Big Ang’s Sudden Death Shocks Staten Island
By Mariah Metzger
“Mob Wives” star Angela “Big Ang” Raiola passed away at 55 years old on February 18 at 3:01AM, after fighting for her life against cancer.
“She was surrounded by nothing but love from her immediate family and closest friends,” a statement from her friend, Vinnie Medugno, read. “Her fans were some of the most special people in her world and she loved you immensely.”
Medugno posted the statement shortly after her death to inform her fans of what had happened. Social media went wild with comments and memorial posts mourning the television star’s death.
Doctors discovered the star has a lemon-sized tumor as well as throat cancer last March. Raiola went through chemo, and was thought to recover and go into remission. However, it was too late when it was discovered that the stage four cancer had spread to her lungs and brain.
Just before her death, Raiola did an interview with Doctor Oz that aired Tuesday the 16, two days before she passed away, about her fight with cancer and how it has changed her life. She admitted to smoking a pack a day for nearly 40 years.
She also briefly mentions how it changed her marriage and relationship with her estranged husband Neil Murphy. Their marriage began to fall apart due to the severity of her illness.
“I felt he never stepped up to the plate,” Raiola stated in the Oz segment. “So I was done with it. I would rather be by myself.”
Despite this, Murphy was one of the first twenty people in attendance at her wake.
Many people from all over the boroughs arrived to her Scarpaci Funeral Home in Brooklyn on February 20 to say their good-byes.
“I came to pay my respects, I really feel bad,” said Grace Molinari from Gravesend, Brooklyn, to an SILive reporter.
“She’s such a genuine person. It’s so sad, I just watched her on Dr. Oz. it all seemed to happen so quickly,” said Molinari. “I met her at a book signing a few years ago and she definitely is larger than life — that’s for sure.”
She is well-known for her local bar, The Drunken Monkey, that was shut down due to improper licensing. However, other local Staten Island businesses mourn her loss as well. The bar has re-opened under new ownership, and is now called “Funky Monkey.”
Beans and Leaves, a coffee shop just down the block from the bar’s location, posted this heartfelt message on their Instagram on the day of her death:
“We are saddened to hear of the passing of “Big Ang”. We had the pleasure of her and her crew visiting the shop two summers ago and had even more of a pleasure in having her visit us with her family on several occasions. There is often a perception of reality stars, especially ones from Staten Island, but when we say it has been our pleasure…Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you Ang, it is one of the greatest Beans memories for so many of my kids.”
Raiola left a big hole in Staten Island. She was well known by her friends, family and fans as a peacemaker and very charitable.
“She raised money for charities and was the hardest working woman I know and the best grandmother there ever was. She really loved her babies. And she loved and did everything for her kids,” Murphy told SILive.com during a memorial arrangement held at the Funky Monkey.”
In 2013, shortly after Hurricane Sandy, Raiola volunteered to help those in need with clean up. She also held donation drop-offs at her bar where people could bring supplies, food, clothes, heaters and more to those in need.
Last October, she held a fundraiser event for breast cancer at Jac Mao’s in Dongan Hills. All proceeds from a 50/50 and other raffles went to Dollface Divas, which is a group from the Staten Island Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, and the American Cancer Society.
Raiola leaves behind her two children, and six grandchildren, which were a huge part of her life. She touched the hearts of many, especially here in Staten Island. She was an important part of our community, whether or not people realize.
“I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time,” her friend Medugno quoted on his Instagram in a memorial post dedicated to her.