Mary "Honey" Serrao Camara

(April 28, 1916 - September 9, 2007)

Memorial Service Main Page and Recordings

September 20, 2007 Memorial Service Transcripts

< Track 01: Solo - Amazing Grace (Stephanie Shade)


Track 02: Eulogy (JLL)


Track 03: Eulogy (LJC) >

... planning on writing it on the plane when I was asked to do this eulogy, and, uh, I didn't. So last night instead of writing it I talked to my aunt and my mother, and thought it was more important to learn about more memories and things that are more important than facts and dates and so on and so forth, but I've got some of that, and I'll start there.

My Grandma, Mary Serrao Camara, was born in Hilo, on April 28, 1916. She was the youngest child of Jose [pronounced Joe-zay] and Emilia Souza Serrao. Her father, great grandpa, Jose Serrao was known for making wine. She had two sisters: Emelia, who was the eldest, and Mary who died at age 15 before Grandma was born. Her five brothers were: Joseph, Louis, Antone, Alfred, and Frank.

When Grandma was born, her mother was still grieving for her older daughter, Mary. When Great Grandpa Serrao decided on naming Grandma "Mary" as well, Great Grandma and her [Grandma’s] brothers could not bring themselves to calling her Mary, thus Grandma was affectionately called "Honey" by her family. Grandma always had a kick telling the story of when she was in town, or wherever, and a family friend would call out to her and say "hey, Honey" she would always think that someone listening in might think someone was "getting fresh". [Great?] Grandpa [(Jose?)] would laugh and kid her and say someone’s going to start a rumor.

Grandma is survived by two daughters: my mother, Mary Ann Lopes, and my Aunt Cheryl Camara, four Grandchildren: myself (John Lopes), Michelle Ford, Lionel Joseph Camara, Christine Asing; Great-grandchildren: Sam and Sarah Morgan, Cody and Shelby Ford, Hope, Bailee and Grace Fernandez-Camara, and Alexander Koa Asing; and she has two Great-grandsons: Kadin Turner and Alexander Erohn Morgan.

Grandma attended St. Joseph's School [actually St. Mary's? - all girls school, before combined w/ boys] in Hilo, and graduated from Hilo High, class of 1935. She worked at the Territorial Tax office in Hilo, first as a Tax Office Clerk, and then as Secretary to the Tax Collector, Lance Clark. About three years later, Grandma and her mother came to Oahu for a vacation. At that time they stayed with Mrs. Medeiros [Ellen Simao’s mother] on Prospect Street. For some reason, although she was here on vacation, Grandma was asked to substitute for someone [Helen Fernandez] as secretary for the Tax Commissioner [who was Bill Borthwick at the time] on Oahu. One day, in 1938, the woman she substituted for [Helen Fernandez] introduced Grandma to Grandpa on the steps of the Territorial Tax Office Building on Oahu. It must have been love at first sight. They dated a bit and when Grandma returned to Hilo, she and Grandpa corresponded frequently. In fact Grandma kept all of those special love letters all her life.

Some time later, an auditor was needed at the Hilo Territorial Tax Dept. so Grandma suggested to her boss [who was Lance Clark] that he hire Grandpa for the one month interim. This, she said, would give her a further opportunity to get to know Lionel. They dated, and after the month, [Grandpa] returned to Oahu. There were more love letters and more correspondence and Grandpa flew to Hilo again in late 1939 or somewhere [early?] in 1940. During that visit, my Grandfather spoke to his future father-in-law (Great Grandpa Jose Serrao) about marrying his daughter. He then took Grandma to Onekahakaha Beach in Hilo, popped the question and gave her her engagement ring. The rest is history.

Grandma and Grandpa were married on Sept. 28, 1940 at St. Joseph’s Church in Hilo. They then flew to Oahu, where they made their home on Kinau Street. They had some very happy memories there – despite the Pearl Harbor Attack. They had wonderful friends, who our family consider as family – the Walter Gouvea family who lived across the street, and they had great war buddies – the Markiewiths (from California), Wil Grist. They lived there on Kinau Street until my Aunt Cheryl was about five years old, and moved to Kailua Coconut Grove, and in 1960 to the Olomana Subdivision. I was talking with my Aunt last night and looked at a photo of her actually standing next to the house before it was being built. [link photo]

Grandma stayed at home with her daughters, and did not go to work until Aunt Cheryl started school. She worked at First Federal Savings and Loan for several years. She enjoyed her work and enjoyed meeting people. Grandma retired in 1969 as the new accounts teller. After retirement, she volunteered at Saint Francis Hospital gift shop, where she enjoyed being of service to the hospital and meeting more people. Then she offered to baby sit for her grandson, L.J..

Grandma also enjoyed, always enjoyed meeting people, so she joined the Catholic Women’s Guild. She served the guild in the capacity of historian for a while, and she was a life member of the organization. She was instrumental in bringing a few – four – new members into the guild – her nieces Darla, Arline, my mother, and Aunt Cheryl.

Grandma enjoyed traveling with her husband, family, and dear friends. Her first trip was in 1959 on the Matsonia [with my mom and my aunt] – they liked cruising. Grandma loved to visit relatives and friends in California, Reno, Vegas, and took many cruises – among them an interisland cruise and an Alaskan cruise. Grandma was especially thrilled to have visited Portugal [twice]. She got to see her parents’ homeland, and also got to stand on the [original] steps of her father’s house in Madeira. The photo’s on one of the photo boards outside. [link photo] She met several relatives in Portugal with whom she stayed in touch.

She was the most devoted wife, a caring and loving mother, and a doting grandmother and great grandmother. She loved her husband and family unconditionally. My grandfather, on his deathbed, said she had "undying love" for him, as she would not leave the hospital, even though she shouldn’t have really been there.

She was our special prayer angel and as she would always pray for everyone’s special needs and intentions. Everyone felt she had a direct link when she prayed – maybe she did. She always would say her special prayers and novenas for anyone who would ask her to pray, in addition to praying for all her own friends and family.

Grandma was a devout Catholic. She loved her faith. She had a special devotion to our[/her?] blessed mother praying the rosary daily. I heard a story last night that our cousin, the late Bobby McRae, walked around the corner of the house one day, and looked in the window and saw Grandma kneeling at her bedside praying. That says a lot.

Grandma loved being a Grandmother and loved being with us, and her grandchildren. She was always so patient.

The night Grandma was in the emergency room for the last time before she passed, she kept hugging and kissing my Aunt Cheryl and my mother, and telling them that she loved them. Little did they realize that she was actually telling them goodbye.

Grandma was a peace maker and a diplomat. All too often we get together as a family and friends at these things. I was speaking to my sister’s father-in-law, and we were commenting that these are the only times we take the time to get together. Then I thought back – Grandma & Grandpa routinely did things to get the family together. I remember growing up, and even as a kid coming to Honolulu, and all those New Year’s parties and get-togethers that my grandparents held. Always the New Year’s Eve on the patio with the lights strung around the side - Don Cavaco making me wine coolers at 5 - happy times. They wanted family and friends together, and that’s probably how it’s supposed to be.

Grandma loved children. I could always perk her up by getting her on the subject of "the little ones."

I would always tell both my Grandmother and Grandfather that I was so proud of them, and they would look at me like Awhat are you proud of me for?" I said I’m proud of your marriage – 65 years, and for all intents and purposes, 66. She was devoted to the end, even in the last few years after her stroke, she still worried about "her boy." When I would call to talk to her and I would always ask, "Grandma, did you eat enough?" and she would always say "Yeah, but where’s his?"

They had lots of parallels in their lives – they both had siblings that had passed prior to them, that they were named after. They were meant for each other – they were soul mates.

I think back as a child, and I remember when we were small, Grandma and Grandpa and my Aunt Cheryl coming to Hilo, and on the day they were set to leave, my sister Michelle would always be in tears at the airport, and a few times they got bumped, and then Michelle stopped crying for a day.

In my adult life, my wife and I got the unique opportunity and privilege to enjoy my grandparents – not just as grandparents, but as people and friends. We enjoyed our trips with them to Vegas, Reno, Tahoe. Boy, did Grandma enjoy playing the machines. So much so I thought of sending her one to put in the house. You can’t get her to Vegas, bring Vegas to her.

In thinking back and looking at the pictures on the board outside and photos in the photo album, some things come to mind. You see Grandma, probably in the picture in the 40s, I’m not sure if it’s in Honolulu or not, but you look at that photo and I just thought "Wow, what a classy lady!" Grandma was modest – in fact I just was commenting to my aunt and mother that I had only seen my own grandmother in her pajamas probably 3, 4 years ago, and even then that bothered her, you know?

She was strong. She would do, even after the stroke, she would do certain things just to let you know that she was still able. She would, I remember last year after Grandpa passed, her walking in the house and my Aunt Cheryl telling her to grab the railing and she looking over and doing a little jig, and jumping in the air actually, you know, clicking her heels together just to say "Hey, I can still do this!"

Her marriage – their marriage – that’s what I think the definition of marriage should be in the Webster’s Dictionary. I remember my Aunt telling me about overhearing them in the last so many years talking at night in bed, and they would talk about the family, and which one they were worried about, and what was going on. When I asked them what their secret was, they both said the same thing: honesty, friendship, and communication were the keys to a successful partnership.

We lost Grandpa last year, and I think everything went the way it was meant to be, because I know he could not have seen her go, and she had the stroke and I know she didn’t fully see him go, although she knew he was gone. That was meant to be so that we could prepare for her to be, and for them to be, together forever.

I would always end my conversations on the phone with Grandma: "Grandma, I want you to be happy," but I know she wasn’t truly happy without Grandpa. I’m not a religious man, but I know she’s happy today.

Grandma: I love you dearly. You will truly be missed. Go be with Grandpa. Be happy.


The recording wound up being much clearer than what we heard that day, especially the beginning (before the keyboardist/sound guy made some adjustments). There was a mean echo. The intro to the eulogies by the guy from Borthwick's was cut from the recording.

I thought my mom was going to have a heart attack - both before the funeral while Johnny was still writing down notes, and during the long pause when he first stepped up to the microphone (before he got started).

Playing the slot machines = her "exercises" (at least for one arm)

Johnny also did the main Eulogy for Grandpa's, see Track 04: Eulogy (JLL).