Armando Pasetti, the longtime leader of St. Louis-based Volpi Foods, died on Christmas Eve at the age of 96, the company announced.

Volpi Foods is a fourth-generation family-owned and operated producer of specialty cured meats. It was founded in 1902 by John Volpi, Pasetti’s uncle.

Pasetti came to St. Louis from Italy at the age of 14 to work at Volpi Foods. As leader of Volpi Foods from 1958 to 2002, Pasetti grew the company into a household name in St. Louis and the Midwest with a reputation for quality and service.

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“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of my father, Armando Pasetti,” said Volpi Foods CEO Lorenza Pasetti, Armando’s daughter. “He was a true craftsman and lived his life with passion. He welcomed customers, employees and neighbors as family to our Volpi shop. If you met Armando at the store, his warm, caring spirit filled the room and will continue to do so.”

After traveling to America by boat, Pasetti lived upstairs from the shop and learned the business just as his uncle had: from the bottom up. He eventually mastered every aspect of his uncle’s craft. Upon Volpi’s passing, Pasetti took the helm of the company and continued to build upon consumer demand, even expanding Volpi Foods to national distribution.

Although the company continued to grow, Pasetti stayed true to Volpi’s dedication to hospitality and the craft of dry cured meats, adhering to the techniques brought to America over a century ago. To this day, Volpi Foods still relies exclusively on local suppliers, dries its meats by adjusting temperature and humidity of natural airflows, and prides itself on putting the customer first. The Volpi store is also still open and operational today in its original location in The Hill.

Armando is survived by three loving daughters, Angela, Lorenza, and Carla; eight grandchildren, Gregory, Gary, Gabrielle, Derek, Daniela and Deanna, Giorgia and August; 10 great-grandchildren, Patrick, Evelyn, William, Ellie, Margaret, Mason, Olivia, Logan, Daniel and Vivian; and more than 230 dedicated members of the extended Volpi Foods’ family.

Obituaries, Pizza News, Tom Lehmann