ASHLAND – Rena Virginia Arminio of Ashland, passed away after a brief illness surrounded by loved ones on April 5, 2021 at Rose Monahan Hospice Home in Worcester.
She was born Raffaela Giacondo in Brooklyn, NY on November 25, 1928 at the home of her parents Carmela and Luigi. Rena was the first of seven children and was raised during the height of the Great Depression. She attended parochial school in Brooklyn but being the oldest was soon relied upon to provide support for her family.
In her teenage years, Rena attended Beauty School in Brooklyn while working in her Aunt Virginia’s salon. She soon became a talented beautician who was esteemed and admired in the area.
As a teenager Rena and her father attended Jackie Robinson’s first baseball game at nearby Ebbets Field in her beloved Brooklyn.
One day Vito Arminio and his brother visited from Massachusetts where their family and Rena’s had ties that went back to Bisaccia Italy. That random encounter would change the course of her life as the two were destined to spend the next 70 years together. They quickly fell in love and started a long-distance relationship (by the end of which Vito could drive to Brooklyn blindfolded if he had to.) They were married on January 7 1951 at St Francis of Assisi church in Brooklyn, right across the street from the childhood home where Rena was born.
The newlyweds moved to Vito’s hometown of Natick, and started a life together where Rena was a hairdresser in neighboring Wellesley (and later in Framingham and Wayland). In 1956, not long after the birth of their first son, they moved to the house where they would raise their family on Indian Spring Road in Ashland. That house became the second home to dozens of extended family who would make their way to visit every summer and create cherished memories over the next 60 years.
‘Aunt Rena’ became an endeared matriarch whose love and compassion truly touched so many lives. Rena was a loving soul who had a way of making everyone around her feel special. Her children were blessed to be raised in an Italian home that was filled with good food, lively story\ies and the perpetual buzz of friends and family. Rena became ‘Grandma’, ‘Mimi’ and ‘Noni’ to seven grandchildren who adored her and lit up her heart. Her family was her life and the values she instilled in them, the truly loving relationship she and Vito modeled for them, and the unbounding love she showered will echo for generations to come.
Rena is predeceased by her husband Vito Arminio and brothers: Nicholas Gioconda and Philip Gioconda. She is survived by her sister Sara Surrette, her brothers: Joseph Gioconda, Louis Gioconda and Michael Gioconda, her three children: Richard Arminio and his wife Lisa Arminio of Shrewsbury, Donna Arminio Lynch of Boylston, MA and Vito Arminio Jr. and his wife Tracey Arminio of La Jolla, CA, along with her grandchildren – Anthony Arminio, Adriana Arminio, Casey Lynch, Madison Lynch, Dante Arminio, Lila Arminio and Mia Arminio.
A funeral mass will be held for Rena on Saturday April 10 at 9 a.m. at St. Cecilia in Ashland.
To those of you who knew and loved Rena, we encourage you to send flowers, but to your own home where you can enjoy them and think of Rena this week and the love and joy she brought to so many.