New Bedford’s Ambassador of Goodness
Victor Fonseca, a man who embodies all that is good in New Bedford, spent a little time on the radio this morning, and it seemed as if the entire SouthCoast community wanted to call in to say hello to the man who means so much to this region, and share memories of his warmth and spirit.
Jackie Santos, world renowned musician and educator at Berklee College of Music, heard that the New Bedford icon was going to be on the radio and called in and described Fonseca as "a New Bedford treasure."
"He's a stand-up individual and a classic example of what a human being should be, and want to be," Santos said.
Fonseca is a beloved greeter at The Bakery in downtown New Bedford on weekends and during the week, he teaches at the YMCA in New Bedford.
"It's unbelievable to see this man invent hundreds of different steps," Santos said.
"Oh, my God, that's Jackie Santos, one of my biggest fans," exclaimed Fonseca. Truth be told, Fonseca has befriended the lives of an entire community over his 76 years.
Another Victor fan, a professional bodybuilder listening from St. Augustine, Florida, called in to confirm about Fonseca's virtues.
"Victor used to teach a class in the next room over in the gym, and he'd say to me 'why don't you do a class with me?' I told him, how's it going to look, a guy with all my muscles, gasping for breath on one of those mats? You would have done me in and I didn't want the embarrassment of it all," the caller said.
Fonseca paused for a reflective moment when asked if he had any shortcomings.
"My biggest weakness is not being able to say no, because I want to be there for my friends and I don't want to let them down," he said.
Can a man this vibrant, friendly, and kind have some secrets?
"Well Victor is really my middle name," he said. "I was born in 1945 and named Evaristo Victor Fonseca. I got the name Victor because of our victory in World War II."
He said that as far back as his childhood, he always had a happy disposition and an extraordinary amount of personality. "It's a blessing from God," he said.
He lamented the loss of the downtown New Bedford sidewalks jammed with shoppers and area ballrooms to dance in.
"It was an era where the ladies had the look of glamour and the men dressed to the nines, with a boutonniere and a fedora, and we gladly held the door for the ladies and pulled out the their chairs at the table," he said. He's a cause célèbre for being one of the great swing dancers on the East Coast.
Before saying goodbye, a last-minute phone call came in from Steve Mazza.
"Victor worked for me at Ginger Peachy garments and he was just phenomenal. I'm about to retire and turn 70, and maybe now I can take one of Victor's classes," Mazza said.
Whether it's at the Y or at The Baker – where the linguica rolls and the croissants are two of his favorites, and where he never calls you a customer, but rather a friend – you'll see an electric boogaloo tour de force greeting you with a genuine Victor Fonseca smile.