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Monday, July 18, 2011

Alberto S. Lemos 1921-2011 by Monica Lemos

                                          Photo http://www.tribunaportuguesa.com/

Alberto dos Santos Lemos passed away on Thursday evening, July 7, 2011 at
the age of 89 after struggling with lung disease. Alberto was considered both
a leader and voice of the Portuguese-speaking community of California
through his work as owner and editor of the Jornal Português for 39
years.

Alberto, born in Rio de Janiero, Brazil on September 9, 1921 and
raised in Portugal, emigrated to the USA in 1955. Alberto’s mother
(Elvira Almeda Santo Lemos) moved the family from Brazil to Portugal
when he was four years old. His father (Casimiro da Costa Lemos)
continued to work for a number of years in Brazil to support the
family. Together, Alberto, his brother Afonso, his sister Marina, and
his mother lived in Caria, Concelho de Moimenta da Beira, Distrito de
Viseu.

After four years his father returned from Brazil and moved the family
to Lisbon. Alberto finished his schooling and worked in Lisbon for a
number of years. During WWII he worked at the British embassy for
four years, an experience he later credited for being a seminal
influence. During that time he earned his first college degree at the
Instituto Comercial de Lisboa and the British Institute and completed
additional studies in English and French. After the consulate he
worked at the Bank of London and South America (BOLSA) in Lisbon for
10 years.

In 1955 he was sponsored by Maria and Artur Gonçalves (of Neto Sausage
in Santa Clara) and emigrated from Portugal to the United States. In
1957 he acquired the Jornal Português (The Portuguese Journal), a
weekly Portuguese language newspaper which traces its origin back to
1888. During his time as owner and editor of the Jornal, Alberto
obtained a certificate in Journalism from Laney College in 1974 and a
Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and Latin American Studies
with Honors from California State University at Hayward in 1976.

Through his work as owner and editor of the Jornal Português
(originally in partnership with Manuel Bettencourt who left the paper
after a few years), Alberto came to be a community leader and
representative, a voice for and of the Portuguese speaking community
of California according to many of his contemporaries. Through the
Portuguese Journal Alberto advanced many Portuguese causes and the
political voice of the Portuguese speaking community. To maintain his
journalistic integrity and neutrality, he did not participate directly
in many Portuguese social organizations but he did help to found
Portuguese Americans for Political Action (PAPA). The Portuguese
government recognized his work by bestowing him with the Medal of
Merit for service to Portuguese communities and inducting him into the
Order of Prince Henry the Navigator.

Alberto owned and operated the Jornal Português from 1957 until 1994
when he sold the newspaper. After his ‘retirement’ he continued to
volunteer his time for the newspaper until it closed in 1997. Later
in his retirement, until 2010, Alberto traveled to Portugal annually
to keep in touch with family. He was an avid reader, a real estate
investor, and maintained an active interest in serving his peers and
community through the Contra Costa County Advisory Council on Aging.

Alberto is survived by: his sister Marina of Portugal, her
daughter/his niece Teresa; his nephew Luis (son of his deceased
brother Afonso Lemos); by his ex-wife Heike: son Henrik (married to
Andrea) and his granddaughter Naomi all of Rochester, NY, daughter
Monica of Richmond, CA; by his second wife Marcia and his
step-daughter Maiza (married to Fernando) and his step-granddaughter
Johannah.

Personal Note: I had an opportunity to meet Alberto S. Lemos at the home of his sponsors, Artur and Maria Gonçalves (Neto) in a visit that became a regular event between the families. I was just a young man then, and the friendship and respect that developed between Alberto S. Lemos and my parents, and which was then extended to me, never waivered. I grew to understand his quirks, many times misunderstood by the community in general, in the conversations we had along the years. He was a man of principles. His daughter Monica, in the eulogy written above, describes well the man.
I also recommend that the reader view the editorial and article about Alberto S. Lemos at www.portuguesetribune.com. 
The passing of Alberto S. Lemos leaves a void in the Portuguese Community in California and in the journalistic world of the Diaspora.
JMLA

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