John Anthony Cognetta
John Anthony Cognetta, 93, died Wednesday, March 28, 2012, after a full and prosperous life.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 7, in the Belle Meade chapel, with a luncheon reception to follow.
He was born July 21, 1918, in Stamford, Conn., to Nicola and Marietta Cognetta. He graduated from Tufts University in 1940 with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941 and served in the European theater with the 97th Bombardier Group, the first heavy bombardment group to leave the United States. Four-and-a-half years later he was released from active duty with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and he received the Legion of Merit for his efforts. He continued to serve in the Reserve, finally retiring with the rank of full colonel.
John began his postwar career as a stress analyst for Grumman Aircraft, then sales manager for Tek Bearing Company and finally chief engineer and sales manager for Heim Bearing Company of Fairfield, Conn. In 1954 he founded his own company, Magna Engineering Sales Company Inc. A 1974 technical journal article stated: “Magna’s best skill has been, and continues to be, the ability to bring together the technical and manufacturing capability of its principals with the customer’s requirements. The task is to seek out the programs where the principal is highly qualified and where a continuing profitable business can be established. For that reason, Magna turns away more business than they accept.” John served as president and CEO of Magna until his retirement in 1976. He was also co-founder of Precision Sensors Inc.
John was a gregarious and fun-loving man who lived life to its fullest. He loved sports and card games. He was a skier and New York Giants football fan. He was an active golfer and was a member of Mill River Country Club, Patterson Club and Brooklawn Country Club, all of Connecticut, before retiring to Pinehurst in 1977.
He was a member of Pinehurst Country Club and was a Tin Whistle while a member there. He joined Country Club of North Carolina in 1976, where he enjoyed his golfing buddies and the gin “crooks.” He was a member of the Wolves and an avid bridge player.
His wife, Margaret Dial Cognetta, “My Peggy,” who was his blue-eyed, red-haired Irish sweetheart for 57 years, predeceased him. John and Peg had three girls: Lee Harding, who died in 1986, and Harriet McCollum and Katherine Fiske, both of Pinehurst. They were blessed with five wonderful grandchildren, Tricia Harding, Tracey Harding, Clare Trow, John Harding and Ian Russell; and six rambunctious great grandchildren.
John enjoyed his last years as a resident of Belle Meade and especially enjoyed the companionship of his friend, Bette Beemer.
John will be remembered by all who knew him as a consummate gentleman, a smart businessman, an enthusiastic prankster, every bit an engineer with his precise notes, handwriting and attention to detail and, finally, a most loving man.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Belle Meade Education Fund, 100 Waters Drive, Southern Pines, NC 28387. Online condolences may be made at www.bolesfuneralhome.com.
Boles Funeral Home and Crematory of Pinehurst is assisting the family.