Carmella (Millie) Raia
Carmella (Millie) Raia, of Trumbull, CT, peacefully passed away at 94 years of age at home on Sunday, January 6th, 2012.
She was born on May 9th, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York to Italian immigrants, Rosa Occhiogrosso and Pietro DiChiaro.
Pietro, owner of an ice business, died of Spanish influenza when she was just a year old. Rosa, a needle worker at home, died of Mediterranean anemia when Millie was thirteen, leaving her children in the care of her mother who died shortly after.
As the second of their three daughters she enjoyed a close relationship with her sisters Rose Boemio (1916-2002) and Petrina Saviano (1919-2001), which lasted their entire lives. This strong sisterly bond helped them survive harsh economic times and the tragic loss of their family. These events impressed Millie at an early age with the importance of family.
Millie met the love of her life, Joseph Raia (1914-2012), when she was 16. They were married two years later on July 5th, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York, to the chagrin of his widowed mother, who did not willing give up any of her four sons.
Millie faithfully took care of house and home while Joe enlisted in the Navy during both WW II and the Korean War. He left Millie, his daughter Ann and son Philip in order to defend his country. During this time, Millie turned her talents as a seamstress into a thriving dress business in Manhattan with two partners. She was approached by Madame Alexander and created the dress for her first doll.
After Joe was honorably discharged in 1948, they bought a house on Main Street in Flushing, NY, with the proceeds from her business, where they added two more children, Peter and Rose, to their family.
Joe became an engineering technician working for the FAA and encouraged Millie to give up her business to become a full-time homemaker. Millie, a strong proponent of education, ensured that all her children had the tools necessary to fulfill their career dreams.
She was a wonderful mother, loved by all, who provided a nurturing environment for her children who went on to become professionals. She volunteered her many talents in sewing, cooking and baking to her local community, spending countless hours at St. Ann's Church and School in Flushing, NY.
After Joe retired, they moved to Trumbull, Connecticut, to live with their youngest daughter, where they enjoyed watching their family grow, visiting with their eldest daughter and their sons in Florida and Southampton.
She is deeply mourned by her children, Ann Colaneri of Rye, NY, Philip Raia and Judy Kemp of Hallandale, FL, Dr. Peter Raia and his wife, Stavroula Raia, of Southampton, NY and Rose De Vita and her husband Gene, of Trumbull, CT. She is the cherished grandmother of John Colaneri of San Marcos, CA, Jessica Raia-Long of Tampa FL, Jane Zuzierla of Southampton, NY, Jean Baker of Land o Lakes, FL, Joseph Raia of Southampton, NY, Nicholas De Vita of Trumbull, CT, Allegra De Vita of Trumbull, CT and Christopher Raia of Southampton, NY. She is the beloved great grandmother of Steven, Zachary, Gabriel, Tommy, Gina, John and Payton.
In lieu of flowers, the family wishes to honor Millie's love of music by contributing in her memory to Dolora Zajick's opera program, "The Institute for Young Dramatic Voices." Contributions may be sent c/o Allegra De Vita, 88 Red Barn Road, Trumbull, CT 06611.
Friends and Family may greet the family on Sunday, January 13, 2013 from 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm at the Spadaccino and Leo P. Gallagher & Son Community Funeral Home, 315 Monroe Turnpike, Monroe. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Monday, January 14, at 10 am at St. Jude Roman Catholic Church, 707 Monroe Turnpike, Monroe. Interment will follow in Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, New York.