Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Sept 1967: Mooroopna's former Miss Charity Queen shares her life story

Friday, September 1, 1967, on page 2, The News announced Miss Angelina Varapodio of Ardmona was crowned Miss Charity Queen. Now and Then discovers the reason for her move to Melbourne.

ROB MCLEAN October 1, 2012 2:16pm

Frank and Angelina Iacono.

MIss Charity Queen Angelina Varapodio.Love at first sight was only half true for Angelina Varapodio.

Only because she could not actually see her husband to be, but for Frank Iacono, Angelina’s future husband, the adage was certainly true.

The chance encounter between Angelina and Frank came when Frank visited the Shepparton area with friends who were relatives of the Varapodios and called around to say a quick ‘‘hello’’.

The visit was quick, Frank never got out of the car, he saw Angelina, but she never saw him.

Frank was in one of two cars of family and friends who travelled from Melbourne to an Italian memorial at Murchison. That journey then took a momentous turn that began a lifelong love affair.

Family of the Varapodios decided they would visit relatives in Mooroopna, Frank and Santa (Santina) Varapodio, and as time was short, the visitors, at least Frank Iacono and those in the car with him, did not even alight from the vehicle.

Frank, however, was watching, and it was Angelina who caught his eye and to this day, still does.

Angelina, who was the Miss Charity Queen at the 1967 Melbourne Italian-Australian Society Ball raising $2078.33 for the Lord Mayor’s Hospital Fund Appeal, was just 22.

The visit to the Varapodios’ Mooroopna home was on September 10 and just three months later, on December 10, Angelina and Frank were married.

The dominoes had fallen amazingly fast and Angelina, who had always imagined a long courtship followed by an equally long engagement, was catapulted into a marriage that she said still felt as beautiful today as the day they were married.

The machinations of family soon saw an infatuated Frank back in Mooroopna to see the girl he had admired from a distance, who was to become the love of his life.

Frank began travelling to and from Melbourne every weekend and it was family and friends, seeing the risks associated with spending so much time on what were then very different roads to today, who urged the couple to marry.

Angelina, who had imagined a somewhat more leisurely approach to such a significant life decision, had no desire to see Frank injured, or even worse, dead, and agreed that marriage made sense.

Again, the family stepped forward, and at a time of the year when venues were pretty much booked, a suitable reception was quickly organised.

Angelina said her rather short engagement followed by a marriage raised a few eyebrows, but the speed of events was to do with Frank’s welfare rather than any other matter.

Their daughter, and only child, Maria was born in December 1968 and although, according to Angelina, beautiful in every sense, she became quite ill at just seven months and was all her life until she died 11 years ago, aged 32.

Angelina and Frank, now living in Altona, had been close and urgently in love — they still are — and raising an ill daughter brought a new and unexpected bond to their marriage.

Long-term Mooroopna people would remember much about Angelina’s parents, Frank and Santa (Santina) and their deaths in 1976, just eight days apart. The respect of many was reflected by their huge funerals.

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