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MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. -- John Cirelli, the founder and chairman of Cirelli Foods, New England's largest family-owned broadline foodservice distributor, died Oct. 23 at the age of 94. He was a resident of South Yarmouth, Mass.
Cirelli brought the company from a one-man operation in Brockton, Mass. to its present position as an $80 million, 124-employee business reaching over 4,000 customers in the Northeast.
The son of Italian immigrants, Cirelli grew up in Brockton, where he realized, in 1946, that there was an increasing demand for Italian food products. Originally going door to door selling canned tomato goods that he purchased from suppliers in the North End of Boston and stored in the trunk of his car, Cirelli was joined in the business by his three brothers, Vic, George, and Joe, in the early 1950s. As the company grew more successful, the brothers began offering a broader ranger of products.
The business remained in Brockton, until 2004, when the company moved to a custom-built 130,000-square-foot headquarters in Middleborough.
Cirelli's survivors include his great-grandson, John P. Kelleher.