Meet Mary Jo Fidalgo-Tavares: Loves family and first-time buyers


Roots: "I was born on Sao Miguel, Azores. My family — me and my mother, father, and older sister — came here when I was six. I’ll never forget it. It was March, and it was snowing when we got off the plane. I had never seen snow before."

Family: "My husband Manny and I have two daughters. Angela is 20 and studying at CCRI, and Samantha is a junior at Mt. Hope High School. Manny is originally from Aveira, Portugal. When he was young, his family moved to South Africa, outside of Johannesburg, where he lived until he came to the United States when he was 18. We met at St. Elizabeth’s Church. I loved his South African accent … and I still do."

Life after school: "I graduated from Bristol High School and started working in a shoe store on Wood Street. I ended up buying it, so at the age of 19 I owned and managed a shoe store, meaning I was working long owner’s hours while my friends were having fun. So I went to work at Jamiel’s Shoe World in Warren. I was there for 25 years."

Priorities: "Family is absolutely the most important thing to me, and being Portuguese, that includes my extended family, cousins, everyone! My sister and I are very close. We see each other all the time, and are always talking on the phone."

Why real estate: "After about 12 years at Jamiel’s, my older daughter was school-age and I planned to send her to parochial school. I wanted to make some extra money to help pay the tuition, and real estate felt like a good fit — I’ve always liked homes and working with people. I worked both jobs for over a decade, but eventually decided to concentrate on real estate full-time. Jamiel’s was a great place to work, with such wonderful people, but after 25 years I felt it was time for a change."

On Bristol-Warren schools: "My children started off at St. Elizabeth’s School, and Angela was in the seventh-grade and Samantha was in Grade 2 when they announced they were closing. Angela transferred to Kickemuit Middle School and Samantha to Rockwell. I admit I was nervous about the adjustment from a small school community to a large one, but it was great. I was especially impressed by the outstanding teachers at KMS. My daughters adjusted quickly, and I am so happy with the people they have become."

Travels: "A couple of years ago we went back to Portugal and spent a week in Aveira followed by a week in Sao Miguel. It was the best trip. We had such a wonderful time reconnecting with family – including many whom my daughters had never met.  We would also like to travel to South Africa. Manny has not yet been back."

Ideal weekend: "Getting together with my sister and her family, at home, nothing fancy, we can just order a pizza …. My mother insisted on cooking when I was growing up, and I had to clean. So I’m great at cleaning but not the best cook!"

On real estate: "It’s so important to be honest to a fault, and highly, completely ethical. Dot every 'i' and cross every 't'. It’s not always an easy business but it’s a good one. And I have enjoyed it all, but what I really love is getting young people, 'my kids,' (as I find myself referring to all of them), into their first home."

Mentor: "Mrs. Jamiel is an amazing businesswoman and an example of someone who enjoys success in business while still being a lady in every sense of the word. She does a fantastic job of making her customers happy, and the work ethic at that store was incredible. She really modeled respect for her customers and that’s one thing that has really stayed with me. You will never regret treating your clients with a $100,000 budget with the same respect you give the ones with the $1,000,000 budget."

On the East Bay: "Every time I drive over the Mt. Hope Bridge, I look around and think, 'Wow – this is where I live. How lucky am I?' ”


Contact: Cell 401-297-1399, email


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.