Obituary: Tino Luca, ice cream entrepreneur, 91

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The man who helped Edinburgh and the Lothians fall in love with Luca’s Ice Cream has died at the age of 91.

Tino Luca acquired his name as an abbreviation of Costanzo and took his surname from his father’s first name, which was a little easier to pronounce for his fellow pupils at Mussleburgh Grammar School than the family name of Scappiticcio.

During his school years, he was known for his strength and physique and he became a weekly fixture on the school rugby team.

In 1941, Tino was called up for the war effort and joined the Royal Signals as a driver.

As he was delivering ammunition to the front line during the battle of Monte Cassino, Tino was always conscious that his own Italian relatives were suffering the consequences of war.

As the end of the Second World War neared, Tino followed the fighting into Austria, where he spent the rest of the war transporting soldiers and refugees to various destinations.

After the war, Tino returned to the family business and took charge of production of the famous Luca’s ice cream.

The business was his life, with his days beginning at 4am when the milk was delivered.

Tino also used his skilful hands later on in life when he started to make his own guitars.

His father, Luca Scappiticcio, was born in Italy and came to Edinburgh as a young man and married Anastasia Valente, who had also emigrated from Italy.

Luca used the knowledge and secrets he learned while working with a Swiss chef at the North British Hotel when he opened the Olympia Ice Cream Parlour in 1908.

The shop gradually developed into a large wholesale ice cream business with the help of Luca and Anastasia’s children. Additional shops were opened in Craigmillar and in North Berwick, and soon three ice cream vans were 
visiting tourist sites and popular events.

Tino married the love of his life, Nina Valentine, a member of another prominent Edinburgh Italian family.

He was widowed after just 15 years of marriage, leaving Tino with two young daughters, Sarah and Rachel, to bring up.

He was able to balance raising his daughters and work thanks to the unyielding support of his large, extended family. Working until the age of 88, Tino enjoyed good health and did not allow a heart complaint in later life to deter him from the things he loved to do.

Tino outlived 14 of his siblings, including Beattie, who ran much of the business during the family’s golden years.

She was a well-known fixture of the shop and known by all the customers.

Tino’s last two years saw his otherwise robust health deteriorate, until the grandfather of two passed away peacefully last week.