Grace Sousa Hatem of Salem, NH, died on September 20 on her 85th birthday after a short stay in nursing care in Manchester.
She was born in Lawrence, MA, to Francisco and Maria Victurina (Mendonça) Ataide who came to the United States from the island of Graciosa in the Azores. As a kid she loved to roller skate and read. The family moved to Methuen when she was ten, just up the road from the Chukry and Emily Hatem family including their son Victor. Grace babysat for Victor’s nieces and worked at the Hatem family’s dry-cleaning business, the Supreme Cleaners in Lawrence.
Valedictorian of the Edward F. Searles High School Class of 1953, Grace attended Massachusetts’ State Teachers College (now University of Massachusetts Lowell) while living at home and caring for her mother as she died of cancer. Grace earned a bachelor of science in education with distinction in 1957. The first class she taught in the Methuen School District had more than 40 elementary students in it.
Grace married Attorney Victor L. Hatem on August 17, 1958. Vic had just returned from service in the Navy, and when he expressed interest in this beautiful young family friend, his father said, “Victor, you can’t even take her out on a date unless you are serious about her.” Grace and Vic soon married and had five sons in six years, whom she playfully referred to into their adulthood as Number One-, Two-,Three-, Four- and Five-Son.
A dedicated wife, mother, homemaker, teacher, and grandmother, in another time or place she might also have been a news journalist. Her insatiable curiosity, sharp intellect, and remarkable memory showed in her ability to grill family and strangers alike on their activities, thoughts, beliefs, and knowledge of current events. When her eyes began to fail in her fifties, she would read the local newspaper headlines with a magnifying glass, then call her closest friends to give her the full scoop and discuss the news. She navigated three cultures, Portuguese, Lebanese, and Anglo-American, sharing her language skills, traditions, and recipes with her family. Later in life, she returned to the classroom, tutoring Portuguese/English bi-lingual students in Methuen schools. She strongly identified with being Portuguese, visited the Azores as an adult, and tried to teach her children some Portuguese phrases.
Grace is survived by her husband and her sons and their partners and children: Peter Hatem and Kim Fowler of Scarborough, Maine, and Peter’s children Matthew and Olivia; James and Susan Hatem of Bow, NH and children Cali, Emile, Elias and Evelyn; Daniel Hatem of Londonderry, NH and children Emily and Trevor; John and Cindy Hatem of El Cerrito, CA and daughters Evelyn and Meredith; and William and Kira Hatem of Bedford, NH and daughters Meghan, Taylor and Jordan. She is also survived by her dear friend and sister-in-law Fernanda Ataide of Methuen, and numerous nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends, many of whom would gather at Grace and Victor’s Christmas parties in Salem or their cottage at Chanticleer Shores on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Grace was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Edwin Ataide, and her daughter-in-law Patricia Hatem, Dan’s wife.
Grace saw firsthand the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease and would like memorials or donations to be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America online at www.alzfdn.org/support-us/donate/ or by mail: Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10001.
Fully respecting that some people will not want to gather anywhere in any size group, there will be calling hours from 4 to 7 pm on Wednesday, September 30, at the Goundrey & Dewhirst Funeral Home, 42 Main Street, Salem, NH. There will be a graveside service on Thursday, October 1, at 11am at St. Anthony’s Cemetery, North Lowell Street, Methuen, MA. Both are open to all. COVID-19 protocols will be in place. Guests must wear a mask and maintain social distancing. To leave an online condolence, please visit Grace’s tribute page at www.goundreydewhirstfuneral.com.
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