Laura Ellen Antinucci
1954-2015

 

The inspired chef, Roma, 2008

 

1966, Mrs. Volpicelli's 6th grade, Overseas School of Rome

Closeup -- that's Laurie in the middle.

 

Laura in 1967, and her brother Richard's drums

1970

2008 -- during one of Rome's regular floods

2008

2008 -- at Le Vasche (Viterbo) -- therapeutic soak in lovely natural hot spring pools

The photos below are courtesy of Paolo Ceratto of Torino. He writes:
These span from 1969  to 1974. The boy is Davide.

The black and white with crosses in the back
was taken at Highgate Cemetery in London.

The rest mostly on campus, Union College, Schenectady.

Cheers,
Paolo





In 2008, Laura wrote:
Richard passed after an 18-month battle with brain cancer on January 2, 2005. He is survived by his first wife, Rochelle Cheever, his second wife Jenny Eriksson, his sons Richard Mark (27) and Christopher(25).

It was very sad to see him go so young... He was 49 years old and really wanted to live.

My brother Steven passed in April 2008. He was 51. He had acute leukemia. He is survived by his wife Adda Bein (27) and his son Ben (4).

If you remember her, my sister Ellen died from pancreatic cancer in 1997. She was 39.

There are six Antinucci siblings left now. Clearly, we screen for cancer (as best as we can). There is a hospital in Texas that is studying us.

Sorry to have to give you the bad news. Richard, Chris and Adda are all on facebook.

My four siblings and I live in Rome.

I have three children, Stefano (24), Alexander (16), and Flavia (13).

My Dad died in 1987 at age 57 of pancreatic cancer, and Mom of a heart attack in her sleep at 66 (1998) five months after my sister Ellen passed.

We have all suffered a lot.

On top of everything, in February of the year 2000, I separated from my Roman husband with four kids, and lost my second son Mark that year in December at age 12. A real tragedy. He had an autoimmune disease which affected his platelets which then caused a massive stroke. So you can imagine when the phone rings and we find out yet another sibling has cancer we are devastated!

Another brother, David (1969) had colon cancer about five years ago, but he got LUCKY, and had surgery, and is doing well. We are all amazed! It might be fairly obvious that we have a genetic mutation which predisposes us to several cancers. However, no matter how tough life gets, we must carry on - especially for our children.

My brother Victor is 43 now, and lives in Monterosi (about 20 km north of Olgiata) and has a boy Mark, 13, and a girl Carolyn, 10. He is very successful at his work with a pharmaceutical company.

Richard went to college at Rollins in Orlando, Florida, then went to work for my Dad and then became a very successful businessman in his own right. He was a food (and non food broker) and worked between Rome and the Middle East. He played acoustic guitar and listened to his favorite music on a super-duper stereo system. He divorced when his kids were young and got custody, so he was also a full-time Dad when he wasn't traveling. He did a great job with his boys. Richard Mark races Indy Lights. You can see his bio and races on the Indylight.com website. Chris graduated in Economics and is getting ready to go to a graduate school, maybe with a minor in surfing! They are both great kids, and my kids really enjoy hanging out with them a lot when we visit San Diego.

On February 28, 2015, she was reunited with her son Mark in the Virgili family tomb in the Cimitero del Verano in Rome.

Eulogy for Laurie

Laurie and I have been pals since third grade at what was then called OSR (no A) in 1962. In adulthood she preferred to be addressed as Laura but to me she gave unique permission to use her childhood name. To me she's always been Laurie.

She was the prettiest girl in the class, and a spirited one, too. She was endlessly cheerful. We went to each other's birthday party each of those years. Jimmy McDivitt and Penny Pringle would also host birthday parties every year and we were a tight gang.

Those were Rome's anni d'oro -- the golden years -- remembered thus in popular culture today and indeed they were. Rome was safe and children were beloved. We had so much freedom. We took trips to the stabilimenti sulle spiagge di Ostia and roamed the meadows and caves behind Olgiata where the Antinucci family lived. And there were brilliant field trips with Mrs. Fabris, Miss Holt, Miss Coughlin, Mrs. Volpicelli, unforgettable teachers in our elementary school years.

In high school, we had Mr. Ceen, Mr. Brunchwig, Mr. and Mrs. Davidson, Miss Leary, Mrs. Zaller, Mr. O'Grady, Mrs. Roberts, Mr. MacFarlane, and Mr. Dewitt. Rome was a wonderful world in which to grow up. We ranged far and wide on our motorbikes. Laurie's brother Richard (alas also recently deceased) was the drummer in my first band. We played our first paying gig (for twentyfive thousand lire, which seemed to us a king's ransom) in OSR's cafeteria. Laurie was right there, dancing and singing with us.

We lost touch for a few decades after high school, busy with college, our growing families, and our careers. Laurie stayed in Italy and became a lactation consultant. I moved to California and became a computer programmer. In the 1990s and 2000s I resumed travels to Rome, returning annually for business. Laurie and I would meet and lunch and catch up.

I will never forget the year (2000) her son Mark passed away. Laurie was like a sleep walker. She had entered a dark and bleak world. Her affect was flat and she could hardly make conversation. Losing a child is surely the harshest trial anyone could endure.

Still, we kept in touch. In 2008 I returned with my own children for a year in Rome. I wanted them to have a taste of what we'd had, and they loved it. Laurie and I resumed our friendship. It even blossomed briefly into a romance and moments I will always cherish. We had adventures -- trips to the vasche di Viterbo and the Castelli Romani. Our kids played video games together. And there were endless, fabulous dinners. What a great cook she was!

In 2014 it looked like she was going to realize her dream of returning to the United States to her family's country home in Oregon where she would start a new life. She was completing her divorce, and getting her kids launched in their own lives. At last, it was time for her to live her life for herself, to tackle projects that had been on her back burner for so many years, to have that "me time" she so justly deserved. I was looking forward to having her near me on the Left Coast. All this was cut short by her cancer (pancreatic) diagnosis in November of that year. We texted and talked on the phone and I could hear her growing weaker. She lived four more months. Her passing has left a gaping hole in our world. But she has also left us so many sweet memories. Laurie, you'll live forever in our hearts.

-- Dan Keller, 2016

With Laura's sister Katherine in 2018

Nov. 13, 2019 -- A fascinating exchange of emails with Charles B. (previously unknown to me).

Hi Dan,

What an interesting email. Thank you.

"cc-ed this to Richard's sister Katherine (whom I visited in Rome a year ago). She, too, will surely enjoy your reminiscences." That is lovely. Maybe I should copy the 'story' that I sent his boys about our odd meeting - perhaps she will enjoy it too, although I worry a bit that it doesn't show me in a good light - maybe I should wear my big boys boots and copy it in anyway.

Yes, you can publish my email - actually, I am very flattered by your kind request. I didn't know Laura at all, but reading your simple yet lovely Tribute page and her anguished yet bravely resolute letter, I want to put my arms around her in her picures. As a parent, knowing that she is with her boy is calming.

Dan, you have a terrific writing style. You have done a good thing here.

Story:


Nov-2019, 1988

I met Richard Antinucci on a flight between London and New York. He wasn't sitting next to me or anything, but he nevertheless managed to introduce himself by dropping his case on my head! He was sitting a few rows away and had stowed his case in the locker above my head. Of course, I was not very pleased about having his case drop on my head, and even less pleased when I realised that he was sitting multiple rows away and thus, in my opinion, had no business storing his case above my head (a possible hand-luggage crime). This incident was followed by more than a few angry stares from me, a 22 year old aggressive salesman from London, towards him, a well dressed and irritatingly handsome 32 year old Italian looking businessman, tired from a long trip I guessed. I do remember Richard apologising, but that didn't stop my head (and pride) from being sore. The 'Mexican stand-off' continued on the connecting bus and into the terminal.

I think that my mood had been darkened earlier when I learned that, due to 'headwinds', I was going to miss my connecting flight to Washington and have an unwanted forced overnight stay in New York. My girlfriend would be wondering where I was and THEN this Italian looking chap dropped his case on my head. I was angry already and angrier afterwards.

Two years earlier, at Exeter University as a younger man, I had had the good luck to meet 'Jane from Chicago' who was spending a 'year-abroad' in the UK at our University. She was a dark-haired Italian American and unusually beautiful and very clever too ... did I mention beautiful? We were very good friends at Uni, but when she left a year later, as is so often the case, I suddenly realised, too late, what a mistake I had made. It took me quite a while to work out what was wrong with me - I flunked my exams, got kicked out of Uni and had a strange heart-burn. You know what the problem was, but I didn't. In desperation I got a job as a salesman to pay the bills; I did well and decided to go and visit Jane in Chicago. She was more beautiful than ever and the heartburn disappeared. Later she moved to Washington to work for the 'National Right to Life' organisation and it was whilst I was heading out from London to see her again, that my path crossed with Richard Antinucci.

The airline put us up in a hotel - it was nice. The irritating Italian chap had come too! He was obviously going to Washington as well.

The next morning, I came down to breakfast late. The breakfast lounge was full and there was a very hurried feel to the service. I grabbed the last table for two. I was just about to tuck in to my scrambled eggs and tinned pears, hoping that a stunning beauty would waft into the dining room and join me for breakfast, when I saw him appear at the bottom of the stairs in the lobby pulling his case urgently behind him - yes, the Italian was the only person to be later than my tardy self. I frantically waved the waitress over and asked her to remove the cutlery and chair from in front of me. He saw what I had done; I didn't care, I was still mad - remember. I feel guilty now, but I didn't then. After all, he had assaulted me ... well, almost.

The breakfast lounge cleared quickly. The Italian got a seat at the other end near the windows and I quickly finished my meal and dashed outside to find just one yellow cab left. I had gotten the last yellow cab. Immediately I knew what that meant for the Italian - who, let's not forget, had assaulted me, given me some dirty looks on the plane and on the bus and in the breakfast lounge. I loaded my bag in the boot, climbed into the back seat and we moved quietly away. I glanced over my shoulder in time to see the Italian rushing out of the hotel, yanking his case behind him, with a look of disbelief on his face. I settled back comfortably into my seat ... and then it happened. It was as if time froze, just like the movies, and I had this overpowering feeling that I had just taken things too far - he was going to miss his flight. That was a punishment too far. I immediately stopped the cab, jumped out and waved to him to join me. I was still mad with him; just not mad enough to make him miss his flight. After I had loaded his bag into the boot we both quickly jumped in to the back seat and I looked at him with my most furious expression and said "I am very cross with you" and he said "I know you are" and we both burst out laughing. We didn't stop laughing for 3 days. From that second we 'hit it off' - it was amazingly weird for me. Probably for him too. We managed to sit next to each other on the plane to Washington and we really had fun chatting. I took a chance and invited him and his wife over for dinner - I hadn't seen my girlfriends flat, or met her flat-mate or even asked her permission - all a bit of a risk. He didn't bat an eyelid, we agreed that if it went wrong we would 'roll with the blows'.

When I met Jane, I explained about the handsome Italian American and that I had invited him and his wife over for dinner. She and her flat-mate were so excited. Two beautiful 23 year old Italian American girls making proper Italian pasta all day - they hung it up all around the flat to dry?? On clothes-horses and rails in the bathroom.

Richard and Rochelle arrived early to the girls fright and my delight. Richard was enchanted - two Italian beauties creating an authentic Italian meal, fussing around us boys as we drank beers and the laughter rolled. Rochelle was very indulgent of our youthful foolishness. It was a tiny flat and there was lots of noise and activity from the girls and it was a very happy night. I was particularly struck at how Richard was wriggling with pleasure - the food, the ladies, the music and the laughter. It was an awesome evening for us boys. The girls too, I am sure.

Richard invited the three of us over for dinner at his house the next evening, but I was the only one free. So the next day he picked me up and I visited his and Rochelle's home - and oh wow, was I blown away. It was HUGE. Remember, I was a little Englander from a modest middle-class background - everything is tiny over here; houses, cars, hotel rooms, steaks. I thought I had seen it all, when Richard revealed his Heli-pad! (or is that my memory embellishing my young awestruck recollections?)

Time moved on and I had to return to London. Before I left, Richard and I met up for a last beer and, out of the blue he said, "look, I want you to come and work for me. I want you to look after my business in Saudi Arabia". I was shocked by the expansive offer - I hadn't expected anything like that. I asked if I could "think about it" - he said yes. Richard seemed a lot older than me, yet he was only 32. Life moved on, Jane and I split up and I politely declined Richard's kind offer (something I have long since wondered about). If I am honest, I was intimidated by the idea of Saudi Arabia, also I was too young to realise that that sort of 'getting on well' is too rare to ignore.

The irony is, that less than a year later I would join one of the largest 'Marketing and Distribution' companies in the Middle East and then work in Dubai, Oman and Bahrain. I always wondered if I was unwittingly coming across Richard's business. Occasionally, I would look through the business directories of the Middle East for the name Richard Antinucci, but I never found it.

Lots of strange stuff there. A really lovely man; a really lovely time. An amazing instant friendship (after a tricky start). Powerful and fond memories.

Recently, on one of my searches, I came across this website: https://dan-keller.com/laura/ ... and my heart sank. I am so very sorry to learn of his passing. Very sorry indeed. What a lovely father he must have been though.

Richard brought immense fun and joy into my life during a strange week that I have never forgotten.



Kind regards
--
Charles


On Wed, Nov 13, 2019, at 8:49 PM, Dan Keller wrote:
> Hi Charles --
>
> That is a remarkable story! Especially that Richard
> left such a deep impression. He was a good man
> and he is missed.
>
> As a boy (which is when I knew him; in adulthood,
> our paths crossed only a couple of times) he was
> the class cut-up; always joking and laughing.
> I don't remember whether his drumming was good
> (my guitar playing certainly wasn't) but we had
> lots of fun with our silly little high school rock
> band.
>
> As an adult, he undertook several business
> ventures and I guess he thrived, at least judging
> from the style of life he was able to conduct.
> He had a beautiful apartment in Rome, and
> raced Formula 1 cars.
>
> The last time I saw him, in the early 2000s, he
> already had the brain cancer although I didn't yet
> know it, and I don't know whether he did, either.
> I visited him in his apartment in Rome and his
> manner was odd; he wasn't his cheerful self.
> The cancer was affecting his behavior and
> personality. It was very sad.
>
> But anyway I've enjoyed reading your memories of him
> and thank you for reaching out and for sharing them.
>
> I have cc-ed this to Richard's sister Katherine
> (whom I visited in Rome a year ago).
> She, too, will surely enjoy your reminiscences.
>
> Would it be ok with you if I added the words you've
> written to the web page (remembering Laurie) that
> you found?
>
> Best wishes,
> Dan
>
> Dan Keller RN MS
> (415) 861-4500
> https://www.dan-keller.com/
>
> On 13/11/2019 08:47, Charles B. wrote:
>> Hi Dan,
>>
>> You don't know me. I am writing a quick note to say a very big thank you to you for hosting the lovely tribute page to Laura Antinucci. Funny - I didn't know Laura either!
>>
>> I met a chap 31 years ago on an aeroplane from London to New York. We had a disagreement - he dropped his case on my head (it wasn't as funny then as it is now). Anyway, after 18hrs of dirty looks and bad behavior (mostly from me) we became friends - unfortunately I lost contact with Richard Antinucci and have long since fondly wondered about him - what he was up to etc.
>>
>> After a lot of searching and many stops and starts over the years, I eventually found your web-site and the very sad answer to my question.
>>
>> I have since contacted his two sons Chris and Richard M and recounted the strange and yet powerful meeting and subsequent friendship.
>>
>> So once again, thank you. Although I am very sad that the world lost someone that was such a 'bright star' I am very happy to pass on to his two sons what a high regard that I held their father in and what a powerful impression he made on me as a young (23) man.
>>
>> As a very odd aside, when I first came across your website, I was breath-taken that you had pictures of my niece and a picture that looked strikingly like my wife in her teens. Of course, these were both pictures of a young Laurie. How very odd indeed. Maybe there was more to my very odd meeting with Richard then I can possibly know. Life is sometimes a mystery.
>>
>> Feet firmly back on the ground to say one big last thank you. I admire people like you Dan, with passion and creative flair - that page to Laura is simple and yet deeply lovely.
>>
>> in thanks
>>
>> Bon voyage!