PINE PLAINS, N.Y. — Tom Carvel, founder of the Carvel chain of ice cream stores who was widely known for his gravel-voiced pitches for his product in TV and radio ads, died Sunday.
Carvel, 84, sold the Carvel Corp. chain for more than $80 million last year.
He died about 1:30 p.m. at his home in Pine Plains, a rural community about 100 miles north of New York City. The cause of death was not immediately available, but authorities in Dutchess County said Carvel had a history of heart problems.
Carvel, who founded Carvel Corp. in 1938, sold his 99% share to an investment bank, Investcorp, in November.
Based on annual sales, Carvel is the third-largest ice cream store chain in the country after Dairy Queen and Haagen-Dazs. The Yonkers, N.Y.-based Carvel has more than 700 stores, most of them in New York, Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and other East Coast states.
Born in Greece on July 14, 1906, Carvel emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 4 and settled in New York.
In the 1920s, Carvel played drums in a Dixieland band, worked as an auto mechanic and drove an ice cream truck before opening his first ice cream store in Westchester County.
In the mid-1920s, Carvel developed the first machine for making soft ice cream, and later sold the machine to store owners.
He is survived by his wife, Agnes. They had no children. Funeral arrangements are pending.