The founder of Marino’s Italian Ices who passed away last week leaves behind a sweet treat and a lasting legacy.
Marinos Vourderis, who made his millions in Queens, died July 2 in his Jamaica Estates home, his family said. He was 97.
“He was just an amazing man,” said his granddaughter Kristen Breglio. “He would give you anything that he could. He was very generous his whole life.”
Vourderis was a ship engineer in the 1930s, when he left his small-town home in Aegion, Greece to start a new life in the United States, his family said.
With no money or schooling, but a hope in his heart, he settled in Queens and later started a distribution business called Olympic Ice Cream Company with his wife in the 1960s.
“He certainly had a vision and he took that and ran with it,” said Breglio, 33. “That’s how he got his start in the ice cream business. From there, they got the idea to make ices.”
Vourderis began dabbling with his own “old world” recipes, making the frozen treats in his basement.
Once perfected, he introduced his Marino’s Italian Ices at the 1964 New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.
The product grew into a multimillion-dollar company based in Richmond Hill, where it still is today.
“He would always say, ‘Not bad for sugar and water,’” his granddaughter said.
Seeing the ubiquitous ices in stores, the family said, puts a smile on their faces even more now.
“I’m very proud to say that he’s my dad,” said his daughter Margie Hackford. “With no formal education, he was able to come and make the American dream happen.”
Hackford remembers her father for being selfless, saying he was always willing to give people down on their luck jobs or loan out money.
“People who had nowhere to go would come to my father. He would find a way to help you,” said Hackford, 57. “We’re just really happy that he was able to leave such an amazing legacy behind.”
Marino’s Italian Ices, a beloved summertime treat, can be found in supermarkets, pizzerias, restaurants and pushcarts throughout the country.
The company even opened its first official scoop shop in August 2010 in Shanghai, China.
Mike Barrone, who co-owned the company with Vourderis since 2000, said the Italian ice king was an excellent businessman who “had an open heart.”
“He did stuff that other people aren’t going to do in a lifetime,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Margie Hackford
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