Michael J. Aiello, a homebuilder and founder of a food processing company, died Saturday of cancer at Mercy Medical Center. He was 65 and lived in Cockeysville.
He was chairman of Cher-Chris Construction Co. Inc., a Cockeysville homebuilding firm, and Caribbean Products Ltd., a Hampden meatpacking operation that produces pork and beef products.
"He was an entrepreneur who never rested until he was finished," said Virginia Lambrow, a business associate from Baltimore Contractors Inc. "If you were in trouble, he was there to put his hand to your elbow."
After working on projects in downtown Baltimore for Baltimore Contractors in the 1960s, he founded Cher-Chris and built in the Middle River section of Baltimore County and throughout the Baltimore-Washington region.
"My father taught my brother Michael and I to be extremely detail-oriented -- just as his father had taught him," said his son, Christopher Aiello of Parkton, an owner of the construction firm.
Mr. Aiello, who enjoyed cooking and boating, once tasted a dish he enjoyed while on vacation in the Cayman Islands. He decided to replicate the Jamaican-style turnover at his home. He thought it might have commercial potential so he started a meatpacking operation called Caribbean Products with his daughter and son-in-law in 1989.
In 1996, Mr. Aiello purchased the former Henry Heil meatpacking plant on Falls Road in Hampden and expanded the product line to sausage, scrapple, ham, bologna and the spiced Caribbean hot pocket called Global Delights. The company employs more than 50 people.
Mr. Aiello frequently tasted the scrapple, ham and sausage to ensure that it met his standards.
Born in Baltimore, he was raised on Claremont Street in Highlandtown. He was an altar boy at Our Lady of Pompeii Roman Catholic Church in Highlandtown, which was built by his father, Peter Aiello, who owned Paramount Construction Co.
He attended McDonogh School and Charlotte Hall Academy. He was a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.
As a young man, Mr. Aiello helped his father build roads in what were then the Baltimore suburbs -- Northern Parkway and Wabash Avenue. They used materials manufactured at their concrete plant in East Baltimore.
In the summer of 1954 in Ocean City, he met Mary Malas. He was running a beach umbrella stand, and she was working in the Lambros Building on the Boardwalk.
They married in 1956. She survives him.
Licensed as a charter captain, he ran his 40-foot boat, the Queen Mary, on fishing trips out of Rock Hall, where he had a farm. He also painted pictures in oils.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 101 Church Lane, Cockeysville, where he was a member.
Mr. Aiello also is survived by another son, Michael S. Aiello of Sparks; two daughters, Cheryl A. Aiello of Reisterstown and Susan M. Hartman of Cockeysville; and 11 grandchildren.