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Mercedes fan William Morelli steered fortunes of ice cream empire

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Twin passions: William Morelli

Twin passions: William Morelli

Twin passions: William Morelli

William Morelli, who has died at the age of 69, was head of the family ice cream business in Belfast.

No relation to the Morellis of Portstewart, his father Romanuccio Morelli and Angelo Morelli emigrated at different times from the little village of Casalattico in Italy to the north of Ireland with their families in 1916 – with Romanuccio settling in Belfast and Angelo going up the Antrim coast. Romanuccio, who was 10 when he arrived here, grew up to marry local Florence McCready, who helped him establish their ice cream business in the New Lodge and in Stratheden Street. William grew up to take over when his father retired.

"It was an amazing coincidence that two men, unrelated although they had the same surname and who lived in the same Italian village, should decide to set up new lives here and go into the ice cream business – one in Belfast and the other on the north coast", said Robert Morelli, a nephew of William, who was known to family and customers as Billy.

William met his future wife Irene (Moore), who died five years ago, when he served her a cone while out on one of his runs. They had a daughter, Irene junior, and two sons – Billy and Colm – who survive him, along with four grandchildren.

William, who had a passion for ice cream and Mercedes cars, spent a lot of his time developing a gluten free brand of ice cream.

He was buried at Milltown cemetery after a funeral service in St Patrick's Chapel in Donegall Street, Belfast.

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