Obit: Renzo Rossetti, 84

Renzo Rossetti, the co-founder of high-end footwear company Fratelli Rossetti, died in his home in Legnano, Italy, on Tuesday after a short illness. He was 84.

A self-made man, Rossetti was born in Casaleone, Verona, on July 26, 1925. His father died when he was 12, and Rossetti grew up in poverty, often working nights in a sugar factory.

His father had been a cobbler, and while Rossetti followed in his dad’s footprints, the strong-willed entrepreneur turned his passion for shoes into a thriving $110 million business that now counts 300 employees and 27 stores worldwide. Over the years, the offerings increased to include bags and leather apparel.

The company crossed the ocean in 1979 to open a store on New York’s Madison Avenue.

Rossetti maintained his humble and reserved nature, never forgetting his origins. He was known to be a perfectionist who considered every detail. Together with his brother Renato, he established Fratelli Rosseti in 1953, and the company became a success as a key player in the Italian footwear industry. (In 2008, Footwear News named Rossetti one of the top 50 icons for the introduction of the classic loafer.)

The funeral will be held Thursday in the church of Santi Gervaso e Protaso in Parabiago, where the company is headquartered. The family has called off an event that had been set to take place in the Milan store during the Salone del Mobile furniture fair.

Rossetti is survived by his wife, Lisetta, and his three sons, Diego, Dario and Luca, who are already at the helm of the company.

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