Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1997-1998 index

Distributed August 18, 1997
Contact: Tracie Sweeney

A celebration of community ties

Dedication at Benevolent Street Park will honor longtime neighbors

On Thursday, Aug. 21, at 5:30 p.m., Brown University will dedicate a bench at Benevolent Street Community Park to honor the neighborhood's rich heritage represented by Joao and Joaquina Lima, who immigrated from Cape Verde and became longtime University neighbors. The couple's nine surviving children, their families and former neighbors will attend the program.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- It is common for colleges and universities to name campus buildings in honor of generous benefactors. But on Thursday, Aug. 21, at 5:30 p.m., Brown University will dedicate a site in honor of good neighbors whose generosity of spirit enriched not only Brown but the City of Providence.

University President Vartan Gregorian, Providence City Councilman Robert Clarkin, state Sen. John Rony and other officials will attend the dedication of a bench at the Benevolent Street Community Park in honor of Joao and Joaquina Lima, longtime residents of Benevolent Street. The couple's nine surviving children, ranging in age from 56 to 75, their families and former neighbors will also attend. The media are invited as well.

Joao Lima emigrated from Cape Verde to the United States after the turn of the century. When World War I broke out, he joined the Army, fought in France, and was awarded U.S. citizenship upon his return. He sent for his Cape Verdean sweetheart, Joaquina, and they were married. They raised 10 children, first in Fox Point, then in a house they bought in the 1940s at 77-1/2 Benevolent St., across from where the park now stands.

Joao worked in Providence, ultimately retiring from a job in the kitchen of Brown's Sharpe Refectory. One of his sons fought in World War II, one in the Korean War, a third in Vietnam. Two sons worked for the Providence Fire Department. Two daughters became nuns; another worked for the state Health Department.

In the late 1980s, the Lima family home and another house at 77 Benevolent were sold to Brown. In 1995, the University built the park, which is open to the community to enjoy.