Mamie DeSilva Passes A Few Months Shy Of A Century

Longtime San Leandro resident was a force in the Portuguese community and volunteered at San Leandro Hospital right up until her unexpected death.

Family and friends are mourning Mamie DeSilva who passed away this weekend after 99 years of caring and sharing that included a visible role in the city's Portuguese community and more than a decade of volunteer service at San Leandro Hospital.

DeSilva fell on Sunday as she was walking to a friend's house according to her sister, Lorraine Caison, who was with her at the time. Caison, who also lives in San Leandro, said DeSilva hit her head when she fell but it was not clear whether that trauma or a stroke caused her sister's death.

"It was so sudden,'' Caison said Tuesday, adding that her sister had been alert and healthy until the end. "She always said that when it happened, she wanted it to happen quickly," Caison added.

Friends at San Leandro Hospital, where DeSilva had volunteered for the last dozen years, were in mourning Tuesday.

"Everyone loved her, the staff and the patients," said hospital volunteer Marian Perantoni, 76, who pointed out some memorial photos that staffers posted to commemorate her service. Snapshots of those pictures accompanying this story

"She drove herself here last Thursday," said Lilly Fugere, 73, another hospital volunteer who worked the same shifts as DeSilva. "That was the last time I saw her and she told me she loved me."

Fugere said DeSilva was sharp and energetic, and insisted on doing the most strenuous volunteer tasks, including discharging patients.

"She started volunteering here when she was in her late '80s and and she would have wanted to be here until she was 100," Fugere said. "She was wonderful with everyone but you had a special place in her heart if you were Portuguese."

Independent political writer Steven Tavares, who is of Portugese ancestry, said he recalled DeSilva from his youth as a forceful figure in that community whose roles included calling out the bingo numbers at regular games.

"She would call out the numbers twice, once in English and once in Portuguese," Tavares said. "And she would call them out sternly."

A formal obituary is being prepared by the and this story will be updated when it is available.

A vigil for DeSilva will be held at the Mortuary on Sunday at 5 p.m., and the funeral will be held at 10:30 am Monday, at St. Pascal's Church in Oakland.

mloura January 18, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I am so lucky to have known Ms. Mary "Mamie" De Silva from working with her as a San Leandro Hospital volunteer. Mary was beautiful inside and out and had an incomparable zest for life. Mary said her secret for long life was that she always thought young and surrounded herself with people who did the same. She didn't dwell on aches and pains and believed negativity was a waste of life. She often said that she greeted even the most surly people with a smile and kindness because she realized that her attitude could change the attitude of others and she was right. Mary had an almost magical knack for bringing joy to anyone she came in contact with. Although we will miss her more than words can say, she lives on in all of us who knew her and the world is a better place because she walked upon it.
Tom Abate January 18, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I did not know Mamie but others have said much the same.


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