2005-05-18 / Features

Nikki Gioia, Councilmember’s Grandmother Dies At 86

Nikki Gioia  (r.) with her granddaughter Lauren Gioia at the wedding of Councilmember Eric Gioia pictured at right.
Nikki Gioia (r.) with her granddaughter Lauren Gioia at the wedding of Councilmember Eric Gioia pictured at right. Nikki Gioia of Woodside, proprietor of Nunziato Florist on Roosevelt Avenue for more than half a century and the matriarch of a close-knit family, has died. She was 86 years old.

Born and raised in Woodside, Nikki attended P.S. 11 on Skillman Avenue when it was a green wooden schoolhouse. She also graduated from J.H.S. 125 and Bryant H. S. In 1946, she married Serafino Gioia at St. Sebastian’s Roman Catholic Church in Woodside. Nikki gave birth to six boys, Joseph, Neil, Paul, Charles, Michael and John.

After her husband’s untimely death, Nikki raised the boys and ran the flower shop at 52nd and Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside that her parents had founded many years before with her sons, Neil and Michael. For over half a century, six days a week, she worked in the store ordering around her boys and customers alike. Anyone—a Member of Congress, a customer, or just delivering the mail, who entered the florist shop was likely to get both beautiful flowers and a few requests from Nikki—sweep the floors, take some deliveries and, of course, buy her a fur coat. Just last week, Mama Nick, as she was known to her family and close friends, upon meeting Mayor Bloomberg at the Sunnyside Senior Center groundbreaking grabbed him by the arm, proclaimed him a “handsome young man” and asked him to take her dancing.

Gioia is survived by sons Joseph, Neil, Paul, Charles, Michael and John, grandchildren City Councilmember Eric Gioia, Lauren, Samantha, Michael, and Matthew and brothers and sisters Vincent, Anne, and Josephine. Her husband and parents and her brothers Pat, Tom, and Carlo and her sister Mary predeceased her.

Known by her family and closest friends as ‘Mama Nick,” Gioia was the bedrock of the family and a true inspiration to all of those around her. Her dynamic, lively personality and her wit and charm brought smiles to the faces of the entire Woodside community, where she was a pillar of the neighborhood for decades.

Gioia’s wake will be held Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 pm at: Dimecelli-Kennedy-Roth Funeral Home, 41-45 58th St., Woodside. The Mass of Remembrance will be held on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. at St. Sebastian’s Roman Catholic Church, corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 58th Street, two blocks north of Queens Boulevard, in Woodside.

Gioia’s family will provide flowers for the memorial services. In celebration of her life, donations will be accepted at: St. Sebastian’s Youth Center, P.O. Box 770658, Woodside, NY 11377.

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