Sheepshead Bay Loses Unsung Heroine Carmela "Chubby" Versace

Requiescat In Pace, Carmela "Chubby" Versace | Source: John J. Healey Funeral Home

Ever read an obit and think that you cannot possibly relate less to the person you are reading about? Take Huguette Clark, for instance — the reclusive 104-year-old copper heiress and daughter of a former U.S. Senator from the state of Montana. Who among us was “reared in Beaux-Arts splendor in a 121-room Fifth Avenue mansion” awash in the works of Rembrandt, Donatello, Rubens and Degas?

But then, I happened upon a loving tribute for Sheepshead Bay resident Carmela “Chubby” Versace, 85, who leaves behind a grieving family larger than those of the Bradies and Partridges combined, and I thought, “I could have known this lady,” because she is as salt of the earth as they get.

Born in Greenwich Village, Carmela moved to Sheepshead Bay in 1940 and, like so many people I know who are 65 and older, sold Stanley Home Products door-to-door (or, alternately, Fuller Brush). But you know what really separates this sassy, loving, family-oriented Brooklyn gal from the stodgy old fuddy duddy Huguette? One sentence: “In the words of Chubbs ‘I have two words for you and it’s not Happy Birthday’.”

Read the whole thing (I omitted wake info, since it already passed, but you can see it if you click here), and if you have any memories of “Chubbs,” be sure and share them in the comments:

VERSACE, Carmela (Chubby), (nee Surace), 85 years old, on June 17, 2011. “THE STANLEY LADY.” Beloved wife of the late Jerry. Loving mother of Maryann Boccia (Frank), Antoinette Boccia (Gerard), Camille Muscarella (late John), Maria Versace (Bill O’Leary), the late Rose Marie Versace, and Geraldine Vigneron (Steven). Dear grandmother of Sebastian, John, Matthew, Delena, Gina, Anthony, Ryan, Rose Marie, Jack, Abbey, Michael and Katie. Great grandmother of Max and Giavanna.
Carmela was born on April 14, 1926 and lived Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village, NY. She later moved with her parents, Antoinette and Bruno and her nine siblings, Daniel, Mary, Anthony, Florence, Theresa, Rocco, Gloria, Bruno and Rose Marie to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn in 1940.
Carmela was a parishioner of St. Marks Church for 60 years. She began her career selling Stanley Home Products at the age of 25. She continued selling door to door throughout all the neighborhoods of Brooklyn up until her recent illness. Carmela loved “good ole Brooklyn”…her afternoon swims at Brighton Beach, her Johnny Walker Black with a beer chaser, cooking her famous chicken soup for the neighborhood and delivering her cases of Stanley degreaser to her customers. In the words of Chubbs “I have two words for you and it’s not Happy Birthday”.

She lived her life, worked hard, raised her kids, and her family loved her. God speed, Chubbs. Sheepshead Bay is a better place because real people like you called it home.