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Mark Wahlberg and brother Donnie pay tribute to ‘amazing’ mother Alma after her death aged 78

Roisin O'Connor
·3-min read
Brothers Paul and Mark Wahlberg with their mother Alma, at the premiere of Mark Wahlberg’s film The Other Guys (Getty Images)
Brothers Paul and Mark Wahlberg with their mother Alma, at the premiere of Mark Wahlberg’s film The Other Guys (Getty Images)

Alma Wahlberg, the mother of entertainers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg and a regular on their reality series Wahlburgers, has died at the age of 78, her sons have said.

“My angel. Rest in peace,” Mark Wahlberg tweeted.

Donnie Wahlberg posted a longer tribute to his mother on his Instagram account, calling her “the most loving human being I’ve ever known”.

“I’m so blessed to have been brought into this world by, raised by, taught by and set on my life’s path by, such an amazing woman,” he said. “My mom Alma’s joy for life, love and people – combined with a pride in her humble beginnings and refusal to forget where she came from – undoubtedly shaped me into the man that I am. I’ve often said, if you like anything about me, I got it from Alma. I say that, because it’s true.”

“It’s time to rest peacefully, mom,” he concluded. “I love you, miss you, thank you and will celebrate you, today and always.”

No information was given about the cause, date or location of her death.

Donnie Wahlberg often posted about his mother on his accounts and in July updated his fans on her health, writing that she “didn’t remember much and was often confused but somehow she was still Alma”.

The Boston-born Alma married Donald E Wahlberg in 1965 and raised nine children: Arthur, James, Michelle, Paul, Tracey, Robert, Donnie, Mark and Debbie.

According to her A&E biography for Wahlburgers, she worked as a bank clerk and nurse’s aide before becoming a household name after she began appearing on the series about the family’s burger chain. She and Donald divorced in 1982; Donald died in 2008.

“She made no apologies for who she was, but never put herself above anyone else. She kicked our butts if we messed up, kicked anyone else’s butts if they messed with us,” Donnie said of Alma. “Taught us right, made us pay the price when we were wrong. She was the epitome of the word grace.”

He also included a video of them dancing at his wedding to one of her favourite songs, “If I Could”, by Regina Belle. He wrote that she danced to that song at each of her children’s weddings, but at his own, he surprised her by having Belle there to perform it live.

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On the Today show in 2018, Alma Wahlberg opened up about her parenting and how hard it was early on. “I invented the craziest meals,” she said.

English muffin pizzas were among the creations she used to feed her hungry family.

Several of her children went on to great successes and fame. Her son Paul Wahlberg, who is the chef behind the namesake burger chain, also named the Alma Nove restaurant in Hingham, Massachusetts after her.

“People know me as being the mother of famous children, and although this fact has brought many gifts into my life and has afforded me opportunities that may never have been possible otherwise, there is a whole lot more to my story than most people know,” Alma Wahlberg said in an interview with Boston’s WCVB-TV in 2018.

“I’ve lived with alcoholism and abuse; struggled with poverty and experienced great wealth; lost so many that I’ve loved; struggle to raise nine children, and I love them more than anything else; watch them suffer, learn and come out on the other side; lost myself; found myself, again and again; and kept moving forward, no matter what.”

Alma Wahlberg is survived by eight children. Her daughter Debbie died in 2003.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.

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