Martha Gifford Moniz
1945 – 2006
Martha was an amazing woman, touching many hearts with kindness, and caring for many others. She lived in Little Compton for many, many years.
I wish I could have met my grandmother Martha, unfortunately she died a few years before I was born. I really miss her, even though I never met her, but I know her wonderful and caring spirit will live on within me, my family, and the town of Little Compton forever.
Martha Moniz was born on February 12th, 1945, in Fall River, Massachusetts. When she was young, she lived in the house that is 3 houses down from my house on Long Highway. As a child, Martha lived with her mother and father, Marion and Joshua Gifford. She also lived with her 2 older brothers, Harold and Arnold. Harold was the oldest, Arnold was the middle child, and that leaves us with Martha, the baby of the family. Her brothers were nice to her, but often ganged up on her.
Martha was a good child growing up. She was always closer to her dad. They had some sort of special connection. She went to Wilbur and McMahon school for all of her education. Martha didn’t go to college. When Martha graduated high school, she went on to get married.
Martha’s maiden name was Gifford. She was both English and German. Her mother’s maiden name was Wilbur, before she got married to Joshua Gifford.
Martha met Jesse Lister, her first husband, at Lincoln Park in Dartmouth. The two of them were at a dance at the park and they just happened to meet and fall in love. Jesse was in the Coast Guard, and he came up to New England for work. Jesse and Martha got married in 1963, but the two moved away to Georgia for military purposes. Martha moved to many other places because of her husband’s work, like YorkTown, Virginia. While living in Georgia, Martha became pregnant with her first child Gretchen. Since she did not want to have the baby alone, she moved back up to Little Compton. A few years later, Martha had Nathan as well. Again, Martha made the trip back to Little Compton to give birth surrounded by her family.
After many happy years of marriage, things went all wrong, Martha ended up divorcing Jesse. She took her 2 kids, and went back to Little Compton permanently. For a while she was a stay home mom, taking care of her 2 children, all by herself!!!! Then one day, she met Manny Moniz, the true love of her life. She also had 2 kids with Manny, and their names are Aaron and Betsy Moniz.
Martha and Manny lived in a small trailer for a while, on the same property that me and my family live on now. Many years later, they built the house I live in today. No matter what house they lived in, no one was ever bored. The family was very busy keeping up with an entire farm.
Martha absolutely adored animals, and that’s why she had a Scottish Terrier named Muffins, a German Shepherd mix named Bear, a German Shepherd named Kelly, a Basset Hound named Rufus, 2 sun conures birds named Ting-a-ling and Marley, multiple cats, and one of them was named Sammy. She also had at least 3 racoons, a pot belly pig named Petunia, and a baby skunk. All of these pets were just the indoor ones. She also had many farm animals including horses, sheep, goats, cows, rabbits, and chickens. There was always an incubator on their dining room table, hatching multiple baby chicks at a time. Out of all the animals, Martha loved the sheep and the goats the most, but always favored a little pygmy goat named Little Lady.
Martha had many hobbies. She loved to bake, garden, bird watch, make quilts, show, and farm. She even had her own little stand where she sold jams, pickles, strawberries, relish, and much more. Martha was also an amazing cook, who made delicious meals! She always loved to go to the Catskills with Manny in NY, and they liked to go on walks and to go to apple orchards.
All of her children simply adored her! Even though she was strict, she was also very nice. After being a stay home mom for many years, she decided for a change. She became a CNA for the Little Compton Nursing Association. For her job, she had to travel from house to house, taking care of people that were sick.
There is actually a very interesting story about Martha and one of her patients. When my mom and dad started dating, my mom went on to tell some of her family members about how amazing the boy that she met was. After asking many questions, my aunt figured out that my mom’s boyfriend’s mom was Martha Moniz. It turns out that Martha was the nurse for my great grandfather when he was sick. For several years, my Mom and Dad never realized the connection between the 2 families who barely knew each other before then.
Martha filled her days with many hobbies, having an eventful life. She was proud of her beautiful family, and her home, and her garden, that she spent so much time on. She loved to admire her orchids, and her beautiful roses and lilies. She was very happy, with her simple life. But then, many things changed.
When she was in her 50’s, she was diagnosed with Long Pastures Disease. Martha got really sick, and was on dialysis. Years later, Manny was diagnosed with Cancer. Times grew hard, and they both got more and more sick. Martha was not able to work anymore, and soon enough, Manny passed away. He died in 2001, and everyone was devastated. But Martha didn’t stop being happy. She spent her last days caring for her beautiful children. And when she knew that her time was coming, she decided to leave her land in her will to her 2 sons.
On the 14th of April, 2006, Martha died. We always think of her. Her land is still in our family, and me and my family live there. My dad takes care of the house and the garden, for the pleasure of our family, and also in honor of his mother Martha. My uncle lives right next door. Nathan and my dad are very close, even though they are only step brothers. They work together to keep our property nice, in honor of their parents. Martha will forever be missed. Gretchen, her first daughter, said something in her honor, and would like it to be shared with everyone.. She said, “I love my mom very much. I miss her. She was a great cook and a good provider.” That shows how much she cares. I hope that she will never be forgotten. A sweet heart like hers should never be wasted away.
Based on an interview with my aunt, Gretchen (Lister) Freitas, April 2020.
Written by: Alaina Moniz, Grade 5, Wilbur & McMahon School