Fort Taber flag to honor Dr. Joseph “Zack” F. Souza, Jr. 27 Year Military Career

During the month of October, the 26th Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of Dr. Joseph Figueiredo Souza, Jr. who served a long and distinguished military career including six years in the Marine Corps Reserve and twenty-one years in the United States Air Force.

Dr. Joseph F. Souza, Jr., known to family and friends, as “Zack,” was born on the Cape Verdean Island of Sao Nicolau, the son of Joseph F. Souza, Sr. and Anna Tavares Souza. He later emigrated to New Bedford, MA where he “became a world traveler, military officer, college professor, linguist, psychologist, artist, musician, and respected community member,” according to the publishing company Lulu.com.

Souza was a graduate of New Bedford High School and continued his studies at Worcester State College, Troy State University and Heed University, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in Counseling Psychology.

During his 27 year of military career, Souza served abroad in France, Spain and Panama. According to his obituary, he also worked in Portugal and Italy in the service of the Portuguese Government. Souza retired in 1983 at the rank of Captain.

Upon retirement he continued to stay busy and served on the boards of many local organizations including the New Bedford Historical Society, North Star Learning Centers and the Ford Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. He was also an accomplished artist, musician and author. He would often donate his artwork to local non-profits to raise money for their organizations.
Dr. Souza is a self-published author of the book entitled, “Once an Islander,” which is an autobiography, recounting his life’s journey of a “young boy born in a humble country village on the island of Sao Nicolau, Cape Verde Islands, who made his way to America and became a military officer, a psychologist, and an accomplished artist and writer,” as stated in the “About the Author” section of his book.

He later moved to Avondale, Arizona where he spent time entertaining members of the Avondale Senior Center with his music.

Mr. Souza passed away on July 28, 2021 on the day he turned 83 years old. He is survived by his wife Dawn Blake Souza; his two sons Paul and his wife, Isabell of New Bedford, Richard and his wife Ana Paula who reside in Washington, New Jersey; his two granddaughters, Christina and Vanessa and his great-granddaughter Lily Rose. Hi is also survived by his stepchildren, Cynthia Lopes Miles (Ira), Renee Lopes Pocknett (Vernon), Philip Lopes (Eva), Jason Lopes (Amy) and T.J. Thomas. He was previously the widower of Maria Rosa Lopes Morais of Lisbon, Portugal.
Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com.

Fort Taber flag to honor Leopold Mathieu, WWI Veteran And Highly Decorated Medic

During the month of September, the 25th Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of Leopold Mathieu, a WWI Veteran who served as a Sergeant in the Medical Detachment for the American Expeditionary Forces from 1917 to 1919.

Mathieu was born in Henryville, Canada on February 8, 1895 and moved to the New Bedford, MA area at the age of sixteen. According to his military records, Mathieu served in France as part of the American Mission Reserve Mallet unit over a 3 year period from 1917 to 1919.

The website, historynet.com stated that “in the years prior to (the U.S.) entry into the war, those in the United States who sympathized with the Allies formed the American Field Service (AFS) to supply the Allied Forces with ambulances and volunteer drivers.” It is not clear if Mathieu had joined the AFS prior to serving in the American Expeditionary Forces, however he did have a distinguished military career serving in 8 major operations in France during WWI.
According to his grandson, Peter Mathieu, he was one of the most decorated medics in WWI. Sgt. Mathieu was awarded the Victory Medal with eight bronze stars for the following operations he took part in: Somme Defensive, March 21 – April 6, 1918; Aisne Defensive, May 27 – June 5, 1918; Montdidier-Noyon Defensive, June 9 – 13, 1918; Champagne-Marne Defensive, July 15 – 18, 1918; Aisne-Marne Offensive, July 18 – Aug 6, 1918; Somme Offensive, Aug. 8 – Sept. 9, 1918; Oise-Aisne Offensive Sept. 10 – Oct. 11, 1918; and Somme Offensive, Oc. 12 – Nov 11, 1918.
“After the war, it was said that probably no other organization had done more to cement Franco-American friendship than the Réserve Mallet. The French supplied their experience and the Americans contributed their youth and energy,” as stated on historynet.com.

He married Lea (Demanche) and together they had six children: Jacqueline Duclos and Atty. Paul Mathieu of New Bedford as well as the late Germaine Surprenant, Claire Landreville, Simonne Dionne, and Normand Mathieu, all of New Bedford.

Mathieu went on to become a pharmacist and was the owner/operator of the Nash Pharmacy, retiring after 45 years. He was a founding member of VFW Post 3260 at 929 Ashely Blvd as well as a member of Post 1 American Legion, the Southeastern Massachusetts and New Bedford Druggists Association, the Massachusetts Pharmaceutical Association and the New Bedford Driving Cub.
Leopold Mathieu passed away on August 5, 1966 at the age of 71.

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com.

Fort Taber Flag to honor Judge George N. Leighton WWII Veteran and Fierce Civil Rights Advocate

During the month of July, the 23rd Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of Judge George N. Leighton, who served as a Captain in the 25th Infantry Division of U.S. Army during WWII.

George Leighton was born in New Bedford on October 22, 1912 to Antonio and Anna Leitao, who were natives of Cape Verde. He came from very humble beginnings and was forced to leave school at an early age, just before entering 7th grade, to help earn money for his family. His drive and ambition, as well as his love of reading and talent for writing, helped him to earn a scholarship to Howard University which set him on a path of success. He would eventually become a prominent lawyer and judge, serving as the first Cape Verdean on the Illinois Appellate Court. He was well known for his work as a civil rights lawyer and his involvement with the NAACP (National Assoc. for the Advancement of Colored People). A major milestone in his career came when he was nominated by President Gerald Ford to serve as a U.S. District Court judge and confirmed on Feb. 2, 1976.

Leighton spent most of his early years living in New Bedford and Wareham. According to an on-line biographical sketch, instead of attending 7th grade, he took a job on an oil tanker sailing from Fall River to Aruba. He spent most of his free time reading extensively. In the winter of 1936, Leighton entered an essay contest for the Cape Verdean Memorial Scholarship Fund and was awarded $200, which provided the initial tuition for any college of his choice.

He submitted an application to Howard University and was accepted as an “unclassified student.” The registrar informed him that if he could prove he could do the college work, without having attended high school, he would be a candidate for a degree. At the end of the first semester, Leighton made the Dean’s Honor Roll and was made a candidate for a degree in the College of Liberal Arts. He graduated in 1940, magna cum laude.

Leighton was then awarded a first year scholarship to Harvard Law School and enrolled in September 1940. He was drafted to serve in the United States Army on March 6, 1942, during WWII. He reported to Fort Benning, GA where he attended the 206th Basic Class of Reserve Officers. He was ordered to report for duty with the 93rd Infantry Division at Fort Huachuca, AZ on June 18, 1942.

He served with the 93rd Division as a Munitions Officer, earning the rank of Captain while serving in the New Guinea Campaign and the Solomon Islands Campaign. According to his military records, he was relieved from military service on Feb. 6, 1946.

Upon his discharge from the military, he returned to Harvard Law School and graduated on November 25, 1946 with his LLB (Legum Baccalaureus) or Bachelor of Laws degree. He passed the Massachusetts Bar exam Oct. 1946. He moved to Chicago IL and was admitted to the Bar of the State of Illinois in January 1947, where he began is long and distinguished career.

The Illinois State Bar Association Newsletter featured a story: A life in the law: George N. Leighton, 1912-2018, written by Hon. Alfred M. Swanson Jr., a retired judge. In this newsletter, Judge Timothy Evans describes Judge Leighton’s experience upon arriving in Chicago at that time. “Judge Leighton came to Chicago in 1946 at a time when an African-American man could neither rent an office downtown nor hail a taxi in the loop. He made a name for himself as an attorney who fought for voting rights, integrated schools, fair housing and equal access to jury service.”

Leighton became involved in civic affairs in Chicago, presiding as President of the Chicago Chapter of the Howard University Alumni Assoc., Chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the Chicago Branch NAACP, served two terms as the President of the Chicago Branch of the NAACP, as well as becoming a Life Member.

According to A Biographical Sketch of George N. Leighton, “Leighton was active in cases that attracted national attention. In 1950, Leighton represented Negro parents of school children in Harrisburg, Illinois in a proceeding which he filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. An injunction was obtained ordering desegregation of the public schools of Harrisburg Illinois.”

Leighton “was on the cutting edge of several issues,” working diligently with the NAACP and one of this clients “included Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Hon. Alfred M. Swanson explained that “as an attorney, George Leighton never shied away from unpopular cases or people.” He took a case in the early 1950’s, representing an African-American family in Cicero, IL, a suburb of Chicago. The case involved enforcing a lease for the family to move into an apartment. “That resulted in fierce opposition; the building was burned and there was a riot in the streets. Rather than charges against the rioters, attorney Leighton was indicted for inciting the riot. His defense attorney who got the indictment dismissed was a fellow NAACP attorney, Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1951, Leighton organized the law firm, Moore, Ming & Leighton, which was “considered by the profession to be one of the largest predominately black law firms in the United States.” After 18 years of serving as a lawyer, Leighton was elected to the position of a Justice of the Circuit Court of Cook County in November 1964. In July of 1969 he became the first African-American to serve as a judge on the Illinois Appellate Court. Then, on Dec. 19, 1975, President Gerald Ford nominated Judge Leighton to serve as a United States District Judge, Northern District of IL. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Feb. 29, 1976.

Lee Blake of the New Bedford Historical Society explains that there are many references to Judge Leighton becoming the first African-American to hold the position of Judge on the

Illinois Appellate Court, yet Leighton was of a Cape Verdean descent. There seems to be a difference of interpretation when it comes to some Cape Verdeans considering themselves African-Americans while others consider themselves a mixed race, Latino or white. For the purpose of this article, the term African-American is used when the source it was taken from references it.

The biography explains that “during his professional career, Leighton represented plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases of every kind. He defended more than 200 criminal charges in bench and jury trials. During this same period he handled more than 175 appeals or reviews, civil and criminal, in state and federal courts.”

Leighton was initiated as an honorary member of the Chicago Alumni Chapter of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity in October 2009. Based on recollections of friends and colleagues, Leighton explains his reasoning for wanting to become a lawyer. “I don’t know how many of you have ever kneeled on a cranberry bog, but let me tell you what happens. Cranberry vines are like thistles. So, I was there, on my knees, weeding and the hot August sun was beating me on my head when I got the idea that I wanted to be a lawyer. I had never spoken to a lawyer, I didn’t know what lawyers did for a living. The only explanation I had was that in the heat of the day and the pain I my knees from the vines, it must have occurred to me that there just had to be a better way of earning a living.”

Hon. Alfred M. Swanson describes Leighton as “a fearless litigator and a fierce advocate for this clients and causes in which he believed. Friends and colleagues also described George Leighton as a gentleman, a scholar with a passionate love of the law, and a man with an infectious sense of humor who always had a smile. A man with so many accomplishments it is difficult to list them all.”

During a dinner at the 2012 NAACP breakfast, held at UMASS Dartmouth, Leighton shared these words: “Don’t forget to devote your time to the poor, the voiceless, the oppressed, the not guilty innocent who are prosecuted in our courtrooms.”

Also in 2012, Judge Leighton was one of the leading guests at the 2012 Cape Verdean Recognition Committee Scholarship awards dinner; the same scholarship that Leighton received 77 years earlier that changed the trajectory of his life.

Judge Leighton died at the age of 104 on June 6, 2018. He and his late wife, Virginia Berry Quivers, had two daughters: Virginia Anne and Barbara Elaine.

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com

Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech students participate in Paul Revere’s Bell project

The Revere Bell is a cherished local artifact that is an important part of Fairhaven’s local history. The bell is being located, and students at Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech are integral in this process. Our students worked on a model of the cupola that once housed the Revere Bell at Oxford School located in Fairhaven, MA. The bell and new cupola housing will be located on the right side of Townhall behind the flagpole area in Fairhaven. Under the direction and leadership of Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, students will create and build the housing for such an important piece of local history.

The Paul Revere Bell was cast in 1796 at Revere’s foundry in Boston MA. The bell was entered into Revere’s ledger on May 24, 1796.

Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech photo.

The bell was ordered by Isaac Sherman, Samual Proctor of the Second Church of Christ in New Bedford. The church and meeting house was built in 1794 and was located where the Euro building now stands in the center of Fairhaven. In 1796 there was no town of Fairhaven, it was all New Bedford. The bell was put into the cupola on top of the church/ meeting house. The original structure no longer remains. The bell stayed at the building until 1914.

The Revere bell cost 100 pounds and 16 shillings and was paid by cash. The bell itself was listed at a weight of 756 pounds and bears the inscription. “ The Living to the Church I Call and to the Grave I Summon All” the cost and paid by cash was entered into Revere’s logbook and initialed in the corner by Paul Revere himself.

The Bell was the 12th bell cast at the Revere Foundry and is the 3rd oldest known bell in the world. The bell was picked up in Boston at Davis Wharf by the sloop Free Love & Polly under Captain Mosir.

In 1812 when Fairhaven became a Town the church changed its name to the First Congregational Church of Fairhaven. In 1914 The Town of Fairhaven added onto the Oxford school and built a cupola and purchased the bell from the church and installed it on top of Oxford where it stayed until present day and its history long-rumored and forgotten.

Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech photo.

The bell was researched by Doug Brady, Chair of the Fairhaven Bell Committee along with the Paul Revere Museum Director, who brought the history of the bell back to life and recognized its importance as a national and town treasure.

The bell was removed from its original place because Oxford school was closed and sold off to become a housing complex and would no longer be owned by the town of Fairhaven.

Many years from now, the former students will be able to look upon the cupola at townhall and tell their children they helped build the design and history of the Revere Bell. Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech students and faculty involved in this extremely impactful project are honored to be working with this piece of local history.

For Taber Flag to honor Floyd Carr who served in the U.S. Army Cavalry

During the month of June, the 22nd Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of Floyd Carr, a New Bedford resident who attended West Point and served in the Army Cavalry.

Floyd Carr, also known as “Chick” Carr, was born in 1897 in Washington D.C. He enlisted in April 1918 at the Washington Barracks of the Cavalry Detachment of the U.S. Military Academy West Point, where he served as a riding instructor.

A recent Washington Post article sheds light on the important role of the African American history at West Point and the segregation that took place. “Amid entrenched racial segregation, units of the famous African American troops known as Buffalo Soldiers were brought to West Point to teach horsemanship. They were part of the rugged cavalry outfits that had served the Army in the west and were named by Native Americans who feared them and fought them. At West Point, they wrangled horses, cleaned the stables and sawed ice for refrigerators.” It is not clear if Mr. Carr was part of the Buffalo Soldiers but he served during the same time.

The article went on to explain how generals were trained by Buffalo Soldiers. “Every stellar general that you might name from WWII would have received their riding instruction and instruction in mounted drill from those Buffalo Soldiers. They brought excellence. They bought mastery. They brought high discipline. They brought soldiers who were exemplary in appearance… and conduct.”

Back in the late 1800’s blacks did not have as many choices for employment as whites, “so to a black young man, the Army was a much better option than for a white young man. And the Army was a place where black soldiers received the same pay as white soldiers,” according to the Washington Post. “Still, it could be a tough job. The black soldiers’ barracks were adjacent to the stables, which the black soldiers had to clean. The horses had to be cared for, and the cadets – and others- trained.

In an oral history interview from 2015, Sanders H. Matthews Sr., a retired Army Sergeant, believed to be the last West Point Buffalo Soldier, explained “Monday through Friday we taught cadets to ride. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays we taught cadets to ride, their girlfriends, the officers…their children, their wives.” he said. “We had no time off for ourselves.”

“On March 23, 1907, the United States Military Academy Detachment of Cavalry was changed to a ‘colored’ unit,” as described by Wikipedia. “This had been a long time coming. It had been proposed in 1897 at the ‘Cavalry and Light Artillery School’ at Fort Riley, Kansas that West Point cadets learn their riding skills from the black noncommissioned officers who were considered the best. The 100-man detachment from the 9th, and 10th Cavalry served to teach future officers at West Point riding instruction, mounted drill, and tactics until 1947. The West Point ‘Escort of Honour’ detachment of the 10th Cavalry was distinguished in 1931 by being the last regular Army unit to be issued with the M1902 blue dress uniform for all ranks. This parade uniform had ceased to be worn by other regiments after 1917.”

Floyd Carr lived in New Bedford for 40 years and was known in the boxing circles in which he traveled around the country. According to his obituary, he was a classmate of the late Duke Ellington, a famous jazz composer and pianist. Carr lived at 797 Kempton St., New Bedford and was employed by Oregon Cleaners, Dyers Co. and Liberty Laundry.

Carr was the husband of the late Gladys (Biggins) Carr. They had seven children: Floyd I. of Brockton, Leroy of New Bedford, Mrs. Claudette Blake, Mrs. Floretta Eastman, Mrs. Marjorie O’Campo and Mrs. Sheila Chumack, all of New Bedford, and Mrs. Aleata Livramento of Boston. He was the brother of the late Leonard Carr and the late Mrs. Bertha M. Johnson, both of Philadelphia. He had 27 grandchildren.

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com.

Who Remembers … the New Bedford Scallop Festival?

Here is another installment in our Who Remembers? series. You can browse previous articles by using the search bar on the right or by clicking here. These articles are strolls down memory lane. In some cases, the buildings, but new businesses have replaced them. In other instances, the buildings or even the properties have been razed. Instead of a building, it may be a TV show, personality, or commercial that no one longer exists. Either way, it can’t stop us from taking the Memory Lane stroll!

As always we would rather this be a discussion. No one knows this area better than those who grew up here! Please, leave constructive criticism, feedback, and corrections. We’d love to hear your anecdotes. Please share!


In a typical year of fishing for Atlantic sea scallops, around 55 million pounds are harvested at a value of approximately $570 million. Massachusetts is the state where more scallops are brought to port than anywhere else in the country and the city of New Bedford is responsible for a lion’s share of this annual scallop harvesting: we have been the nation’s most valuable port for 20 years straight with scallops comprising about 80% of the seafood we caught. We’re not only darn good at scalloping, but we’ve been doing it since 1883.

Live scallop in its natural habitat.

While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reported that scallops are not currently overharvested and New Bedford’s fishermen are more than eager to head out to sea and meet the demands of hungry seafood lovers, the New England Fishery Management Council said that there will be a significant drop in this year’s catch, to a predicted 40 million pounds. This likely means an increase from the average current price of $20 per pound, but that also depends on how much scallops are brought to market from foreign markets.

We obviously love scallops! Wrapped in bacon, seared lemon-garlic butter, fried scallops, scallop roll, broiled, stuffed scallops, in a casserole, paella, or stew, or as part of a surf ‘n turf, you name it, our love affair with the bivalve. Believe it or not, what we call a “scallop” is actually the adductor muscle of a saltwater clam that is responsible for closing the clam’s shell. The muscle only makes up about 30% of the clam and the rest is the stomach, digestive glands, eyes, intestines, a “foot,” heart, tentacles (yes, tentacles), gonads (yes, gonads!), gills, ovary or roe, etc. A strange creature that belies its tastiness!

Now that we’ve satisfied Joe Friday’s requirements about our beloved scallop, let’s have some foodie talk. We are the world’s highest-grossing seafood ports and the majority of that seafood is scallops, thereby producing revenue for the city and plenty of jobs, why the heck do we not have a Scallop festival?!

The insides of the saltwater clam showing the proportion of the adductor muscle or “scallop” compared to the entire clam.

We have a Seaport Chowder Festival (which does feature scallop shucking) Folk Festival, Jazz Festival, two Portuguese “Feasts”, and until recently a Whaling City Festival and Working Waterfront Festival. These festivals characterize everything that is quintessentially New Bedford. No scallop festival seems to be a glaring oversight and an obvious event that would generate revenue for the city as well as please tens of thousands of people.

An obvious idea is obvious, you say? Well, this is not a new idea, but instead, an old idea: New Bedford had its first Scallop Festival in 1958!

The festival was the brainchild of the New Bedford Exchange Club and the New Bedford Seafood Co-Op who wanted to promote the idea of scallops being tasty, fat-free, boneless, and nutritious and help boost profits in the novel industry. Incredibly, not many people were familiar with scallops being on the dinner plate and the two groups felt that a festival where locals could have a taste would be a great way to introduce locals to the idea. The dish they tried to promote? Nope, not scallops wrapped in bacon, but “Curried Scallop Kebabs.” Say what?

Poster advertising “Curried Scallop Kebabs” during the New Bedford Scallop Festival.

Each August, organizers would pitch tents at Pope’s Island for 3 days, and with the help of mascots “Sammy the Scallop” and “Susie Scallop” they would promote the festival which brought in people from the South Coast, Boston, Providence, and Cape Cod and beyond. They would flock to the annual event to gobble up the “Pearl of the Atlantic” in as many ways as chefs could create.

The price for a pound of scallops at that first festival? 60 cents during the winter and half that in the summer, prices which likely reflected the supply – more scallops available, the lower the cost for the consumer, and more boats harvesting in the summer meant driving down prices.

Each year, for a decade, the New Bedford Scallop Festival grew until it hit a snag in the market price: in 1968 there was a decline in landings of scallops while there was simultaneously an increase in yellowtail flounder landings. Organizers switched gears and redubbed the festival to the New Bedford Seafood Festival and alas the scallop festival was no more.

Postcar featuring two of the festivals mascots, “Sammie and “Susie.”

But here we sit more than 50 years later in a much different seafood market. There’s no need to convince people that scallops are tasty or that we should curry kebab them. Oh, we know scallops intimately now. How about we bring back the New Bedford Scallop Festival, the 11th Annual New Bedford Scallop Festival to be exact.

Can you imagine the aroma of scallops, bacon, garlic, and butter being cooked, wafting through the air? We could have live music, food trucks and stands, a shucking contest, a seafood market, and awards for the best dishes. All the area seafood companies could supply the festival with seafood, and feature their products and employees, while the restaurants can offer signature scallop dishes right from their menu.

Once again we would draw a crowd from the region and beyond, bringing in revenue and a boost to local businesses as visitors explored the rest of the city, enjoying and exploring all the New Bedford has to offer. How about it New Bedford?


Do you recall when the New Bedford Scallop Festival was up and running? Remember the mascots “Sammie and Susie”? Would like to see it return? Let us know in the comment section or email us at info@newbedfordguide.com.

Fort Taber Flag to honor George E. Patisteas, KIA during WWII Aboard the USS Bunker Hill

During the month of May, the 21st Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of George E. Patisteas, killed in action at the age of 19, during WWII aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Bunker Hill, while serving in the United States Navy.

George Evangelos Patisteas was born on January 10, 1926. He was the son of Greek immigrants, Evangelos and Olga (Bakakeas) Patisteas and was the brother of Arthur, James, Stella and Aphrodite.

George was seventeen years old when he decided to leave New Bedford High School in his Junior year to enlist in the United States Navy on February 26, 1943. He received his training at the U.S. Naval Training Station in Sampson, NY and was assigned to the USS Bunker Hill as a Fireman First Class.

During his “nearly two years overseas, Patisteas had taken part in 10 major battles and 12 engagements. Then came that dreadful morning, May 11, 1945. While supporting the invasion of Okinawa, Japan, the USS Bunker Hill was attacked” by two Kamikaze planes. “George, along with 346 other crew members, perished in the attack. Another 246 were injured and another 43 were reported missing. The attack came just 4 months before WWII would end. He was buried at sea,” as detailed in a podcast by Linda Roy of the Standard-Times, in a series entitled Traffic Island, which profiles the veterans behind the names we see on highways, bridges, overpasses and traffic islands that are honored throughout the city.

It is fitting that Mr. Patisteas is being honored during the month of May, marking the 76th anniversary of the attack on the USS Bunker Hill. Over the years there have been many ceremonies honoring F 1/c Patisteas, who died at the age of 19, while serving his country heroically.

On July 4, 2007, the city of New Bedford honored Patisteas by naming the overpass on Route 195 and Route 18, the George Patisteas Memorial Overpass. Scott Lang, the mayor at that time, attended the ceremony stating “He was a true American hero. George went to war to protect us and he gave his ultimate. He gave his life.”
George’s brother, James, a Navy veteran himself, was quoted as saying “The whole family is so grateful. It goes to show that no matter how many years go by, the memory of the sacrifice they made never dies.”

According to a Standard Times article, Kenneth G. Monteiro, George’s nephew, who led the effort to have Mr. Patisteas honored, choked with emotion as he addressed the gathering. “I had the idea, the dream,” he said. Monteiro described how meaningful it was to have his uncle remembered along with the other men who lost their lives in the attack that took the USS Bunker Hill out of commission for the remainder of World War II.

On December 8, 2014, 73 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, veterans were honored at Battleship Cove in Fall River. The ceremony marked the moment of the devastating surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor 73 years earlier. Navy military and museum leaders aboard the Battleship shared the history of that day and their appreciation for those who died in the attack, moving the large crowds to both silence and applause in honor of their country and their lost veterans.

“That history bears repeating on each anniversary, so that each subsequent generation will know what happened there and will never forget what that terrible day meant for America,” said Adm. Gardner Howe, President of the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

The Massachusetts Medal of Liberty Ceremony was held on May 22, 2019, when Representative Hendricks joined Governor Charles Baker and Major General Gary Keefe to honor service men and women from the Commonwealth who were killed in action or died in service. Veteran’s next of kin received the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty to recognize their family member’s service and sacrifice. According to a Standard-Times article, Stella Monteiro, George’s sister, accepted the medal on behalf of her brother.

Private 1st Class George E. Patisteas is memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where his name is inscribed upon the Tablets of the Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii. He received the following commendations for his service to our country: the WWII Victory Medal, the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the American Campaign Medal, the Navy Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Good Conduct Medal the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the Navy Expeditionary Medal.

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com.

Fort Taber – Fort Rodman flag honors WWII veteran George Gomes

During the month of April, the 20th Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of George Gomes, a WWII veteran from New Bedford.

Gomes not only served his country as a member of the United States Army during WWII, he also served the city of New Bedford, working as a firefighter for 26 years. Gomes was assigned to station #9, located on Ashley Blvd. and retired from firefighting in 1980.

He was well known for his musical ability, as a talented drummer and singer. Gomes played for various local establishments and was a member of the Vin Perry Orchestra, playing at the Venus DeMilo for 20 years. Gomes was also a member of Gene Oliver Quartet and the choir at the First Congregational Church at Lund’s Corner, in New Bedford.

Gomes was born on March 2, 1920, the son of the late George Sr. and Mary E. (Haddock) Gomes and passed away at the age of 94 on June 14, 2014. He was the husband of Sharon L. Gomes with whom he shared 21 years of marriage. He is also survived by his sister, Paula Barros of Wareham; his daughter Renee Dumond of New Bedford; four grandchildren: Jessica and Jennifer Dumond, Kailyn Lord and Julie Hitch; nine great-grandchildren and two nephews. He was the husband of the late Doris (Hayden) Howland and the father of the late Patricia Gomes. He was the brother-in-law of the late Charles Dumond.

George was involved with many organizations including the National Federation of Musicians Local 214, a life member of Disabled American Veterans Dr. C.E. Burt – Chapter 7, a member of the Heritage Country Club of Lakeville as well as the Retired State County and Municipal Employees Association.

Mr. Gomes participated in an oral history project in 2012, conducted by Jasmine A. Utsey of the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, entitled “Having our Say: From Civil War to Civil Rights,” which will serve to preserve his legacy. Lee Blake, President of the New Bedford Historical Society arranged the interview. Blake explains, “I am so pleased that this is another opportunity to highlight George, who was a kind man dedicated to his music and public service.”

According to Mr. Gomes, he was of Cape Verdean and West Indian descent and faced discrimination and segregation throughout his life. He explained that during his early years he was fortunate to live on Park Street were “the people in the neighborhood were very good and friendly.” He said that there were many different nationalities living in his neighborhood including West Indian, Irish and Jewish. He did however have to deal with discrimination and segregation later in life including in the military, trying to find housing once discharged from the military, as well as his initial experience working for the local Fire Department. While reading through the transcript of Mr. Gomes’ interview, you get the feeling that he was a very humble man and took things in stride.

When he was young, he enjoyed taking part in social activities that included music, such as singing in the church choir and playing the horn. “I always admired the trumpet players and I finally, after begging, managed to get 50 cents down a week (for lessons) at the Clarence A Cook School. The instructor was Mr. Parks. He taught me the scale and I went from there mostly on my own.”

Gomes left high school at the age of 17 to join the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). He explained, “It took young men off the streets. When I joined, you were just put on a train and they take you off. I went to Connecticut thinking I was the only one. To my surprise, I met three other of the fellows that I knew from New Bedford. I remember sandbagging the Connecticut River during our first hurricane in 1938 for 24 hours. That was the program that helped during the Depression.”

After serving in the CCC, he was drafted in the U.S. Army and served for 3 years as a Forward Observer and an Entertainment Specialist. “I was the entertainment Director for Lt. Brooks who was my officer in charge.” Gomes played in a 12-piece orchestra doing USO shows in Boston and Springfield, MA. When he was sent over to Europe, he did shows in Macedonia and Italy.

Gomes received the Bronze Star for his service. When asked about the significance of receiving the medal he said “Well, it meant that we gave our all for our duties and we fought hard to receive it. It wasn’t that we were fighting for recognition, we were fighting for our country.”

Upon his return to New Bedford, Gomes joined the Civil Service and became a New Bedford Firefighter. During his interview, he explained that he was met with opposition regarding segregation at his first job. After roll call each morning, his Captain would call out orders to all the men, except him. His orders were written on a piece of paper and left on a desk for Gomes to read. “I never said a word, I just picked it up and did what I was supposed to do. One day he thought he had a dirty job and he called me by name. That’s when I told him off in no uncertain terms.” Gomes explained that the other men, “white fellows,” started clapping. “That made me feel good. I knew that I was accepted as part of them and respected by them. We never had any problems (after that).”

After some time, he was promoted as a senior man on the apparatus and worked on the Rescue Boat. Eventually, he was assigned to an Engine. “I was like the utility man, so I knew I was doing alright.”

He responded to calls during the 1970’s riots. During one of those calls, he was singled out by one of the rioters and told him “we know where you live Gomes. In other words, they had been burning buildings and they were letting me know because I was a fireman that they were going to do something to me. But they never did.”

Gomes served as a New Bedford firefighter for 26 years, from Oct. 5, 1954 until his retirement on Feb. 7, 1980.

Many thoughtful comments were posted on dignitymemorial.com to honor Mr. Gomes including: “George was a wonderful, kind and talented man,” as well as, “Mr. Gomes was a member of the Gene Oliver Quartet for many years and performed as a talented vocalist and drummer. We were all blessed to know him,” and “the choir in heaven now has one of the most beautiful voices I have heard. George touched the hearts of many of us in a very special way.”

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com.

Flag to honor Veteran Walter LaBerge of Swansea flies over Fort Taber

During the month of January, the 17th Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of Walter LaBerge, who served with the United States Army from 1959 to 1965. LaBerge entered into the military on November 4, 1959 and did his basic training at Fort Dix, NJ. He was attached to Company B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry as an infantry soldier assigned to Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.

Wintertime temperatures in the area around Fort Richardson can range from 80 degrees below zero to 40 degrees, according to militarybases.com. Soldiers stationed at Fort Richardson are required to learn and master unique skills that are taught in few other places. Winter survival, tundra crossing, river lining, snow and glacier travel, snow combat and cold weather vehicle operation are all part of the normal training program at the base. According to his family LaBerge spoke of the rigorous training known as “snow baths” which required soldiers to rise in the morning in their skivvies and boots, using soap and snow to bathe themselves. He also spoke to his children of his time in the Army, sharing his adventure of rock climbing and repelling as well as training maneuvers to secure Kodiak Island.

LaBerge was born in Fall River, the son of the late Walter and Ernestine (Boucher) Laberge. He also resided in Swansea and was a graduate of BMC Durfee High School, attended Bradford Durfee Technological Institute and received his Associates Degree from Bristol Community College.

He served in the active duty Army from 1959 to 1962 and went on to serve in the Army Reserves from 1962 to 1965. He was honorably discharged from the military on September 30, 1965 at the rank of E4, by the order of D.D. Spahr, Colonel, AGC. Upon arriving home from serving in the military, Walter married his high school sweetheart, Gail D. (Cloutier). He was employed as a Quality Control Engineer for Princess House in Dighton for 15 years before his retirement in 2000. Prior to that he held the same job with Providence Pile and started his career with Pratt Whitney in Connecticut.

He truly enjoyed donating his time and served as a Docent for both the Fort Taber Military Museum, as well as the New Bedford Whaling Museum, providing tours to the public. Walter had many interests. He was an avid bird watcher, sports car enthusiast and enjoyed traveling to Maine, cross country skiing and kayaking. He loved to watch football with his sons, especially the Army/Navy football games! He also enjoyed taking his daughter on trips with friends.

LaBerge passed away on October 21, 2015 at the age of 74. In addition to his wife Gail, whom he was married to for 52 years, he is survived by his four children Mark Laberge and his wife Maryellen of Dighton, Bradford Laberge of Swansea, Dawn Butterfield and her husband John of Seekonk and W. David Laberge Jr. of Swansea. His children made him a grandfather of seven grandchildren: Jacob, Kelsey, Austin, Gabrielle, Kyle, Ryan and Dylan. He is also survived by his sister Georgette Levesque of Swansea; niece and nephews Diane, Rene and Donald; as well as a brother in law, Ronald Cloutier, of Colorado. He is also survived by his very best childhood friend, Max Marum, who he remained close with until his departure.

Walter was always very witty and was known for his wonderful sayings; including: “I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays!” or “You’re a gentleman and a scholar and there’s not many of us left!” When asked how he was, he would often answer, “I’m fair to midlin!” He attended church every week and was a devoted Catholic man. According to his family, Walter could be a stern man with his children, at times, but it was all to teach them good solid morals. “Above all, Walter was a family man. He is loved and missed deeply and will always be carried in our hearts, as a Veteran and a father.”

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com​

Massachusetts Senate to vote today on moving abortion age to 16 years old

By Michael P. Norton
State House News Service

The House approved an abortion access budget rider last week by a barely veto-proof margin and the Senate may vote on the matter Wednesday, potentially giving those following the issue a clearer idea of whether it might survive a possible gubernatorial veto.

An amendment (180) proposed by Sen. Harriette Chandler of Worcester is among the more than 140 amendments to a $46 billion fiscal 2021 budget that has yet to be considered as senators look to possibly wrap up annual budget deliberations in just two days of mostly behind-the-scenes activity.

The House approved its abortion amendment, which closely mirrors a bill known as the ROE Act, 108-49 on Thursday. The amendment would allow abortions after 24 weeks in the case of lethal fetal anomalies and lower the age from 18 to 16 that a minor can choose to have an abortion without parental or judicial consent.

While Gov. Charlie Baker stopped short of saying whether he would veto it, he joined other Republicans in registering a process complaint: they don’t believe the policy measure should be part of a budget.

“I do share some of the unhappiness that was raised by a number of members of the Republican Party, that putting policy in the budget was something that both leaders in the House and Senate said they would not do,” Baker said at a press conference Friday. “And it’s pretty hard to argue that this isn’t a major policy initiative that is now in the budget.”

Baker said “folks on our side” took policy initiatives off the table because of the no-policy message that Democratic leaders had communicated earlier in the budget process.

The governor noted that he has joined Democrats in the Legislature in the past to “strengthen” laws governing access to reproductive services and “have cleaned up a lot of the historical issues that we had here in our existing laws” to bring statutes in line with court rulings. He didn’t want to comment on the bill because legislation “tends to morph a lot between the time people start asking me about it and it ultimately lands on my desk,” he said.

Pressure to codify or expand abortion access in Massachusetts ramped up after the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a President Donald Trump nominee, with Speaker Robert DeLeo saying in a statement that there is a “threat to reproductive rights for women on a national level.”

Advocacy groups like the ACLU of Massachusetts praised the House for “removing medically unnecessary barriers to abortion care,” while opponents like the Catholic church took particular issue with lowering the age of consent.

“Abortion at any time, from the moment of conception to birth, is in direct conflict with Catholic teaching and must be opposed,” Archbishop of Boston Sean O’Malley, Bishop of Worcester Robert McManus, and Bishop of Fall River Edgar da Cunha said in a statement Tuesday.

In an interview at the State House, House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz said after Thursday night’s vote that the issues had been aired at a public hearing and that Judiciary Committee Co-chair Rep. Claire Cronin has been working on the measure and talking to members about it for 18 months.

“This was a much-needed debate and discussion,” Michlewitz said. “We felt it was necessary for us to take this step now.” He added, “I’m very proud of the vote that we just took. I’m a strong a staunch supporter of pro-choice, and a woman’s right to choose and I’m glad that we took this step today, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Senate do the same next week.”

Nineteen House Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the House amendment.

“This is a very difficult issue for many members that are on both sides of it and I think that’s why it took so long to get to this point to take that vote,” Michlewitz said. “There was a lot of meticulous work done on this discussion. For some members, it was a bridge too far to cross and I think that when you’re talking about abortion rights, it can become very private, a personal conversation. I have a lot of personal beliefs in it, from family history and other things and I think that a lot of people carry that into that into that type of vote, much more extensively than you get from maybe some other votes.”

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