MECHANICVILLE — Carmine James DeCrescente Sr., — beer mogul, saxophonist, family man — has died at age 94.
DeCrescente grew one of the Capital Region’s largest beer distributors, the DeCrescente Distributing Company, which his father founded out of a Mechanicville garage in 1948.
Forging his parents’ signatures at age 17 to join U.S. Navy during World War II, DeCrescente was later known as “Beer Man” by day and a musician by night.
His day job at DeCrescente proved to be a crash-course in the industry, from cutting deals to delivering cases and fine-tuning his people skills, which was handily applied during his stewardship of the business — and constantly evolving to compete with larger operations.
“I believe you have to get bigger or get out,” DeCrescente told the Times Union in 2003, who took over the business from his father in the 1970s. “The mom-and-pops went out in the 20th century.”
DeCrescente craved conversations.
“It would not be odd to see him sweeping the floor alongside his warehouse folks on any given day, or hopping on a forklift whenever the company was shorthanded,” according to his obituary. He built the company on service and had no problem tossing a keg of beer in the back seat of his car and dropping it off on the weekend to fulfill a customer’s needs if necessary.”
He was inducted into the “Legends Hall of Fame” in 2005 by the Miller Brewing Company, one of the most prestigious awards in the beer business today.
In 1997, “Carm,” as DeCrescente was known, transitioned the business to his son, C.J. Jr., after working together for 18 years.
The fourth-generation business now employs 400.
DeCrescente was also a clarinetist and the saxophonist in the Carmine DeCrescente Trio for over 30 years, performing at weddings, anniversary parties and restaurant and tavern association events.
It was said DeCrescente had a knack for quickly learning and performing a song as though he had been playing it for years, last performing at his 90th birthday party in 2017.
He was also a member of numerous charitable organizations, including exalted ruler of the Mechanicville/Stillwater Elks Lodge 1403, and a charter member of the Mechanicville Athletic Club.
DeCrescente later eased into storytelling mode with his friends from the Saratoga National Golf Club, holding court through his storytelling and jokes.
Burial with military honors will be held privately in the family plot in St. Paul’s Cemetery. Memorial contributions in memory of Carmine J. DeCrescente Sr. can be made to the Alzheimers’s Association of Northeastern N.Y., 4 Pine West Plaza, Suite 405, Albany, N.Y. 12205.