Felicissimo Almeida Carvalheira passed away peacefully on September 21, 2018, after a wonderful 88 years in our lives. Born in Nova Lisboa (Huambo), Angola, on December 8, 1929 to Jose dos Anjos Carvalheira and Alzira Maria Almeida, Feliz (as he was commonly known) lived his first few years in Angola with his parents, sister Cidalia, and brothers Silverio, Alexandrino, and Fernando before moving to mainland Portugal, eventually settling near Aveiro.
When Feliz was 8 years old, his father passed after the family resettled in Praia da Barra. Facing poverty, the entire family--including Feliz--worked any job they could find. By age 11, he started work as a laborer. However, in a trait that stayed with him for the rest of his life, his bosses were enamored of his work ethic and thirst for learning and promoted him to a carpenter at Estaleiros de Sao Jacinto, then as a steam locomotive engineer and crane operator at Obras da Barra, where he showed a natural talent for machinery and engines. Without family connections in the maritime industry, Feliz studied diligently and gained recommendations to obtain his Marine Engineer certification. In 1947, he started his career in the engine rooms of tugboats, coastal sardine fishing ships, cargo ships, tankers and in the fabled Portuguese Cod “White Fleet” that plied the North Atlantic waters on 6-month fishing journeys.
He married the love of his life, Benilde da Silva Rodrigues, on July 7, 1957. Their first son, Alcino Rodrigues Carvalheira, was born in Praia da Barra on April 29, 1960. Feliz took the courageous step of immigrating to Oakland, California in July, 1962, and started his final career as a machinist. Once again, with little training and experience, he worked very hard, learned fast, and did excellent work and quickly became a journeyman machinist. Benilde and Alcino followed him to California in October, 1962, and on August 12, 1963, their second son, Helder, was born in Oakland.
Feliz was a continuous learner. In the 1960’s, while working 60-hour weeks, he completed his High School Diploma. Later, he took electronics and income tax preparation courses, before the days of TurboTax. He applied his fine carpentry skills to build furniture, then combined carpentry and marine skills to build a beautiful mahogany-planked runabout powerboat with extensive custom engine fabrication. Countless hours were spent fishing on San Francisco Bay in this boat.
He naturally believed building and fixing things himself. Rebuilding cars, repairing TVs and radios, remodeling homes, landscaping and gardening, and even woodcarving and model-making-from-scratch were a small part of his immense talents and curiosity. To every project he brought his sons Alcino and Helder so they could learn. He was a master teacher, explaining systems and troubleshooting techniques, and instilling a love of technology in his sons.
In the late 1960s, Feliz bought an accordion and a recorder (flute) and learned how to play Portuguese melodies. He encouraged his sons to try, and within a few years both sons had become musicians. For the rest of his life, he was a strong supporter of their musical ambitions.
Family was the core for Feliz. He involved the entire family into his projects. Sunday drives as a family were the norm, and usually included visits to airports and harbors, followed by ice cream or a chocolate bar for the family. All vacations and outings--including shopping--were done as a family, without exception.
In the late 1970s he joined the leadership of the UPEC (later becoming the Portuguese Fraternal Society of America), ultimately becoming a Supreme President of UPEC. He was also in leadership of many other Portuguese societies, and a director for San Leandro Community Counseling. After retirement, Feliz and Benilde traveled extensively and always spent as much time as possible in their beloved Praia da Barra in Portugal, whenever they weren’t with family and friends in San Leandro or Tracy.
Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease descended upon him and he started his long journey into the sunset. While we are profoundly saddened to lose such a wonderful, impactful, gifted, and caring husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, we have a treasure trove of amazing memories that we will cherish in our hearts forever. We can take comfort knowing that he is in God’s realm; knowing Feliz, we are certain he is God’s new handyman.
Felicissimo is survived by Benilde Rodrigues Carvalheira, his wife of 61 years; sons Alcino Rodrigues Carvalheira and Helder Rodrigues Carvalheira; daughters-in-law Mary and Helena Carvalheira; grandchildren Jessica, Cassandra, Bryan, Sophia, and Evan Carvalheira; and great-grandchildren Conner, Kennedy, and Colton Carvalheira. He is preceded in death by his parents, Jose dos Anjos Carvalheira and Alzira Maria Almeida; and his siblings Cidalia, Silverio, Alexandrino, and Fernando Carvalheira.
Visitation will be on Wednesday, October 3, starting at 4:00 pm, with a Rosary starting at 7:00 pm, at Fry Memorial Chapel, 550 South Central Avenue, Tracy, California. A Mass of
Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, October 4, at 11:00 am at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, 163 West Eaton Avenue, in Tracy. Final Resting will follow at the Tracy Mausoleum, 8842 West Schulte Road, in Tracy. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to https://curealz.org/outreach/in-memory/felicissimo-hap-carvalheira.
An online guest book is available at www.frymemorialchapel.com for condolences and special messages to the family.