Obituary: Maria Nunes Smallwood
Jul 17, 2014 | 1542 views | 0 0 comments | 98 98 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Maria Nunes Smallwood
Maria Nunes Smallwood

Maria Nunes Smallwood

Feb. 20, 1925 to June 21, 2014

Maria Nunes Smallwood, 89, a longtime resident of Boulder Creek, passed away gently at her home on June 21, 2014, in the early hours of the summer solstice.

Maria had a lifelong commitment to political and economic justice and the raising of social consciousness toward the values of shared economics and power, group activism and nonviolence.

Born on Feb. 20, 1925 in New York City to Maria Albertina and Francisco Nunes, both natives of Madeira Island.

She became the first in her family to complete a high school education. She received her Master’s degree in 1966, and was awarded her doctorate in the field of Urban Studies from USC in 1976.

Maria moved to California in the early 1950s with her husband, Bill Knipe, where her daughter, Diane, was born. She was married to Clarry Smallwood from 1967 to 1975.

She became an educator, going from elementary school teacher to psycho-educational therapist, and eventually professor at San Jose State University, where she served as Chair of the Afro-American Studies Department before retiring in 1991.

Moving from L.A. to the Santa Cruz mountains in the mid-1970s, she built a sustainable homestead, a prescient decision decades ahead of its time.

Maria had a resilience and ever-present grace from the moment she arrived on the planet until her passing. She was marked by a firm inner resolve and conscience not defined by any organized religion, recognizing and resonating with the universal spiritual principles of the Unitarian Universalist Church and Buddhism.

Maria loved to laugh with friends, camp and sit by the ocean, engage in social policy discussions, dance and listen to music, especially Afro-Cuban and jazz.

Special gratitude is offered to the wonderful circle of women who gave their complete care and love to Maria in recent years, to Hospice of Santa Cruz County, and the friends and neighbors who have given their care and support to Maria over the years.

Maria was a remarkable woman and wonderful mother. She is survived by her loving and devoted daughter, Akwia Diane, and Squeaky the cat.

A gathering to honor Maria will take place in the future. Those interested are welcome to contact the family.

The family requests any donations be made to Hospice of Santa Cruz ( or Del Mar Caregivers Resource Center (

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