MISS AMERICA: Angela Baraquio Grey, Miss America 2001, a Hawaii native, and current Anaheim resident, at Maxwell Park in Anaheim March 20.
JOSHUA SUDOCK, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
"Lost + Found"
Miss America dedicates music to her brother Big Al
2001 beauty queen cuts record to remember her little brother.
The police found Albert lying in the dark on a patch of grass outside a Honolulu credit union. He had taken the bus there to die, and he was carrying the prayer book that his sister had given him in his backpack.
They were close, Angela and Albert. He was the party boy with the goofy laugh, the easy grin and demons hidden away in his notebooks. She was Miss America 2001, full of confidence and poise, the first woman of Asian heritage to win the beauty pageant.
He still called her a geek.
There had always been music between them – whether they were trying hard to ignore each other at a dance club, or belting out karaoke, side by side and laughing. And when he died, it was a song that helped get her through the darkest days.
The memory's so clear of your last days here
I wanna hear your voice, wanna touch your face.
• • •
They grew up together in Hawaii, watching He-Man cartoons or playing Super Mario Bros. after school. There were 10 children in the Baraquio family; Angela was No. 8 and Albert was No. 9, the baby boy.
They would pass each other in the halls of their high school with barely a nod. "'Sup, Geek," he would say. "'Sup, stupid," she would answer.
They were two years apart, but they roomed together in college. She had an easy grace and a megawatt smile, and she loved the cameras, even then. He was a skinny guy, but he dyed his hair orange, put on sunglasses and styled himself "Big Al." Everybody loved him.
And, on the October evening in 2000 when his big sister won the Miss America pageant, Albert was the one dishing out quotes and stories to the press. Angela always gave him a hard time for that: He got the spelling of her soon-to-be husband's name wrong.
• • •
I miss you so, I should let go
You're looking down
Wish I could see you again.
• • •
Albert moved to Irvine in 2004. He got a job working at a bank; but, really, he wanted to be a DJ. In journals that his family found later, he wrote that he felt like he was going through a midlife crisis.
Angela spent a year traveling the nation with a smile and a wave as Miss America. She used her high profile to urge schools to teach values and character in the classroom, drawing from her past life as a Catholic school teacher.
She had won the pageant, in part, by dancing hula for the talent competition. After she handed off the tiara, she and her husband Tinifuloa started a Polynesian music and entertainment company, Isle Entertainment. They have two sons and moved to Anaheim in 2006.
Angela didn't see Albert as often. But whenever they got together – at a family dinner or over a game of cards – he still seemed like Big Al, the life of the party, always happy.
• • •
I need to know there's something after this life
This is not the end
Oh, I'll be living for you for the rest of my life ... Continue reading on Page 2.
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