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ALBANY, N.Y. -- John Treffiletti, who began working in his family's grocery store in his youth and helped build Star Supermarkets here into a 15-store chain, has died this week at the age 85. He had been suffering from a recurrence of cancer.
Nicknamed "Big John," Treffiletti, an Albany native who spent part of his childhood in Sicily, played professional basketball for a short time in the mid-1940s, and later emerged as a strong background player in the city's Democratic machine, according to a local press report.
"You could do business with him without a handshake. His word was that good," friend and business associate Peter Noonan told the Albany Times Union.
Treffiletti's other local businesses included a real estate development company and a restaurant.
His wife, Catherine; five daughters; 10 grandchildren; and brother, Carmen, survive him.