Italian ice cream maker Antonino Longo was one of Huddersfield’s most familiar faces.
Mr Longo, who has died aged 88, arrived in Yorkshire in 1954 to live with his sister in Wakefield and, after a period working down the pit, he bought a van and toured the locality selling the flavoursome Italian vanilla ice cream that would become a Huddersfield trademark.
Born in Alessandria Della Rocca in Sicily in 1929, Mr Longo began what would become a significant business with one van. After expanding to a handful he began manufacturing ice cream to his own recipe.
“It was a very small operation but it built up over time,” recalls middle son Joe, who, like his brothers, was encouraged by his father to join the family firm. Longo’s Ices would eventually operate a fleet of more than 30 vans.
Joe added: “All ice cream businesses have the recipe vaguely the same but it’s how you put it together when you make it.
“My father expected us to go into the family business. He gave us all business ethics to go into different things. The Longo name is still known to this day.”
Described as “a very happy, jolly man” who loved his family and worshipped his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Antonino Longo was also active within the Ice Cream Alliance and was a constant presence at its annual gatherings in Scarborough and Blackpool.
Resident in Huddersfield since 1967, he made his home in Waterloo. Ill health prompted his retirement from the company he created at the age of 60. Latterly he enjoyed darts, snooker, watching football, and socialising, especially singing old Italian songs from his youth.
Joe recalled that the firm Anglophile painted one of his vans silver during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
He added: “My father was a people person. He was devoted to his family and to England which gave him a new life and a business. Longo’s vans are still selling to customers today all around Huddersfield and even Huddersfield market where they have been situated now for more than 50 years.
“But it was his wish to go home when he died so he will return to Sicily. He loved the place where he was born and would spend time there when he retired. We are keeping to what he wanted.”
Antonino Longo is survived by his wife, Giuseppina, who he married in 1950, sons Sando, Giuseppe (Joe) and Andrea, grandchildren Suzanne, Sabrena, Loredana, Nino, Isabella, Adriana, Alessandro and Luca, and great-grandchildren Olivia, Jacob, Oscar and Elliott.
His family will hold a requiem mass at St Patrick’s RC Church, New North Road, Huddersfield, at 2pm on January 19 followed by interment at Agricento, Sicily.