G. Irene Souza passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on May 3, 2023.
She was the daughter of Josephine and Frank Matta who came to this country from the island of Madeira and raised eight children. They were instrumental in providing land for purchase for the church of Our Lady of Fatima in Cumberland. They contributed the church bells and chimes engraved with the names of the entire Frank Matta Sr. family, first generation.
Irene is survived by her loving daughters Brenda Scannell and her husband, Daniel, daughter JoAnn Souza and daughter Maurene Souza Pilkington and her husband, Daniel.
She leaves her beloved grandsons and their wives, the loves of her life - Thomas Scannell and his wife, Heather, Daniel Scannell and his wife, Katherine Hepinstall. In notes, Irene wrote her grandsons “filled her life with happiness and fulfillment.”
She also leaves her adoring sister Clara Lavelle and brother John Matta and wife, Anna; as well as many precious nephews and nieces and their respective families. She was predeceased by her late sisters Isabel Mello, Lillian Mathews, Hilda Cabral and brothers Frank and George Matta.
A graduate of Bryant College, Irene was a Master Gardener, a perpetual student, a collector of antiques and a lover of animals. She was the treasurer of the Woonsocket Y Wives and Girls’ Club, the North Smithfield Garden Club, head of the North Smithfield Commemorative Gardens and a former member of the town’s Conservation Committee.
Irene was one of the original founders of the North Smithfield Land Trust. In 2020, she and her daughters made over 100 acres of historic South Run Farm available to the town’s Land Trust for purchase and preservation for the enjoyment of the community.
She was a loving daughter, sister, mother and grandmother with an endearing sense of mischief and a wonderful sense of humor. Her notes regarding end of life requests concluded with “I want so much for you all to enjoy good health and God’s best. Thank you!”.
In keeping with her wishes a funeral mass will be held on Monday, May 15, 2023, in Our Lady of Fatima Church, 1 Fatima Drive, Cumberland. Burial will be private. Arrangements are under the direction of the J.J. Duffy Funeral Home, 757 Mendon Road, Cumberland.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Friends of North Smithfield Animal Shelter or support can be given to the mission of Unity at unity.org who provided Irene spiritual support for decades in their “Daily Word” writings which she consistently read.
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