Leonora Camara was born in New Bedford and lived here all of her life. Her parents were immigrants from Portugal, and Leonora was raised with eight siblings  in a family of seven boys and two girls.

For the last 11 years, she lived at CareOne nursing home in New Bedford. She died there after contracting COVID-19 on June 9, 2020. She was 90. 

Leonora was very family oriented, said her niece, Iris Begley. Her sister worked as a stitcher, and Leonora did the same, making men’s suit jackets for Cliftex for more than 50 years. Earlier on, she also worked at States Nightwear, sewing pajamas.

“It was hard work, but they made the best of it,” Iris said. “They all went right to work when they were 16. It was a good-paying job for women who didn’t have an education.” 

Leonora never married, and she was close to her sibling and her many nieces and nephews, helping to take care of them when they were young. After retirement, she spent her days participating in activities at Melville Towers, where she had lived for many years. “Family was the most important thing to her,” Iris said. “She loved seeing the next generation growing up.” 

Iris used to visit CareOne every week to check up on Leonora. She said the hardest part was knowing that her aunt, who struggled with dementia, was alone. Iris said she would get texts and updates from the nursing home staff. Once she had learned that COVID-19 was spreading in the nursing home, it wasn’t long until her aunt contracted the virus.

“They did a great job of keeping her as comfortable as possible towards the end,” Iris said, of the staff at CareOne.


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As the city emerges from the long siege of COVID-19, we pause to take stock of what – and whom – we’ve lost. Please help build this community memorial by adding a tribute to your loved one.

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