(New York City, NY, United States) – Marinos Vourderis, a poor Greek immigrant who became the millionaire king of Italian ices, has died. He was 97.
Vourderis, founder of Marinos Italian Ices, died Tuesday at his home in Jamaica Estates, Queens, his daughter, Margie Hackford, said Wednesday.
“He was amazing,” Hackford said of her father. “He had the Midas touch; everything he touched turned to gold.”
Vourderis, who was born near Athens, emigrated to the United States in the 1930s, arriving in New York City with just 50 cents in his pocket.
He was uneducated, but had the knack of natural-born businessman, his daughter said.
He started out running a construction company, but found his true calling when one of his customers he was building an ice-cream shop for couldn’t pay.
The cigar-chomping Vourderis took possession of the ice-cream equipment he had been installing and his dream was born.
He started the Olympic Ice Cream Company, and in 1964 introduced his Marinos Italian Ices at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.
By the time he retired in 2002 at the age of 87, Vourderis’ company was earning $6 million annually.
His ubiquitous Italian ices — made in a brick factory on 91st Ave. in Richmond Hill — are sold in supermarkets, pizzerias, restaurants and from pushcarts across the country.
They are a beloved summertime snack for both children and adults.
Once asked to reveal his secret to success, Vourderis boasted, “We make the best ices.”
Vourderis is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mary; his daughter, Margie; a son, Dennis; seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
A wake will be held Friday from 2-4 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m. at Bernard F. Dowd Funeral Home, 165-20 Hillside Ave. in Jamaica.
The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 84-35 152nd St. in Jamaica NY.