Tributes to ice cream legend John Massarella

John Massarella
John Massarella

A MAN who helped develop a family ice cream firm into one of the city’s most successful businesses has died.

John Massarella died from heart failure aged 76 in Pinderfields Hospital.

Before his death he ran M Massarella Ices, from Agbrigg Road, with his brother, Paul, 69 and other family members.

Paul said: “Since he was eight-years-old he used to go out on a pony and cart selling ice-cream.

“He would go around Agbrigg, Belle Vue and Portobello,

“When he was 15 he left school and passed his driving test at 16. Then he used to have a round - Sharlston, Streethouse, Featherstone.

“He did it for 50 years and he would go even if he was ill. He still did that round on Sunday up to a couple of weeks before he died.”

Mr Massarella was born into a large family which had been running an ice-cream business in Doncaster since the 1890s.

In 1935 he came to Wakefield as a baby with his parents and elder brother Tony to open a new branch of Massarella’s.

The family settled in the city and grew the business with vans and carts visiting every area selling ice-creams.

Mr Massarella died on November 11.

His brother said: “He was very generous but he didn’t like spending his money.

“I can’t remember him having a cross word with anybody. I worked with him for 40 years and we never fell out. We never had a disagreement about business or anything.”

More than 200 people attended his funeral at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, on Standbridge Lane, on Thursday, November 22.

Mr Massarella said: “He was buried with a paint brush in his hands. Anything he could paint he would - anything that stood still.

“He painted the unit, the buildings, the ice-cream vans, anything.”

He leaves three children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.