CINCINNATI — When James T. Aglamesis died Saturday evening from pneumonia at the age of 93, he left behind good memories, premium ice cream and chocolates, and a legacy of integrity, according to his stepson, Randal Young.
"He always wore his white jacket, and in that pocket was always a little treat that would come out when he would see someone, a little child," said Young, who for the past five years has served as president of Aglamesis Bros. Ice Cream and Candy Company.
Young referred to the signature white coat his stepfather always wore whenever he worked in either Aglamesis' Oakley or Montgomery stores.
James Aglamesis started running the family business with his own father, Thomas Aglamesis, in the early 1950s.
"Dad took over in the early 1950s when he came back from serving in the Army as an Army instructor during the Korean Conflict," Young said. "His father had fallen ill, so dad being the oldest son, it was on his shoulders to come in and take over the business and help his father run it at the time."
Thomas Aglamesis and his brother, Nicholas Aglamesis, both immigrants from Greece, opened their first ice cream parlor, the Metropolitan in Norwood, together in 1908, followed by the Aglamesis Bros. ice cream shop in Oakley in 1913. The brothers added a modern ice cream and candy-making plant to the Oakley location a few years later.
Young started working alongside James Aglamesis at the age of 10 after his mother married Aglamesis in the 1970s.
"Along with my sisters and I, we were never required to work in the business," Young said. "We were always invited if we wanted to come in and I loved coming in and helping out as a small child. I loved being around the store and the smells, the aroma. It was just a wonderful place for a kid to get some experience in this business. So, I grew up in this business loving what I do here because he did not make me work."
Young said his stepfather also taught him some personal values along the way.
"He raised us with a sense of integrity and purpose, personal integrity, to govern our lives with integrity," he said. "He always wanted us to treat the customer with sincerity that you don't always get from other businesses."
Young believes it is those values as much as the still-made-from-scratch treats that has kept Aglamesis Bros. in business for so long.
"Without any way about it, without any question, we maintain the quality no matter what," Young said. "Having that integrity in both the way we operate the business and putting it into the quality of our product has helped us survive all of these years, over 113 years."
He added that the rewards of adhering to such values are many and the outpouring of support since his stepfather's passing is overwhelming.
"It's very heartwarming for us when we see fifth-generation customers coming in there as small children now with their grandparents and the grandparents looking down at their grandchild, saying, 'Well, I remember my grandparents bringing me in here,'" Young said. "It was just very heartwarming to watch Dad interact with the children that came in here and all the customers."
Young promised his stepfather's legacy would continue for years to come.
"We have every intention of keeping this going in the family the next few generations," he said.