The New York Times reports on the final farewell to Angela Raiola, niece of Salvatore Lombardi and a larger-than-life star of VH1’s reality series “Mob Wives.” She died last week at 55, from cancer. And she got quite a sendoff:
In death, as in life, Ms. Raiola commanded a crowd. Hundreds attended her funeral Mass in the Renaissance Revival sanctuary of the Basilica of Regina Pacis, even two “Mob Wives” co-stars who, by some accounts, had been warned that they were not welcome. The Daily News said Karen Gravano and Brittany Fogarty had been told it was “not a good idea” to attend the wake, held on Sunday, or the funeral. In the sanctuary, the sacred mingled with the irreverent. Msgr. David L. Cassato, who celebrated the Mass, mostly referred to Ms. Raiola as Big Ang, not Angela. His place on the altar was not far from an enormous bouquet of red roses shaped like a pair of lips, a tribute to Ms. Raiola’s pillowy mouth. Her estranged husband, Neil Murphy, with whom she had a fractious relationship, wore sunglasses, even inside the sanctuary. He took them off from time to time to wipe away tears. “Big Ang was indeed fully human,” Monsignor Cassato said in his homily. “She loved, she laughed, she shared, she cared.” Monsignor Cassato held up a framed photograph of Ms. Raiola that he said he kept on his desk. “Every time I look at it,” he said, “it brings back a beautiful memory of my friendship with Big Ang.” One of those memories concerned a parish bazaar she had attended. Big Ang was helping run the raffle, he said, and approached him with a question that only someone with her background and her temperament would ask a priest: “What’s my percentage?” she asked.
Photo: Dave Sanders / The New York Times