Remembering Ann Billittier

May 12, 2013 Updated May 12, 2013 at 11:38 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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May 12, 2013 Updated May 12, 2013 at 11:38 PM EDT


Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - The matriarch of a long running restaurant passed away on Saturday.

83-year-old Ann Billittier, the co-owner of Chef's Italian Restaurant, died in Sarasota, Florida after a brief illness.

Billittier and her late-husband, Lou, also played a pivotal role in several local charities.

Friends remember Ann as loving and loyal, with a heart of gold.

Mike Benevento, with the Variety Club of Buffalo, says Anne was "just a wonderful lady. A kind, sweet, wonderful lady."

Even though Ann co-owned the popular Chef's Italian restaurant, she was perhaps best known for her work in the community.

Joseph Cozzo, the President/CEO of Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, says, "She was a very loving and loyal mother and friend -- she's just touched so many lives in this community."

Whether it was fighting cancer, helping the hearing impaired or giving to children with special needs, Ann and Lou dove in head first to every cause that was near and dear to their hearts.

The couple taught their family to do the same.

Ann had been involved with the Variety Club since 1980. "It was always 'our kids,' says Benevento "Not Variety's kids -- she would always say 'our kids.' "

"I know that there are people who have been touched by tragedy who have called Mrs. Billittier or Lou or Mary Beth, and ask for a donation," adds Cozzo. "They always very unselfishly respond to that."

Ann is remembered for her heart of gold and maternal nature. However, she also had a stubborn streak that she used to help rally support for many causes.

"(Lou) wasn't bashful, neither was Ann," remembered Benevento. "They would put the hit on them and say -- it's great that you're a part of this community, you're important, but we need your help."

That's what friends say Lou and Ann's legacies will be: teaching other the kindness of giving.