Antonio Lopes was born in the town of Redondelo in northern Portugal, not far from Moure, where his future wife Aldina was born. They’d been married for 50 years in April 2020, when they succumbed to COVID-19. Antonio was 79 and his wife, who died two days earlier, was 77.
Their daughter-in-law, Paula Lopes, said Antonio came to this country with his parents when he was in his 20s, but went back a year later to get Aldina, calling them “friends” who’d been dating.
The couple were active members of Immaculate Conception Church. Paula said they donated to St. Jude Children’s Hospital and St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“They always tried to help the poor,” she said. “If they had 10 cans at home, they would give half to the needy.”
Their son, Joe, said his father was “strict,” but also “could be a clown, a joker.”
Joe said the family would go to the flea market on Route 177 every Sunday after church, where there would be “a big gathering” of church members and other people they knew. He said sometimes they would go to Lincoln Park.
Joe said his father raised birds for more than 20 years — finches, canaries and parakeets — selling them to pet stores on Ashley Boulevard and at the mall.
“He loved birds,” his son said.
Both Joe and his wife commented on how much Antonio loved coffee. Paula said he was a regular at Cafe Mimo on Acushnet Avenue. She said Antonio would fill an empty Sanka container with coins and when it was full, “He would give it to my kids.”
Joe called his mother “just a humble lady,” who loved to cook and sew and loved church.
Paula called her “a sweet soul.”
Antonio worked for 20 years at Chamberlain Manufacturing in New Bedford where he was a machine operator “until they closed the doors,” his son said. The company made large ammunition for the military.
“It was a big factory with three shifts,” Joe said. “It was a big loss when it closed.”
Close to retirement, Antonio took a job at Star Plating, metal finishers, on Coffin Avenue in New Bedford.
Paula said they don’t know how the couple came down with COVID-19. Aldina went to St. Luke’s by ambulance on April 1 after Antonio called and said her legs were weak. Then Antonio fell and was taken to the hospital. He died on April 9, two days after his wife passed away.
Paula said they weren’t allowed to visit. She said they asked if Antonio and Aldina could share a room “because they had always been together,” but the hospital said it wasn’t possible because they were in different units.
Joe said it was “tough” not being able to be with his parents at the end or have a proper funeral.
“It was awful,” he said. “The last time I saw them was when they were taken away in the ambulance.”
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