The Grand Old Man, Joseph Menezes (108) of Balkunje Passes Away
Bellevision Media Network
Mangaluru, 21 Apr 2017: Joseph Menezes, aged 108 years, resident of Balkunje, probably the oldest person in Dakshina Kannada/Udupi districts passed away on Thursday, 20 April 2017 after a brief illness. The funeral of late Joseph Menezes will be held on Saturday, 22 April 2017 at 11 am in Balkunje Church.
Joseph Menezes had been a versatile personality. Simplicity, humility and hard work had been the hallmarks of his life. Though he had to face a number of hardships and tragedies in life, Late Joseph Menezes never gave up and reposed his strong faith in God and his own ability to tide over such difficulties. He was a man of peace and as such he never quarrelled with any one neither he had any enemies. His positive thinking, faith in God and hard work enabled him to live a long life of 108 years.
Joseph was fifth among eight children, three sons and five daughters of late Dieg Alex Menezes and Antonia Pinto. He studied up to fifth standard at St. Paul’s Primary School at Balkunje. Though he had a desire to join priesthood, his father did not approve of his choice. Hence, Joseph had to be satisfied with his primary education and the life that lay ahead.
Joseph Menezes was sent to Mumbai for employment by his father. At that time he travelled to Mumbai by steamer from Malpe port and ticket charge of the journey from Malpe to Mumbai was just Rs.4. On reaching Mumbai he stayed at the residence of one of his relatives. However, within three months he grew home sick and could not get adjusted to the city life and returned home.
Having returned home, Joseph began helping his father and brothers in agricultural activities. Besides growing three crops, Joseph also cultivated sugar cane and pulses during appropriate seasons which became the main source of income for the family.
Joseph was growing up as a hardworking, sincere, honest and handsome young man. At the age of 27 Joseph got married to Lucy Cutinho from the same village on 26 May 1927.
Joseph and Lucy were blessed with five children among whom two did not survive infancy whereas three children survived-Denis, Stella and Mark.
The eldest son Denis had a great love for learning and as such after completing primary education at St. Paul’s Primary School, Balkunje continued higher primary and high school education in Pompei High School, Aikala. Right from his childhood, Denis had a dream and desire to join priesthood and his father was quite happy that the dream which he had would be realized by his son. Denis underwent seminary training in St. Joseph’s Seminary, Jeppu-Mangalore and joined Bellary Diocese for missionary work. He was ordained priest in 1966.
When Stella started attending school, St. Paul’s Primary School had developed into higher primary school. Stella was fortunate of having education in that institution up to seventh standard. Thereafter, she proceeded to Little Flower High School, Kinnigoli where she completed SSLC. She was also attracted towards religious life and joined Bethany Congregation in 1964. She chose a new name during her profession and came to be known as Sr. Blandine. She served in Bhatinda, Punjab for some time and was later transferred back to Mangalore where she served as a teacher and retired in 2002. Presently, Sr. Blandine is serving in the Providence Convent, Balkunje to be closer to her aged father.
The youngest son of Joseph, Mark also wanted to follow the path of his elder siblings and in fact joined St. Joseph’s Seminary, Jeppu. However, serious ailment forced him to withdraw from the seminary. He continued his education and acquired post graduate degree in English literature and became a lecturer of English in St. Aloysius College, Mangalore. In 1979, Mark married Leena D’Souza, B.Sc, B.Ed. who had been serving as a teacher in Rosa Mystica High School, Gurpur. They have two daughters-Jyotsna and Roshni. However, when everything seemed to be going on well in the best interest of the family and Joseph was very happy with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters, tragedy struck the family. Mark became seriously ill and was admitted to Fr. Muller’s Hospital where he passed away at the young age of 40 years on Good Friday of the year 1988.
As he gradually recovered from the loss of his son, Joseph’s wife, Lucy who had been ailing for many years also passed away in 1991 at the age of 79 years.
Having lost his youngest son and wife within a period of three years and two children being in the religious service, Joseph had to manage his life all alone. However, he never gave up his hope and determination to live a contented and peaceful life. He carried on with his life and continued his agricultural activities along with service in the church and village.
In 2009, the centenary birthday of Joseph Menezes was celebrated with gradeur by his family, relatives, villagers and well-wishers. Among the distinguished guests were three Bishops-Most Rev. Dr. Aloysius P. D’Souza of Mangalore, Most Rev. Dr. Henry D’Souza of Bellary and Most Rev. Dr. Robert Miranda of Gulbarga. It was a great honour for a person to complete hundred years which very few achieve that too in sound health as Joseph has had.
Being a simple person with noble ideals and positive energy, Joseph lived his life on his own terms. Though his mobility was curtailed due to advancing age, he was not bed-ridden. With a little support he would come to the sitting room and meet the people who would come to meet and speak to him. He used to read Kannada newspapers and was quite aware of the happenings in various fields including politics.
(Excerpts from an interview with Joseph Menezes posted in Bellevision.com on 1 April 2015)