Matthew J. Serpa., a former seminarian at Our Lady of Providence and St. Mary’s in Baltimore was a legendary Catholic layman, not only in St. Michael’s Parish but throughout the state. He was born on January 3, 1921, the son of a Portuguese father and an Irish mother (Jane Yorkery). Matt and his wife, Jeannie, raised nine children, but Matt’s impact on local youngsters was far wider. He founded the CYO Day Camp where he met his beautiful wife Jeannie and he built a school bus business to include 110 buses that transported thousands of students to schools and sporting events throughout New England. Matt even paid tuitions at LaSalle Academy and Bay View Academy for many of those children who were needy. As a talented athlete and semi-pro baseball player he coached various sports, but he also taught good citizenship and the power of prayer to the numerous kids he encountered during his long career.
As befitting a bus company founder, Matt had enormous drive as indicated by the sixteen-hour stints he performed as a salesman for Cushman’s Bakery in his early twenties and his founding of Serpa Bus Company 1951 at the age of thirty. In addition, he started the original Bay View Towing Company and the Newport Trolley Tours. His busses took senior citizens to church bingo in various parishes and even helped the Pequots to expand their Connecticut bingo hall before it became Foxwoods.
Obviously, a man with such far-flung business interests who was also a local legend in youth sports needed an equally talented and energetic wife. He found that person in Jeannie who gave him nine children in ten years and four months. She not only produced them, she nurtured them to become successful citizens.
But Jeannie, who was born on June 30, 1932, the daughter of Mary and Joseph Carroll, produced more than nine exemplary children. She was also a school teacher (a Rhode Island College graduate), a professional artist, a magazine columnist, the author of six art design books and a cookbook, an inventor, an avid gardener who founded the Narragansett Garden Club, and a business owner of the Mistletoe Christmas Shop and the Hamilton Art Studio in Wickford. Her interests in the art world led to cross – country teaching of her innovative techniques in decoupage, toll painting, stenciling, and faux furnishings for national art supply corporations. She also invented a proprietary paint glaze marketed by the Illinois Bronze Company.
Matt departed from this dynamic duo on May 5, 2002 at the age of eighty – one. Jeannie survived him by nearly two decades passing in May 2021. They are buried in St Francis Cemetery, Pawtucket.
The couple was survived by their nine children: Steven Serpa, Mary Jane Gray, Christine Morrison, Matthew J. Serpa, III, Joanne Morrissey, Jack Serpa, Ann Marie Serpa, Thomas Serpa, and David Serpa.