Manuel F. Grace
August 20, 2014

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  Manuel F. Grace a retired Army Veteran and active in his community and church, passed away on Wednesday afternoon, August 20, 2014. He was 88 years old. Manny was born in New Bedford, the son of Cape Verde Island immigrants, the late Francisco and Mary Grace. He grew up and was educated in New Bedford. He served 23 years in the United States Army holding the rank of Master Sergeant. He was a veteran of World War II and Korean War. He served in the European Theater during WW II and in Korea he spent four tours; 1947-48, 1950-51, 1954-55 and 1965 to 1966. He was the recipient of the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, American Theater Ribbon, WW II Victory Medal, Army of the Occupation Medal (Korea), Korean Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service Medal, 4 Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster, and Army Commendation Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster. During those years he had been stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC, Ft. Devens, MA, and Ft. Wainwright, AK. At the time of his retirement he was the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the 5th Artillery, 94th ARCOM at the Guy Cardillo Reserve Center in Roslindale. After his retirement he continued his support of the US Military as a member of the American Legion Post 273 and Burlington Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was proud of his service to his country and was given the great gift to participate in the Honor Flight New England flying to Washington, DC this past May.

Manny’s second career was that of office manager for Thomas O’Connor & Company of Canton from 1968 to 1990. The construction company took on large construction projects which included: churches, schools, nursing homes, and power plants.

Manny was a man of deep Catholic Faith. He attended daily mass at St. Margaret’s Church in Burlington. He was also extremely active in the Burlington Knights of Columbus Council 4978, which is a Catholic fraternal organization. He was a third and Fourth Degree member and held most of the council chairs including Grand Knight and Trustee. He also served as a District Deputy, State Chairman of the Columbian Squires, and served as a Delegate to the Supreme Convention in Miami Florida in 1975. Manuel truly embraced the organizations principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism. Manny along with wife Irene were always there participating in all the fundraising and social events held at the council including the Exceptional Children Committee and Bingo Committee. In 2000 he was awarded Knight of the Year by the Burlington K of C Council.

Manuel was the loving husband to his wife Irene for over 50 years. They made a wonderful couple traveling on numerous cruises to the Caribbean and Mediterranean, working together as members of the Citations Drum and Bugle Parents Auxiliary, and partaking in the activities and exercise classes at the Burlington Council on Aging. Manny might have been a retired Master Sergeant and nearly 2 feet taller than Irene, but he knew that it was Irene who was in charge of running the house with 5 very active sons. He was very proud of his sons and their achievements, and loved being a grandfather.

Manuel was the beloved husband of the late Irene Anna (Lopes) Grace. He was the loving father of Darlene “Dolly” Mendes of New Bedford , Augusto “Augie” & his wife Janice of Burlington, Manuel “Manny” & his wife Karen “Casey” Caffee-Grace of Pasadena, CA, Martin of Burlington, Anthony & his wife Paula Hoyt of Westford, and John of Los Angeles, CA. He was the father-in-law of Janice Grace of Chelmsford. Manny was the brother of Genevieve “Babs” Pierson of VA, Francisco “Sam” Graca of New Bedford, Eugenia “Jenny” Lomba of New Bedford , Eleanor “Allie” Jones of OH and the late Clara Correia, Amelia Rose, Valentina Grace Erwin and Josephine and Louis & Albert Grace. He was the proud grandfather of Gene Mendes of Boston, the late Keone Mendes of Boston, Carson of Westford and Nicholas, Alexander, & Zoe all of CA and great Grandfather of Catrina Mendes and Gene Mendes Jr. both of New Bedford Manny was also survived by many nieces, nephews, and friends.

Funeral from the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., BURLINGTON (Exit 34 off Rt. 128, Woburn side) on Monday, Aug. 25 at 9 a.m. Followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Margaret’s Church, 111 Winn St., Burlington at 10 a.m. Visiting hours Sunday from 3-6 p.m. Interment in Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Burlington. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Manny’s name may be made to the Knights of Columbus Exceptional Children’s Fund, P.O. Box 25, Burlington, MA 01803 or the Honor Flight New England, P.O. Box 16287, Hooksett, NH 03106.

Undying Love

My brothers and our families want to thank each of you for joining us this morning in celebration of an undying love. Our father displayed his greatest love for the three things that were most important to him: God, country, and family.

Manny Grace’s love of God was evident in everything he did. Growing up in New Bedford, his Cape Verdean upbringing taught him at an early age that everything he did and everything he accomplished in life would become his gifts to God. He lived a life of faith that reflected his love of God. No matter where his travels took him, from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and everywhere in between, he always sought out the local Catholic Church so he could worship and give thanks to God. And in 1966, when he retired from the Army and he decided to call Burlington his home, this very church became his focal point, where he would spend much of his time and energies giving back to God. The Burlington Knights of Columbus also offered him an important way to spread God’s love and lessons as he made some of his dearest friends in this community. My father took great pride in serving as a District Deputy of the K of C. As a District Deputy he would travel to communities across the state conducting ceremonies. I remember during the turbulent years of bussing in the 1970’s, my father was assigned the Per Marquette Council in South Boston. I remember watching the respect and admiration he received in that Council chamber while conducting that ceremony at a time when the racial relations were so tense in South Boston. Quietly he did what he was sent to do. His religion defined him, and his faith guided him everyday of his life.

Manny Grace’s love of country was also evident in the choices he made in his life. He enlisted in the Army at the age of 18, where he first served in a segregated unit stationed in Europe during World War II, and then later in the Korean War in a desegregated unit. Once back stateside, he continued his more than 23 year military career transferring to different Army bases every few years with Irene Grace and their young family of five boys.

He was the personification of the Greatest Generation, who gave so much and asked so little in return. He was proud of his service to his country, which is why I was so honored to accompany him this past April when he participated in the New England Honor Flight to Washington, DC, where he and 20 other World War II veterans got to visit the memorial that was erected in honor of their service, their sacrifices, and their steadfast loyalty to this country. Hundreds of people cheered for the group of veterans at each airport, and across our nation’s capital as they toured the various monuments, culminating at the World War II Memorial. He couldn’t understand all of the admiration, and he was even a bit uncomfortable with the attention. Like his generation, he felt no fanfare was required. They’ve had their parades. They’ve heard the speeches. They know what they have accomplished, and they are proud. They will have their place in the ledgers of history, but no block of marble or elaborate edifice can equal their lives of sacrifice and achievement, duty and honor, as monuments to their time.

My father retired from the Army as a Master Sgt., so you’ll understand how proud he must have felt when during Burlington’s Memorial Day ceremonies a couple of years back, a full-bird Colonel from the Tuskegee Airman stood and saluted him for my father’s service to this country. It was a very moving moment for him.

Manny Grace’s love for his family is the lasting legacy he leaves us. It was only 1½ years ago when he lost the love of his life. As we drove to the funeral home for my mother’s wake, my father said, “I feel the same way I felt back on my wedding day. I can’t wait to see my bride to see how beautiful she looks.” They were always together, and did everything together. In the end, his heart stopped beating as he lay in his bed, in the home that they had raised their family in. But in reality, he died of a broken heart because he missed the woman who made him whole. Which is why we take comfort in knowing that she’s been waiting at the gates of heaven for him and she welcomed him home again with outstretched arms. Theirs is an undying love for eternity.

My father showed his love for us by setting the example of what a true man is. He was a hardworking, dedicated, and courageous American hero who sacrificed everything for his boys. We can only aspire to someday become half the man he was.

Several months ago, we wondered how we could go on without my Mother’s bright and radiant light. Today we wonder how we can go on without my Father’s guiding hand, quiet strength, and unwavering leadership. But we know we must so we can pass on the lessons they taught us to our children. And Nicholas, Alex, Carson, and Zoe will pass it on to their children. This is our pledge we make to them today so that her brilliant light of love will never goes out, and his faithful examples of bravery and leadership will never die.
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