Madeline Varvaro LaChapelle, one week shy of 84, went to be with our Lord on the early morning of Sunday, March 7, 2021. Here is an attempt to tell the story of her very big life, especially for such a very little lady.
She was born at St. Agnes Hospital in White Plains, NY to John & Mary Varvaro on March 13,1937.
Madeline graduated from Our Lady of Victory High School and attended Manhattan School of Music as a Classical Piano Major (although she secretly dreamed of being a jazz pianist). That same summer she went to work as a switchboard operator at Leewood Golf Club in Eastchester, NY where she caught the eye of a handsome golf pro, James Smoot. They were married one year later, in November of 1957 and had four beautiful children: Deborah (1958-2019), Mary, James Jr, and Carrie. When James Smoot passed away, she took time to travel Europe. She had a great love and appreciation for history, art, and music.
She was passionate about helping those with addiction and was certified through Westchester County to be a full-time Counselor for Drug & Alcohol patients at Westchester Medical Center. She also volunteered at Rosary Hill Home in Thornwood, NY for many years, where she comforted many with terminally-ill cancer, showing up to give them a manicure and curl their hair. It was her joy to give, it’s always been that way.
Some years later, she married her late husband, Roy LaChapelle. They used to go dancing together, and Madeline really loved to dance.
Growing up a devout Catholic, her favorite place to worship was Holy Name of Jesus Church in Valhalla, NY. She listened often to the words of her favorite nun, Mother Angelica, praying the rosary every day, and listening to EWTN every night. Many years ago she made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France and her beloved Medjugorje in Croatia. She loved to recount the stories of these travels to her children and grandchildren.
Her favorite thing in the entire world was making a cup of tea, cuddling up on the couch, and spending time with her family. Madeline’s door was always open. If you happened to sit at her table, you would have likely tasted her famous apple pie, homemade sauce & meatballs, shepherd's pie, chicken soup, and her notorious jello molds at the holidays.
Like her mother, she loved to beat you at the card game “Crazy Eights” (if you ever played with her, you had to watch out for those “2”s). You would often find her giggling to the shows of “I Love Lucy,” “Candid Camera,” and “Pasta Grannies,” and her top two game shows were “Let’s Make a Deal,” and “Jeopardy.”
Mostly though, she lived to the soundtrack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Andrea Bocelli. She danced with her arms when her feet could no longer, and she tickled those black and white keys until the very end. The piano was a familiar friend to our sweet Madeline.
People knew her as Midge, Midgie, Grandma, Gram, or Mee-ma. She was the most generous, kind, & patient woman. She was always there if you needed her, with a listening ear, a wise word of advice, and a box full of cookies. She loved easily and laughed often, even when the Parkinson’s was at its worst. Madeline embraced each day as a moment to celebrate her family, and her legacy is a rich one. She had a way of making every person feel special and she will be missed every day until we see her again in Heaven. She was a true beauty.
Madeline is survived by her brothers, Anthony and John Varvaro, her children Mary Souter, James Smoot, and Carrie Vogel, her 12 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, baby Eloise.
She will be laid to rest at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY. There will be a family-only graveside service on April 5, 2021 at 11:30am.
In place of flowers, you are welcome to give to the following organizations:
Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research: https://www.michaeljfox.org/donate
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital:
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