Jose Silva Mello

May 16, 2020


A Renaissance Man – A Man Before His Time

 JOSE SILVA (Melo) MELLO of Bristol, Rhode Island died on May 16, 2020 at home with his family by his side. He was born in Santo Amaro, Pico Acores to the late Manuel Joaquim Silva de Melo and Maria Adelaide Silva.

He was the beloved husband of Theresa Costa Mello, they would have celebrated their 60th anniversary this coming August.  Bristol Rhode Island was home to Jose and Theresa, where they raised their family. Besides his loving wife he is survived by his children Lucia (Mello) Scott (Steven) formerly of Barrington RI, Paul Mello (Carol) of Bristol RI and Jessica (Mello) Paul Sousa of Berkley MA.  He also leaves 6 grandchildren, Shane Scott, Taylor Scott, Alana Sousa, Olivia Sousa, Brianna Mello, Dean Ponte Jr and 2 great-granddaughters Avah Mello and Jocelyn Mello.  He joins in spirit his 2 granddaughters Gabrielle Scott and HollyAnn Martineau.

Born on the majestic volcanic island of Pico in the Acorean archipelago, he was introduced to boat building at an early age.  Between 1947 and 1953 Jose worked alongside his father Manual Joaqium Silva de Melo.  It would not be long before Jose would become known as the youngest Acorean Maritime Master Shipwrights referred to as Mestre Jose Silva Melo.  In 1955 at the age 23, Joe was commissioned to design and build the 75-foot fishing trawler “PICO” on the island of Fiala.  Between 1956 and 1961 during his employment with “Corretura Lda” he was responsible for the refurbishment and repair of the 27 vessel fleet.  He was also commissioned to build new six vessels ranging from 50’ to 75’ the most infamous being the “Ilheu”.

In 1961 Jose immigrated to the United States settling in Rhode Island the “Ocean State”, how appropriate for the man whose passion was all that sails upon the sea. 

Joe or better known as “Jose do Pico” continued his trade as a Master Shipwright between 1961 and 2005 for a number of yacht firms in RI; 1961-1991 Pearson Yachts, 1991-1995 Holby Marine, 1995-2005 Alden Yachts.  Within those 44 years Joe’s talents superseded him beyond the yacht firms mold room to boatyards including the Herreshoff Marine Museum.

As a man of unlimited talents ingenuity and vision, Joe decided to “Go Green and Off the Grid”. In 1980 Joe designed and erected a 110’ wind turbine that was fully operational providing energy to his home and workshop, until his retirement in 2005. 

Between 1990 and 2003 Joe participated in the Master Apprenticeship program at the invitation of Dr. Winnifred W. Lambrecht, PhD and Mr. Dan Kahn of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA).  Dr. Lambrecht recalls, “Not only had she found a boat builder but a designer, a thinker, a problem solver, an artist, a man with a gift”.

In 2005, Joe returned to Santo Amaro Pico, not only to retire but to begin his last project.  A dedication to all the Master Shipwrights of Santo Amaro with the establishment of “Maritime Museum of Naval Construction”.

In 2017 Mestre Jose Silva Melo was recognized for his contribution to Azorean Maritime Construction with an exhibition of his accomplishments by the Museum Pico in Sao Roque do Pico.

Joe was recognized as a “Renaissance Man” and “A Man before His Time”.  This was evident in all that he touched and created. His selflessness in sharing his knowledge and passion for all that is Maritime impacted many near and far from his home in Bristol RI to Santo Amaro Pico.  Upon his departure, his legacy remains for us to admire and enjoy.   

*Due to the social distancing restrictions, the Mello Family is planning a Celebration of Life for Joe Mello at a later date this year.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made in Memory of Jose Silva Mello to:

Lewy Body Dementia Association https://www.lbda.org/donate

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research https://www.michaeljfox.org/donate

The Mello Family invite to take a virtual visit of The Maritime Museum – Naval Construction – Santo Amaro Pico – Terras dos Barco



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Services are to be announced

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