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Nicola’s Joan Caggiano laid to rest

Family, friends crowd Rehoboth church to honor popular matriarch
May 19, 2017

Nicola Pizza matriarch Joan Caggiano was known for her warm, welcoming smile. Her son said she was no doubt smiling in heaven as hundreds packed St. Edmond Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach May 18 to say goodbye.

Laughs and smiles were shared as friends and family remembered the lady known as “Mama Nicola.” Joan Caggiano died May 12 of kidney and liver disease. She was 75 years old. Her family said she had been ill for the last five years and entered hospice care the week before her death.

The Rev. Christopher Hanley said, “No matter what was going on with her body, she had this smile on her face. It was so humanizing. It was so beautiful. There’s going to be great joy in heaven.”

Hanley said Joan filled a room with her spirit and always looked out for others ahead of herself.

The fun began when Hanley asked Joan’s husband, Nick Caggiano Sr., if Joan liked to cook.

“She shopped,” he said, to laughter from the audience.

Hanley then asked those in attendance to describe Joan in one word, drawing shouts of generous, gracious, welcoming, joyful, smiling, funny and authentic. Hanley said the service was a day of celebration, not grief, and that Joan’s spirit will be everywhere to those she knew.

Joan’s niece, Kelly Munyan, said her aunt loved holidays, travel and shopping.

“Everybody was her family,” Munyan said, adding her own children always looked forward to “Mom-Mom Mondays” with Joan, describing Joan as the original Uber for her willingness to pick up family members who may have been out late.

Joan’s son, Nick Caggiano Jr., said his mother always liked to see him in a suit, something he personally does not like to wear.

“I know she will have a big smile knowing I’m in a suit,” he said.

Nick Jr. said his mother was always smiling and that the celebration of her life would bring a smile. He then went into tales of his mother’s shopping addiction.

“You know that saying, ‘Shop, shop, until you drop?’ For her it was, ‘Shop, shop, I will never drop!’” Nick Jr. said.

He said he got a call from Marshall’s store noting their sales were down and wondering why Joan hadn’t been in. Nick Jr. also remembered a time when he took his mother to a doctor appointment. When he offered to take her to lunch, she demurred, saying she’d had a big breakfast. Nick Jr. said the next thing she said was, “We’re still going to the outlets, right?”

Nick Jr. said he and Joan used to run the door at Nicola’s and would frequently get into discussions and arguments with one another, but at the end of the day, would always have dinner together. He said his mom was not just a mother, but a best friend.

“She’s touched every one of us here,” Nick Jr. said. “I really know we have been blessed by an angel. We should feel very special. God bless you, Mom, and I can’t wait to see you again.”

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