Eunice Britto, Mangaluru's first female mayor, passes away at age 79

Eunice Britto, Mangaluru

Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2016-06-29 20:46 Mangaluru: Eunice Britto, the first woman Mayor of Mangaluru, passed away after a brief period of illness on Wednesday. She was 79. Britto twice contested and won from Falnir ward of the civic body. She held the post of Mayor of Mangaluru from 1993 to 1994.  Daughter of John Charles and Mary Nathalia Mathias, Britto was born on November 27, 1936, in Mangaluru. She completed her B.Sc at Mount Carmel, Bengaluru, and B.Ed at St. Ann’s, Mangaluru. After obtaining her Master's degree in Social Work from Mangaluru's Roshni Nilaya School of Social Work, she worked as a lecturer in the same institution for a decade from 1973 to 1983. Eunice Marie Britto had an interesting social service and public life and went into a private personal mode after laying down her mayoral office, as recalled below by one of her admirers. Profile: Eunice Britto, who would have touched 80 years on November 27 this year exited from politics as fast as she entered it. In that short period, in the wake of upgrading Mangalore Municipal Council to Corporation status, she successively held the record of being the first lady Deputy Mayor and Mayor of MMC – not being propped up by any women’s reservation or litigation.  What is also interesting is that she did not cling to politics; but gracefully retired from it after completing her position as the first citizen of Mangalore. Since then she had withdrawn into a personal spiritual shell, harmoniously blending it with social work.  Born on November 27, 1936, Eunice was the fourth of eight children of John Charles and Mary Nathalia Mathias. Though born at Bejai, Mangalore, her father being a coffee planter, Eunice’s pre-marital life involved stays in Chikamagalur and Bangalore. After initial education at Lady Hill Victoria High School at Urva, she continued her studies up to SSLC at St. Joseph’s Convent, Chikamagalur and college (B.Sc) at Mount Carmel, Bangalore. Then she joined B.Ed. at St. Ann’s Mangalore in 1957. Marriage intervened in the same year and three children later she resumed her studies to complete B.Ed. Since her husband, Christopher George Britto, was working for the Cooperative Department, his transferable job meant her going to Hunsur and Mandya and teaching in Rashtriya Vidhyalaya there.  Meanwhile, her husband was back in Mangalore in 1969 on promotion as Block Development Officer and finally District Development Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner, before his passing away due to cardiac arrest in 1986. Eunice did MSW from Roshni Nilaya and worked there as a lecturer from 1973 to 1983. This position gave her hands-on exposure to social work and counseling. She contested on Congress ticket from Falnir ward, where she resided till her death – next to Marjil Convent complex. In her first term itself, when the city was raised to the status of Corporation, she became MMC’s Deputy Mayor and in the second term, 1993 – 1994, she became the Mayor. One of the reasons why she got hoisted into this coveted chair was that she was the most educationally qualified person with three degrees – B.Sc., B.Ed. and MSW. Also, the Brittos had been in the thick of civic affairs, including her uncle, Denis, and sister-in-law, Mary, as members of the municipal council.  As mayor, Eunice was instrumental in widening and strengthening the arterial roads in the central business district. She introduced MMC’s toll-free Helpline (106), for complaints and inquiries, which continues to function. She interacted with DANIDA, the Danish Aid Agency for improving drainage and other public utility systems. She recalled many visits to Bangalore to expedite development schemes for the city and the ready help extended by the then Chief Minister, Veerappa Moily.  Beyond MMC, Eunice had been District Commissioner for Guides and Member of Banking Service Recruitment Board, both for five years. She had been Vice President of Karnataka Mahila Congress. Vishwas, an organisation providing assistance to senior citizens has been functioning from her house since 1998 until it shifted to its own premises near Valencia Church.  Eunice was a frontline activist for inclusion of Konkani in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. She was Treasurer of Shubadha Society Centre for women in distress and got involved in problems of women rehabilitation. Eunice had gone on a six-week fellowship in Denmark and had also presented a paper on women and the media at a conference of World Union of Catholic Organisations in Hamilton, New Zealand. Eunice had traveled all over Europe and Canada. She was much in demand for raising toasts which were soothing and sober. The immediate reason for Eunice to turn her back on politics was to look after her old and ailing mother who opted to stay with her. But, that also turned out to be a turning point in her life, with accent on inner life and spirituality. She claimed to have found freedom and inner peace through this spiritual quest.