Portuguese American Journal

Community | Author Anthony Barcellos has died at age 72 – Sacramento, CA

Portuguese American author, Anthony Barcellos died at age 73 at the Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Sacramento, California, due to complications following a hemorrhagic stroke.

Born in 1951, with roots on Terceira Island, Azores, Barcellos grew up speaking Portuguese. All four of his grandparents emigrated to California where one of his grandfathers managed a dairy farm in Porterville, part of California’s agricultural area in Central Valley.

A mathematician by training, Barcellos was the author and co-author of articles widely published in science and math journals and nonfiction books, including A Stroll through Calculus: A Guide for the Merely Curious (2015). This book demystifies calculus by teaching that the foundational premise is about measuring things and understanding how fast they change.

Later in life, Barcellos discovered a love for fiction and authored Land of Milk and Money (2012), a multi-generational novel about immigrants from the Azores who run a dairy farm on the West Coast.

Available @ Amazon.com

The book tells the story of the Francisco family, Portuguese immigrants who build a prosperous California dairy farm while dreaming of returning to the Old Country in the Azores. After their dreams of returning fell apart, the legacy of the older generation became a source of dispute among the descendants. Teresa, the matriarch, devoted her life to keeping the peace in her large extended family.

In an interview with Millicent Borges Accardi, for the Portuguese American Journal (2016), Anthony Barcellos spoke of his Portuguese-American upbringing in California and how that experience inspired his writing.

He said, “More than anything else, I wanted to capture my family’s story. My grandparents made heroic sacrifices to come to the U.S. in search of a better life, so the novel stands in part as a tribute to their success. The fight over their estate was dramatic enough to warrant capturing it in the form of a story, a tale worth sharing. Many people with farming backgrounds have told me that Land of Milk and Money evoked strong memories of their own families’ similar difficulties. Finally, I wanted to see if I could do it. As much as I love my teaching job, I’m not content to dig myself into a deep rut by simply doing the same thing over and over again. Writing a novel was my way of trying something new.”

About his book being a “brutally honest view of a family, in harmony and in disharmony,” he remarked that “Land of Milk and Money is full of both truth and fiction. The general outline of the plot closely follows the family’s real-life controversy and lawsuit over my grandmother’s will, but there were many reasons I chose to fictionalize the story rather than try to write it as a memoir. For one thing, I am not an omniscient observer. I was not privy to people’s personal motivations, and I was reluctant to simply speculate and impute motives to actual people. Imagine how boring it would have been to read an account generously sprinkled with “it might be” or “he could have thought,” et cætera. Therefore I changed all the names to protect both the innocent and the guilty and thus freed myself to create inner dialogues and motivations for the key players in the drama. The results are no longer guesswork or speculation. It’s fiction.”

Of being able to speak the Portuguese language he proudly stated, “For many years Portuguese was my daily language. My parents used it at home and it was what I learned first. Portuguese remained the dominant household language until I was well into elementary school. Even then, and through high school, daily visits to my paternal grandparents next door kept the language alive. I had weekly phone conversations with my grandmother until her death when I was in my thirties. Now I have much less occasion to use Portuguese, although I retain its rudiments. I suppose you could say that my Portuguese was fluent but limited since I never had formal instruction in the grammar or vocabulary.”

Anthony Barcellos‘s varied interests included playing the piano and a stint in California state government, where he served as a legislative assistant to Senator Albert S. Rodda and as part of the State Finance Commission under Jesse M. Unruh, State Treasurer. In 1987, Barcellos joined the faculty of American River College in Sacramento, where he taught mathematics. He resided in Davis, California, and was a 2005 alumnus of the local University of California campus’s School of Education doctoral program in mathematics education.

Carolina Matos |Editor

Related Posts

Anthony Barcellos: Balancing life, math and fiction – Interview

Anthony Barcellos: The author of “Land of Milk and Money” – Interview by Michael Colson

Book: Anthony Barcellos’ Land of Milk and Money – Review by Michael Colson


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