Advertising

Tributes to 'legendary' ice-cream man who served Black Country for 60 years

By Jamie Brassington | Coseley | News | Published: | Last Updated:

He was a popular ice-cream man who brought smiles to generations of children in the Black Country.

Mr Bonasccorsi and his wife Cynthia Bonasccorsi, in 1949

But now tributes have been paid to Vittorio Bonaccorsi who has died at the grand old age of 94.

Mr Bonasccorsi worked as an ice-cream vendor for more than 60 years in the Black Country and served communities in Coseley, Bradley and Wednesbury.

His family have been inundated with heart-warming messages from people recalling their fond memories of Mr Bonaccorsi, who passed away earlier this month.

His granddaughter, Tara Catalano-Jones, 46, from Coseley, said: "He was really hardworking and very caring.

"Every time we went to the care home, he would tell us 'you be careful'.

"He was from that generation. The whole world has changed around them. My grandfather was really proud of where he came from."

Mr Bonaccorsi and his wife Cynthia Bonaccorsi, seen in 1975

Mr Bonaccorsi came from a small village called Filecchio, based in the province of Tuscany in central Italy.

Advertising

Tara's grandmother, Cynthia, was also Italian but was born and grew up in Great Bridge, Tipton.

She first met her husband, Mr Bonaccorsi, during a holiday to Italy in the 1940s, when she was visiting relatives.

In 1948, Mr Bonaccorsi moved to England to build a new life with Cynthia. The pair got married and settled in Coseley. Family members still live there today.

Tara's family have been in the ice-cream business for more than 100 years.

Advertising

Dedicated

It started from Cynthia's side where her relatives sold ice-cream from out the back of a horse and cart.

Mr Bonaccorsi got involved with the business after moving to England. It was a job that he was highly dedicated to.

"He used to work 12 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week," said Tara. "If he wasn't out his ice-cream van, he would be helping out at the factory."

He set up a business, called Bonaccorsi's Ice Cream, and owned a factory in Great Bridge where ice lollies and ice-cream were made.

These were then sold by Mr Bonaccorsi, from his van.

He had numerous van models, but always had his surname proudly featuring on the vehicles.

An earlier model of ice-cream van owned by Mr Bonaccorsi, seen in 1963. It featured a special Superman sign.
One of Mr Bonaccorsi's ice-cream vans. This one photographed in 1977

Mr Bonaccorsi finally gave up the job eight years ago, aged 86, after pleas from his family.

But people in the communities he served still remember seeing his ice-cream van roll down the road on a hot summer's day.

Tara said: "As a family, we can't believe how much love there is for him, what an important part he was in so many people's childhoods, and how many generations he was watched grow up.

"He really was a legend."

Tara posted about the sad news of her grandfather's passing on community Facebook pages. The response from people blew her away.

"I have had thousands of responses and so many lovely messages, memories and photos of him," she said.

"Every message talks about how gracious and kind he was and recalls his acts of kindness. He used to give away free ice-cream when people had no money.

Roots

"Or he would let them pay him back the next week. And they did."

Although he lived in England for most of his life, Mr Bonaccorsi still had broken English.

His accent was a mix between Italian and Black Country, which his family used to enjoy.

There were plans to take Mr Bonaccorsi back to his roots in Italy, recently, to see his relatives such as his nephew, but this sadly never came about.

In the past few years, his family have helped to support him following the death of Cynthia in March 2, 2011, aged 85.

Tara thanked staff at The Cottage Nursing Home, in Walsall, where he was looked after. His death came as a shock to staff members.

Mr Bonaccorsi, right, with his daughter and Tara's mother, Victoria, 60, in June 2019

He was regarded as a popular resident and character. He died on April 13 with his death recorded as a stroke.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, restrictions have been put in place on his funeral, like all others at this uncertain time.

The family have been given a date for May where 10 people are allowed to attend the crematorium.

However, Tara continued: "We will have a proper celebration of his life in the future. He deserves that, definitely.

She added: "He used to joke to my mom and say 'when I die, can you put me in the newspaper?'.

"It would mean a lot to honour his wishes, even if he was joking. It was to thank all his customers for their business throughout the years."

Mr Bonaccorsi leaves behind two children, six grandchildren - including Tara - 11 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

Advertising

Top Stories

Advertising

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News