We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved mother, Anita Florencia Semelhago (nee Couto) on Friday, July 24th, 2020 at the age of 81. Anita was born on March 14, 1939 in Bombay (Mumbai), India and immigrated to Ontario, Canada on July 13, 1975.
She is predeceased by her devoted husband and companion of almost 54 years Bernard (Bernie/"Boona"). Loving and tireless mother to Arlene Alvares, Celina Lee (Ron), Gavin Semelhago (Tanya) and Lloyd Semelhago (Cosete). Cherished and fiercely proud Grandma of Laura, Ryan, Charlie, Nicholas, Jonathan, Claire, Liam, Mark, Andrew and Justin. Anita is survived by her loving brother Stan (Debra) and predeceased by her cherished siblings Beryl, Cecil (Lily), Joyce (Shaukat). Sister-in-law to our dearest Aunty Clara Vaz (late Antonio) and the late Edwin, Elton, Atalia, Alex (late Maria de Lourdes nee Pinto), Sara and Edwin Jr. Loving aunt and Godmother to many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Anita was the eldest of five children. She lost her father at a very young age and took the role of supporting her mother, grandmother and younger siblings through very difficult times. She became a teacher and used her first earnings to help support the family. After she was married, she continued her role as an educator, teaching multi-grade classrooms in India and Tanzania, later running a home child care centre as she raised her own young children.
Anita faced the challenges of any new immigrant family, trying to integrate into the workforce and Canadian culture while remaining an active member of the Goan community and Catholic church. She became a certified hairdresser, worked in acting and modelling, was a supply teacher with the Toronto District Catholic School Board and was loved by her adult night school immigrant students teaching English as a Second Language. She never lost her role as a teacher, constantly guiding her children and grandchildren.
Anita and Bernard had a wonderful life in Tanzania. However, they sacrificed everything they had so that their children could access higher education and opportunities. Their life was very hard in Canada, working day and night to support this goal. Although they felt so much pride in the achievements of their children, their greatest joy in life came from their grandchildren. Family was everything, together with their unfailing faith.
Anita was best known for her hosting and entertaining, with famous Goan cooking, always from scratch that people looked forward to. We all have many memories of vats of food for parties, unmatched flavours and gatherings of friends. No one could come to her house or even doorstep without being offered something, or ever leaving empty-handed. She opened her home and heart to friends and strangers.
Anita had the brightest of smiles, infectious hearty laugh, and enjoyed telling and hearing the most offside jokes. She spoke her mind, sometimes too freely, and generously gave out lots of hugs and kisses. Anita loved gardening, flowers and had a deep love of music, gifted with a beautiful voice, always singing along or solo whenever an opportunity presented itself. Forever a nurturing teacher, she always encouraged and cheered on every success of her children and grandchildren, a continuing legacy of her sacrifices, selflessness and dedication to her family.
The family would like to give special thanks to the staff at Extendicare London for the care, support and humour provided to Anita. She will be dearly missed but never forgotten.
Cremation has taken place and the family will have a private funeral mass at St. Michael's Parish in London, Ontario on Wednesday, July 29th. Due to Covid-19, there will not be a visitation. Details and links will be sent by the family directly.
Flowers to Harris Funeral Home or donations to a charity of your choice would be appreciated, but not required.
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