Cheryl Ann Masse was the perfect office manager for Dr. Peggy Felouris, a longtime family therapist and published author in New Bedford.
Masse was unassuming, diligent, quiet and a good listener. But she almost didn’t get the job in Felouris’ office. An employment agency had told Masse that she was “too quiet” and that she needed to talk more in job interviews.
“So when she came in for her job interview with me, she talked continuously,” said Felouris, who didn’t hire Masse at first but later brought her in when she needed part-time help. It was then that Masse told her that she had been encouraged to talk.
“I told her, ‘Well, I would prefer you not talk to me,’” Felouris said. “And Cheryl said, ‘Oh, that would be easy.’”
Over the next 20 years, their professional relationship turned into a deep, genuine friendship to the point that Masse wanted to be buried near Felouris in Fairhaven. At the very least, Felouris told her that they could buy plots near each other in the cemetery.
“And I’d say that at midnight, we would get up and wave hello at each other,” Felouris said. “Cheryl liked that very much.”
Felouris buried her friend last summer. Masse died July 2, 2020, from COVID-19 at St. Luke’s Hospital. She was 73.
“You couldn’t ask for a better office manager,” Felouris said. “You couldn’t ask for a better friend or a better employee. She was great.”
The only child of the late James and Helen C. Sequeira, Masse lived in New Bedford all her life. She graduated from St. John’s Academy. Felouris said Masse’s father died early in her life, with her mother dying in later years.
Before working for Felouris’ family therapy practice on Rockdale Avenue, Masse worked in a factory. After becoming unemployed, she enrolled in a job training program to learn typing and office skills.
“She was very quiet until she got to know you, then she was very pleasant,” Felouris said.
Masse loved cats. One day, she brought a cat to work that she had picked up during her lunch hour.
“She explained to me that the cat needed a home and that it would be good to have in the office,” Felouris said. “We called him Oliver. She enjoyed him so much and did so well for him, that pretty soon, everyone who had any acquaintance with Cheryl knew about Oliver.”
Masse and Felouris often went to lunch together at Riccardi’s, Masse’s favorite restaurant. Felouris’ family welcomed Masse into their social orbit.
“She was part of the group,” Felouris said.
In Masse’s later years, Felouris helped get her into the Hathaway Manor Extended Care Facility on Hathaway Road. In the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Felouris would visit Masse and speak with her through a window.
“We talked back and forth as best as we could,” Felouris said.
About a month before she died, Masse had difficulty breathing and went on a ventilator. After Masse died, Felouris took care of her funeral arrangements. Felouris and 10 other people who knew Masse stood around her grave, reminiscing and praying. They then had lunch in Masse’s honor at the Wamsutta Club.
“I have no doubt that when I join her in heaven,” Felouris said, “that Cheryl and I will be waving hello at each other.”
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