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April 25, 2006 > The Brazil Family

The Brazil Family

A young Maria Mercedes Azevedo boarded a cruise ship in St. Georges, Azores Islands in 1917 with her parents, Maria Teresa and Jose, for a short visit with friends in the United States. None realized that their lives would soon change forever. Friends visited in Marin County were Felipe and Maria Brazil and their son, Manuel, who Maria Mercedes decided to marry.

The Brazils and the Azevedos moved to Newman to enter the dairy business. However, Mercedes' father, Jose, owned a fishing fleet in the Azores and he and his wife, Maria Teresa, decided to return home. She died on that voyage and was buried at sea.

Manuel and Mercedes moved to Gustine, where the first three of their sons - Ferdinand, Philip and Rudolph - were born. Manuel was offered a job at the Morton Salt Company in Newark, and the family moved to Centerville, where Manuel's parents already lived. Their last son, Edward, was born soon after.

Ferdinand was physically handicapped with cerebral palsy due to an injury at birth, but he had excellent mental faculties. In order to give him greater mobility, his father constructed an electrically powered vehicle which was recharged nightly in their garage. At the outbreak of World War II, fearing for his safety living near the coast, his aunt and uncle in Gustine invited him to stay with them. He came to like it so much that he remained there until his death in 1998.

Philip was a star athlete at Washington High and was the second person to be awarded a white sweater for participating each year in four major athletic programs. He became an education major at San Jose State where he was active in sports. Philip joined the Navy and was trained as an aviation machinist's mate. He married Josephine Seone May 16, 1943, before he was sent overseas as part of a carrier service unit. Their children, Philip and Joanne, grew up in Centerville.

After the War, Philip completed his college education and became a teacher, coach, principal and assistant superintendent in the Centerville School District. He was named Director of Elementary Instruction when Fremont schools unified, served as Assistant Superintendent and became Associate Superintendent in 1973. He participated in a number of activities, giving much time to the Boy Scouts of America.

He retired in 1983 but continued to be active in community organizations. giving much of his time to the San Jose State University Spartan Foundation and working with the football and basketball programs. He died in February 2006.

Rudolph attended Centerville Grammar School and graduated from Washington Union High School in 1941. While a San Jose State student, he enlisted in the Navy's V-12 program which led to a commission as ensign. He served in the Amphibious Forces and participated in landings at Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines and Iwo Jima. After the War, he served in China and was stationed in Shanghai. This highly decorated veteran served in the Korean War aboard the carrier Valley Forge, the first ship to reach Korea when the war started and the first to launch jet fighters into combat.

Rudolph later resigned his commission and returned to San Jose State where he received a degree in Business Administration. He served as Director of Religious Education at Holy Spirit Church for 20 years and is an ordained deacon. He is currently active as chaplain for the Fremont Police and Fire Departments and for Washington and Kaiser Hospitals.

Edward was born in 1925. After graduating from Washington Union High School, he decided to join his two brothers already serving in the Navy. He served in the Pacific as a torpedo man aboard a PT boat. At one point, Philip arranged a surprise meeting with him in Mindanao.

Edward married Ruth Pierce in 1948 and became a partner in a service station business in Newark. When the city incorporated, he became its first paid firefighter and reached the rank of Battalion Chief. He and Ruth had four children-Michael, Gregory, Christopher and Steven. He died in 1995.

Mercedes and Manuel were active in the community. He belonged to a number of fraternal organizations, but as a World War I veteran, he especially enjoyed the American Legion Post 195. He died in 1951. Mercedes taught English and Portuguese at Washington Union High Night School and was active in the Centerville School PTA, where she helped initiate a hot lunch program. She belonged to a number of organizations, but music was a first love. She played the Portuguese guitar and sang in the Holy Spirit Church choir as well as the Washington Township Country Club's Grace Notes. She died in 1993 at age 98.

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