Mary Valastro, mother of “Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro, died Thursday. She had ALS, a neurodegenerative illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The 69-year-old family matriarch was a familiar face on the TLC series about the family business, Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J. The show, which premiered in 2008, turned the bakery into a popular tourist attraction.
Valastro announced the sad news on his Facebook page Thursday.
“It’s with an extremely heavy heart that I must share the news of my mother’s passing. She left for heaven this morning, surrounded by the family,” Valastro wrote in the heartfelt post.
“This is a difficult time for all of us and I do ask for your patience and respect while we let this sink in. Her battle with ALS has ended, she is no longer suffering and I hope she’s dancing to ‘I Will Survive’ with my dad right now.”
Valastro’s father, Bartolo Valastro Sr., died from lung cancer in 1994 when Buddy was 17. Valastro’s mother encouraged him to keep the family business going and worked alongside him as he became TV’s “Cake Boss” and the family bakery grew.
In a recent interview with Delish, Valastro said that everything he’s become in life he owes to his family.
“No matter how big I get, or how hard I work, I never, ever forget where I come from,” he said.
He was with his mother when she died.
“Mary took a turn yesterday, and Buddy rushed back to New Jersey last night to be by her side,” Valastro’s rep told People on Thursday.
“She passed early this morning, June 22nd, surrounded by all of her children. Mary’s condition had been steadily worsening these past months, so it was not sudden but still extremely heartbreaking for the family.
“After eight years of fighting her battle with ALS, the family is relieved she is no longer suffering. Buddy and his sisters are absolutely crushed right now.”
Valastro launched the Momma Mary Foundation five years ago to raise money for ALS research.
Family members posted remembrances online and the Carlo’s Bakery team shared its own homage on Instagram.
“She was full of life and love; her energy could be felt throughout the entire bakery the moment she came in the door, and we know that energy will stay with us forever,” they wrote.