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Maria Nunes Smallwood


1925 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Maria Nunes Smallwood Obituary
Maria Nunes Smallwood
Feb. 20, 1925 ~ Jun. 21, 2014
Resident of Boulder Creek
Maria Nunes Smallwood, 89, passed away gently at her Boulder Creek home on June 21st, 2014, in the early hours of the summer solstice.
Born on February 20, 1925 in New York City to Maria Albertina and Francisco Nunes, both natives of Madeira Island, she became the first in her family to have a high school education. By eighteen Maria was a Social Group Worker at the Henry Booth Settlement home in Chicago, an agency committed to ""the development of ethical principles, education and quality of life"" in children and families.
This began a lifelong commitment to political and economic justice and the raising of social consciousness toward the values of shared economics and power, group activism and nonviolence.
Maria moved to California in the early 1950's with her husband, Bill Knipe (of 14 years), where her daughter Diane was born. She was married to Clarry Smallwood from 1967 -1975.
She became an educator: from elementary school teacher to psycho-educational therapist, and eventually professor at San Jose State, serving as Chair of the Afro- American Studies Dept. before retiring in 1991. She received her Master's in 1966, and was awarded her doctorate in the field of Urban Studies from USC in 1976. Her role as an educator and mentor extended beyond retirement and the classroom, as many sought out her counsel during difficult times.
An early proponent of organic, natural foods and alternative healing systems, Maria saw that eating simply and living close to the land was healthful for the body, society, and the planet. Maria was active in the set-up of the Watts Food Co-op, committed to bringing natural foods to the inner city. This was a metaphor for healing communities from the inside out, and a reflection of her ability to view life in holistic systems.
Her sense of right action and right living carried through all areas of her life. Exhibiting a deep respect for nature, she practiced a low- impact environmental lifestyle at a time when conspicuous consumerism was the rule.
Moving from L.A. to the Santa Cruz mountains in the mid- 1970's, she built a sustainable homestead with alternative energy and graywater systems, a prescient decision decades ahead of its time.
Maria had a resilience and ever-present grace from the moment she arrived on the planet until her passing. She was marked by a firm inner resolve and conscience not defined by any organized religion, recognizing and resonating with the universal spiritual principles of the Unitarian Universalist Church and Buddhism.
Maria loved to laugh with friends, camp and sit by the ocean, engage in social policy discussions, dance and listen to music, especially Afro-Cuban and jazz.
Special gratitude is offered to the wonderful circle of women who, along with her daughter, gave their complete care and love to Maria in recent years. And gratitude to Hospice of Santa Cruz County, friends and neighbors who have given care and support, enriching her life. Maria was a remarkable woman and wonderful mother. She is survived by her loving and devoted daughter, Akwia Diane Knipe, and Squeaky the cat.
A gathering to honor Maria will take place in the future. Those interested are welcome to contact the family. The family requests any donations be made to Hospice of Santa Cruz (hospicesantacruz.org) or Del Mar Caregivers Resource Center (www.delmarcaregiver.org)
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Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on July 20, 2014
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