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Lima helped veterans, seniors and many others

The Standard Times - 12/12/2018

Dec. 12--SOMERSET -- Almost everyday he came to work, Edmund Lima arrived at the Town Office Building early in the morning and raised the flag. He was also almost always the last person to leave the Town Office Building.

That was how dedicated he was to helping military veterans in Somerset, assisting senior citizens and keeping track of the town's finances.

Lima, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 87 years old, was Somerset's veterans' agent from 1996 to 2011, town treasurer from 1992 to 2011 and served on the board of directors of the Council On Aging from 1998 to 2006.

"Ed Lima was really a throwback to the old days of someone who was a pure gentleman and he had a work ethic that was second to none," said John McAuliffe, a former town administrator in Somerset who worked with Lima.

Lima was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, having served from 1950 to 1953 during the Korean War. He also served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves. He was a member of the James L. and John E. Lynch Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8500 in Somerset, serving as its commander.

McAuliffe said he felt guilty being the second to last one to leave the building as Lima was still working hard as he had all day. He said Lima used to talk about milking cows in the morning, going to school and then coming home to work the rest of the day. McAuliffe said that is where the work ethic came from. Lima also used to work for a trucking company.

With Town Clerk Patricia Hart, Selectman and Tax Collector James Healey, Assessor Charles Demers, Selectman Christopher Matte, McAuliffe said Lima was part of the old guard leadership in Somerset that helped the town to prosper and kept it out of harm's way because they bled Somerset blue.

"He was a special man," McAuliffe said. "He genuinely touched me in a way that made me a better person. He was very focused, very task oriented. Somerset lost a special guy."

Besides helping out many veterans with their benefits as the veterans' agent, one of the big projects that Lima did was having the World War II monument that now stands in front of the Somerset Public Library made. The project took a lot of research because Somerset had a very high percentage of people from the town who went off to war during the Second World War. Lima worked with veteran Stephen Sypko, who asked to remain anonymous about donating the money for the monument until he passed away. Lima kept his promise to Sypko, not releasing his name in public as the person who donated the money for the monument until he passed away.

Donald Truver, a longtime member of the VFW Post in Somerset, said Lima and his wife Gilda organized a drum and bugle corps there. He said Lima organized Memorial Day parades and was instrumental in naming the Veterans' Memorial Bridge.

"He cared very much for the veterans here in town," Truver said. "He did a lot for the veterans here in town. But most of all, he was a most trusted, loyal and respected member of Post 8500 and the members will never forget him."

Truver said Lima was very active in the post and will really be missed.

During some of his time on the board of directors for the COA, a town agency that provides social activities, meals, transportation, health screenings and other benefits to Somerset's senior citizens, Lima served as chairman for part of his tenure on the board. Michelle D'Allesandro, a retired Somerset COA director who worked with Lima at that time, said they worked to get transporation for veterans from Somerset to Providence, R.I. and New Bedford, so they could get the services they needed. D'Allesandro said Lima was always accessible and was very knowledgeable about so many things.

"He wanted to improve anything he could for the seniors, give them new opportunities and programs for anything to improve on their quality of life," D'Allesandro said. "He was always there and supportive."

Lima was a parishioner at St. Patrick's Church in Somerset where he was in the Men's Club and religious education teacher. He was a past president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He received the Marion Medal from the Catholic Diocese of Fall River.

Stephen Rivard, a retired fire chief for Somerset, said Lima did a lot of things behind the scenes to help people who were down on their luck, without looking for any credit for it.

"He truly exemplified God, family and country, that quote," Rivard said. "He was a very religious man and his family was very important to him. His service to the town and to the country were never in question."

Lima was veterans' agent during the first term that current Selectman Steven Moniz, who served in the U.S. Navy, served the town back in the early 2000s. Moniz said it was a great day when Lima was named the grand marshal of the Somerset Musictown Festival Parade. During the parades in the past, he said Lima always stood at the review stand and saluted the military units in the parade as they walked past him.

"I will always remember that Mr. Lima was very supportive of veterans' programs and he was a very dedicated town employee," Moniz said.

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(c)2018 The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.

Visit The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass. at www.southcoasttoday.com

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