‘Angelina and Felix at their wedding, 1951.’

An Untold Life: Angelina Fuda

By Maggie Nicholson

The car bumbled lazily along the road. Pavement writhed in the noon light like a sunbathing caterpillar. It was 1943. In the backseat were three young children: two girls and a boy. One was named Angelina. The kids were quiet: occupied and happy. They watched their mother Mary steer the car through the mountainous landscape that comprised the drive from Colorado to Seattle.

The silence was ruptured only by the contented quacking of their pet duck, who ruffled his feathers happily.

Angelina, her brother Nick, sister Rosemary, mother Mary and the family duck made it safely to Seattle and began settling in. Mary was a housewife and her husband Jim was employed by Washington Iron Works. Soon after Angelina moved with her family to Seattle, her childhood friend Ann also moved to the area. The girls remained close as they grew into women. Later in life, they were volunteer librarians together at the Holy Rosary School. Angelina was an avid reader, especially of murder mysteries. Ann, now 94, still volunteers at the school library.

Angelina met the love of her life, Felix Fuda, in 1947. They met at Felix’s sister's wedding. Angelina and Felix's sister Anna had attended and graduated school together. Felix and Angelina fell in love and dated for four years. Angelina promised her mother she wouldn’t marry until she turned twenty-one so they waited, and as soon as twenty-one came, were married.

They had their wedding at St. Mary’s. The church was saturated with heavy white flowers. Seven months after the wedding, Angelina was pregnant. Together, Angelina and Felix had four children: Jim, Phillip, Michael and Kim. The family moved into their home on 44th Ave in West Seattle. It was 1954.

Angelina and Felix were the longest living couple on the block. They watched many people come and go. Angelina was the neighborhood watch and mother. Neighbors with bundled up newborns came and rasped their knuckles on her door. For many, whose babies were their first, Angelina offered instruction. She was wonderful with children and knew just what to do.

When she had her own kids, she stopped working at the Mission Macaroni Factory. Felix worked at Gai’s Bakery, which is now called Franz Bakery.

Growing up in Colorado, no one went out to eat and Angelina learned to cook from her mother. They stayed home and cooked all of their own meals. Angelina was very skilled with Italian dishes.

She was honest and nice to everyone she met. “Heart as a big as a rock,” says Felix, opening his arms wide enough to cradle an invisible boulder. The couple went dancing together and frequented the Spanish Castle Ballroom. Andre Bocelli was a favorite of Angelina’s and daily she danced to his music in the kitchen with her grandson Zach. He’d run his hands through her wild black hair, nearly an afro, to make her laugh and swat him away.

Her children, husband and grandchildren were her life. If anyone tried to discipline her grandkids she’d say, ‘leave them alone!’ She had an exuberant laugh, almost a cackle.

The family took trips to Nevada and Yakima. They visited Angelina’s cousins in Tonopah, Nevada. It was a small, dusty town with a lot of wind. On the fourth of July, Tonopah hosted a parade down the small strip. The town has one Mexican restaurant and one street lamp.

Every year in late summer the family would drive to Yakima to pick peppers and peaches. They’d collect a couple hundred pounds of peppers, spread them out on picnic tables and wait until the peppers turned red. “That’s when they were good for canning,” says Felix. Kim says her mom spent full days after the trips canning and stocking up for the winter.

Angelina loved to garden and cook. She wore black slacks, tennis shoes and aprons. Her garden was filled with flowers. She loved geraniums and yellow gerbera daisies. She loved anything colored yellow. Up until she passed away in the spring of 2012, the only plant she didn’t like was the giant fig tree in her backyard. Her family laughs while recalling her feud with the fig tree. Felix smiles.

“Have you ever had a fresh fig?” he asks, pointing out the window at the encroaching tree branch. The leaves push against the glass in fullness.

An Untold Life is a feature of the West Seattle Herald/White Center News telling stories about people who have passed away, but who, in their lives, made a positive difference in many others. If you have suggestions for people whose lives you believe deserve a story, contact Maggie Nicholson at maggie.m.nicholson@gmail.com

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