Lillian Margaret Shepard Rosa

Lillian Margaret Shepard Rosa

1912 – 2006

Lillian Shepard Rosa. Courtesy of the family.

Lillian Margaret Shepard was born in Somerville, MA in July of 1912 to Frederick Victor Shepard (Shabot) of Worcester, MA and Margaret Morrissey of New Foundland, Canada. She was the second of 9 children (George, Francis, Ernest, Estelle, Margaret, William, Gerard, and Harriet). Lillian’s parents moved to Little Compton where her uncles, Tom Morrissey (Head of Fisherman’s Shack) and John Morrissey (Sakonnet Light Keeper) lived and worked. She lived down at the Point in a small house off of Round Pond Road. Lillian attended school through 8th grade in the various school houses in town. At a young age, Lillian helped her family by doing domestic work (like shopping, collecting water, cooking, cleaning) for the summer people, who more than doubled the population of the fishing enclave. When her father died in 1926, she helped her mother raise her younger siblings.

Lillian married Frank Furtado Rosa in 1929. Frank was born in Bermuda on December 3, 1900 and was the son of Frank de Rosa and Mary Dores Fagundes, from the Azores. Frank arrived in 1907 on the SS Bermuda through Ellis Island. Lillian and Frank lived with Frank’s parents and owned the house after his parents died. Their daughter Esther was born in 1930 and married Richard Mudd. They traveled with the Navy and after he retired from the Navy, they moved back to Little Compton with their four children Margaret, Michael, Rebecca, and Richard. Lillian also had a son Frank F. Rosa, Jr. and he married Judith Goulart from town. They lived in town and had six children, Karlene, Frank, Gregory, Kimberley, Kyle, and Betsy.

Lillian was always finding ways to help her family and community. She volunteered for numerous community and religious events and organizations. As examples, she was an officer for the school’s PTO, she prepared food for St. Catherine’s many feasts and was a “Bathing Beauty” in their production of a “Musical Review” that was produced by Mrs. Louis A. Piere. She was also a member of Little Compton’s Women’s Republican Committee, and she traveled down to Washington DC with Mrs. Lucille Love for President Nixon’s campaign. 

Lillian was a hard worker and always had a job to support her family. Widowed in 1962,  she continued as a cook and home health aide. Eventually, her entrepreneurial spirit created a catering business that lasted for many years. People around town would always comment on her delicious hors d’oeuvres, including the men who loved her “chipped beef” for it reminded them of their time in the war. Her many grandchildren would help her with numerous cocktail parties and weddings through the years. She was always so proud of her grandchildren and wanted to show them off, like the time she insisted Secretary of the Treasury, G. William Miller come to the kitchen at the Bissinger’s Party on Main Road to meet her grandchildren.  Her motto was “Anything worth doing is worth doing right or don’t do it at all.” and to always ”leave the kitchen cleaner than what it was when we arrived!”

When she retired from catering, she had more time to volunteer and that she did. She volunteered at the Portsmouth Senior Center for many years and was a staple in the kitchen and helped to run their Christmas Bazaar. She volunteered until she could no longer drive after breaking her hip at the age of 92. 

Lillian’s greatest joy came from her grandchildren. In 1977, she wrote her “Recipe for a Good Grandmother” which included how to honor our most precious possession, our family name. 

Lillian was a strong, independent woman who would always rise to the occasion to be a great role model for her family, church and town. Her work ethic typified her “yankee ingenuity” and strength of character. She loved the beauty of Little Compton and taking rides down to the point where she would tell stories that we now cherish. We love you Meme.

Karlene Sharer and Frank Rosa, Grandchildren

April 2020


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One thought on “Lillian Margaret Shepard Rosa

  1. Karlene and Frank – Thank you so much for writing about your grandmother. She was a strong and energetic role model for all of us.

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