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April 30, 2013 > Annie Nunes of Newark turns 100

Annie Nunes of Newark turns 100

Submitted By Lila Bringhurst, Photo by Myrna Guerrero

Annie Johnson Nunes celebrated her 100th birthday in style recently, surrounded by four generations of her descendants plus extended family and friends, many of whom had traveled long distances to be there. The church hall was decorated with hundreds of items that Annie has sewn or crocheted through the years. The highlight of the party was presentation and recitation of a Proclamation from the City of Newark honoring Annie, signed by Mayor Al Nagy.

Annie and her husband, Frank Nunes, came to Newark in 1946 where he got a job at the Wedgewood Stove factory and became part of the large, local Portuguese community. They taught their children about their heritage and brought them to Holy Ghost Festivals each year at the Newark Pavilion Portuguese Center.

In 1952, they moved into their new home on Olive Street; this is where their four children - Pearl Ann, Carolyn, Michael and Kathy - grew up. Nunes was always involved in her children's schools. Because she never learned how to drive, Annie and the children did a lot of walking: to school, shopping and medical appointments.

The children learned the value of hard work. During summer months, they picked apricots in Warm Springs and Newark and canned fruits and vegetables. They also made apricot and blackberry jam.

For a number of years, Annie supplemented the family income by taking in washing, using an old wringer washer, hanging them on a line to dry and then ironing them. An excellent seamstress, she made all of her children's clothes. Her quilts often won blue ribbons at the Alameda County Fair. Each of her descendants has a quilt she made especially for them. Several were on display at the party.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Annie helped raise money to build a chapel in Fremont and one in Newark by baking and selling fruitcakes with her good friend, Marge Silver. Using a recipe from Silver's home in Glasgow, Scotland, they and many others, made fruitcakes which were sold all over the world. Frank invented a walnut-cracking machine that left the walnut meat whole and sped up the process.

Although Frank passed away in 1992, Annie still lives in their original home. Hampered by poor vision from macular degeneration, she leads a life filled with family and friends, sewing baby quilts, canning and baking. She even brought her famous blackberry jam, Rocky Road candy and delicious rolls to her own birthday party.

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