Jose Maria Rivas Bertolo

Jose Maria Rivas Bertolo

September 1931 - January 2019


Jose Maria Rivas Bertolo, 87, of Alexandria, VA passed away on January 14, 2019. He was born in Pousada, a small village in Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain on September 21, 1931 to Aurelio Rivas Troitino and Esperanza Bertolo Sieiro.  He was preceded in death by his twin brother Manuel (2010) and a younger sister Alsira (2012).  He was a spit fire of a kid, growing up in the mountains of Galicia.  He was raised by his grandparents, two doors down and was known as “Lareiro”, a community name for the Rivas clan.  “Lareiro” means fireplace, so likely the ancestors were known for building fireplaces, although in recent history they were cattle merchants and Jose didn’t really care for fireplaces.  At 17, after the Spanish Civil War and World War II, he and his brother left Spain on a 30 day journey by sea to Brazil.  He enjoyed 18 years of his youth in Sao Paulo and met and married his wife, Maria Conceicao.  In 1965, he was given a chance to move to Germany and work at factory or come to the U.S. and continue his profession as a stone mason, taught to him by his father. He chose to remain in the “Americas” and moved his young family to Wilmington, Delaware.

In 1966, his only child, a daughter, was born and the family moved to Washington, D.C.  For 30 years, Mr. Bertolo was a proud member of the Bricklayers Union and lived all over the Washington metropolitan area until he and his family settled in Alexandria, Virginia in 1978.  His most notable projects were the library at Duke University, the re-burial of John F. Kennedy where he met former first Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Ethel Kennedy and Andy Williams, the creation of the East Building National Gallery of Art where he met the famed architect I. M. Pei,  and the Holocaust Museum where he met Elie Wiesel and described him to be just as little as he was. His skilled work can be found at the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Herbert Hoover Building, the Old Post Office Building, the Watergate and the Kennedy Center.  Jose loved life and lived it fully until the end.  His passion were his two grandchildren, Joe and Juliana, coffee at the Route 1 Roy Rogers and later Panera in Beacon Mall with his Gallego compatriots from the mountains of Spain. And late his passion revolved around the slot machines in Vegas, West Virginia and most recently in National Harbor.  Always a story teller and an epic jokester, he always shared that his true hobby as a young man was bar brawls, sporty cars (his favorite was his white 1965 Mustang and 1973 Burgundy Monte Carlo), beautiful women and Barajas (playing cards associated with Spain). And most of all, he loved to dance and sing and talk about how good looking he was.   

In Lieu of Flowers, please make donations to the Little Sister of the Poor – Virginia that provide a home and loving care to the low-income elderly in Virginia.


January 24, 2019

5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home
1500 West Braddock Road
Alexandria, VA 22302


January 25, 2019

10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church
1427 West Braddock Road
Alexandria, VA 22302


January 25, 2019

12:00 PM
Mt. Comfort Cemetery

Alexandria, VA