Obituary: Frank Barretto.

26th of April 1925 to 22nd of September 2022.

An image of Frank Barretto
Frank Barretto

Frank was born in Nagara, Nairobi, Kenya in 1925 to parents Theodoro Augusto and Cecilia Carmelina Pegado Barretto. He was the oldest sibling to Ida, Judith and Willie.

At the age of 12 he moved to Goa, a Portuguese colony in India where he was brought up by his grandmother. During this time he contracted meningitis and it was his grandmother who nursed him back to health. At the age of 18 and looking for work he made the trip to Calcutta.

Times were very hard. He found a place to stay on a terrace covered by an awning. During this time he really struggled and recounts going hungry without food on many occasions. But being Frank he persevered and after finding permanent lodgings he was invited to dinner with another family. The family was Leo and Violet Hyrapiet  and present on that evening was their daughter Aileen. During this time Frank was also searching for a better u8nderstanding of the bible. Leo was studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and invited Frank to join the bible study. In 1954 he was baptised with Leo and Violet. In 1959 he married Aileen and in 1960 they gave birth to their first child Sarah.

In 1964 they decided to leave for Canada with a stopover in England. They made the three week sea crossing and arrived in England with the equivalent of 50p. Times were hard and a relative rented them an attic room in Station Road, Kings Heath. They never left England – and made Birmingham their home. For three weeks due to little or no money Frank walked into Birmingham City Centre every day looking for work. He wanted to provide for his family. He finally found work at a company called Tube Investment. In 1966 they gave birth to their second daughter, Ruth.

In the 70’s, whilst working at Tube Investments and due to his deeply religious convictions Frank refused to work on anything that was associated with making equipment for war.  After a number of meetings and Frank saying he would have to resign, the company made the exceptional decision to respect his religious convictions and assured Frank that he did not have to work on anything associated with the war effort.

Frank was a very spiritual man and had very strong religious beliefs. It was who he was, it was his whole being. Through all the hard times he trusted in Jehovah and worked with Aileen to provide for his family. Times were not easy and they really struggled but they remained faithful and steadfast and put their trust in Jehovah. Over the years he helped many people both physically and spiritually but never boasted about his achievements.

In fact he felt he never achieved anything….

He had so many hobbies; he played the saxophone and was in a band when he was a youngster. He played the guitar and violin. He even played the violin in the Jehovah’s Witness orchestra at the bible conventions at Bingley Hall in Birmingham. He could speak 5 languages, loved painting and drawing, DIY, gardening and writing poetry. He was an amateur astronomer and gave many lectures. He was also the oldest student at Bournville College. Well into his 80’s he studied alternative medicine, reflexology and Indian head massage and passed with flying colours!

His thirst for knowledge could not be satisfied. His study at home was piled high with research books and he spent most of his timer on YouTube watching videos about astronomy, health, world events etc. At the age of 97, and just a few days before his death he was still doing research.

Frank was a quiet man and a deep thinker but the most redeeming quality was that the love for his family was paramount. He was married to Aileen for 63 years. Frank was one of the kindest most caring men you could ever wish to meet. A fatherly figure to so many, a voice of reason and a true gentleman.

There will never be another Frank Barretto… we will miss you.

(Provided by Frank’s daughter Ruth.)