Tributes were today paid to Sunderland's "kindest man" who died while raising funds for charity.
Anthony Maggiore, 59, suffered a fatal heart attack as he was nine miles into the Great North Bike Ride.
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The devoted dad, who worked at the family-run cafe Louis at Park Lane, Sunderland for more than 30 years, was airlifted to Wansbeck Hospital by a Sea King helicopter, but it was too late to save him.
His devastated family today said they drew some comfort from knowing the dad-of-three, who had angina, died doing something he loved.
His wife of 28 years, Valerie said: "He died doing something he enjoyed and loved, which was cycling and helping someone, which was his nature."
Daughter Annalisa, 25, had taken him to Seahouses where the annual ride, which raises cash for cancer charity the Chris Lucas Trust, started at 9am last Sunday.
But the alarm was raised when Mr Maggiore, of Philadelphia, did not reach the finishing line.
Police informed her that he had suffered a heart attack and died at Embleton.
Annalisa added: "He was the best dad anyone could ever wish for. I love him so much and will miss him every day."
Mrs Maggiore, a fund-raiser for St Clare's Hospice in Jarrow, met her husband awhen she was a customer in Louis in 1978.
She said: "He absolutely loved cycling. He could cycle for miles and miles."
"He was very popular in Sunderland through the shop and everyone knew how kind, generous and friendly he was.
"At the funeral the church will be packed. I don't think it will be big enough because everybody knew him."
Mr Maggiore, who played rugby at Ashbrooke Sports Club in his younger years, leaves behind his three children – Sally, 32, from Mrs Maggiore's previous marriage, Nadia and Annalisa – and granddaughter, four-year-old Isabella.
Nadia, 27, said: "He was a brilliant dad and was so much fun. He would do anything for us.
"He was very, very generous and would do anything for anyone. He was one of the kindest men in Sunderland and was well-known for that."
Sally said: "Dad was the most loving man I've ever met and life won't be the same without him."
His funeral will take place at 12.05pm tomorrow at St Mary's RC Church, in Sunderland.
* More than 2,000 people ttook part in the 54-mile Great North Bike Ride route, raising thousands of pounds for the Chris Lucas Trust, a charity which helps children with cancer.
The foundation is named after Wallsend teenager Chris Lucas who died from rare cancer rhabdomyosarcoma in 2000.
Donations can be made to the Chris Lucas Trust.
>> Leave your tributes for Tony using the comment box below