OBITUARY: Tony Valente was known to generations of Kirkcaldy folk

Tony Valente in later years with one of his ice cream vans.
Tony Valente in later years with one of his ice cream vans.

There are not many people who can say they worked almost every day of their lives from the age of 14 to 86.

But Antonio Valente, Tony to his many friends and family, was one who definitely could.

And his lasting legacy to Kirkcaldy is his thriving chip shop and ice cream business which, in its heyday, boasted a factory, cafe, shops and ice cream vans.

Tony passed away recently at Cameron Hospital, Windygates, in his 90th year.

He took with him a long gone era when he drove his horse and cart around the town, delivering ice cream to families. Then came his ice cream vans which every year supplied thousands of cones at the Links Market.

Tony was born in Kirkcaldy in 1924, his father having brought his family across from Italy just a few years before.

Mr Valente senior opened his first chip shop in the Links in 1921, before transferring to Overton Road a short time later.

He opened an ice cream factory across from the current BP garage in St Clair Street and a state-of-the-art cafe was his next venture, serving fish teas and ice creams to families from all over Fife and further afield, building up an enviable reputation for quality.

Tony, who started working for his dad aged 14, could often be seen pushing his ice cream barrow or leading the horse and cart around the streets to meet a growing demand.

In his later years he found himself serving the grandchildren of the children he used to serve when he first entered the family business.

Generous to a fault, he would give ice creams to the children who did not have the pennies to buy cones, and give extra to the families he knew had more mouths to feed.

In the days before the ice cream van chimes, he was well known for the tunes he played on his whistle to let customers know he was there.

Most years when the ice cream season was over he and his brothers would head back to the family home in Italy at Villa Latina to help his dad gather and process the olives for their oil, while the women folk including his wife Bice, who he married in Italy in 1947, stayed at home to run the chip shop. Other than that he had very few holidays.

Now a fourth generation of his family is running the business, with Valente’s fish and chips a favourite among generations of Kirkcaldy people. But it was always getting out in the van and meeting people that Tony was at his happiest.

He enjoyed a pint or two in the Roma club with his brothers after a shift in the van, then he would be back helping to clean up the shop. He also enjoyed the odd bet and a trip to the greyhound racing.

His son John said: “My dad’s life was his family and his work.”

A family funeral was held at St Marie’s church.