Hawaii family mourns James Gandolfini Jr.

Published On: Jun 19 2013 11:14:27 PM HST   Updated On: Jun 19 2013 11:15:53 PM HST

James Gandolfini, the Hollywood actor who played crime boss Tony Soprano died Wednesday.
Many around the world are now mourning the loss of the Emmy-award winning actor, including his family on Oahu.

Many have seen Gandolfini in his TV role as the head of the Soprano family.

In 2008, a number of Hawaii residents got a chance to see and meet him in a different role, as he started a new family here by marrying Deborah Lin at Central Union Church.

"Jim was just a regular Joe, he wasn't Tony Soprano. He was a guy you could sit down and have a beer with, a sweet guy, good family guy," said the Lin's family friend Michael Lilly.

Those sentiments were echoed by Lin's mother Ruth.

"He loved her, he always wanted to keep her happy. James had a heart of gold. I can't say anything bad about him because he was a man of honor," said Ruth.

Ruth last saw him last month while visiting her granddaughter Liliana, who is now 8 months old.

"She is so cute, she looks like her daddy. I think people should see this picture of them together because it's a father-daughter relationship and he was just tickled pink with her," said Ruth.

Gandolfini played tough characters on the screen, but instead, Lin's family saw a smiling, happy husband and father. That is why one conversation Ruth had with James about two weeks ago was so disconcerting to her.

"He said 'mama' (he calls me mama), if anything happens to me please take care of the family.' When he said that, I thought he just said that to be funny or he was just joking around. I said, 'Nothing is going to happen to you, you're the picture of health.' And for this to happen, I'm devastated," stated Ruth.

According to Ruth, James loved the islands and said they would retire here. They were supposed to come out in August, when Deborah's brother Andrew gets married.

Now, Ruth is headed to the mainland to help her daughter and granddaughter deal with their sudden and incredible loss.


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