Marinos Vourderis, Self-Made Legend of Italian Ice Dessert Bearning His Name, Was 97

NEW YORK – Marinos Vourderis, a humble Greek, arrived in New York with just 50 cents in his pocket and became the millionaire king of Italian ices. He began to sell Marinos Italian Ices at New York’s 1964 Worlds Fair and his company achieved annual earnings of $6 million by the time he retired in 2002.
He died at his home in Jamaica Estates at age 97 on July 2.{65252}

His daughter, Margie Hackford, told the New York Daily News: “He was amazing…He had the Midas touch; everything he touched turned to gold.”
Vourderis was born in the Athens area and immigrated in the 1930s. According to the News, “he was uneducated, but had the knack of natural-born businessman…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.”
Hackford told TNH that his company also built air conditioning equipment and refrigerators which were used by ice cream makers.
The News reported that “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.”
Hackford told TNH her father turned over the original company to his nephew and devoted himself to the ices firm. He had three partners in the business: his mother and father, and Gerasimos Panos, who hailed from Patras.
“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, according to the News, which reported that “once asked to reveal his secret to success, Vourderis boasted, ‘we make the best ices.’”
Hackford told TNH “he first lived with his aunt and his first job was as a dishwasher in Manhattan.” She said her father did not have an opportunity to get an education, but he was highly intelligent, and had a mechanical aptitude. He worked on ships in order to come to America and picked up a lot of mechanical knowledge, which he later applied as a businessman.
Hackford said she will always remember her father’s generosity. “He gave to everybody… to everyone who came to him for help…he had a hard time saying ‘no.” His lawyers and family told him it was not in his interest to do so, but he did not listen to them. She noted, however, that most people made it up to him, repaying the money as they became successful.
Vourderis is survived by his wife, Mary, of 64 years, Hackford, a son, Dennis, seven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
The wake was held at the Bernard F. Dowd Funeral Home in Jamaica and the funeral was at the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.
Additional reporting by Bill Hutchinson of the New York Daily News.