It is with great sadness that I have to report on the sudden and untimely passing of Mario Ostacchini on 24th September, a few days before Mario would have celebrated his 68th birthday. A larger than life character, Mario was one of the most well respected and liked personalities in the machine tool industry in South Africa, having worked in the industry for over 40 years.
But more importantly he was a very proud man with a great sense of humour, a devoted husband and father to Gina and his stepchildren Kevin and Wanda. He lived a fulfilled life with the motto of the first to give and the last to take uppermost in his mind, and was happiest when he had the opportunity to entertain clients and friends.
Born in London, UK on the 30th September 1946 to a Welsh mother and Italian father, Mario was the eldest son of three boys. Mario is survived by his wife of 23 years Marietjie, his children and brothers John and Peter, who both reside in the UK.
Not known to many, Mario was an accomplished drummer and played in a band in the UK for a number of years before immigrating to South Africa in the early 1970s. Mario’s love for music is reflected in his collection although he did mellow to the jazz sounds later on in life.
Prior to his arrival in Johannesburg, Mario had already joined the metalworking engineering industry having taken up a position with B. Elliott and Co, a UK manufacturer and sales organisation of machine tools. During this time with the company Mario would drive a company truck loaded with machines around Europe, and give demonstrations to prospective buyers.
Mario took up a position with this company in South Africa, before moving on to other machine tool sales companies such as Production Machine Tools (PMT) and Koppel Gilbert, both of which had ties to B. Elliott and Co, The Marwin Group and Yamazaki Mazak Corporation when the company had its own office in South Africa.
It was during this time that Mario met long time friend and business partner Alan Meredith and they decided to open their own company Victor Machine Tools, which later became Victor Fortune South Africa, in 1986. The pair made a great success of the company selling high precision CNC lathes, machining centers and plastic injection moulding machines manufactured by Victor Taichung in Taiwan. Mario continued to represent the company and service the clients in the coastal areas during his retirement.
Mario remained with the company until he retired to the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal with Marietjie. They owned a B&B for a couple of years before finally moving to Simbithi Country Club Estate in Shakas Rock.
Forever the entertainer, Mario was well known for his love of fine wine and good food. His passion became a way of life for him, and those that were lucky enough to experience his cooking would comment that he should have been a cordon bleu chef rather than the best dressed machine tool salesman in South Africa.
Mario’s other passion in life was golf and for a long time he was a member of The Nomads and Springs Golf Club. He was no mean golfer as well, getting down to three handicap at one stage. While strolling the fairways he took to bird watching and as a result could hold an authoritative conversation on most bird species.
Rest in peace Mario. We will all miss you, especially your cheerful greetings and ability to make us laugh, no matter what the situation. His lifetime of dedication and self-sacrifice serves as a monument to the exemplary man he was. His humility, integrity, and hard work continue to inspire those who knew him. And there are many in the metalworking industry.