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Normal Heights mourns loss of ‘Ice Cream Man’

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SAN DIEGO – The community of Normal Heights lost a legend this weekend.

Dick Van Ransom-Magana, better known as the "Ice Cream Man," was an Adams Avenue icon and his famous Mariposa Homemade Ice Cream was legendary.

Dick Van Ransom-Magana "Ice Cream Man"

Dick Van Ransom-Magana "Ice Cream Man"

The Ice Cream Man passed away Friday, according to the ice cream shop's Facebook post. The loss was still too raw to express by his nephew Tim Rose, who worked at the Mariposa Parlor since he was a teenager.

“It's hard. Everybody loved him so much. He was just this larger-than-life personality,” said Rose, holding back the tears. “My uncle grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York, so he's making ice cream his whole life.”

At 74, Van Ransom-Magana didn’t discover his life’s passion for making ice cream until he was in his 50s - starting out by selling at local street fairs which is how he discovered Adams Avenue.

“He's just a great guy,” said longtime associate Scott Kessler. “One of those guys that everybody loved.”

Kessler is the executive director of the Adams Avenue business association where Van Ransom-Magana was very active, the two met when "The Ice Cream Man" was still a vendor at the Adams Avenue Street Fair.

“Dick did not have a mean bone in his body,” Kessler said. “If he appeared to come off gruff it was just his grizzly bear size!”

As news of his passing spread through the community. Hundreds took to social media to post their condolences and share memories. Hundreds more showed up at the parlor leaving flowers and signing a giant card for his wife Anna, his partner in making people smile for more than 25 years.

“He loved making the best ice cream he could make,” Rose said. “And he love sharing it with people.”

It was not just the locals who came back for the "self-described" best ice cream in the world; the walls of The Mariposa are covered with celebrity endorsements.

For no reason other than Anna’s love for The Beatles, the walls are covered with memorabilia given to the family over the years by their customers.

“He just loved what he did,” said his nephew. “He loved being here, he loved serving ice cream and seeing all the happy faces that came in to get ice cream.”

Funeral services and memorial are planned for later in the month.