Maurice “Mudgie” Tavares passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at the Care One healthcare facility in New Bedford. Mudgie was the son of the late Alfred Tavares and the late Minnie Fermino, and the step-son of the late Charles A. Fermino, Sr.
Born in Mattapoisett on April 13, 1931, Mudgie was given his nickname by his aunt, after a Native American spirit, meaning “first-born son” and “caring giver.” He graduated from New Bedford Vocational High School in 1949, where he ran track, a sport for which he developed a lifelong passion.
Mudgie was a communicant of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Mattapoisett, where, starting as an altar boy, his lifelong commitment to serving his community began.
Mudgie dedicated his entire life to helping people, especially the children of the Old Rochester School District. Working for 36 years as head custodian of Center School in Mattapoisett, Mudgie became a father figure to the countless children to whom he gave selflessly. From anonymously purchasing new sneakers and athletic equipment for children of families in need, to listening to and encouraging kids in times of angst, Mudgie was always there, as a positive influence on generations of Mattapoisett youths.
Mudgie’s iconic station wagon was more a “chariot of charity,” delivering kids to sports practices; taking them to games; bringing them home safely; and carting gifts of groceries and Christmas presents to the underprivileged. As founder of the Mattapoisett Track Club, Mudgie established the town’s Wharf Dances in the early 1970s, to raise funds to support the track club and to give young people a safe place to enjoy Thursday nights in the summertime.
Mudgie also initiated and organized two summer women’s basketball leagues and a field hockey league. He was also an active member of the Mattapoisett Lions Club and was given their prestigious Citizen of the Year Award in 1983.
Mudgie was the recipient of countless awards and honors recognizing his service to the community, not the least of which were the naming of the Maurice “Mudgie” Tavares Playground at Center School in Mattapoisett; the Maurice “Mudgie” Tavares Track and Field at Old Rochester Regional High School in Mattapoisett; and the Marian Medal Award, given by the Catholic Diocese of Fall River.
Mudgie was an enthusiastic basketball fan and devoted jazz aficionado, and he took great enjoyment in listening to the music Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
Mudgie is survived by his sister, Caroline Sylvia, and her husband, John B. Sylvia, Jr., of Marion; two brothers: Peter Fermino and David Fermino, and David’s wife, Victoria Fermino, of Mattapoisett; a niece, Karen Ramos, of Mattapoisett; a nephew, Charles Sylvia, of Providence; a great-niece, Brittany Fevrier, and her husband, Lawens Fevrier, of Smithfield, RI; a great-nephew, Graham Tuxworth, of Newton; and two great-great-nephews, Lawsen and Greysen Fevrier, of Smithfield, RI. Mudgie was the brother of the late Charles A. Fermino, Jr.
Visitation will be held Thursday, June 14, 2018, from 4-8 pm at the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals, 50 County Road, Route 6, Mattapoisett. His Funeral Mass will be held Friday June 15, 2018 at 10:00 am at St. Anthony’s Church, 22 Barstow Street, Mattapoisett. For directions and guestbook, please visit www.saundersdwyer.com.