'Saving grace': Family that lost father in Vaughan fire pays tribute to community
Fire crews were unable to save Louie Raggiunti who suffered a stroke in 2017
May 3, 2022
Luigi “Louie” Raggiunti wasn’t able to do much following his stroke, but he was able to communicate with the family he loved so dearly and that was good enough for them.
“He couldn’t speak, but he was still Louie, he knew who we were ... we had laughs, we had cries,” said his son Fausto Raggiunti in an interview with yorkregion.com.
This had become the new normal for the Raggiunti family, after Louie, a “man’s man” who could fix anything and spent much of his life helping others, experienced the life-altering medical emergency in 2017.
But instead of giving up, those around him held him up.
“He could point and grunt in different ways to show us what he wanted,” said Fausto. “I would ask him if he wanted a coffee and he’d say ‘naaah’ and that meant no, I’d ask him if he wanted juice and he’d say ‘ohhhh or ahhhh’ and that meant yes.”
That voice was quieted on April 24 when he died in a tragic fire that gutted the family’s home on Adrianno Crescent in Woodbridge.
Thankfully Louie’s wife, Julia, and mother-in-law, Maria, 97, made it out alive as neighbours gathered to comfort them and firefighters battled the blaze.
It was at this point that Fausto arrived back at home to see the destruction, smoke and chaos that surrounded the home and his “old school'” street with “great neighbours.”
He remembers hugging his mother who was distressed over the fact that she wasn’t able to get Louie out of the home.
“She was crying and apologizing that she couldn’t get him out because of the smoke,” he said. “I hugged her and said ‘it’s OK, it’s OK’.”
The fateful day began that Sunday around 11 a.m. with Fausto arriving home from a friend’s place.
He made his father a hamburger as usual, while his mother and grandmother napped.
Fausto then cleaned up the backyard and garage before taking his motorcycle to another friend’s home.
While out, he received a call from his mother’s cellphone, a neighbour on the other end telling him of the bad news.
Now, with his mother and grandmother living nearby in Maple, and himself and his sister at a friend’s home, Fausto is dealing with the aftermath.
The family’s new reality involves plenty of financial insecurity.
The Raggiuntis decided not to reinstate Louie’s life insurance due to the exorbitant cost of insuring him after a massive stroke.
“A lot of the costs were daunting, a lot of our savings were dipped into,” he said.
After a friend suggested asking the community for help, Fausto agreed to allow a GoFundMe page to be created.
Since then, people have been stepping up to help the family as they attempt to navigate life after the fire and their father’s death, and what happens next.
“I am so grateful, it’s a testament to the kind of man he was,” he added. “He was there for everyone. It’s a saving grace to know we have people to support us.”
The family held the funeral for Louie on Monday.
The family's Gofundme page can be accessed online.