Cool Aunt Was Young at Heart
The Giovanniello kids had been hanging out with their Aunt Doreen since they were old enough to navigate the stairs to her apartment above their home in Ridgewood.
Up at Doreen Angrisani's place, Maria, 17, and Paul, 14, could kick back and relax. They'd joke around, watch some TV or talk about their troubles and triumphs while the classic rock their aunt loved played in the background.
'She could sit down and listen,' said her brother, Ralph Angrisani of Mineola. 'She was good like that. ... She would do anything for those kids.'
On Saturdays, Angrisani, 44, and her nephew used to take trips to the local handball court or walk to Sam Goody to browse through rock albums. She encouraged him to take guitar lessons, and she gave her niece, an aspiring dancer, pep talks when she became discouraged. 'It's hard to explain, but she was there for everything,' her nephew said.
Never married, Angrisani threw herself wholeheartedly into the role of godmother after her sister, Gina Giovanniello, gave birth to Maria. Their two-story family 'was like two moms and a dad,' her sister said. 'I don't have a memory of my children since their birth where she wasn't there.'
Looking after the kids brought Angrisani and her sister closer. 'She was my best friend,' Giovanniello said. Each night over coffee the two talked about the kids, work and life. 'We were more or less on the same page.'
Angrisani, a Queens native who had worked in insurance since high school, rose to become a financial manager at Marsh & McLennan. 'She worked on Wall Street, but that was not who she was,' her sister said.
A late-bloomer who overcame her shyness in her 30s, Angrisani loved to debate politics and passionately defended people's right to live their lives as they choose. She loved the Mets, Melissa Etheridge and Pink Floyd.
In short, she was the perfect cool aunt, a young-at-heart rocker who always told her niece and nephew that 'it's OK to be who you are, to go after your dreams and stand up for what you believe in,' Giovanniello said.
For the Giovanniello kids, 2001 was a big year. Paul was starting his freshman year at Stuyvesant High School. Maria, a college-bound high school senior, was about to embark on a grueling round of auditions for dance programs at different universities. Then on Sept. 11, they lost the aunt whose encouragement meant so much. Angrisani, at work on the 98th floor of Tower One, died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
The loss is like a punch in the gut for the family she left behind-the Giovanniellos, her brother and her mother, Irene Angrisani, who lived nearby and relied on her elder daughter's help.
'The world lost a good person,' her sister said. 'She had a big heart, a big heart. ... She was a light, and now the light is out.'
(c) 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.www.newsday.com