Ana Coraçao de Jesus de Melo Costa
July 7, 1934 - February 21, 2023
Ana was a native of Terceira, one of the islands from the Azores archipelago of Portugal. She was born and raised in the coastal village of Vila Nova. As a child, Ana often participated in theatrical performances and celebrations in her town, where she demonstrated her beautiful singing voice. At 17, she met the love of her life, Joe; a handsome American soldier stationed on the island. Joe fell in love with Ana upon first sight, and after years of persistence in letter writing, long-distance phone calls, and visits to the island, they were married on July 10th, 1955, in Vila Nova.
The newlywed couple lived on the island for a few years while Joe finished his U.S. Army service commitment. After the birth of their first son, Edward, they traveled to the United States, intending to return to the island one day to live. Upon arriving in California, after a very sickly boat trip, Ana discovered she was pregnant with a second son, Edwin. Years later, they eventually made their home in Santa Cruz, California, where they would welcome their two daughters, Joanne and Julie.
Although Joe and Ana did not return to the island to live as planned, they spent many beautiful summers in the Azores with their children. Joe worked hard and saved to pay for magical trips where they introduced their children to Portuguese culture, traditions, and endless days on the island’s shore. Despite Joe’s protest of the amount of luggage Ana insisted on traveling with, one of which was a footlocker of high-heeled shoes, it was a time in their lives they often described as their happiest years. Joe and Ana continued their visits to the island through their retirement years with their children and grandchildren. After her husband’s passing in 2002, Ana often returned to the island to visit family, including her beloved sister, Aida.
Ana was a homemaker in every sense of the word. She kept a tidy house that no one ever left hungry. Including traditional Portuguese cuisine, Ana’s famous lasagna was often sought after and included in countless dinners and parties from California to the Azores. She kept her husband, Joe, busy with multiple house improvement projects, and music often played loudly throughout her home. If lucky, you could catch her dancing and singing in her kitchen to her favorite singer, Amalia Rodrigues. At church, parishioners often turned their heads once they heard her singing.
To many, Ana was also quite the fashionista. When she wore pillbox hats in her younger days, she was often mistaken for Jacklyn Onassis! On their final trips together, she and Joe were upgraded by airline staff to first-class seats solely because of their impeccably color-coordinated outfits. Ana never left the house unless fashionably dressed, but only after “a quick” passing of the vacuum in high heels. Because of this, Ana often arrived late. Ana was also a seamstress who created numerous outfits for her children and flowy dresses she would proudly wear to various Portuguese Holy Ghost celebrations near home during the summer, where she and Joe would socialize and dance with friends from “as ilhas.”
More than anything, however, Ana demonstrated a natural maternal persona which she shared with everyone, especially her children and, later, her grandchildren, for whom she was most proud. Ana left this world unexpectedly from natural causes on February 21st, 2023, leaving a hole in our hearts. My siblings and I thank you for your ongoing support and kindness during this difficult time. Your words and acts of kindness, prayers, and memories shared of our mother are much appreciated. Our mother, Ana, was the family’s matriarch; the light in her eyes, the song in her voice, and the love she gave us will never be replaced or forgotten.
Ana leaves behind three children and their spouses: Edward and Karen Costa, Joanne and Antonio Rocha, and Julie and Richard Langley. Ana’s grandchildren whom she loved dearly: Tara and Ed Acevedo, Kassandra Coleman, Michael and Camille Rocha, Elizabeth and Dillon Holst, Amanda and Brad Rudolph, Matthew and Ann Langley, Brett Costa, Bonnie Costa, Andrew Vicente, and Nicholas Langley. Ana’s great-grandchildren: Emmy, Sierra, and Hunter Rudolph, Delilah Coleman, Malcolm and Colleen Langley, Amelia and Serena Acevedo, Audrey Rocha, and Charlotte Holst. Another great-granddaughter is due in July. Ana also leaves behind her sister Aida and brother-in-law, Manuel Dias of Vila Nova, Terceira, sister-in-law, Cecilia and brother-in-law, Ed, and sister-in-law, Adeline Sullivan, along with nephews, nieces, and numerous cousins living throughout California, Massachusets, Canada, and Portugal.
Ana is preceded in death by many beloved family members, including her parents, Francisco de Melo, Maria Adelaide and José Pimentel, her husband, Joseph Costa, her son, Edwin Costa, and her granddaughter, Stephany Costa.
Friends and family may pay their respects at a viewing on Thursday, March 9, 2023, at Holy Cross Church (126 High Street) in Santa Cruz starting at 4 p.m., and a vigil ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. A celebration mass will be celebrated on Friday, March 10, at the church starting at 11 a.m. Following mass, Ana will rest beside her beloved husband, Joe, at Holy Cross Cemetery (2271 7th Ave) in Santa Cruz.
In place of flowers, donations can be made in her memory to her favorite charities: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (stjude.org/donate) or to Spina Bifida Association. (spinabifidaassociation.org)