Born: November 13, 1914; Died: May 27, 2013.
Dante Toti, who has died aged 98, was Scots-born but Italian to the core: a man who flew the flag for his spiritual home at every opportunity.
The son of immigrants who arrived from Tuscany just after the turn of the last century, he was twice wrenched from his roots in Greenock by world wars - firstly as a baby and then as a young man - but was always drawn back to Scotland.
Here he championed all things Italian, promoting Tuscany through the Lucchesi Nel Mondo organisation, helping to run Glasgow's Italian club, setting up an Italian language school and volunteering with the Italian Consul, his unstoppable enthusiasm and public spiritedness earning him the equivalent of a knighthood.
His parents Theresa and Gregorio, who married in 1908, arrived from the tiny mountain village of Cardoso, near Lucca, to work in a relative's café in Greenock. They already had two small children and their third, Dante, was born in Scotland a few months after the outbreak of the First World War.
However, with hostilities escalating the family soon returned to Italy and to their community on the Serchio river where they ran an old local farm. Young Dante left school aged just nine and helped out working on the land until he was 17 when he came back to Scotland.
He, too, went to the Greenock café, run by his aunt and uncle, where his parents had been employed many years before and was later joined by his sister and her husband.
But his life was to take a dramatic turn when, for the second time in a generation, the world found itself at war again. He was among the thousands of immigrant Italians arrested and interned as enemy aliens after Mussolini declared war on Britain in 1940. Taken first to barracks outside Edinburgh, he was then sent to Liverpool before boarding the British troop ship Ettrick, a sister ship of the Arandora Star that was torpedoed with the loss of almost 800 lives - some 500 of them Italian internees.
He had expected to set sail for Australia but the vessel landed in Canada, along the St Lawrence river, and he ended up in a prisoner of war camp where he was trained as a lumberjack. The grim story of internment in one such camp is well documented in the biography of fellow Italian Joe Pieri, also arrested in Glasgow in June 1940, but it was a period Mr Toti never discussed.
Despite his Scots birthplace, up until internment he had spent his entire life immersed in Italian culture. His main language was his native tongue and his grasp of English was not particularly good though after the war he emerged from the camp able to recite Shakespeare, thanks to lessons in English history taught during his incarceration.
For years his family had no idea what had happened to him but on his release he returned to Scotland once more and discovered that his sister, who had run the café throughout the war, had put aside all the wages he was due during his absence.
He picked up his life again, living in digs in Glasgow and working for a Mrs Poli in a fish and chip shop. She offered him the chance to rent the premises but he wanted to buy it. After striking a deal to pay it off weekly over five years, he paid in full within just two.
From there he bought a shop in Cathcart Road before moving to Paisley where he ran Allan's Snack Bar in Storie Street in 1948. It was only a few years after the end of the SecondWorld War and, despite his proud Italian heritage, he felt it prudent to give the business a British name. It's thought Allan was a vague nod to one of his own names. His full name was Dante Fernando Aladino. In Cardoso he was always know as Dino, the shortened version of Aladino, and his family believes he took the first part of the name and turned it into the more Caledonian sounding Allan - the name he would also give his only son.
The property, at numbers 4 and 6 Storie Street, included a couple of flats and a building that had originally been a ham curers with a smallholding. He knocked down the old farmhouse and turned the land into a car park.
Then in 1964 he expanded his business interests by buying the Caprice restaurant in Paisley's Gilmour Street. But he worked punishing hours, rising at 6am and finishing at 1am the following morning - whisky kept him alive, he joked. And after his wife, Marianna Castelvecchi, died in 1976, aged just 56, he decided to take a back seat and employ a manager.
He started to take holidays, visiting Benidorm, Las Vegas, New York and Disneyland with his brother from Italy. He also became involved in Glasgow's Italian club, Casa d'Italia, which he served as president in the 1980s.
He still maintained strong links with his home region and became founding president of the Paisley branch of Lucchesi Nel Mondo, a organisation set up to promote the traditions of Lucca and Tuscany worldwide. As a result he was awarded Lucca's Chamber of Commerce gold medal.
He went on to establish the Scuola Italiana (Paisley), a language school for children and adults. In addition he was a corrispondente consolare, a volunteer aide helping with activities of the Italian consulate and assisting fellow citizens.
In December 1988, in recognition of his work, he was made a cavaliere, the equivalent of a knighthood, by the then Italian president, Francesco Cossiga.
At the heart of his work was always his love of Italy and desire to keep its culture and traditions alive outside what he regarded as his homeland. He used to return to Italy for two months each summer but said he could never live there permanently - the life was too slow and he missed Scotland.
Always active, he lived his life at a faster pace, tearing round the world in retirement and driving from Glasgow to Italy almost 50 times, making his last trip there behind the wheel when he was 85, though he continued driving until he was 94. His companion on many of his travels, which included taking in the seven wonders of the world, was his second wife, Teresa Giusti, the widow of one of his managers.
He continued to keep his hand in the business after it was taken over by son Allan and was proud of the fact it had not only featured in an episode of Michael Portillo's Great British Railway Journeys, but that his deep fried Mars bars had made it on to the Discovery Channel and been seen worldwide.
"Even though he left school at nine, he was a genius. He had so much vision," said Allan. "But he always said 'I was lucky - things happen to me'."
Mr Toti, whose second wife died six years ago, is survived by his son, daughters Anna and Diana and grandchildren.
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