Frieda Cossetta started working in her family's Italian food business at 79, tossing pizzas and contributing the potato salad recipe still used at the St. Paul landmark.
Cossetta died Monday at her St. Paul home; she was 98.
While mainly a homemaker and a good cook, she had a hand in the business at the Cossetta Italian Market and Pizzeria in St. Paul.
Cossetta was born in Belgard, Germany, migrating with her family to St. Paul when she was a child.
In 1938, she married Frank Cossetta, whose Italian family started a fruit and vegetable stand in the Upper Levy neighborhood of St. Paul in 1911.
Frank helped develop the business into a grocery store, and not long after his retirement in 1978, their grandson David took over the store, later changing locations and adding a pizzeria.
Frank died in 1983 and Frieda began working at the store when she was 79.
She helped make pizzas, said her son, Michael of White Bear Lake. And it's her potato salad that's on the menu.
"It's the best," said her son, adding his mother trained the cooks how to prepare it.
Her daughter-in-law Teddy Cossetta of Eagan once moved in with Frieda while her home was being remodeled. "We never had a cross word," said her daughter-in-law. "She was a sweetie."
Former St. Paul Mayor Jim Scheibel proclaimed Sept. 29, 1991, as Frieda Cossetta Day, to honor the family's contributions to St. Paul.
Cossetta didn't care much for vacations, enjoying simple pleasures at home and helping to raise several generations of Cossettas.
"She just loved life" and was so proud of the family business, said Teddy Cossetta.
In addition to Michael, she is survived by her other sons, Richard of Eagan, Gary of St. Paul and Frank of West St. Paul; daughter, Nancy Palecek of White Bear Lake; 14 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services, 678 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul.
A visitation will begin at 9 a.m. at the funeral chapel.