Jose de Melo Tavares and D.Lili of Sao Bras, Azores

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D.Lili and Ze Melo de Guia (Jose de Melo Tavares) in Sao Bras 1939

Luisa Cristina Da Câmara Falcão Correia Da Silva was born on December 9, 1915 on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. The third daughter of Luisa Borges Do Canto Da Câmara Falcão and Dr. João Correia Da Silva Jr. Luisa was born during a time when her father was a Supreme court judge and then the Governor of the region. The nickname Lili was given to her by her parents and it is what she has always been recognized as. Lili was educated at an all ladies private school run by nuns in the heart of the islands capital; Ponta Delgada. At the colegio San Francisco she was the 1st enrolled student and excelled in French and Art. Her mother passed away when she was 6 years old leaving her with few memories of her natural mother but her father remarried his wife’s cousin Maria Teresa Do Canto; niece of the famous Azorean botanist Jose do Canto.

D.Lili
Costume Party at Clube Micaelense 1933. D. Lili pictured 3 lady from top left

On the weekends she would return home from the convent where there was always a lot of family gatherings and social obligations. Her passion for painting was encouraged by her private tutor Domingues Rebelo; whom now is recognized as one of Portugal’s most prized artists of the 20th century. She adored painting in the garden and was known for her exquisite decorating and entertaining. While residing in Ponta Delgada, Lili would admire Jose as he passed by her balcony daily after work, until one day he had the courage to ask her out. Although he came from a modest, hardworking middle income family, she followed her heart and fell deeply in love with her husband; having 6 children over a period of 10 years.

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D.Lili with her 6 children in 1953

It was during this time in 1943 that they began to build their home in the small village of Sao Bras where she had inherited land. It was here that she forged her roots and built a community around there new home. The region was densely populated and there was endless green pastures available for dairy farming and it is here that Jose de Melo continued his passion of raising cattle. At this time in Portuguese history it was common for each town or village to have a prominent family that was the employer for a large portion of the town. It was here that D. Lili would train and teach the young ladies how to properly run a household ensuring they were taught to cook, properly clean and were given proper medical care. The reputation of Jose de Melo and D.Lili still exists decades after their passing with countless stories of their generosity and kindness still circulating throughout the island. Jose de Melo spent most of his career as a landowner, renting out his parcels to small cattle farmers allowing them to establish a fair living wage.

It was during the 1960’s war with Angola that many of the young man were being enlisted to go fight in the colonial war in Africa. It was Jose and Lili’s oldest son who saw too many of the young men from some of the poorest families being sent to fight abroad while many wealthier families were able to have their sons taken off the deployment list. It was here he rose to a Lt.Kernal and was known for his loyalty to his soldiers and country. The chaotic times in the region was Jose and Lili’s driving force behind their decision to buy a set of apartment complexes in Canada; a country that was soon becoming the hub for multiculturalism. In 1966 Jose, Lili and their youngest daughter Catarina set off from the small island of Sao Miguel in the Atlantic to the big city of Montreal in Canada. It was here in Canada, a new chapter in their lives that really enlightened Lili and she fell in love with the culture and diversity that existed here in Canada during the late 1960’s. While residing in both Canada and in the Azores her family began to develop their own roots with the 3 youngest children marrying and studying in Canada and the 3 oldest remaining in Portugal.

It was at this time that their 2nd oldest daughter Luisa Cristina became one of the first female nurses on the island of Sao Miguel and became known as the nurse with the lords heart in english as she treated and cared for anyone regardless of their ability to pay. In January of 2000, D.Lili passed away with a mass held in her honor immediately after. While the church bells rung and the people whom she had shared her life payed their respects standing on the roadsides as the hearst passed her beloved small town, she must have been looking down to a place she spent 85 years and felt happy and fulfilled with the legacy of kindness, decency and respect that she left behind.

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