Stella Oliveira Fonseca Cruz
Stella Oliveira Fonseca Cruz, affectionately known as the “Jag Lady,” and “Hallmark Card Lady” was born on August 11, 1927 to Cape Verdean parents, Ernestine ("Chubinha") Oliveira Fonseca and Victor Antone Fonseca, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Stella attended elementary and junior high schools in New Bedford. Following junior high school graduation, Stella went to vocational high school and studied Math and the Arts. Shortly thereafter, she met the love of her life, Richard Paul “Dickie” Cruz. They married in 1947 in New Bedford, Massachusetts and remained married for the next 63 years. She is the wife of the late Richard Paul Cruz. To this union was born her darling daughter, Cheryl. Stella’s love for her daughter can be summarized in her most recent statement to Cheryl: “I love you more than anything. I am glad I had a daughter. Not just any daughter, but a caring, devoted daughter like you.”
After her vocational high education in Math and the Arts, she studied Music and Dancing following in her older siblings’ footsteps. Stella was a natural and a quick study who excelled in business. In the 1960’s, Stella with her then husband Dickie founded Pasadena Construction Company; she worked with him in the construction industry for over 20 years, building single-family homes and multifamily apartments. She later worked as a clerk for a neighborhood pharmacy called Braddock Drugs, assisting this business in Sales. She also worked at Gillette, the Taylor School, Aerovox, etc. Stella’s expertise in business often resulted in cost savings for her bosses and their companies.
In addition to her involvement in the pharmaceutical industry, Stella with her then husband, Dickie, owned and operated a package store in Onset, Massachusetts. She ran the liquor store, with her daughter selling the penny candy.
Stella and Dickie also owned and operated a jazz club called “Rocky Manor” in Wareham for many years. During this time, Stella and Dickie exposed the people of Cape Cod to various jazz artists.
In the late 1980’s, Stella and Dickie developed a housing project on their "Rocky Manor” property in Wareham, which they named Stone Village. The development, when completed, was to contain 60 townhouses. One of the partners on the project was their loving daughter, Cheryl.
Known as the “JAG” lady to family and friends, Stella often made “JAG” for her darling daughter and numerous family members.
Stella was also known as "Mrs. Hallmark", giving cards to all children at all holidays. Of course, she had to put "money" in these cards.
She was also called the “Jitterbug Queen,” as she was the only one who could dance with her husband, Dickie, and keep up. Even her daughter and granddaughters could not keep up. Her life partner, Dickie, was the only person that could keep up with Stella’s dancing feet. She was also an accomplished tap dancer and roller skater.
Stella spent many summers on Martha’s Vineyard with her family and continued the tradition with her granddaughters. Stella enjoyed frequent visits to California to visit her daughter and her family at Christmas, First Holy Communions, Cotillions and Graduations. Stella and her husband made a surprise appearance at Cheryl and Bill’s 25th wedding anniversary in 2001. During these various visits, Cheryl always had a long list of cooking items for her mom. The longer the list, the longer she stayed. Stella loved to cook. On one visit, she even made Boston Bake Beans and Short Ribs for Cheryl, Bill, and their two girls!
Dickie and Cheryl gave Stella a grand celebration for her 70th birthday at the VFW in Onset, Massachusetts. Many family members and friends attended to wish her well, from as far as California.
Aside from her many professional and personal accomplishments, Stella had movie star good looks and will be most remembered for her generosity, charisma, vivacious personality, and especially "Mrs. Hallmark".
Stella’s personal mantra was love for family.
Survivors include her devoted daughter, Cheryl Cruz Middleton of Altadena, California; her loving granddaughters Brandy Nicole Middleton and Megan Ashley Middleton/Davidson, both of Altadena, California; her great grandson, Roderick Cruz Davidson of Altadena, California; her son-in-law, William J. Middleton of Altadena, California; her grand son-in-law, John Roderick Davidson of Altadena, California; her sister, Ernestine ("Tina") Fonseca of New Bedford, her brother, Ernest ("Telez") Fonseca of Boston, her niece, Marlene Sterling of Florida, and her siblings-in-laws, Walter B. Cruz, Sr. of Wareham and Andrea Rose of Florida. Five siblings preceded Stella in death: Hannibal (“Nebo”) Fonseca, Judith (“Judy”) Fonseca, Antone (“Tony”) Fonseca, Dorothy (“Notcha’) Soares, and Benvinda Fonseca (18 months), all of New Bedford. Twelve siblings-in-laws preceded Stella in death: Doris Vincent and Harold Cruz, both of California, and Walter Cruz (the eldest), John “Bertie” Cruz Jr., her loving husband, Richard Paul "Dickie" Cruz, Priscilla Martin, Bertha May, Thelma Franklin, Gerald Pina, Geraldine Pina, and Daniel “Sonny” Cruz, all of Massachusetts and Wilford “Fifi” Cruz of Washington, D.C. Stella is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and many loving friends.
Visiting hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, 2599 Cranberry Hwy., Wareham.
Her funeral will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019 from the funeral home followed by a Funeral Mass at 10:00 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church, Onset. Burial will follow in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Wareham.