Considered the matriarch of New Bedford’s working waterfront, Harriet Didriksen (1943-2019) advocated for fishermen, their families and the fishing industry.
Like mother, not so much like daughter. Sylvia Ann Howland Green Wilks (1871-1951), daughter of infamously miserly Hetty Green, willed the bulk of her inheritance to libraries, hospitals and other charities. Although she developed many of her mother’s idiosyncrasies, Sylvia’s final philanthropy allowed most of her mother’s fortune to ultimately work for good.
A dedicated activist who advocated for New Bedford’s neighborhoods, Loretta Bourque (1920-2018) was referred to as “Mayor of the South End” for her special commitment to this section of the city. Through the Cove Street Neighborhood Association, Loretta led efforts against such problems as negligent absentee landlords, crime and drugs. Loretta’s influence was a key factor that led the New Bedford City Council to pass the city’s Problem Properties Ordinance.
From immigrant textile mill worker to Ivy League student to pioneering New Bedford educator, Laurinda C. Andrade (1899-1980) overcame barriers of tradition, poverty, language, and discrimination to establish the first high school Portuguese language department in the United States at New Bedford High School.