Business leaders called Luke A. Marano Sr. “an icon in the pasta business,” but it took his innovative mind, entrepreneurial spirit, and roll-up-your-sleeves mentality to make the family-owned Philadelphia Macaroni Co. a successful worldwide entity.
“My father would work the line when he was little,” said daughter Lucy Sandifer. “There was nothing he wouldn’t do, like run the forklift. He had courage. He had enthusiasm. No one could get him down. If someone said something disparaging to him, my father never forgot, but he just focused on where he was going.”
Mr. Marano, who worked until his 93rd birthday, died on Tuesday, April 21, one week before his 95th birthday, at Foulkeways in Gwynedd of complications from the coronavirus. A father of seven children, he lived most of his life in Chestnut Hill and spent his later years in Blue Bell.
Philadelphia Macaroni was founded in 1914 by Mr. Marano’s grandfather and father. In 1960, with the firm struggling financially, Mr. Marano purchased it. His daughter said he worried at times that he wouldn’t make enough money to repay the loan he needed, but he pulled it through, and his knack for innovation would create opportunities with global food companies.
The company produced pastas for branded and private-label clients, including Campbell’s and Lipton, and manufactured Ramen noodles.
“He got that entrepreneurial spirit from his mother, who was a contractor,” Sandifer said.
Philadelphia Macaroni later expanded and now has plants in Warminster, Harrisburg, and Spokane, Wash. Another facility, Minot Milling in Grand Forks, N.D., built by Mr. Marano when he was 73, mills durum and hard red spring wheat. Just this month, the company bought A. Zerega’s Sons of New York.
Sandifer said her father was strict, but only because he “wanted better for us than he had.”
“We weren’t bad as kids, but we were bad enough,” she said. “He would never tell the child who was naughty that he was annoyed, but he would say maybe to another child, ‘Why did he do it?’ or ‘Why did she do it?’”
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Marano is survived by daughters Stephanie, Lisa, and Mia; sons Luke Jr. and Mark; a brother; and his fiancee, Claire Dickson. He was preceded in death by his wife, Yolanda, and daughter Suzanne.