Obituary of Angelina F. Gervasi
Angelina F. Gervasi (nee Orlando), 93 years, of Berlin NJ, passed away on Wednesday June 16, 2021. Daughter of the late Ignazio and Maria (née Fiore) Orlando. Beloved wife of the late Vincent Gervasi. Loving mother of Thomas V Gervasi of Berlin, Russell (Donna) Gervasi, Joann (Tim) Regan, Caroline (Raymond) Adams, Vincent (Basia) Gervasi and Angela (Charles Brown) Chambers. Dear sister of Margaret Villarose. Cherished grandmother of Tommy Ryan, Jeff (Tara), Russell (Barbie), Diana (Tim), Donna Marie (Michael), Jessica, Jenna, Tom (Aleshia), Tim (Lauren), Mike, Kate (Mark), Danielle, Raymond (Pamela) Ryan (Brittany), Laura (Daniel), Vincent (Paulina), Natalie, Gregory and Xander and great grandmother of Charlotte, Shane, Michael James, Annie, Beau, Faith, Eva, Brielle, Joey, Olivia, Tom, Angelina, Lucca, Alyson, Raymond, Nora and Sophie.
Angelina was a member of the Rosary Society, VFW and the Red Hat Society.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend her viewing on Tuesday morning from 9:00AM to 10:30AM at the COSTANTINO-PRIMO FUNERAL HOME, 231 W. WHITE HORSE PIKE BERLIN NJ 08009. Mass of Christian Burial 11:00AM at St. Simon Stock Parish Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church 178 White Horse Pike, Berlin. Interment in Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery will take place privately. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Tunnel To Towers Foundation at 2361 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island NY 10306 would be appreciated. To leave lasting condolences or photos, please use the links on this page.
Please see below for the Eulogy of Angelina
The Life of Angelina Gervasi
My grandmother, Angelina Frances Gervasi, was born on April 21st 1928. She spent most of her childhood in South Philadelphia. She was the daughter of Ignazio (which she pronounced as “Igancious”) and Maria Orlando, who were immigrants from Sicily, Italy. She grew up during the Great Depression with her dear sister Margaret, and her two brothers John and Sebastian. Raised in an Italian-speaking family, she did not learn to speak English until she went to grade school; she never learned how to swim or ride a bike; but became a very talented baker and cook, a prized skill that she eventually passed down to her children and grandchildren. She was the closest of friends with her younger sister Margaret, her cousin Kay, her friends Angie Jordan and Irene Domanski. She was a caring mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, friend, and most of all a devoted wife to Vincent.
Her early years were spent playing hopscotch and double Dutch in the city with her friends. She walked to school every morning, and always took public transportation as her family did not have a car. After her days in school, she would go straight home to do her chores. For fun, she and her siblings would dance in the house or treat themselves to a movie. They enjoyed their Christmases together, receiving oranges, cookies, and pennies as gifts.
She and her eventual husband Vincent grew up together on the same block in South Philly and started dating at the age of 15. He enlisted in the army and was away in World War II for two years. They corresponded the entire time, sending each other photos as Sweethearts often did during World War II. Shortly after his return, they were engaged and planning a wedding. One night, the two of them were in the park having a disagreement regarding their plans. She threw the ring in the grass and left, causing him to pick up the ring and head to Atlantic City. Not long after, they were on the phone and she said to him “If you want me, you have to come get me”.
He was on the next bus to her; she secretly packed a bag and they went back to Atlantic City together to elope and marry in the court house. Shortly after, they also married in the Catholic church. They then moved to an apartment above Vince’s father’s store before moving to Germantown. They lived there for a couple of short years before buying their forever home in Berlin, New Jersey in 1955.
Having a family was important to them. Five years after marriage, their first child Thomas was born. Soon followed Russell, Joann, Caroline, and Vincent. Their plans were to stop here with five children. However, a little over a year after Vincent was born, they were given their sixth and final child, a daughter (and my mother) Angela. My grandmother said to my grandfather “well we have one named after you, it’s only fair that now we have one named after me”.
Vince and Angelina raised their six children in their home in Berlin. She was the homemaker – always cooking, baking, cleaning, and doing endless loads of laundry. Vacations were spent down the shore or camping with their cousins wherever Vince was doing his Army Reserve training. As their children got older, they began to leave home one by one and start families of their own. The Gervasi family expanded immensely over the years, and they welcomed each of their children’s spouses as their own.
In her early 60s, and in the midst of enjoying their early years of being grandparents, Angelina was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She went through chemotherapy and radiation. And, for the first time in her life, she was not the caretaker. It wasn’t easy but with her strong and loving husband by her side, she survived.
Angelina and Vince were the perfect pair. They were the true definition of opposites attract. He was tough but loving, and he didn’t take anything from anyone. She was sweet, caring, and had a gentle way about her. She would tell you how she was meek as a young woman, and sometimes afraid to do things on her own. Together as a couple, they grew and he made her strong. He taught her to drive, and to be independent. As he got older, and became more sick, he knew he wouldn’t be around to protect her forever.
When Vince passed away, her heart was broken and she knew that her life would never be the same. But, she was now the person that he taught her to be. She was strong, determined, and independent. She still had so much life to live, so many grandchildren to share their stories with, and so many great grandbabies to hold. She got involved with the senior center and made friends with everyone she met. Then she would beat them all in her favorite card game, pinochle. At home, she enjoyed watching her favorite TV show Law and Order and the Eagles during football season, even though they often made her nervous. Angelina lived 22 years after she said good-bye to her love, Vince. She stayed in the home they built together up until her last few months.
Angelina’s personal legacy is her family. It is all of us here today whom she taught, guided, took care of, and shared her stories. Most of the children stayed local with the exception of Vincent, who moved to Florida with his wife Barbara, better known as Basia. She was introduced to our family around this time 40 years ago. She truly regarded Angelina as a second mother – and I know her other daughters-in-law and sons-in-law feel the same way.
Each of Angelina and Vince’s children had children of their own. Tom had Tommy and Jeff; Russell had young Russell and Diana, and eventually his bonus daughters DonnaMarie, Jessica, and Jenna; Joann had Tom, Tim, Michael, Katelyn, and Danielle; Caroline had Raymond, Ryan, and Laura; Uncle Vince had Vincent, and my mother Angela had me, my brother Gregory, and my stepbrother Xander. Each family followed tradition, as they each have one son named after their father.
My grandfather was fortunate enough to live to see all of their grandchildren be born; however, my grandmother was truly blessed to be here and watch all nineteen of us grow into adulthood -- attending our graduations, dancing at weddings, teaching her recipes to, and eventually meeting and loving her seventeen great-grandchildren...and one more on the way.
The grandchildren were a huge part of her life. The granddaughters had many traditions, including decorating the house for Christmas, baking cookies, and having sleepovers. They also used to perform plays in the family room. The grandsons would help her with housework whenever they could, and would always be well fed. She would always call us on our birthdays and sing to us. Eventually, instead of saying our names, she would say “happy birthday dear ‘granddaughter’”, there are too many of us. The entire family would also get together for Easter Egg hunts on Easter and to see Santa at her house for Christmas. There are many memories of everyone singing Christmas carols together in the family room.
My grandmother was one of the funniest people of her time. She loved pranks and to tease people. She would threaten to smack our coolies when we were bad as kids, especially when the grandsons would act up. She was also funny without even trying. One time she was telling us about this awesome new pillow that helps you remember things. I was having a hard time understanding how it worked until she mentioned it was because the pillow was made of “memory foam”. Lucky for us, we don’t need anything like that to help us remember memories with our grandmother.
She had a way of making everyone around her feel like they were her favorite. She always shared how proud she was of you and supported you no matter what. She was kind and caring when you needed her to lift your spirits, and she was strong when you needed a fighter in your corner. She would pray the rosary for you no matter the reason you needed her prayers. And, we all know she had a direct line to God.
I’m proud to be a part of her legacy and to honor her with you today. She is now our angel looking down on us, reunited in heaven with the love of her life Vince. Finally dancing together after all these years and now telling him all about her stories here with us. We will miss her beyond words, but I know her life and her memory will live on through each of us in our own special way.