Elizabeth La Camera, at 97, Was a Selfless Advocate for Her Community

November 23, 2011
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Elizabeth M. La Camera (center) in 2007 when the City of Boston named the Barnes School Elderly Housing complex’s auditorium in honor of her family for her lifelong work with seniors, the mentally challenged and people struggling with addiction.

Elizabeth M. La Camera, a woman who dedicated her life to many social causes in East Boston and Winthrop where she raised her family has died. Mrs. La Camera, who had the auditorium at the Barnes School elderly housing complex named after her and her family, died on Friday, November 18 following a brief illness. She was 97 years old.

Born Elizabeth Minola in East Boston Mrs. La Camera was one of 10 sisters born to Italian immigrants. She survived all her relatives, one of whom was Ann Petersen of Winthrop.

She was a 1931 Graduate of East Boston High School at a time when few women of her generation were given the opportunity of further education. However, she went on to devote almost seven decades to the social welfare of her home communities of East Boston and Winthrop.

Living in East Boston and later Winthrop Mrs. La Camera devoted 68 years of her life to places like the East Boston Social Centers where she had worked for 34 years.

“I was sorry to hear that Mrs. La Camera’s passed but was reminded there has always been strong women servant leaders in our East Boston community,” said fellow social worker and former head of East Boston APAC John White. “She came from a generation who did things because it was the right thing to do and didn’t spend a lot of time whining. There aren’t many of them left and we are the lesser for it.”

She also worked another 34 years for North Suffolk Mental Health Association (NSMHA), and retired at the age of 85.

She was instrumental in the formation of  the Meridian House in East Boston, a sober home for recovering addicts, through her work at NSMHA.

In 2007, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Senator Anthony Petruccelli named the Barnes School Elderly Housing complex’s auditorium in honor of the La Camera Family. In one of her last public appearances Mrs. La Camera accepted the honor as the matriarch of the family, Elizabeth La Camera, was joined by her son, Paul, who was the former General Manager of both WCVB-TV Channel 5 and WBUR Public Radio, at the prestigious event.

“At the dedication ceremony Mrs. La Camera arose from her seat in the audience, quietly and briefly expressed thanks for the unsolicited honor that had come her way and then very quickly left the center stage and returned to the audience to re-join her sister,” said longtime friend Michael Laurano. “Such was her life. In her time and place hers was a presence dedicated to going out to do necessary community work and then returning to family. Never seeking recognition she exemplified the best values of a generation and a people nothing was ever handed to. Righteousness is an important Judeo-Christian theological and ethical concept. The life of Elizabeth Minola La Camera stands as a good example of such.”

Mrs. La Camera was active in the Winthrop Senior Center and St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church.

The La Camera House for mentally challenged woman in Winthrop was named after her for her years of devotion to people with special needs,

Her husband, Anthony La Camera, the long time Television Critic of the Boston Record American and Herald American and who was considered the dean of American television critics.

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