Maria Teresa Matos was born in Puerto Rico on August 21, 1938. She died peacefully Monday, January 15, 2024, in her home where she resided with her husband, Marcos Rivera, to whom she had been married for fifty five years.
Maria Teresa was a family woman. She loved both of her parents, Gabriel Matos and Jesusa Diaz, and learned from them to be joyful and disciplined–two qualities she brought to raising
her five children: Lydia Eloisa, Liz Nereida, Carmen, Carmelo, and Benjamin. She also enjoyed spending time with her seventeen grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren (soon to be fifteen in June). In her family she modeled hard work, frugality, a joy for life, and generosity as she helped her children pay for school, never missed a Christmas present for her grandchildren, and even helped one of them purchase his first home. Her energy and enthusiasm for life was endless. She always tried to teach her family the value of giving back to the community. For example, she encouraged her oldest daughter, Lydia, to be part of the Puerto Rican Council at the age of 15.
To give a little taste of the joy she brought to her relationship with her grandchildren, Lauren, a grandaughter writes, "My favorite memory with Abuela will forever and always be our trips to Disney. When we were little she would always say "let's go see Mickey Mow Mow." Her and Abuelo would show up in their matching shirts ready for the day at the parks. She was so cute whenever she would ride the rides or how she would get so scared on Jaws at Universal even though she has been on it plenty of times before. She was just as excited as we were to go."
After graduating from high school, the difficult economic situation forced her to move from Puerto Rico and seek employment in New York after her first child Lydia was born. This was unheard of for a woman to do by herself in her time. She started working in her uncle's business where she learned most of her conversational English. Once she got established, she moved with a friend to Yonkers, New York, where she lived until her death.
She strongly believed in helping those in need. Through her involvement in the Yonkers community, she worked as a volunteer for the Puerto Rican Council, the Spanish Progress Foundation, and the Girl Scouts in school 6 in Cottage Gardens municipal Housing. She helped opened the first head start program in a Baptist Church in Warburton Avenue. Despite being discriminated against due to her language and ethnicity, she, without hesitation, advocated for those who could not advocate for themselves. She was a strong woman who didn't take crap from anyone.
After raising her children, she went back to school and graduated with a bachelor's degree from Mercy College and finished her career at the Yonkers Department of Health as a pediatric nurse where she was well loved by staff and children alike.
Maria Teresa was a woman of faith–she always took her grandchildren to church and has spent more than sixty years serving Christ.
Grief is like an ocean. It comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, sometimes it's overwhelming. Her family is learning how to swim without her for now, though her determined, feisty, joyful, loving spirit and memory will live on. She will be dearly missed by all.