CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — St. Matthew’s Church in Cranston is where Virginia Ruggiero devoted a lot of her time as a woman of faith, and her loved ones tell Eyewitness News she was just as devoted to her family.

Ruggerio passed away Monday at Scalibrini Villa after contracting COVID-19. Her daughter, Mary-Elizabeth Perry, tells Eyewitness News she had an underlying health condition.

Perry said her mother was a very charismatic woman. She attended church regularly and sang in the choir, but had to stop because she could no longer climb the stairs in St. Matthew’s.

“She said, ‘With all of that money the church has, I want them to build me an elevator,'” Perry said with a laugh. “She didn’t get the elevator.”

Angela Perry-Place, Perry’s daughter and Ruggerio’s granddaughter, said her grandmother was very involved in the lives of her large Italian family.

Courtesy: Angela Perry-Place

“She didn’t want to miss out on anything, she always wanted to be in the know,” Perry-Place said.

Perry said it was difficult to know she passed away without her loved ones by her side.

“It was a hit in the stomach,” Perry recalled. “It was just like, ‘Wow it’s my mother now.'”

Perry said she is thankful for the staff at Scalibrini Villa, adding that her mother received “excellent care” during her time there.

Ruggerio was laid to rest on Friday. Due to the state’s social distancing mandates, Perry said the services were private.

“It was heartbreaking to not be able to celebrate somebody’s life the way you would want to,” Perry-Place said.

What puts Ruggerio’s family at ease is knowing that she is now with her late husband, Michael Ruggerio, whom she was married to for 37 years.

Courtesy: Angela Perry-Place

“She called him ‘Mickey’ and he was the love of her life,” Perry said.

Ruggerio’s family plans to host a celebration of life at a later date when all of her loved ones are able to attend.

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