“One morning, I was on the 7 a.m. shift at Tip for Tops’n restaurant when two couples came in who couldn’t find a place to sleep the night before and had been up all night,” Janet Santos Greenquist of San Jose, Calif. said in a reminiscence of Ernie Carreiro. “They wanted lobster for breakfast. I was scared to go back and ask the boss, because usually they did not serve anything but breakfast at 7 a.m. Ernie cooked them up orders of lobster. He was a great boss.”
Ernest L. Carreiro Jr. died at his West Barnstable home, surrounded by his family, on April 16, 2022 after a short illness. He was 85.
Ernie was born in Provincetown on Dec. 28, 1936 to Mary I. (Aresta) and Ernest L. Carreiro. He worked in the family’s businesses, first by delivering groceries for Anybody’s Market, which the Carreiros turned into Tip for Tops’n, loved by generations of tourists and locals for its abundant and reasonably priced fare.
Ernie’s core values, described as “family, faith, and friends” by his daughter Kimberly White, were evident early, when he was a student at Provincetown High School. He was treasurer of the Class of 1954, leaving the class treasury “bulging,” according to the Long Pointer yearbook. He acted and sang in musicals and served as his school’s state delegate. He remained close with classmates throughout his life.
Ernie received a bachelor’s degree in education in 1960 from Fitchburg State Teachers College. There he met Judie Frost, the love of his life. They married in June 1961. Their first jobs were in West Acton and Bedford, but after his father’s death, Ernie and Judie returned to Provincetown, where they raised four children in their 55-year marriage. Judie died in March 2017.
At Provincetown High School, Ernie set up an industrial arts program, taught technical drawing and woodworking, was a class adviser, and was voted the 1971 FTA Educator of the Year. At the same time, he continued to run Tip for Tops’n until it was sold.
Ernie earned a master’s in education from Bridgewater State College and moved into administration, becoming principal of the Veterans Memorial Middle School and later assistant superintendent of the Provincetown Schools.
Ernie left the schools in the 1970s to run the Portuguese Bakery while laying the groundwork to open the Country Store with Judie. He took on Perry’s Liquors, too, which he owned until his retirement in 1989.
In 1970, he became a corporator of Seamen’s Bank, then a trustee in 1973. He served as chairman of the bank’s board from 2002 to 2013. Between 1970 and 2013, Seamen’s business grew from $15 million to $300 million, with offices in all four Outer Cape towns. Over all those years, Ernie never missed a meeting.
He was a lifetime member of the Lions Club, where he was a fixture at the Portuguese Festival Food Court. He was also president of the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association, an active member of St. Peter’s Church, and a Knight of Columbus.
In retirement, Ernie stayed active. He and Judie traveled, he had a shellfish grant for a couple of years, he worked part-time as a carpenter for a local builder, and he pursued his passions for woodworking, cooking, fishing, and being on, in, or near the water. He once even used a potline to lasso a tuna from the beach behind his house.
Later, he and Judie moved to West Barnstable to be closer to their grandchildren.
Ernie is survived by his children, Robin Carreiro of Newport, R.I.; Kimberly White and husband Michael White of Marstons Mills; Lawrence Carreiro of Marstons Mills; and Stephen Carreiro of Cape Coral, Fla; by grandchildren Ashley White of Cotuit, Michael Matthew White and wife Casey of Centerville, and Ryan Carreiro of Cape Coral, Fla.; by great-granddaughter Quinn White of Centerville; and by nieces, nephews, and cousins, including Lorraine Cambra of South Yarmouth and Greta Wheeler of Tennessee.
He was predeceased by his sister, Ruth Ann.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that Ernie’s legacy be continued by friends extending a helping hand to someone in need.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Peter’s Church in Provincetown at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 30.
To share a memory or leave an online condolence for the family, visit gatelyfuneralservice.com.
Obituaries in the Independent
The Provincetown Independent publishes obituaries as news stories of abiding interest to the community. There is no charge. Draft obituaries may be submitted to [email protected] All submissions are subject to editing.