying, ticketing, floor plans, cash register and inventory management. Why do I do it? I am a native of this area and I want people to come back. If they have a great weekend in Utica for this race, perhaps they may think of moving here.

You also volunteered with United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica as a campaign speaker at company presentations and also have been involved with the Girl Scouts for 20 years as a leader and adult trainer. Why do you volunteer so much?

I don’t think of it as a choice. I think of volunteering as what people should do for one another. Plus, I don’t watch television very much.

When you’re not “working” as a volunteer, what else do you enjoy in your retirement?

I enjoy my flower garden and cooking. I am making all the recipes I never had time to try.

Any words of wisdom for those of us considering retirement?

Get into a new routine. Try something different. Take an afternoon and visit Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute or the zoo — places you never had time to visit when you were working. Time is now on your side.

You were married at Blessed Sacrament Church and became a Catholic one week before the wedding. Why was it important to you to convert?

My husband and I wanted to worship together every week and raise our family. I also liked that at the Catholic Mass, you receive the Eucharist every week. I need the extra encouragement.

What were your feelings when you learned Blessed Sacrament would close and what was it like for the parish?

We had attended Mass at Blessed Sacrament for 20 years and it was like a death in the family. We had lost a dear friend. The closing was coming as we saw the numbers decreasing every week at Mass, especially after the school closed.

You and your husband ended up at Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament. You could have gone anywhere. Why here?

We wanted to support Father Rose as he completed the two-parish merger. He had a very difficult job and he certainly could not please everyone. We decided to try Mount Carmel.

You have made quite an impact in our parish. You have been a parish trustee and parish council member, a lector and have helped at the parish festival as a food server and finance committee member and this year assisted with the Buono Fortuna raffle. What has our parish come to mean to you?

When you join a parish, and attend weekly Mass you realize it is not a building but a community of people. As you involve yourself in activities, the stranger becomes your friend and friendship lasts a lifetime.

You say what you like the most is being a catechist for fifth-graders in the Faith Formation Program. Why is that so important for you?

Being a catechist is always a learning process for me. I enjoy listening to the children’s opinions as they start to form their own values about our faith.

What do you hope the youngsters get out of it?

I hope the children understand that God will always love them. I hope that by attending Faith Formation classes they have a better understanding of our faith and how we all need one another.

What do hope this new stage of your life holds for you?

I hope that our good health continues. I would like to do some traveling across the country.


Age: 65.

Resides: New Hartford.

Family: Husband Gregory, daughter Alison.

Occupation: Retired. Worked at the F.X. Matt Brewing Co. as tour manager for 21 years and Doyle-Knower Co. as retail manager for 22 years.

Things I like to do: Watch the New York Giants and Syracuse University basketball.

Favorite TV show: “Masterpiece Theatre” on PBS.

Favorite movie: “My Fair Lady.”

Favorite musical artist or genre: Broadway shows and I love the soundtrack from “Hamilton.”

Favorite quote: “Look at the glass as half full, not half empty.”