Manuel Joaquim Paiva, Jr. passed away Tuesday, March 3rd, at Orangeburg Manor Assisted Living in Modesto. He was 100 years old.
Manuel was born in Porto Moniz on the Portuguese island of Madeira on February 1, 1920 to Manuel Joaquim Fernandes Paiva and Gerarda Monica Nunes. Manuel was an only child and together with his parents immigrated to the United States in October of 1931. The family settled in San Bruno.
In 1942, the same year Manuel enlisted in the U.S. Navy, he met the love of his life, Ardith Couey. The two were married on June 6, 1943. They raised nine children together. They enjoyed over 74 years of love and devotion before Ardith passed away on August 23, 2017. They enjoyed taking daily walks hand-in-hand right up until the time they were both in their 90’s. Their love and lives were a huge inspiration to our entire family.
Manuel was proud to serve in World War II with the U.S. Navy in Honolulu, Hawaii. After being honorably discharged as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate First Class in 1945, Manuel worked as an aircraft mechanic for the next 30-plus years, first at McClellan Air Force Base and then at Mather Air Force Base. The family settled in Fair Oaks, where Manuel raised cattle and pigs on a ten-acre farm and built three homes on the property, each a bit larger than the previous as the family grew. When Manuel went on swing shift at work, he put the cows on swing shift, too. He’d milk them at 1 am and again at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. The extensive vegetable gardens he grew provided the family with plenty of fresh produce, and what was not consumed fresh was frozen or canned.
Not wanting to raise all those kids in the suburbs of Sacramento, he bought an apple ranch on Apple Hill in Camino in 1967 and became the first certified organic apple grower in the state of California in 1972. At this time, Manuel was still working full-time at Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento. There were times when he would be changing sprinkler pipes in the apple orchard in the dark of night after working a full shift at Mather AFB during the day. In 1976 he sold the ranch and retired from Mather Air Force Base.
After retiring, Manuel continued to live an active life. He built a few more houses, doing much if not all of the work, by himself. Later on, he loved traveling with Ardith in their 5th-wheeler, often visiting the Southwest in the winter and the northern California coast in the summer. He returned a total of three times to his beloved birthplace of Madeira, each time with Ardith and whichever children (and grandchildren!) could accompany them. Eventually, Manuel and Ardith moved to Patterson to be near their daughter Denise and son John in 2001.When Ardith became too ill to be able to remain at home, both Ardith and Manuel moved to Orangeburg Manor Assisted Living in Modesto in 2017.
Manuel was a great dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather, and he will be missed dearly. He always took the family on annual camping trips to national and state parks, and the family visited nearly all of the California missions and never missed a Sunday mass. He brewed his own root beer, cured olives, and taught his kids how to scrape limpets and periwinkles off the rocks during low tide on the rocky northern California beaches. He proudly prepared Carne de Vinha d’alhos for the family at Christmas time and taught Ardith how to make the Madeira specialty “malasadas” before Lent.
Even as his health declined, Manuel always had a positive outlook on life, a smile on his face, and the strongest faith in God...and he could still play a strong hand of gin rummy.
Manuel was a loving father to sons Mark Paiva of England, John Paiva of Patterson, Michael Paiva of Sacramento; daughters Davey Paiva of South Lake Tahoe, Vivian Ptacek of Idaho, Dolores Jackson of Fresno, Teresa Clayton of Montana, Diane Hauptli of Switzerland, Denise Fantozzi of Patterson; 16 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ardith Paiva, and his grandson, Richard King.
A Visitation will be held from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm followed by Rosary at 7:00 pm, Wednesday, March 11th at Hillview Funeral Chapel in Patterson. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:30 am, Thursday, March 12th at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Patterson. Interment to follow at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella.
Donations may be made to: Father James V. Connors Endowment Fund, P.O. Box 1174, Patterson, CA. 95363.
Services conducted by Hillview Funeral Chapel, Patterson.