OBITUARY: Pat Gonsalves
Woburn woman loses battle with cancer.
The following obituary was supplied by the Gonsalves family:
Ramonne Patricia (Liberge) Gonsalves died on April 5, 2012 at the age of 75 after a courageous battle with cancer. Affectionately known as Pat she died peacefully at her home in Woburn, MA surrounded by her immediate family.
Pat was the beloved wife of Bob Gonsalves and the devoted mother of their five children, including the long-time Alderman-at-Large in Woburn, Joanna Gonsalves.
The picture of Pat shown above was taken in 2009 when she and Bob were enjoying the summer sun and warm breezes in a visit to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Born in Salem Pat grew up in Beverly and graduated from Beverly High School in 1954. She earned her BA in Social Science at Merrimack College in 1958 and her MA in Social Science from Northeastern University in 1979. Prior to her marriage she was a social worker for the City of Beverly and when her children were older she worked for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.
Growing up in Beverly she was introduced to the arts, learned to play classical music on the piano, and sang in the church choir. She was immersed in the French-Canadian culture of cooking, pie-making, and poker-playing at the home of her French-speaking grandmother, MaMere, every Sunday.
Bob tells how they met. "While Pat was at Merrimack she became friends with my younger sister, Rowena. One weekend in 1958 Pat was visiting our home in Woburn and she baked an apple pie for the family. After she left I came home from my ship in Newport, RI for a brief visit and ate the last piece of pie. Taken at how delicious it was I asked Rowena, 'Who baked this?' Later, the sly matchmaker, Rowena, introduced the two of us and we both found the love of our lives."
Pat and Bob were married in 1962 at St. Mary's, Star of the Sea in Beverly. Bob gave her a baby grand piano for her wedding present and they honeymooned in Bermuda, which was the first of the many, many trips they took exploring all the states and about 40 countries, including Japan, Australia, Russia and Brazil. They celebrated 50 years of marriage two weeks ago.
Participating in that celebration was the priest who married them in Beverly, namely Father John D'Arcy, who, as Bishop D'Arcy, also confirmed Joanna at St. Charles in Woburn and has become a very prominent shepherd in the Catholic Church. He called the family from the Diocese in Indiana which includes Notre Dame University, and congratulated Pat and Bob on their exemplary marriage, recalling, in particular, Pat's beauty on that warm spring day in 1962 when they were married.
The couple lived for brief periods in the Peach Cove section of Gloucester, in Peabody where they installed the piano as their only real piece of furniture, and in an apartment near Tufts in Medford. They bought their first home at Forest Park Circle in Woburn, Bob selling his beloved, red 1952 MGTD for the down payment. They then bought the Congregational Parsonage on Frances Street where the piano found a splendid setting, and then, after the Blizzard of '78, they moved to an old farmhouse on Lexington St. with three acres of land adjacent to the Horn Pond Conservation Land.
The growing family rehabbed the farmhouse then built a contemporary solar home with spectacular views of Horn Pond, its mountain and fields, and with an accidental view of Boston right down the Mystic Valley. They built another home for their daughter, Maria Tancredi, and her family on the property and their last home was another rehabbed farmhouse on Lexington St. adjacent to the contemporary home. This formed the 4-home family compound where Pat spent her final days in the sun and in the peace and quiet of a warm family environment.
In all these homes Pat ran a joyful place of refuge, open to all newcomers. Yet she was the model of a calm, composed mother, even with all the commotion generated by a busy husband, 5 children and numerous neighborhood kids. (In 1976 there were 50 kids on Frances St.!).
For example Pat would provided impromptu birthday parties: "Call the kids in for Rob's birthday, no presents, please, just cake and ice cream." And the party was over in 15 minutes, all ragged kids enjoying another party in Mrs. G's kitchen. She also led the family in artistic ventures, such as trips to Boston, and she staged kids' performances in the large drawing rooms she had in all their homes.
Joanna recalled an event which captured Pat's style and composure. "When mom was studying for her MS she did a practicum at Danvers State Hospital. Her 'clients' were young people who could be quite dangerous. In 1978 her clients were getting too restless, so mom suggested they make an action video. What topic would you like? A bank robbery! Sure, she answered confidently, but you have to be caught and come before a judge. All the better!
"She found an enthusiastic supporter in Judge Samuel Zoll, at the Salem District Court. So the clients staged and recorded the robbery (no violence, please) and they were captured in the act by Pat's burly colleagues at Danvers State, AKA, Bank Security Guards. Then she bussed them all to Salem and into Judge Zoll's courtroom, now stacked with curious court attendants and lawyers.
"One by one the accused pleaded before the customarily stern Judge Zoll. The main witness was none other than mom, acting as a teller who seemed to be more frightened by Judge Zoll than by the waywards. Continuing his mock trial the Judge 'read them the law', found all the accused guilty, sentenced them to long terms, and remanded them to the custody of the Security Guards.
"The video was a great teaching moment and it kept her clients and older patients delighted for months. Such was the creativity, compassion and love of my mother", Joanna said, adding that the event was a great example for herself as a teacher and Professor of Psychology at Salem State University.
Bob recalled another incident which characterized his wife. "We were sitting in a park on the sunny summer shores of Lake Zurich in Switzerland where I was on sabbatical leave. Our five kids, now ages 7 to 13, were running around and playing Frisbee when an irate woman came up to our bench and complained about all the commotion. 'This is a place of beauty,' she exclaimed in good English. I smiled, knowing what would come next. Pat said, 'Indeed it is a place of beauty and we want you to enjoy it too. Are you from Zurich and won't you sit for a minute and tell me about your own family?' The startled woman quieted, then complied, joining us on the bench. Pat had won the day. That's how my huckleberry friend worked her magic."
Such was the life of Pat Gonsalves: a loving wife, mother and friend, providing quiet support, guidance and joy to all she met. She will be sorely missed.
In addition to her husband Professor Robert A. Gonsalves, Pat is the devoted mother of Maria Tancredi and her husband John, Joanna Gonsalves and her husband Greg Lamontagne all of Woburn, Rob Gonsalves and his wife Jennifer Lim of Wellesley, Paul Gonsalves and his wife Dee Dee of Ludlow and the late Richard Nolan Gonsalves. She is also the sister of Lorraine Sousa and her husband Joseph of Naples, Florida and Osterville and Rochelle Moloney and her husband Bill of Beverly, the adoring grandmother of Kelly, Becca, Renée, Sara, Rahoul, Gabrielle and Lucas. She is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Funeral will be held from the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn on Wednesday, April 11th at 9 a.m., followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Charles Church, 280 Main Street, Woburn at 10; with interment in Calvary Cemetery, Woburn. Calling hours are on Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Pat's memory to the John and Rowena Gonsalves Family Education Fund, St. Charles School, 8 Myrtle Street, Woburn, MA 01801.