Police matron Shirley Cabral, who served departments from Provincetown to Eastham for 35 years, died on Nov. 4, 2023 at her home in Provincetown after a long illness. She was 85.
The daughter of James and Eva Silva, Shirley was born in Provincetown on March 21, 1938. She left Provincetown High School early and married Marine Corps veteran Lawrence Elmer Cabral Jr. on April 7, 1956. He had served in Korea.
Lawrence worked for the town DPW and as an auxiliary police officer. The couple had three daughters. “Shirley was the matriarch of the family,” said her granddaughter Lauren Sandner.
Shirley also worked in restaurants, including Michael Shay’s, the Stormy Harbor, and the Viking before becoming a certified police matron in 1988. “It was Shirley’s job to answer the call, get up in the middle of the night in all kinds of weather and respond to our call for help,” read a tribute from the Provincetown Police Dept. “She would then take charge processing a female detainee or providing prisoner watch.”
“Sometimes,” Lauren said, “the prisoner was drunk, so Shirley had to attend to her until she sobered up before being sent home or transported to court the following day.” Shirley was “proud to wear the uniform,” Lauren added.
“She did her work with aplomb and without complaint for decades, including logging long rotations when the need arose,” the department’s tribute continued. In 2019, she received the Provincetown Police Dept. Civilian Employee of the Year Award.
Denise Page, in her memorial note, wrote that she especially admired “the way Shirley carried herself with prisoners, profoundly admirable and something I tried to emulate in my career.”
Arty Parker recalled Shirley “serving many nights as matron at Wellfleet PD for both Wellfleet and Truro. She was the finest kind.” And Tim Sawyer recalled how Shirley watched “over all the kids in the neighborhood as we played around the pond and ran the streets. She was always auntie Shirley to us.”
“She was,” Lauren said, “the sweetest person ever.”
Shirley is survived by daughters Karen Sandner and Linda Cabral of Provincetown; sister-in-law Rita Silva of Provincetown; granddaughter Lauren Sandner of Provincetown; and nephews and nieces Paul Sandner of Provincetown, Jimmy Silva, wife Carissa, and children Neely and Colin of Provincetown, and Denise Luster, Tamara Silva, Warren Silva Jr., and Buddy Silva of Truro.
She was predeceased by her husband, Lawrence Cabral, and daughter Cheryl Cabral.
The funeral took place on Nov. 14 at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown. The Provincetown police provided an honor guard and a procession to the Provincetown Cemetery. A reception at Montano’s in North Truro followed.
The family expressed thanks to the members of the department for their kind and loyal support.