Hanifa Rose grew up in New Bedford and lived here all her life. Her father, Mustafa, an immigrant from Turkey and relative of Kemal Ataturk, founding father of the Republic of Turkey, fled the escalating conflicts of the First World War at age 14.

She grew up in a family of seven children in New Bedford’s North End and lived in the neighborhood until well after retirement. Later in life, she lived at Our Lady’s Haven in Fairhaven. She died of complications due to COVID-19 on May 24, 2020. She was 87.

Hanifa worked for New Bedford Manufacturing, the same factory as her father, for most of her life. She was a “buttonhole girl,” her daughter Deborah said, sewing and cutting holes in fabric that would later be stitched into pajamas.

Before her retirement, she also worked as a driver for Tremblay’s Bus Co., driving a van for handicapped people. She was a mother of four, and enjoyed going to the beach, gardening and dancing. “Even though she had a hard time walking, as soon as the music went on, she was out of that chair,” Deborah said. 

Before the pandemic, Deborah and her sisters would visit their mother at Our Lady’s Haven for two meals each day. When the pandemic hit, they could no longer visit, and Hanifa’s health began to decline. She suffered from dementia, and Deborah said she was worried that she wouldn’t be able to recognize the care attendants dressed in protective gowns or understand what was happening. She contracted COVID-19 in the nursing home in May, and died a few days later. 

Deborah said she is grateful to those who continued to look after her mother while the virus was surging. “Thank God for those people who stayed. They took good care of her,” she said. 

Deborah said the hardest part was not having the closure of a funeral service, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Hanifa was cremated and now remains in the sun room, filled with light and plants, in the home of one of her daughters.

“My sister was never good with plants,” Deborah said. “My mom always was, and now they’re all growing.” 


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