Lillian Mininni-Totin was born in Steubenville, Ohio, on July 13, 1935, to Frank and Lily Mininni. Her father, Frank, was a barber. Her mother, Lily, was a homemaker.
Lillian, or Lu (as she liked to be called) grew up in Steubenville. She was born with a healthy dose of faith. She was a deeply spiritual woman, content with her walk with the Lord.
When she was in her mid-teens, she, and her parents and one sister relocated to Arizona for her father's health. He passed away just a year after moving. Lu stayed with her mother, helping her as best she could, while trying to pursue her passion for theatre.
Lu relocated for a short time to California, bringing her mother with her. She then went, alone, to New York to pursue her dreams. She paid for her mother's apartment and sent extra money so Lily could obtain a high school diploma.
Lu had talent, but she also had morals and ethics - she had principles - and those things don't often go hand-in-hand with the entertainment industry. She worked as a singer in nightclubs, as well as starring in various off-Broadway musicals. She was in a television series titled "The Nurses", as well as other programs. She belly-danced to stay trim. She studied under a variety of famous names, including Agnes Moorehead. She knew the movers and shakers of that time. She was a ball of energy with a four-octave range.
Lu met her future husband, George, while working Summerstock in New York City. They fell in love, married, and eventually moved back to California. After the birth of her only child, Lu vowed to offer her talents up the God, and worked as an instructor, often without pay, to help other actors learn the trade. Most of her students, like Patrick Swayze, went on to pursue a career in theatre or film.
Her family moved to Colorado in the late 1980s. Lu wrote several successful plays and musicals based on scripture and offered them to churches. She refused to collect any royalties. "My talent is a gift from God. I use that gift to help others strengthen their walk with Him."
She and her husband moved to Steubenville, Ohio to be closer to family. She passed away peacefully on March 27, 2023. She was proceeded in death by her beloved husband, George Charles Totin, Jr; her parents, Frank and Lilly (Gualtiere); and her siblings, Anthony Mininni, Pauline Katzfey, and Helen Carrocci. She leaves behind her daughter, Tonietta Wheeler (Totin), son-in-law Jeff Wheeler, and her constant canine companion, Dante.
There will not be a funeral or viewing. Instead, friends and family will gather to celebrate her life by releasing balloons bearing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.