Grigoraci, Trainer, Wright & Paterno
I’M 99 AND STILL WORKING as a CPA
every day because I like it. When I got my
license, I was the youngest CPA in West Virginia.
I was 21, and the year was 1929. We had the
terrible Depression, and I didn’t have enough
business. But I’m an optimist, so I never gave up.
Now I’m the oldest CPA still practicing in the
MY FATHER WAS A COAL MINER, l ike
many other Italian immigrants in this part of West
Virginia. He came here in 1901 and worked until
1936, when I was able to earn enough money to help
him retire. That was what I was living for, to be
able to make enough money for him to retire from
the mines. They’re bad enough today, but not like
they were in those days. Once, a big piece of
slate fell on him, and he was laid up for six
months with a broken back.
MATH WAS MY BEST SUBJECT. When I
was in fourth grade, I had finished eighth-grade
math. In those days, when you finished eighth
grade, you went to work with your father, and
that’s what I did. When we came home that first
day, I was all black. My parents saw me and said,
“We’re not going to let you work in the coal
mines; we’re going to send you to school.” I went
to college just across the Kanawha River, at what
was called New River State; they’ve since changed
the name to West Virginia Tech. They sold me on
the idea of becoming a CPA.
AFTER FIVE YEARS, I had only a
few accounts. So I called a prominent accountant,
Harry R. Howell, and offered to work for him for
$100 a month. Well, he could hardly turn that
down. After five years, business got better, so we
formed a partnership, and I became managing
partner for 55 years after that.
MY WIFE, MARY, IS A CHARLESTON, W.VA.,
GIRL. We’ve been married for 77 years;
she’s 95. We have two boys, Frank and Vincent.
Vince became an auto dealer; together, we had a
Pontiac dealership. Since I was a CPA and an auto
dealer, we got all the dealers around the area to
let us do their accounting work. Later, I became
president of a bank in South Charleston where I
live, and we did auditing for all the banks. Frank
is a public accountant, and he was with us for
about 30 years until he retired. In 1987 Trainer
& Wright, a firm in Huntington, wanted to buy
us out. I was about 82, and I figured maybe it was
time to retire, but they said they wanted me to
stay; they could use the clients. So I agreed to
stay, and I’ve been here ever since.
I’VE NEVER MISSED WORK on account
of health. Maybe a day or so, but nothing to speak
of. I take a couple of aspirins a day. No
exercise—I never did. I’ve never smoked, haven’t
gained any weight. I’ve been pretty active in a
lot of things, including our church. I used to
play cards some at a local country club, where I’m
a charter member. Of course, at my age, I’m a
charter member of a lot of things.
—As told to Paul Bonner