Anibal Francisco de Brito, a merchant marine, died on Friday, April 24, 2020, from complications of COVID-19. He was 90.
“One of my favorite memories I have of my dad was just us spending time together,” said daughter Renita de Brito. “We would go to Ocean City, New Jersey, every year as a family. We would go out to eat.
“We used to take walks together; he loved to walk,” she added. “He used to live in North Philadelphia, so sometimes we would walk from North Philadelphia to Center City. I just really enjoyed spending time with my dad and creating those special moments together.”
He was born on Sept. 15, 1929, in the Republic of Cape Verde to the late Francisco Britto Sr. and Maria Silva and was the oldest child.
After his academic studies in Cape Verde, de Brito followed in the footsteps of his father and became a merchant marine. In that work, he was able to travel the world.
After retiring in 1968, he came to the United States and reunited with his father and his stepmother, the late Mildred Britto. He settled in Philadelphia and later worked for the Schmidt Brewery Distribution Company for over 20 years.
He married Renetta Rawls in 1972.
“My dad had a lot of pictures from when he was a merchant marine. He would always tell me how much fun he had on the boat,” de Brito said. “He loved the fact that he was able to travel the world.
“When he passed away, we went to his house and found all different kinds of love letters he wrote to my mom while he was away on the ship,” she added. “Some of the letters were from when he was in the Netherlands and Brazil. He also had a lot of pictures of himself on the ship. He was so proud and honored to be a merchant marine.”
In his spare time, de Brito enjoyed traveling, especially with his brother, Monsignor Federico. He also enjoyed family gatherings with his siblings. He made it a point to remain in close contact with his siblings and children throughout Europe, Cape Verde and the United States.
Over the years, de Brito became a well-known fixture on the 1800 block of Master Street. A lifelong and devout Catholic, he was a member of the St. Cyprian Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia.
“My dad traveled all around the world, but I truly believe his favorite place he visited was Rome,” de Brito said. “He actually went there a few years back for the canonization of Saint Katherine Drexel when she became a saint.
“He talked about that trip all the time because he was able to attend a mass by the Pope [John Paul II]. That was definitely one of his most favorite trips that he took.
“He was also very well-known on the 1800 block of Master Street,” she added. “Everybody knew him and because he lived there for so long he also helped [raise] those kids up in the neighborhood as well. Everyone loved talking to him.”
He was preceded in death by: his parents, Francisco Britto Sr. and Maria Silva, and daughter, Antonia Ana Varela.
He is survived by: his children, Diolanda Britto and Antino Britto of Portugal, Alcides Britto and Fredrico Britto of Holland, Juaquino Britto and Ana Maria Britto of Italy, Octavia Britto of Cape Verde, Crisanta Britto of France, Francisca de Cruz of Brazil, and Anitra Maria Williams (Damon) and Renita Angele de Britto of Philadelphia; siblings, Francis Hester, Monsignor Federico Britto, Francisco Britto Jr., all of Philadelphia, and Jose Montiero of the Netherlands; grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren; and other relatives and friends.
“My dad was such a loving person,” de Brito. “He was always giving advice to people he came in contact with about life. He was someone who made a difference in a lot of people’s lives. He definitely made his mark on this world.”
A service will be held May 6 at 10 a.m. St. Cyprian Roman Catholic Church, 525 S. Cobbs Creek. The service will also be live streamed. He will be interred at Norwood Cemetery, 1501 Haines St.
Bruce R. Hawkins Funeral Home handled the arrangements.