Quiteria DeAlamo Rocha Gomes

Quiteria DeAlamo Rocha Gomes

1899 – 1988

Quiteria DeAlamo Rocha Gomes. Courtesy of the family.

Born January 9, 1899 in Terceira, Azores, the second of ten children born to Jose & Maria DeAlamo Rocha.  Quiteria resided in Terceira with her family until 1916 when she was sent to Little Compton to help care for her paternal Uncle’s (Manuel DeAlmo) pregnant wife and to assist with household chores. It was common for spelling of names to change when the “Manifest of Alien Passengers” was completed.

At the age of 17, Quiteria boarded The S.S. Patria in Angra Do Herismo,Terceira on March 7th to sail to Ellis Island, New York, arriving on March 16th, 1916.  She joined her Uncle Manual and his wife Catherine “Katie” Coughlin DeAlmo, who lived in a small house on the Kempton Farm at Warren’s Point, where Manual was a laborer.  Kathrine gave birth to Joseph C. DeAlmo on June 16, 1917, and passed away a short time later due to complications following childbirth.  Quiteria remained in Little Compton to help with infant Joseph, maintain the family home and assist on the farm.  It was on the farm where she met and in the early 1920s married Manuel C. Gomes Jr. whose father was also was a laborer on the farm.  They continued to live and work on the farm where they had four children, John Gomes (1924 – 2007), Mary Gomes Kivlehan (1928 – 2013), Catherine Gomes Snell (1938), Dorothy Gomes Wilkie (1940). 

During World War II, the DeAlmo-Gomes family opened their home to many of the servicemen stationed at Fort Church for Sunday dinners that Quiteria prepared, or to play cards and interact with the family.  Many soldiers continued to visit the family long after the war ended.

Quiteria and Manual remained on the Kempton farm until 1945 when they purchased the Herbert Grinnell property on Pottersville Road.  The family including Quiteria’s uncle Manual DeAlmo (until he moved to live with his son and family in early 1950s) made a home there and worked farming until Manual Gomes’s death in 1956. 

Following Manual’s death Quiteria subdivided the farm, giving lots to each of her four children and selling the Grinnell house and remaining lots.  In 1957 she built a small home for herself down the hill on Pottersville Road.  At this time, she took on domestic work for many summer residents, including laundry & ironing service, cooking, cleaning and childcare, as well as opening and closing many of the summer homes in town. 

Quiteria was a communicant of St Catherine’s of Siena Catholic Church, where she was an active member of many church committees, including the Christmas and Summer bazaars.  She could often be found in the church kitchen helping prepare for church dinners or cooking chowder for the annual Memorial Day Lunch.  Quiteria was an excellent cook and enjoyed making Sunday dinners for the family.  She always made Malassada’s on Shrove Tuesday and Sweet Bread for family, friends and neighbors at Easter.  Quiteria also kept a pretty large vegetable garden on her property that she tended to with the help of her grandchildren.

Quiteria was grandmother, or GG (Gramma Gomes), as she was affectionately known to relatives and friends for many years to 14 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and 8 great, great grandchildren (so far).  There were also 5 of Joseph DeAlmo’s children that she considered to be grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren, several who have children as well.  Joseph’s death in 1975 was a very difficult loss for Quiteria, as she always considered him to be her son.  She could never bring herself to attend another wake after Joe’s passing.

In her later years, Quiteria enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, but as they started to grow up she had more time on her hands, so at the age of 70 she got her driver’s license for the first time.  After that it was hard to keep her home, as she especially loved going to her “Clubs”.  She was a member of the O-60 and The Forever Young Clubs in Portsmouth.  At least 3 days a week she would be off to the Club with her friends Mary Duval Flores, Mary & Betty Simmons and Anne Sylvia.  They knitted many quilts, hats & mittens to donate or to sell at the Senior Centers, and often played cards in the afternoons at each other’s homes.

Quiteria returned to The Azores several times throughout her life, the first time in 1935, with her husband and their two oldest children.  They stayed in Terceira with family for more than a year.  Upon returning to Little Compton, young Mary had to re-learn much of her English.  Although Quiteria was very proud of her heritage and loved the Azores, she believed that because she was in America, English had to become her first language.  She did not allow Portuguese to be spoken at home because she was trying to learn English from and with her children.  Quiteria returned to the Azores again in 1981 with her daughter’s Catherine & Dorothy for a visit and to meet many family members and again in 1987 with her three daughters to celebrate the 50th Wedding Anniversary of her youngest sister.  In 1978 Quiteria traveled to Germany with her daughter Catherine and her 10-year-old granddaughter Susan to meet her first great grandchild who was born while her grandson was station in Wolf, Germany with the US Army.  She also travelled to California in 1984 to visit with her Niece Mary-Jean and one of her granddaughters.

Quiteria shared a very special relationship with her granddaughter Susan.  Because her daughter Catherine lived across the driveway, and was a nurses’ aid she worked the overnight shift several nights a week.  Susan would stay with her grandmother because the other kids who were quite a bit older would have to leave for school/work early in the mornings.  Quiteria and Susan shared many meals, card games, watching tv and overnights together, they were great company for each other and both enjoyed every minute of it.  Quiteria seemed to stay young because of Susan. She would often say “I don’t have favorite grandchildren, I Love them all equally, but there is something about that Susan!”

Quiteria also loved to go clamming – which she did often with whichever grandchild was willing to go.  On one occasion she was clamming with Maureen Pieri to get clams for Clam Chowder for the church Memorial Day Lunch, when a DEM inspector began to question Quitera about the size and quantity of clams they were digging — to the amazement of Mrs. Pieri, Quiteria responded with “We No Speak English”!! — or so the story goes!!  Probably the only time she ever used that phrase.

Quiteria enjoyed a full life, attending her Church as often as she could (always sitting in the same pew), going to her Clubs, gardening & cooking, playing cards with friends and family.  In the summer of 1987 her family had a “surprise” early 90th birthday party in her honor.  The party was held early because Quiteria’s youngest sister was visiting from the Azores for the first time.  There were well over 75 friends and relatives in attendance in Quiteria’s back yard.  She resided in her little house on Pottersville Road, flanked by the homes of her son John and daughter Catherine until her death in 1988 at the age of 89.

Catherine Snell, Daughter and Deborah Snell, Granddaughter

April 2020

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