Mark and Donnie Wahlberg are mourning the death of their mother, Alma Wahlberg, who appeared on their family reality show “Wahlburgers.” She was 78.
Alma Wahlberg, the matriarch of the famous Wahlberg family, had nine children: Michelle, Paul, Arthur, Jim, Tracey, Robert, Donnie, Mark and Debbie, who died in 2003 at age 43. Their father, Alma Wahlberg’s ex-husband, Donald Wahlberg, died in 2008.
Mark and Donnie Wahlberg are the most famous faces in their large family, but Alma Wahlberg became a celebrity in her own right through their reality show, “Wahlburgers,” which ran from 2014 to 2019 and chronicled the family’s work at their Boston-based burger joint of the same name.
“I was very hesitant and nervous at first,” she told USA TODAY in 2014 of being on camera. But her sons persuaded her. “They said: ‘You can talk to a wall, Ma. You won’t have any trouble.'”
Her children mourned Sunday on social media with photo and video tributes. “My angel. Rest in peace,” Mark Wahlberg wrote in an Instagram post Sunday.
Donnie Wahlberg wrote in a lengthy tribute Sunday that he felt “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.”
“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.”
She was “the most loving human being” and “the epitome of the word grace,” he continued.
It’s time to rest peacefully, mom,” Donnie Wahlberg said. “I love you, miss you, thank you and will celebrate you, today and always. Forever – your Baby Donnie”
Alma Wahlberg, a Boston native, worked as a bank clerk and nurse’s aide “to make ends meet” while raising her children, according to her official “Wahlburgers” bio. She would go on to serve as a greeter and hostess at the family restaurant.
In the show’s pilot episode, one question lingered for the Wahlberg crew: Each son wanted to know which one was their mother’s favorite.
“I am Alma’s favorite. There is no question about it,” Donnie Wahlberg told USA TODAY at the time. “Paul only substitutes when I am out of town. Mark can take solace in the fact that he was our dad’s favorite.”
Paul Wahlberg said “it depends on who’s in the room.”
Their mother argued her favorite was “whoever I’m with at the time.”
“They’re all so unique in their own way. I’m really proud of them. Not just the success, but how they’ve turned out. They’re really good people. I wouldn’t care if they were ditch diggers, as long as they’re good people.”
Contributing: Ann Oldenberg