After serving as a teenage Army sergeant during World War II, Alfred Ciccotelli returned to South Philadelphia to help his parents run their grocery store at Seventh and Montrose Streets, two blocks east of the Italian Market.
It was a modest-enough life that he lived above the store with his parents, who had emigrated from the regions of Abruzzi and Campania.
But in 1963, he founded what has become the nationwide Italian food importer and distributor of Cento Fine Foods, headquartered in West Deptford, a firm that now employs more than 150 workers.
On Monday, May 6, Mr. Ciccotelli, 86, died at his home in Cinnaminson of heart failure.
Mr. Ciccotelli founded Alanric Food Distributors, named for himself and his late son, Alfred M., his late wife, Anna, and his surviving son, Rick.
Alanric is still the parent company and Cento is its brand, "like General Mills and Jell-O," Rick Ciccotelli, CEO of the parent firm, said Wednesday.
Though the yellow-labeled Cento is best known because of its tomato and olive oil products, Rick Ciccotelli said, Alanric distributes several other products.
Anna pasta is offered in more than 30 styles.
Bellino Specialty Products include olive oils, vinegars, minced garlics, and roasted peppers.
There are Ferrara and La Florentine candies and cookies, Little Gina's pastries, and Maurizio pasta.
Mr. Ciccotelli began the business, his son said, because "he had a passion and believed in selling Italian food.
"At the time, it wasn't fashionable as it is today."
Mr. Ciccotelli was a founder of a local chapter of the Sons of Italy.
"He was a man's man," his son said.
Besides his son, Mr. Ciccotelli is survived by three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A viewing was set for Thursday, May 9, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 135 N. White Horse Pike, Lindenwold, N.J. 08021, and on Friday, May 10, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. before a Funeral Mass there.
Donations may be sent to the church.
Condolences may be offered to the family at Mount Laurel Home for Funerals, 212 Ark Rd., Mount Laurel, N.J. 08054.