More than 200 mourners gathered at the Basilica of Regina Pacis in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, on Monday for her funeral. And at her wake, pal Vinnie Medugno presented a eulogy penned by him and friend Diane Morton-Gattulo that speaks to her legacy of laughter and zest for life. At their request – and that of show creator and producer Jennifer Graziano – PEOPLE is sharing the full text below.
The final season of Mob Wives, which captures Raiola's positive spirit despite her health crisis, airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on VH1.
Today we gather to honor and celebrate the person that defined more than the two words "Big Ang," but rather, Angela Raiola-Murphy, who I shared quite a different relationship with, than most people had.
I guess originally, I was supposed to be part of her team, assisting with this massive operation of being a reality TV star. Suffice to say anyone who knew her wayward nature along with her family, namely her sisters and brothers, they immediately opened this imaginary back door into their private lives, and swept me into their family as one of their own.
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We hardly knew anything about each other, and I was told to just show up in her driveway and she would come out. I didn't even have her cell phone number yet. I thought to myself, "these people are crazy! Some random kid shows up at a high profile celebrity's house, and no one in their right mind checked into anything about who I was or where I came from..." In her charming and effervescent way, she came down the steps of her home on Wagner Street and greeted me with a Moore cigarette in one hand, and an excessively large bedazzled I-phone in the other. With her sunglasses on and a red streak in her hair she gave me a smirk, and threw the keys at me to AJ's Escalade that was loaded with over 500 books and said, "Let's go, you're driving!"
This would be the first of many adventures that I had the privilege of participating in.
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But I digress...
To know Angela was to love Angela. She was not the sentimental and overly affectionate type. In fact that made her uncomfortable if you "cramped her style." If you were a good time, and fun hearted like her; that was all of the love she needed to share with you. Her actions spoke volumes to explain just how BIG she loved.
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Along with her longtime friend Jennifer Patafio, affectionately known as "Little Jen," the two formed a beautiful organization called Big Ang's Angels, which made a difference in the lives of every individual it touched. The mission of this philanthropic effort was to provide aid, and financial relief to those in need. Angela would act quickly upon any and every request that would come her or Jen's way.
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Some other efforts that she made it her business to partake in was to visit, and take students with special needs from the Hungerford School on shopping sprees. One girl in particular referred to Angela as her best friend, after Angela bought her half of the clothing in the Strawberry Store.
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There wasn't a charity or cause too big or too small for Angela to lend a helping hand to. She never turned anyone down, unless she was out of town, and still in good faith made a monetary donation to that cause or foundation. Many of times I personally accompanied Angela on long stretch evenings of three paid appearances, and she would stop at a charity event or personal cause, even if it were for just a half hour, un-paid and lend her services of meeting and greeting with fans to raise money and give support.
If someone looking to host an event had no guidance or where with all to put it together, Angela not only opened up her Drunken Monkey to host the event free of charge, but she also called upon Little Jen and her sister Janine to carry out all of the specific details in launching the event. I too was always the DJ free of charge for any cause that she believed in. If Angela supported it, we all did!
Source: Big Ang / Instagram
I was recently shared a beautiful story by one of her longtime friends Diane Gattullo, about a trip she took to Florida. They were traveling to visit another close friend of Angela's (Jill). In fact it was something I learned and found very astonishing about Angela, but was not surprised because of her character. During the flight she took notice of what seemed to be a lost young lady. On the plane she learned the young lady signed herself out of rehab, and was flying to Florida to return to using. Angela spent the three hours of the plane ride alongside another one of her dear friends Kim Capone speaking to this young lady, not as a celebrity, but as a mother and a concerned human for this girls well-being. Up until Angela became really sick, she played a sort of secret role as the girl's sponsor and spoke to her multiple times in a week to ensure she stayed sober. To this day, the young lady attributes her sobriety, and new outlook on life to being touched by a Big Angel that God happened to put in the same row of seats on the airplane ride that basically shaped the rest of her life. But don't worry because Kim stays in contact with her.
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In my observation from the outside looking in, I'd say Angela was very rich in many ways, and I'm not referring to her amazing collection of every name brand handbag and designer shoe, or fur coat. I mean in the simple joys that she had which we take for granted every day. I'd like to share some of her riches with you now. Her six precious grandchildren, her two beautiful children Raquel and AJ, her loving and supportive siblings, Dom that includes the fact that she saw you as a brother and someone she could always depend on, her countless nieces and nephews, which include her godchildren, the multitude of acquaintances, and most importantly her girls. And I stress that in her life, she held each of you in a special very place within her heart, and never once did you ever have to compete for her love. And I think you should annually continue your Christmas dinner tradition at Rao's in her honor, and lastly she was extremely blessed with not one, but three very amazing, and instrumental men in her life who came together as close friends to love and protect her, and assure that they would take care of her to the very end, and that is just what James, Robert and her husband Neil all did. In quoting Clarence the angel's inscription in the front cover of George Bailey's Tom Sawyer book in the movie It's A Wonderful Life, he wrote, "Remember no one is a failure who has friends!" In that case not only was Angela rich, but she was immensely successful. In true Angela fashion, she was surrounded in the hospital by her family and close friends during her journey home. I was moved when watching her mother-in-law Maryanne hold her hand during her final journey at her bedside, until her own mother Jean gently took her hand and welcomed her home on the other side. Angela's last moments were full of support, dignity and unconditional love, as she calmly crossed into her next life in Celia, Jennifer, and Janine's arms.
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If it were up to Angela, right now we would be on the dance floor in her absolute favorite night club Pastels, as part of a five-night disco celebration of her life, where every night she would be in a more elaborate outfit, with drinks going around, and disco classics playing loud! Truly she was not here for a long time, but most definitely a good time. Until we meet again where I'll be DJ-ing in your nightclub in the sky, as you affectionately told everyone, I say to you sleep easy my baby, and may God bless you from now until eternity. Thank you for all you have brought to my life, it was my distinct pleasure to walk alongside you through many adventures, and many life lessons. I will always love you.