Angelo J. Messina (“Junior”) passed away at Massachusetts General Hospital on February 19, 2022 after fighting a valiant five-year battle with metastatic prostate cancer. He had earlier beaten brain cancer in 2007and had a clean bill of health for the next nine years.
He was born in the North End of Boston in 1941 one of eight siblings born to Eleanora Gravallese and Angelo D. Messina. The family was tight knit and clung to the shelter of each other and extended aunts and uncles when their mother passed away from cancer when only 48 years old.
Upon graduating from high school, Angelo served in the United States Army in Bad Hersfeld, Germany for three years, receiving letters of commendation from his commanding officers and an honorable discharge in 1962.
Upon his return to civilian life he followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and became a baker. His range of experience covered everything from working in Italian bakeries to working as an in-house college baker at Simmons and Emanuel Colleges in Boston. For a time he had his own bakery in West Medford, MA and later on went to Athens, Ohio to work with his brother doing bakery and restaurant work. He even invited local musicians to perform in their bakery, a novel and heralded idea for its time. No matter where he worked, grateful students and satisfied customers always sent him notes of appreciation. Students at Simmons put an article in their student newspaper. Students pulling an all night of studying would find him bringing out platters of pizza, freshly baked cookies and muffins to lift up their spirits. They sent him dozens of thank you notes and extolled him to the administration.
Angelo and his first wife, Barbara, had one son, Josh, who was the apple of both their eyes. Although their marriage ended, they amicably went on to co-parent him with a lot of love and many extended family members on both sides there for support.
Angelo was the doting grandfather to Jake, Sophie and Nate Messina. He liked nothing better than taking them to his community garden to help pick tomatoes right off the vine. He wanted them to see where vegetables came from and know the joy of being out in the fresh air and watching things grow. He enjoyed playing baseball with them on the little field near his garden. He cultivated and encouraged a love of cooking with them and was happy to teach them how to make spaghetti sauce, meatballs, pizza and, at Christmas, homemade gingerbread cookies. Any opportunity to reinforce family connections at back yard get-togethers, cookouts and indoor gatherings all filled him with happiness. He reinforced the message that they were a part of something bigger than themselves – a loving extended family. Most importantly, he wanted them to know that they were loved. He never left a visit to them without saying, “Don’t forget to say your prayers.”
In 2004 Angelo married his second wife, Rose. They had been together for 17 years prior to their marriage but formalized their commitment and shared the next 17 years as husband and wife. They purchased a condo in Florida only to have Angelo receive a diagnosis of brain cancer three weeks after the purchase. He fought this cancer courageously, beat it, and got a clean bill of health for the next 9 years.
With a new lease on life, Angelo and Rose enjoyed being snowbirds in their condo in Florida, visits to family and taking day trips. Early morning walks on the beach were revivifying. Angelo built and landscaped a beautiful patio in back of their Delray Beach condo and enjoyed periods of quiet prayer and contemplation there. He liked nothing better than repainting the entire condo saying it needed to be “refreshed”. The quiet joys of home life suited him perfectly.
When back in Medford, they enjoyed excursions out to St. Joseph’s Monastery in Spencer and listening to the homilies of the Trappist Monks. For a period of time Angelo was a member of the Lay Cistercians prayer group out in Spencer until he was unable to make the drive due to declining health.
In 2016 he faced a different cancer diagnosis that had spread by the time it was discovered. He fought it for five years with grit, guts, and above all faith in God. The day before he passed, he was unable to speak but out of nowhere and with his eyes closed he recited Psalm 69:2. “Lord come to my assistance. Make haste to help me.” He said these words three times and then spoke no more. He passed away the following day.
He was a good and decent man and a blessing to his wife and all that knew him. May he rest in peace.
A funeral mass will be celebrated in St. Raphael Church, 512 High St, W. Medford on Saturday, May 21st at 9:30 AM. The family will receive visitors at 8:45 AM. Services will conclude with burial at Oak Grove Cemetery.
Donations in his memory can be made to Tunnel2Towers.org.