Oct. 16, 1919 – Dec. 22, 2012
In 1958, Anna Gioia lost one of her seven children, when 14-year-old daughter Joyce died after being struck by a vehicle while crossing Main Street near the University Plaza after a Bishop Fallon school dance.
Amid suspicions that alcohol may have been involved, someone called the driver’s mother and asked how it felt to have a son who was a killer.
Mrs. Gioia called the other mother to say that no one in her family felt that way, that the Gioias felt enough grief and they didn’t want to impose any guilt on the driver’s mother.
“It showed what kind of person she was,” said one of Mrs. Gioia’s sons, Anthony.
“She had a strong will and a strong mind, and she never had any bitterness toward anyone,” he said.
Mrs. Gioia, matriarch of the local Gioia family and widow of Horace A. Gioia, the longtime head of the former Gioia Macaroni Co., died Saturday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst. She was 93.
“The main focus in her life was her seven children, teaching us our life lessons and our priorities,” said her daughter, Angela Porter.
One of those lessons was the phone call to the mother of the driver in her daughter’s death.
“Very few people knew about it,” said her son Robert. “That’s what was so special about it. She did everything with a quiet dignity.”
A Cleveland native, the former Anna Masciarelli met her future husband in Rochester, before they married and later moved to Buffalo in 1949.
They raised their seven children while Horace Gioia ran the pasta company founded in 1910 by his father, Antonio. The Gioias’ sons later became third-generation executives of the company.
But the Gioia name may be better known for the leadership roles assumed by Mrs. Gioia’s children.
They have held top leadership positions with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, the Roswell Park Alliance, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., Kaleida Health, the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Buffalo Zoo, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the local, state and national Republican and Democratic parties, among other organizations.
“She was the glue that kept us all focused,” Robert Gioia said.
Mrs. Gioia and her husband were co-founders of the local chapter of Boys Town of Italy, which helps orphans in that country.
She also was active with the Eggert Road Elementary School PTA. She loved opera, traveling, ballet, family dinners and reading; a proud American, she kept copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights by her bedside.
Her husband of 37 years, Horace A., died in 1977.
Survivors include five sons, Anthony H., Richard E., Robert D., Horace A. Jr. and Frederic W., and a daughter, Angela G. Porter.
Prayers at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Amigone Funeral Home, 1132 Delaware Ave., will be followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 9:30 in St. Louis Catholic Church, Main and Edward streets.
And, her children noted, she will be buried along with her daughter Joyce’s battered purse, the one the teen used the night she was killed – a purse that her mother has kept on her dresser for the last 54 years.
– Gene Warner